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The Lounge / Iraqi researcher discovers that Earth is flat
« on: February 18, 2008, 06:55:51 PM »

The Lounge / Vote for Huckabee
« on: February 05, 2008, 04:50:37 PM »

The Lounge / Tom Cruise Scientology video leaked
« on: January 18, 2008, 08:58:26 PM »
So this video somehow got out on YouTube and the Church of Scientology International has motivated YouTube into removing it vigorously. One website still hosting it,, is currently being sued by the Church. I did my part and uploaded a copy to Youtube -- it got 11 000 views before it was pulled down. But don't worry, I haven't given up.

Watch the video here:

The Lounge / Best Game of 2007?
« on: December 28, 2007, 11:46:38 PM »
My nomination goes, without hesitation, to The Orange Box for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

It contains:

    Half-Life 2
    Half-Life 2: Episode One
    Half-Life 2: Episode Two
    Team Fortress 2

All for the price of one.


PC review:
Xbox 360 review:

The Lounge / FES is dead and rotting (it smells real bad)
« on: December 24, 2007, 10:01:20 PM »
I don't think anyone I remember is still here. What have you all been doing?

I've been spending all my forum time and energy here:

(I'm 1859)

The Lounge / lolreligion
« on: November 04, 2007, 07:05:31 PM »


Philosophy, Religion & Society / The Problem with Atheism
« on: October 06, 2007, 10:44:02 PM »
The Problem with Atheism

I think the most persuasive case for the abandonment of "atheist", "humanist", "bright", and all other labels is the effect it will have on conversations about religion. When someone asks you, "What faith are you?" it is better to respond with something like "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" or "I don't agree with the reasoning of any religion" rather than "I'm an atheist."

In a world without religion, atheism, naturalism, and humanism would no longer make conceptual sense. Being an intrepid, loud supported of science and reason and an opponent of religion on the basis of science and reason can is one of the best things you can do. But use words like "evidence" and "intellectual honesty" rather than "atheism".

Quote from: Sam Harris
My concern with the use of the term “atheism” is both philosophical and strategic. I’m speaking from a somewhat unusual and perhaps paradoxical position because, while I am now one of the public voices of atheism, I never thought of myself as an atheist before being inducted to speak as one. I didn’t even use the term in The End of Faith, which remains my most substantial criticism of religion. And, as I argued briefly in Letter to a Christian Nation, I think that “atheist” is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. We simply do not call people “non-astrologers.” All we need are words like “reason” and “evidence” and “common sense” and “bullshit” to put astrologers in their place, and so it could be with religion.


Attaching a label to something carries real liabilities, especially if the thing you are naming isn’t really a thing at all. And atheism, I would argue, is not a thing. It is not a philosophy, just as “non-racism” is not one. Atheism is not a worldview—and yet most people imagine it to be one and attack it as such. We who do not believe in God are collaborating in this misunderstanding by consenting to be named and by even naming ourselves.

Another problem is that in accepting a label, particularly the label of “atheist,” it seems to me that we are consenting to be viewed as a cranky sub-culture. We are consenting to be viewed as a marginal interest group that meets in hotel ballrooms. I’m not saying that meetings like this aren’t important. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was important. But I am saying that as a matter of philosophy we are guilty of confusion, and as a matter of strategy, we have walked into a trap. It is a trap that has been, in many cases, deliberately set for us. And we have jumped into it with both feet.

While it is an honor to find myself continually assailed with Dan [Dennett], Richard [Dawkins], and Christopher [Hitchens] as though we were a single person with four heads, this whole notion of the “new atheists” or “militant atheists” has been used to keep our criticism of religion at arm’s length, and has allowed people to dismiss our arguments without meeting the burden of actually answering them. And while our books have gotten a fair amount of notice, I think this whole conversation about the conflict between faith and reason, and religion and science, has been, and will continue to be, successfully marginalized under the banner of atheism.

So, let me make my somewhat seditious proposal explicit: We should not call ourselves “atheists.” We should not call ourselves “secularists.” We should not call ourselves “humanists,” or “secular humanists,” or “naturalists,” or “skeptics,” or “anti-theists,” or “rationalists,” or “freethinkers,” or “brights.” We should not call ourselves anything. We should go under the radar—for the rest of our lives. And while there, we should be decent, responsible people who destroy bad ideas wherever we find them.


Why should we fall into this trap? Why should we stand obediently in the space provided, in the space carved out by the conceptual scheme of theistic religion? It’s as though, before the debate even begins, our opponents draw the chalk-outline of a dead man on the sidewalk, and we just walk up and lie down in it.

Instead of doing this, consider what would happen if we simply used words like “reason” and “evidence.” What is the argument against reason? It’s true that a few people will bite the bullet here and argue that reason is itself a problem, that the Enlightenment was a failed project, etc. But the truth is that there are very few people, even among religious fundamentalists, who will happily admit to being enemies of reason. In fact, fundamentalists tend to think they are champions of reason and that they have very good reasons for believing in God. Nobody wants to believe things on bad evidence. The desire to know what is actually going on in world is very difficult to argue with. In so far as we represent that desire, we become difficult to argue with. And this desire is not reducible to an interest group. It’s not a club or an affiliation, and I think trying to make it one diminishes its power.

Now, it just so happens that religion has more than its fair share of bad ideas. And it remains the only system of thought, where the process of maintaining bad ideas in perpetual immunity from criticism is considered a sacred act. This is the act of faith. And I remain convinced that religious faith is one of the most perverse misuses of intelligence we have ever devised. So we will, inevitably, continue to criticize religious thinking. But we should not define ourselves and name ourselves in opposition to such thinking.

So what does this all mean in practical terms, apart from Margaret Downey having to change her letterhead? Well, rather than declare ourselves “atheists” in opposition to all religion, I think we should do nothing more than advocate reason and intellectual honesty—and where this advocacy causes us to collide with religion, as it inevitably will, we should observe that the points of impact are always with specific religious beliefs—not with religion in general. There is no religion in general.


We will have won this war of ideas against religion when atheism is scarcely intelligible as a concept. We will simply find ourselves in a world in which people cease to praise one another for pretending to know things they do not know. This is certainly a future worth fighting for. It may be the only future compatible with our long-term survival as a species. But the only path between now and then, that I can see, is for us to be rigorously honest in the present. It seems to me that intellectual honesty is now, and will always be, deeper and more durable, and more easily spread, than “atheism.”

[Read More]

The Lounge / Edith Piaf Pwns
« on: September 27, 2007, 02:23:22 PM »
Search for "Edith Piaf" on Limewire. I recommend L'Hymne A L'Amour.

PZ Myers has written a lucid and inspiring article about the defense of science. Please digg it!

Digg it:


After more than a year of expensive negotiation, we are delighted to announce that both the US and the UK versions of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science have been granted charitable, tax-exempt status in their respective countries.

The US Foundation is "exempt from Federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to you are deductible under section 170 of the Code. You are also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Code."

The British Foundation is registered as Charity Number 1119952. We shall soon be posting a Gift Aid Form which can be downloaded, together with a full explanation.

Click here to read our Mission Statement, which is a modified version of the one that was taken down a few months ago while our two applications were still pending.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / It's official: religion is child abuse
« on: September 08, 2007, 01:08:49 PM »

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Are Catholics Cannibals?
« on: August 31, 2007, 08:40:04 PM »
Quote from: Profession of Faith of the Council of Trent
I likewise profess that in the Mass a true, proper and propitiatory sacrifice is offered to God on behalf of the living and the dead, and that the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is truly, really, and substantially present in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, and that there is a change of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into blood; and this change the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation. I also profess that the whole and entire Christ and a true sacrament is received under each separate species.

Bread and wine is people! :o

Another object of interest to Catholics especially:

Quote from: Mother Teresa
Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?

The Lounge / The Best Statistics You've Ever Seen
« on: August 14, 2007, 01:08:15 PM »
Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths

You've never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called "developing world" using extraordinary animation software developed by his Gapminder Foundation. The Trendalyzer software (recently acquired by Google) turns complex global trends into lively animations, making decades of data pop. Asian countries, as colorful bubbles, float across the grid -- toward better national health and wealth. Animated bell curves representing national income distribution squish and flatten. In Rosling's hands, global trends -- life expectancy, child mortality, poverty rates -- become clear, intuitive and even playful.

The Lounge / The OUT Campaign: Atheists, Come OUT and Stand UP
« on: August 02, 2007, 07:57:28 PM »
On the web:

On Facebook:

The Out Campaign
by Richard Dawkins

July 31st, 2007

Reposted from:,1471,The-Out-Campaign,Richard-Dawkins

In the dark days of 1940, the pre-Vichy French government was warned by its generals "In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken." After the Battle of Britain, Winston Churchill growled his response: "Some chicken; some neck!" Today, the bestselling books of 'The New Atheism' are disparaged, by those who desperately wish to downplay their impact, as "Only preaching to the choir."

Some choir! Only?!

As far as subjective impressions allow and in the admitted absence of rigorous data, I am persuaded that the religiosity of America is greatly exaggerated. Our choir is a lot larger than many people realise. Religious people still outnumber atheists, but not by the margin they hoped and we feared. I base this not only on conversations during my book tour and the book tours of my colleagues Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, but on widespread informal surveys of the World Wide Web. Not our own site, whose contributors are obviously biased, but, for example, Amazon, and YouTube whose denizens are reassuringly young. Moreover, even if the religious have the numbers, we have the arguments, we have history on our side, and we are walking with a new spring in our step – you can hear the gentle patter of our feet on every side.

Our choir is large, but much of it remains in the closet. Our repertoire may include the best tunes, but too many of us are mouthing the words sotto voce with head bowed and eyes lowered. It follows that a major part of our consciousness-raising effort should be aimed, not at converting the religious but at encouraging the non-religious to admit it – to themselves, to their families, and to the world. This is the purpose of the OUT campaign.

Before I go any further, I must forestall one major risk of misunderstanding. The obvious comparison with the gay community is vulnerable to going too far: to 'outing' as a transitive verb whose object might be an unfortunate individual not yet – or not ever – ready to confide in the world. Our OUT campaign will have nothing, repeat nothing to do with outing in that active sense. If a closet atheist wants to come out, that is her decision to make, and nobody else's. What we can do is provide support and encouragement to those who willingly decide to out themselves. This may seem trivial to people in parts of Europe, or in regions of the United States dominated by urban intellectuals where support and encouragement is unnecessary. It is anything but trivial to people in other areas of the United States, and even more so in parts of the Islamic world where apostasy is, by Koranic authority, punishable by death.

The OUT campaign has potentially as many sides to it as you can think of words to precede "out". "Come OUT" has pride of place and is the one I have so far dealt with. Related to it is "Reach OUT" in friendship and solidarity towards those who have come out, or who are contemplating that step which, depending on their family or home town prejudices, may require courage. Join, or found local support groups and on-line forums. Speak OUT, to show waverers they are not alone. Organize conferences or campus events. Attend rallies and marches. Write letters to the local newspaper. Lobby politicians, at local and national level. The more people come out and are known to have done so, the easier will it be for others to follow.

Stand OUT and organize activities and events in your local area. Join an existing local neighbourhood atheist organization, or start one. Put a bumper sticker on your car. Wear a T-shirt. Wear Josh's red A if you like it as much as I do, otherwise design your own or find one on a website such as; or wear no shirt at all, but please don't carp at the very idea of standing up to be counted with other atheists. I admit, I sympathize with those sceptics on this site who fear that we are engendering a quasi-religious conformity of our own. Whether we like it or not, I'm afraid we have to swallow this small amount of pride if we are to have an influence on the real world, otherwise we'll never overcome the 'herding cats' problem. If in doubt, read PZ Myers's exuberant hortation at

"Keep" OUT worried me at first, because it sounds unfriendly and exclusive, like the Barcelona Travel Agent whose travel poster, in well-meant English, read "Go Away!" "Keep OUT" here means, of course, keep religion out of science classes, and similar expressions of the US constitutional separation between church and state (Britain has no such separation, unfortunately). As yet another delightful T-shirt put it, "Don't pray in our school, and I won't think in your church." Lobby your local school board. Quote Christopher Hitchens: "Mr Jefferson, build up that wall."

Chill OUT (exhort others to do so). Atheists are not devils with horns and a tail, they are ordinary nice people. Demonstrate this by example. The nice woman next door may be an atheist. So may the doctor, librarian, computer operator, taxi driver, hairdresser, talk show host, singer, conductor, comedian. Atheists are just people with a different interpretation of cosmic origins, nothing to be alarmed about.

What other OUTs might we imagine? Well, suggest your own. Vote OUT representatives who discriminate against the non-religious, the way George Bush Senior is alleged to have done when he described atheists as non-citizens of a nation "under God". Politicians follow where the votes are. They can only count atheists who are OUT. Some atheists are defeatist in thinking we'll never be effective simply because we're not a majority. But it doesn't matter that we're not a majority. To be effective, all we have to be is recognizable to legislators as a big enough minority. Atheists are more numerous than religious Jews, yet they wield a tiny fraction of the political power, apparently because they have never got their act together in the way the Jewish lobby so brilliantly has: the famous 'herding cats' problem again. And the argument applies not just to politicians but to advertisers, the media, merchants across the board. Anyone who wants to sell us anything caters to demographics. We need to stand up and be counted, so that the demographically savvy culture will come to reflect our tastes and our views. That in turn makes it easier for the next generation of atheists. Fill OUT 'Atheist' on any form that asks for your personal details, especially the next census form.

Break OUT! Some might like to throw 'coming OUT' parties where they joyously celebrate the courage of those who have decided to put behind them the habits of a lifetime, or the habits of their ancestors, embrace a realistic and superstition-free life and Break OUT into the real world. Break OUT of religious conformity and, in celebration of your new found freedom, Break OUT the champagne.

The blog is:

I'm also looking for contributers to help with adding stuff to it.


The Lounge / Radical YouTube Revival Thread
« on: July 27, 2007, 06:55:21 PM »
" class="bbc_link" target="_blank">BEST YOUTUBE VIDEO EVER
(Skip past the Bush part to Arnold)

Awesome Carl Sagan videos:
(4 Billion Years of Evolution)
(Pale Blue Dot)

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Inferior Design
« on: July 26, 2007, 10:41:27 PM »
Inferior Design

Published: July 1, 2007
The New York Times

I had expected to be as irritated by Michael Behe’s second book as by his first. I had not expected to feel sorry for him. The first — “Darwin’s Black Box” (1996), which purported to make the scientific case for “intelligent design” — was enlivened by a spark of conviction, however misguided. The second is the book of a man who has given up. Trapped along a false path of his own rather unintelligent design, Behe has left himself no escape. Poster boy of creationists everywhere, he has cut himself adrift from the world of real science. And real science, in the shape of his own department of biological sciences at Lehigh University, has publicly disowned him, via a remarkable disclaimer on its Web site: “While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally and should not be regarded as scientific.” As the Chicago geneticist Jerry Coyne wrote recently, in a devastating review of Behe’s work in The New Republic, it would be hard to find a precedent.

For a while, Behe built a nice little career on being a maverick. His colleagues might have disowned him, but they didn’t receive flattering invitations to speak all over the country and to write for The New York Times. Behe’s name, and not theirs, crackled triumphantly around the memosphere. But things went wrong, especially at the famous 2005 trial where Judge John E. Jones III immortally summed up as “breathtaking inanity” the effort to introduce intelligent design into the school curriculum in Dover, Pa. After his humiliation in court, Behe — the star witness for the creationist side — might have wished to re-establish his scientific credentials and start over. Unfortunately, he had dug himself in too deep. He had to soldier on. “The Edge of Evolution” is the messy result, and it doesn’t make for attractive reading.

We now hear less about “irreducible complexity,” with good reason. In “Darwin’s Black Box,” Behe simply asserted without justification that particular biological structures (like the bacterial flagellum, the tiny propeller by which bacteria swim) needed all their parts to be in place before they would work, and therefore could not have evolved incrementally. This style of argument remains as unconvincing as when Darwin himself anticipated it. It commits the logical error of arguing by default. Two rival theories, A and B, are set up. Theory A explains loads of facts and is supported by mountains of evidence. Theory B has no supporting evidence, nor is any attempt made to find any. Now a single little fact is discovered, which A allegedly can’t explain. Without even asking whether B can explain it, the default conclusion is fallaciously drawn: B must be correct. Incidentally, further research usually reveals that A can explain the phenomenon after all: thus the biologist Kenneth R. Miller (a believing Christian who testified for the other side in the Dover trial) beautifully showed how the bacterial flagellar motor could evolve via known functional intermediates.

Behe correctly dissects the Darwinian theory into three parts: descent with modification, natural selection and mutation. Descent with modification gives him no problems, nor does natural selection. They are “trivial” and “modest” notions, respectively. Do his creationist fans know that Behe accepts as “trivial” the fact that we are African apes, cousins of monkeys, descended from fish?

The crucial passage in “The Edge of Evolution” is this: “By far the most critical aspect of Darwin’s multifaceted theory is the role of random mutation. Almost all of what is novel and important in Darwinian thought is concentrated in this third concept.”

What a bizarre thing to say! Leave aside the history: unacquainted with genetics, Darwin set no store by randomness. New variants might arise at random, or they might be acquired characteristics induced by food, for all Darwin knew. Far more important for Darwin was the nonrandom process whereby some survived but others perished. Natural selection is arguably the most momentous idea ever to occur to a human mind, because it — alone as far as we know — explains the elegant illusion of design that pervades the living kingdoms and explains, in passing, us. Whatever else it is, natural selection is not a “modest” idea, nor is descent with modification.

But let’s follow Behe down his solitary garden path and see where his overrating of random mutation leads him. He thinks there are not enough mutations to allow the full range of evolution we observe. There is an “edge,” beyond which God must step in to help. Selection of random mutation may explain the malarial parasite’s resistance to chloroquine, but only because such micro-organisms have huge populations and short life cycles. A fortiori, for Behe, evolution of large, complex creatures with smaller populations and longer generations will fail, starved of mutational raw materials.

If mutation, rather than selection, really limited evolutionary change, this should be true for artificial no less than natural selection. Domestic breeding relies upon exactly the same pool of mutational variation as natural selection. Now, if you sought an experimental test of Behe’s theory, what would you do? You’d take a wild species, say a wolf that hunts caribou by long pursuit, and apply selection experimentally to see if you could breed, say, a dogged little wolf that chivies rabbits underground: let’s call it a Jack Russell terrier. Or how about an adorable, fluffy pet wolf called, for the sake of argument, a Pekingese? Or a heavyset, thick-coated wolf, strong enough to carry a cask of brandy, that thrives in Alpine passes and might be named after one of them, the St. Bernard? Behe has to predict that you’d wait till hell freezes over, but the necessary mutations would not be forthcoming. Your wolves would stubbornly remain unchanged. Dogs are a mathematical impossibility.

Don’t evade the point by protesting that dog breeding is a form of intelligent design. It is (kind of), but Behe, having lost the argument over irreducible complexity, is now in his desperation making a completely different claim: that mutations are too rare to permit significant evolutionary change anyway. From Newfies to Yorkies, from Weimaraners to water spaniels, from Dalmatians to dachshunds, as I incredulously close this book I seem to hear mocking barks and deep, baying howls of derision from 500 breeds of dogs — every one descended from a timber wolf within a time frame so short as to seem, by geological standards, instantaneous.

If correct, Behe’s calculations would at a stroke confound generations of mathematical geneticists, who have repeatedly shown that evolutionary rates are not limited by mutation. Single-handedly, Behe is taking on Ronald Fisher, Sewall Wright, J. B. S. Haldane, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Richard Lewontin, John Maynard Smith and hundreds of their talented co-workers and intellectual descendants. Notwithstanding the inconvenient existence of dogs, cabbages and pouter pigeons, the entire corpus of mathematical genetics, from 1930 to today, is flat wrong. Michael Behe, the disowned biochemist of Lehigh University, is the only one who has done his sums right. You think?

The best way to find out is for Behe to submit a mathematical paper to The Journal of Theoretical Biology, say, or The American Naturalist, whose editors would send it to qualified referees. They might liken Behe’s error to the belief that you can’t win a game of cards unless you have a perfect hand. But, not to second-guess the referees, my point is that Behe, as is normal at the grotesquely ill-named Discovery Institute (a tax-free charity, would you believe?), where he is a senior fellow, has bypassed the peer-review procedure altogether, gone over the heads of the scientists he once aspired to number among his peers, and appealed directly to a public that — as he and his publisher know — is not qualified to rumble him.

Richard Dawkins holds the Charles Simonyi chair for the public understanding of science at Oxford. His most recent book is “The God Delusion.”

20 (I created that Wiki article from scratch!)

“Is it rational that the dead can communicate with the living and give sound advice on how they should live their lives? What about sticking pins into your body to free the flow of Chi energy and cure your illness? Or the bending of spoons using your mind alone? Is that rational? Richard Dawkins doesn’t think so, and feels it is his duty to expose those areas of belief that exist without scientific proof, yet manage to hold the nation under their spell. He will take on the world’s leading proponents in their field of expertise, meet the victims who have used them and expose the history of the movements – from the charlatans who have milked these practices to the experiments and testing that have failed to produce conclusive results.”

Part 1 airs on Channel 4 on August 13th.

« on: July 19, 2007, 03:06:24 PM »
You want a euphoric experience, try going without Internet access for four months and start again with a connection twice the speed of your old ISP's. Beauty. Three questions:

(1) Where did all the noobs come from?

(2) Where did all the old regs go?

(3) Where's our private forum?!

The Lounge / My ISP is incompetent
« on: March 26, 2007, 09:18:32 AM »
Despite being faxed, phoned, and emailed repeatedly, my satellite Internet provider has decided to cut off our service and ignore us entirely. A new, radio ISP is surveying our house on April 23rd (we requested it weeks ago) so in all liklihood I will be without interweb access for many months.

At the moment I am reading Consciousness Explained by Daniel C. Dennett, which is an outstanding book for anyone wishing to tackle the mind-body problem. I recommend it highly.

-Ubuntu (Writing from school library computer.)

In honour of Douglas' memory, presents the transcript of his speech at Digital Biota 2, held at Magdelene College Cambridge, in September 1998. I would like to thank Steve Grand for providing this to us. Douglas presented this ''off the cuff'' which only magnifies his true genius in our eyes. -- Bruce Damer

Is there an Artificial God?
Douglas Adams

This was originally billed as a debate only because I was a bit anxious coming here. I didn't think I was going to have time to prepare anything and also, in a room full of such luminaries, I thought 'what could I, as an amateur, possibly have to say'? So I thought I would settle for a debate. But after having been here for a couple of days, I realised you're just a bunch of guys! It's been rife with ideas and I've had so many myself through talking with and listening to people that I'd thought what I'd do was stand up and have an argument and debate with myself. I'll talk for a while and hope sufficiently to provoke and inflame opinion that there'll be an outburst of chair- throwing at the end.

Before I embark on what I want to try and tackle, may I warn you that things may get a little bit lost from time to time, because there's a lot of stuff that's just come in from what we've been hearing today, so if I occasionally sort of go… I was telling somebody earlier today that I have a four-year-old daughter and was very, very interested watching her face when she was in her first 2 or 3 weeks of life and suddenly realising what nobody would have realised in previous ages—she was rebooting!

I just want to mention one thing, which is completely meaningless, but I am terribly proud of—I was born in Cambridge in 1952 and my initials are D N A!

The topic I want to introduce to you this evening, the subject of the debate that we are about to sort of not have, is a slightly facetious one (you'll be surprised to hear, but we'll see where we go with it)— ''Is there an Artificial God?'' I'm sure most of the people in this room will share the same view, but even as an out-and-out atheist one can't help noticing that the role of a god has had an enormously profound impact on human history over many, many centuries. It's very interesting to figure out where this came from and what, in the modern scientific world we sometimes hope against hope that we live in, it actually means.

Continue reading at

The Lounge / KIVA.ORG: Small loans that change lives
« on: March 09, 2007, 07:57:46 PM »
We let you loan to the working poor

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

We partner with organizations all over the world

Kiva partners with existing microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified borrowers. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through, our partners upload their borrower profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them.

You can lend as little as $25. What are you waiting for? You do get paid back after all; that's better than having your money sit around!

Under the username Socrates, I am approaching my 1000th post at the United Church of Christ forums ( Now obviously I've said a lot. I've weeded out the people who really want to discuss intelligently and the ones who don't: the ones who aren't interested have learned to ignore debate/atheistic discussion threads. However, I don't represent all atheists of course, and I think it would be better for the UCC members to hear different secular perspectives. I would really appreciate it is someone from FES would comment on some of the threads (or create new ones, but there are plenty already) so that it isn't just me all the time blathering on. I'm not especially intelligent or persuasive, so it's likely I am missing some opportunities to present naturalism eloquently.

The most friendly, intelligent, and reasonable member I have encountered is Don Niederfrank. If you have a conversation with him, it will be enjoyable. He seems to me to be an atheist at heart, but unfortunately he ended up as a preacher. xD

Dysfunction made an account on the forums a while back, but only posted once or twice.

I will be away for the next week so I won't be able to be participate in the ongoing theism vs atheism discussions that many UCC Christians are eagerly partaking in. The theology forum is located here:

If the "brights" were truly "bright"...:

Faith and Reason: (a good one!)

Ten Commandments:

Psychology and Faith:

What is the purpose of Socrates' existence?:

Theodicy Thread:

The Lounge / Leaving for Internetless Fidel-land tomorrow morning
« on: March 09, 2007, 03:33:54 PM »
I'll be heading off to Cayo Largo tomorrow morning (Saturday the 10th) so I'll be out of touch. I'll be gone for a week – so see ya suckers! :evil:

The Lounge / Hugo's House of Horrors!
« on: March 08, 2007, 07:40:50 PM »

This is one of the first games I ever played and it is totally awesome!

The Lounge / Waking up in the universe
« on: March 03, 2007, 10:25:14 PM »
This Christmas lecture is 16 years old and yet is still spectacular. Richard Dawkins really is talented at presenting science in a fascinating and inspiring way. Top recommendations: a must-watch.

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I found this absolutely stunning presentation amongst other related media at:

The Lounge / 10 Worst (Best?) Company Domain Names
« on: March 03, 2007, 09:01:26 PM »

The top 10 unintentionally worst company URL
Everyone knows that if you are going to operate a business in today’s
world you need a domain name. It is advisable to look at the domain name
selected as other see it and not just as you think it looks. Failure to do
this may result in situations such as the following (legitimate) companies
who deal in everyday humdrum products and services but clearly didn’t give
their domain names enough consideration:

1. A site called ‘Who Represents’ where you can find the name of the agent
that represents a celebrity. Their domain name… wait for it… is

2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange
advice and views at

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at

5. Then of course, there’s the Italian Power Generator company…

6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South

7. If you’re looking for computer software, there’s always

8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is

9. Then, of course, there’s these brainless art designers, and their
whacky website:

10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at

The Lounge / Desktoptwo - a second OS, online
« on: March 02, 2007, 09:10:45 PM »

Desktoptwo is an interesting flash-based webtop that can be used to save files and perform computing tasks online. It seems the only thing it is missing is a web browser... What do you think?

Note to self: blog this.

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