how one gets brainwashed

No not me!  (see previous post for an explanation of what’s going on here)
 
So my friend was lonely and started hanging out with some rather devout people in that rather obsessive foreign country.  And she started accompanying them to church and then she relaxed her guard and "let god speak to me".  At this point she should have put her finely honed analytical skills to work and realized that if you look for things hard enough,  they will appear (in statistics they call this fishing).  Normally if you think you hear the voice of god, you would attribute it to your mind playing tricks on you, or in rare cases schizophrenia.  Both of those are much more likely than god actually talking to you, even if you believe there is one.
 
And once she started hearing the voice of god tell her to ‘enlighten’ me (yes, me Dave Miller, mister rational himself) it was all over.
 
How am I going to get my friend back?  I had a good conversation with Maurice the Guru (unrelated to Guru Bikes), who said "let her have her happiness.  it’s like placebo effect- if it makes you happy does it matter how it works?"  and that would rule out bubble bursting (or attempts at it).  I could unleash this–a clear debunking of all the junk Strobel wrote in his book The Case For Faith, which my friend recommended I read.  Every argument Strobel makes is illogical, and half are circular reasoning!  I will spare you the details, follow the link to read more about that.
 
What is a man to do when the soul (defined by me to be the ‘firmware of the brain’) of a good friend is corrupted by a combination of duress, faith, and false logic?
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Talking about Babies with made-to-order defects? – Pregnancy – MSNBC.com

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Babies with made-to-order defects? – Pregnancy – MSNBC.com

Good morning.  weighing in on this issue, I have to say it’s grossly irresponsible to create designer babies with defects.  Evolution marches on, and as far as I’m concerned, the next step in evolution will be technological-meaning that humans will define the direction of movement, rather than ‘genetic jitter’.  If I had the atomic Delorean, you bet I would go back in time to 1980 and make myself taller (and maybe a little smarter, and more diesel…).  As a society we should be working to improve ourselves by eliminating genetic disease, and moving towards an ideal.  In the past, the ability to store fat was a positive survival trait, now it isn’t.  Shouldn’t we consider changing our genes to reflect new realities of existence?

There are ethical issues here.  Not having a baby with down’s syndrome is an unequivocally good thing.  Not having a baby with achondroplasia is slightly more questionable, but I will say that it is unethical to have a child who will grow up to  be disadvantaged.  Yes you get into Brave New World arguments-somenone with a super IQ probably won’t be too in the mood to be a UPS depot worker scanning boxes and loading them onto trucks when they could be unlocking the mysteries of the cosmos or curing the common cold,  but maybe that’s the direction we need to go in.

For me personally, I don’t want to have kids for two reasons.

  1. I don’t want to crimp my lifestyle.  23 years of caring for Junior, grief, and fortune is a lot of work!
  2. I wouldn’t be able to face Junior when he or she says "why don’t I get any respect because I’m short?"

Now don’t give me grief because I know the statistics.  Marco Pantani (TdF winner 1998), Louis Lazar MD, and the others are outliers.  that’s right statistics fans, outliers.  I plan to be an outlier but it’s not easy or likely and that’s the deal.  so sign me up for engineering of the next generation.

tolerance is the acceptance of that which we do not like, but cannot change

the evangelicals were something to be annoyed with … until they claimed my friend as thier victim.  so in the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, "Of course,  you know, THIS MEANS WAR!"
 
Those of you who know me well, know that I have been a confirmed athiest since I was 5.  The stance I take is that claims must be supported by evidence.  there is no evidence indicating the existence of a creator/god/goddess/or dieties (plural), and I think it improbable that there is one (or more than one).  And even if the universe was created by an organism, there is an equal possibility that it was created by some kid in a high school physics class or it’s "a bloody snowglobe" like Desmond says (or that Nike Commercial with the Buffalo snowglobe…).
You can think of it like N-Rays.  Blondlot, a respected physicist, thought he had found a new form of energy.  When Robert Wood, another respected physicst, removed a prism from his apparatus, and the same patterns appeared on his film, Blondlot had to accept the fact that his N-Rays were just an artifact.  He proposed a mechanism for an observed phenomenon, and it was proven false.  The relationship to faith is such: faith is believing in something in the absense of evidence, or presence of countervailing evedence.  There is no evidence for the existence of a deity or deties, and there is some evidence against the existence of deities in the sense of the religions that do exist (namely mutual exclusivity, internal inconsistencies, etc.)
 
The reason I cannot follow Grandpa Bob’s sage advice and just accept the existence of religion and faith is that faith precludes the search for naturalistic answers.  If you can use a supernatural answer, then science completely breaks down.  Science is predicated upon searching for the truth-not abandoning the search and just slapping the label "god said so" on it to close the argument.  Just because you can’t see Russel’s teapot orbiting the sun somewhere between the earth and mars doesn’t mean it isn’t there (it’s only a philosophical teapot…).
 
Religion (apart from faith) has its own terrible parts.  following the teachings of self-serving and/or mentally ill individuals (I can’t tell which would be worse) is not necessarily conducive to the construction of an ethical society.  The bible prescribes death for homosexuals, demands that the jews commit genocide (including the slaughter of the other group’s animals) and all manner of other horrible things.  Not eating cheseburgers because it’s not kosher is illogical.  wiping out rival tribes is immoral.
Morality should be based upon utilitarian ideals–the creation of a just, sustainable, and positive society should be the goal.  not adherence to dogmas.
 
When Marx claimed religion to be the opiate of the masses, he was right.  Faith curiously acts upon the same neurological pathways as opiates.  So people high on god really can be considered high.  Not a good situation (especially when [name deleted] has a history of mental illness).  When those jehova’s witnesses come to your door and say they feel the presence of the holy spirit, they’re feeling either an illusion or a form of epilepsy.  the same feelings can be induced by magnetic fields in succeptible individuals. 
 
 
Will I go ballistic at the bourgeois christmas party, unmasking santa and declaring those who believe that jesus was more than a schizophrenic (or crafty self-interested carpenter or just unwitting cult figure)?  no.  I will be polite.  But I shouldn’t be.  I should go grab [name deleted] and send her to a convenient psych ward, with George W and George Mayer (my high school chemistry teacher who was dismissed for being overly evangelical).
 
I’m so pissed off right now–my friend was stolen by some crafty jesus people and an illogical book (no not the bible, The Case For Faith).  I want my old logical scientific friend back.  I can’t the 135 million americans who are tuned in timothy leary style to the evangelical channel, but I sure wish i could save one.
 
 
-please note this will be updated in the future-

do they know it’s christmastime at all…

well people, it’s time for me to rail against the insanity of most people’s favorite holidays.  In three parts: (1) the history, (2) the present, and (3) analysis.
 
  1. If some guy walked out of bellevue and said "I am the messiah!" you’d probably tell him to turn around and check back in for some R&R.  If he performed some magic tricks, you’d probably tell him he’s clever before walking away.  If someone else told you about some guy who does magic tricks and is the messiah, you’d probably think the messenger was a little off kilter.
    Ockham’s razor says the simplest explanation is probably the right one.  And the plausible (Jesus was mentally ill, or a self-interested charlatan, or an unwitting posthumous cult figure) trumps the implausible (Jesus is the messiah even though not everyone believes it).
    And for chanukah (any way you spell it), one day worth of lamp oil lasting 8 days is either a tall tale, a clever sleight of hand (on the part of self-serving priests) or somenone couldn’t measure properly.  Miracles don’t exist.  Go study some statistics*.  End of story.
  2. In the modern era, the ‘holiday season’ has become a string of capitalist holidays.  cue the Live Aid.  The people they’re singing about (1) for the most part aren’t christian and (2) suffer so europeans and north americans can have a capitalist christmas.  Sam Walton’s heirs get rich at the expense of the environment and the second and third world workers.  Not a nice present for them (and ultimately everone due to the consumption of nonrenewable resources and pollution).
  3. Call me Scrooge.  Call me a spoilsport.  Call me a hypocrite for flying into Buffalo on the 24th at 7PM and going straight to a very lavish party (thrown by family friends).  And you should give me grief for playing along with Santa and not bursting the little kids bubbles.
    But at least I’m thinking about this stuff.  Instead of talking about "the christmas spirit" and putting change in the salvation army buckets (and countenancing their existence), we should abolish the whole thing and start over.  here’s to a sustainable, efficient, and just future.

Prescription drug or heavy metal band? (from a radio contest)

Prescription drug or heavy metal band:
 
  1. Keflex
  2. Xetian
  3. Zithromax
  4. Biaxin

well enough of the games.  Biaxin is a prescription antibiotic.  It’s relatively cheap, effective and TASTES TERRIBLE-ALL DAY!  it makes your saliva taste bad (but no smell thank goodness).  so if your doctor wants to give it to you, be warned, or ask for something else.

 

Now off to North Carolina for a job interview at humancentric technologies: www.humancentrictech.com

Out like a light … a failure of optimism

 
a wonderful article on burnout.  And to head off diagnoses of "psych-class-osis" I was thinking about these issues before I even heard about this on NPR.
 
so I’m contemplating a career change.  Maybe Tesla Motors (to avenge the death of the EV1).  build a sportscar that handles like an Elise, and gets 300mpgE (miles per gallon equivalent).  get your electricity from wind/solar/geothermal/hydro and you’re driving almost carbon free!  well, you do have discount the carbon fiber bodyshell and lubricants.
 
this plan may work to restore optimism.  I hope it does

Martin-Baker tie or ?

Last night I had a rough experience.  I went to this cyclist party and much to my pleasant surprise, rather than being a bunch of hypercompetitive CRCA racers (the stockbroker crowd), it was 3 girls and a cool guy.  One girl was cool, columbia grad student, but too tall (damn).  the other single one was ridiculously cute, photographer… so I went after her and was definitely getting Positive Signs (to use the Peter Star terminology).  Until I asked "what do you do besides take pictures and bike…"  "I hang out, drink, occasionally do drugs, hang out a lot…"  at this point it’s time to pull the metaphorical yellow handle … or at least break off the attack (and I had made it past the air defense and her friend and roomate were even being helpful). 
This is why we establish the mission rules when we’re thinking straight–no second guessing -well she is cute and available and giving positive signs-.  Mission is over with the red card (shoutout to Matty).  No arguing with the ref, hit the showers.
 
Now I have to admit I was doing some rationalizing today during my car repairing [see below].  I mean some people I have great respect for have admitted to drug use in the past (now they are respectable middle aged citizens).  so:
1.  people change -but you can’t enter a relationship trying to pull an Updike "to desire a woman is to desire to save her."  not wise course of action
2.  can’t write someone off completely so easily… i mean a bike buddy or casual friendhas different requirements than a potential GF
 
I should be flattered and emboldened by the fact that she was giving positive signs.  I mean lately the PvO has been getting the better of me-especially with the Ukranian from a few weeks ago.  damn she was really great on all aspects except for the shootdown.  But i’m more interested in success (at least a 2nd date, come on people!) than the hunt, which is rather nerve racking.  Like flying a Thud (F-105) to Hanoi…
 
 
As for the car repairs mentioned above, the passenger side storage bin on the Porsche filled with water due to leaks around the taillight cluster.  Damage: pack of bulbs, can of fix-a-flat, jumper cables, 2 flashlights, some other miscellaneous stuff.  I’ll have to bite the bullet and buy the factory seal strip and do this right, and drive the deathmobile until I get that fixed–too much of a pain to put the lights back together just to take apart again in a few days.