27 February 2012
Dilbert 14 January 1998
I was thinking the other day about luck. It's always been that I've never believed in luck, but now it seems like there are really is something to it. What got me thinking was the unlikelihood of the other options. Put simply, every event in the universe can be a result of:
1. The micromanagement of a Grand Organizing Designer
2. Completely random
3. Willed action
4. Deterministic processes
5. Some combination of the above
Is that really all there is to it? Do we make our own luck or is it all just shit happening? How many of the above possibilities actually exist? The answers to those questions depend on who you ask.
Epiphionominalists and a lot of the "new atheists" like Will Provine (the refreshingly honest one) will reject #3 outright. There is no mind so there is no will. Neither is there God, so shit happens that can either be determined or cannot. Other, theistic determinists will reject #3, and, depending on their degree of hardness, #2 and #4 as well. They assert that God pulls all the strings, guiding everything from which atom slams into which atom to who steps out into traffic at the wrong time and gets wacked by a bus.
Some things don't seem explainable by any of the above in a convincing way. It may be necessary to add a few possibilities to the list, such as 6. Psychic functions, and 7. Luck. Here are two examples from personal experience that may necessitate these additions.
Today at roughly 5:50PM I began thinking about vending machines for no obvious reason. Vending machines of all types and in particular machines that dispense sandwiches and beer. After getting started cooking I turned on the television. The History Channel was on and it was Modern Marvels, and it was the episode on vending machines and other coin operated devices. Some scofftics will say "coincidence!1" Okay, well, how much of a coincidence is it when such a thing recurrs regularly? When I watched the reruns of King of the Hill I frequently knew which episode would air before turning on the television. Throughout the day I would think of jokes from a particular episode, and most of the time that happened I was right about which episode would air later in the night. Scofftics will shout even louder "Coincidence!!!!!1" When asked, well how many times does it need to happen before you'll consider it's not a coincidence? The scofftics will shout even louderer "EVERYTHING IS COINCIDENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111"
Precog experiments have demonstrated the actual existence of psychic functions like this. It doesn't matter if someone shouts loudly that the sky is pink and green stripes, that doesn't change the fact that it's blue, just like no matter how much the skep-dicks lie that doesn't change reality to suit their wants.
Then there's luck, which I not think is akin to Sheldrake's morphic fields. Why do some people have good luck and some people have rotten luck? What is luck and how do you explain it? Well, Rupert Sheldrake made famous the concept of fields of information that affect how the universe works. An example of a morphic field might be a type of crystal formation. Say that the odds of a certain type of crystal forming is really low. Well, one crystal beats the odds and forms, and that act of forming leaves an imprint on the fabric of the universe that changes the odds. Now, since that one crystal formed it is slightly more likely that a similar crystal will form. This happens a couple hundred times and now the odds of similar crystals forming are much better because the morphic field has built up by all the previous generations of crystals.
Luck might work the same way. The more good luck someone has the more it is reinforcing the good luck morphic field built up by that person and the better luck they get. The same works in reverse. This is why it may be very difficult in deed to change your luck if you've built it up very strongly over time in either direction, good or bad. Changing your luck would require changing the field which may be accessed at a subconscious level. Doing this may involve "reprogramming" your subconscious thought processes, which is notoriously difficult to do consciously.
Of course this is all just specualtion at this point. Someone would need to develop an experiment to test lucky and unlucky people and see how luck changes over time. Until then we'll just have to hold off judgment.
*Said like a chicken.
22 February 2012
"They should leave Afghanistan rather than disrespecting our religion, our faith," Mohammad Hakim told the Associated Press outside of Bagram. "They have to leave and if next time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Koran, religion and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body."
Okay, we the Americans will leave and let the Taliban come back and opress you again. Remember when we the Americans liberated your country, thousands of you went out to undisclosed locations and dug up old TVs and radios that the Taliban forbid you from having? Guess where they'll go again? Guess what the Taliban will do when they get power again, since you helped the enemy for ten years? Guess whose heads will come off? Yours will! That should make you so happy!
Oh, and when we leave we'd like our $52 billion in aid back, preferably in $20s and singles so we can go to the strip club, toss back a few brews, and maybe get a blow job if the price is right.
The next time we disrespect your religion, yeah Hakim (I knew a Hakim once, real asshole, probably not related). How about the next time the suicide bombers disrespect your religion? Oh, that's right, the part where it says killing innocent women and children send you straight to Hell, that part of the Quran is magically forgotten. That's not disrespecting your religion, but having a copy fall into the trash by accident means blood must spill.
Why don't we just get the fuck out of the country already? I say the Afghans deserve the Taliban. They don't want to be liberated, just subjugated, and we're too kind to do that.
16 February 2012
15 February 2012
This is from Raeford, North Carolina. Carolina Journal. I'm gonna read it to you exactly as it printed out here: "A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious. The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice did not meet US Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day."
Thar she blows! Fat ugly wide load Obama wife who can't recognize her own kids because they're too obese and who rails on everyone not to eat food with taste yet directly injects fat into her own ass is at it again! Federal inspectors are now checking kids lunches!
This little girl's mom packed her a lunch (since when do preschoolers get lunch?) that contains everything from the four food groups and some union jackboot thug SEIU NWO motherfucker looked at it and said "nope, a union motherfucker didn't pack it, it's not nutritious," and this Tides Foundation , occupy America union thug threw out her lunch and replaced it with three chicken nuggets. Yep. Apple juice and bananas are not nutritious, but three chicken nuggets are. They then billed the mom $1.25 for the cost of the chicken nuggets.
THIS IS SO EVIL!!!!
The government has no right to look into kids home lunches and then grade the parents on how well it meets fat ugly Obama's standards. The government has no right to dictate what we can and cannot eat.
I think we actually have a picture of the lunch. From the Daily Mail, we have a picture of a turky sandwich, complete with cheese, lettuce, and what looks like oatmeal baked into the crust.
And here we have chicken nuggets, complete with unitendifiable grey filling material. I'm not even sure they were ever alive. According to the other wiki, chicken nuggets are made of something called "meat slurry," which is mostly "liquefied meat product." When food is described as both slurry and product I don't think I want to eat it.
Which looks more nutritious to you? It doesn't matter, because you're not a government jackboot union thug and so you don't know how to raise your own kid!
That's right, Debbie Squires, associate director, I'll just call her "director's ass," of the Michigan Union Thug School Council said parent's don't know how to raise their own kids, the state union educators have to do it. "Educators go through education for a reason, they are the people who know best about how to serve children." Let me tell you, I was going to school to become a teacher, so I know first hand who these "educators" who go through "education" and "know best about how to serve children." They're just as obsessed with Jersey Shore and giving blowjobs and goofing off and cheating on tests as anyone, then when they get that piece of paper that says they're teachers then they become god-level citizens and can boss parents and kids around and the whole thing is a massive ego trip. I've had very few good teachers in my day, very few indeed. I've had permanant substitutes and people who couldn't speak any language and some were picked up off the street just to fill vacancies. These people do not know what's best for kids. Synthetic phonics, which was developed decades ago, and every study ever conducted shows that it is the best way to teach kids how to read that's been developed. Yet the schools don't teach it. They teach the alphabet, which is useless because only "I" and "A" are single letter words, and they ignore everything that is known to work and stick with some bullshit government union-aproved system because thou shalt not piss off the unions! I've learned more at a public library than any school. Now tell me educators know what's best.
06 February 2012
I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.
In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience,to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.
05 February 2012
01 February 2012
For sake of argument, let us assume that the orthodox Sunni account is correct in all these facts (I have no objection to any of them). What is interesting is the possible interpretation that can be drawn.
1. Muhammad was illiterate. This is said to be one of the important facts concerning why the Quran is genuine revelation. It is argued that since Muhammad was illiterate he could not have copied stuff from other holy texts (or other texts in general, like all the medical knowledge from the Quran that was known by pagan doctors like Galen of Pergamon five centuries earlier). Okay, most people were illiterate back then (an even today) so it is no stretch of the imagination to suppose Muhammad was illiterate as well.
2. The text of the Quran was memorised perfectly by companions of Muhammad for around 30 years before it was compiled by Caliph Uthman (although the diacritical marks were added 50 or more years later, without which the Uthmanic text can be pronounced in a number of different ways, leading to different interpretations, because written Arabic, like Hebrew, has no vowels). Again, there's no problem here. People living in an oral culture are trained from a very early age to develop fantastic memories. Bramins in Kerala are trained to memorise the four Vedas twice, once as it is and once as one continuous sound. Poets memorised very long epic texts like the Illiad and Mahabarata.
Can you see what my question is yet? I'll give you a hint: Muhammad was a merchant before he became a prophet at age 40.
If we take as fact that Muhammad was an illiterate merchant and that people from his village (and certainly Muhammad himself, since he was the first person to memorise the text of the Quran!) were capable of fantastic feats of memory, how is fact number one proof again that the Quran is divine revelation? The Israelites, Greeks, and Romans travelled all over the western regions of the Arabian peninsula, and the Sassanid Persians controlled the east and south (present Yemen and Oman). Both cultures had advanced technological and scientific writings, and well developed and cosmopolitan religions (there were missionaries from many Christian and Gnostic sects as well as Jewish merchants and members of the Persian mystery religions). Arabia was bathed with knowledge, secular and religious. Muhammad would have encountered Jewish, Christian, Gnostic, Persian, and Greek religious and scientific ideas when he made his rounds trading salt or dates or whatever it was he made a living from. Since he, and many people, had very good memories, there is no reason to assume he could not have heard stories from Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and others and memorised them. Saying Muhammad was illiterate in no way demonstrates that the Quran is divine revelation.
If we look at the Quran we find a number of things: Greek medical and geological knowledge, Gnostic interpretations of Jesus (like that Jesus was not crucified, a look-alike was), "Reader's Digest" versions of stories about Abraham and other Jewish figures. It could be said that God revealed all this to Muhammad, I have no problem with that, but it means that evidence has to be brought up to cast doubt on the cryptomnesia hypothesis that Muhammad had heard all this stuff while he was a merchant, forgot about it, and then subconsciously reworked it together to form the Quran. Both scenarios are possible, and right now both have precisely the same amount of evidence.
As of now I do not have an answer to this question, nor do I forsee that I will at any time in the future. The most I can hope for is that more people will take this question to heart and ponder over it.