Occams's Articles, Page 3 of 6
A recent Australian TV program Compass presented an excellent objective discussion of what is really meant by the terms “atheist”, “agnostic”, and “skeptic”.
I urge all the nerds to watch this video and respond here with what you think about it.
Compass is a regular show on religion and often explores intensely devout subjects with prominent religious leaders of various faiths. It is not a radical liberal show that tries to make a mockery of anyone’s faith. The Australian ABC is a national broadcaster run by real program makers and specialist journalists who a re not subject to the kind of self censorship that applies to our “free TV” commercial and public broadcasters. Compass is not afraid to offend, and does not fake respect.
Aretha treated this subject very nicely
Find out what it means to me
We hear it frequently on Omninerd and in the media as well:
You must respect my religion
I deserve your respect
He disrespected me
I think we need some ground rules for respect on Omninerd.
This is one of those Only-in-America things
The St. Lawrence Agency in Altamonte Springs, Fla. has been offering UFO abduction insurance $10 million policies. (It is not clear from the reference whether this is the premium or the pay-out.) The policies offer payment for medical coverage, including psychiatric care, in the event of a physical abduction by alien spacecraft. They pay $20 million if the policy holder has an alien child or is eaten by aliens.
The owner of the St Lawrence Agency, Mr Mike St Lawrence says:
“I’ve actually approved two claims for payoff.”
Prominent policyholders include actress Shirley MacLaine and a Harvard professor who has written extensively on aliens.
I received this disgraceful message from a friend who is a devout Christian living in the American West. He sincerely believes that the Bible counsels against multiculturalism and that the USA is standing into danger because of the divisiveness caused by liberal policies allowing other cultures into our society.
This speech was made by a politician who presumably knows better, but is using it for electoral purposes because he knows that it will have resonance in the Bible Belt.
I certainly don’t endorse this ignorant, xenophobic world view, but I think it is important that we should understand that it exists and be ready to counter it.
I see no evidence that the USA is in any more danger now from having admitted other cultures into its society than it ever was. Sure there is evidence that newly arrived immigrants are having difficulties adjusting: just like the Irish, Italians, Slavs, and Jews did. We were in no danger from them either.
A couple of years ago I expressed on Omninerd my view that there would never be peace in the Middle East until the Israelis began to give the Palestinians a fair deal.
I was immediately subjected to attack from all directions, some of which I believe was orchestrated by professional pro Israel lobbyists who patrol the Internet shoring up American support for Israel. I now think that one of these was an an active and respected nerd at that time (but no longer). I learned a good deal in the discussion that followed, or at least I thought I had at the time. Then the Palestinians elected Hamas, and I lost all sympathy for them.
I don’t buy the argument that all races and classes should be equally represented in prison. Some groups commit more crime and should be represented in proportion, but something is going seriously wrong now and the alarming statistics are worth some careful consideration. I can think of no reason why the USA needs to incarcarate a higher proportion of its black people than South Africa did during the worst years of the infamous white racist apartheid regime.
Why does the United states have to have a greater percentage of its population behind bars than all of the undemocratic countrie that we despise, including Iran, North Korea and China?
There is a current debate in Australia about the merits of a new tax on the excess profits of mining companies. The conservatives (in opposition) are parading the old demon that this will force prices up for consumers. THis is also the converntional wisdom on Omninerd whenever company taxes are discussed.
However, now (bipartisan) economists are making cogent arguments that when excessive profits are being made (especially by foreign companies) from exploiting a non renewable resource with ever rising demand from strong developing economies, this dynamic affecting consumers does not apply and the taxes may be a very good thing for citizens of the exporting country.
I think we have seeen numerous examples of Godwin’s Law right here on Omninerd.
Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s law of Nazi Analogies)12 is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”32
Godwin’s law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued4 that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.
Is it rational to be both pro life and pro capital punishment?
I think not. If all human life is sacred, that’s it. You can’t consider the merit of individual cases in relation to one policy but not the other.
We have been giving the Mormons a hammering over the last few days. Although I find their beliefs highly improbable, it is hard not to admire their loyalty to them and their willingness to defend them. They say adversity makes us stronger, and this sect has had enough of that to become very strong.
For me, what is far more concerning are the pseudo religious cults that abuse their members and challenge us all through their defiance of our laws and societal values. Prime amongst these must be the fast-growing Scientologists whose depravity is becoming increasingly better understood.
Now that Cell phone tracking has become a useful technique for tracking criminals we have to ask: Do Americans have constitutional rights to keep their location a secret?
Perhaps a more pertinent question is:Should Americans using a mobile rather than a fixed phone have a right to keep the location of their cell phone unknown to law enforcement agencies?
Personally, I think the balance is in favor of cops and the community benefit of removing criminals. If the bad guys had dialed from a fixed line their position would have been known if the call had been intercepted. The new convenience of mobile phones should not necessarily be assumed to bring with it a right to coordinate criminal activities in privacy.
Is it OK for our military leaders to say that they put God before their Country.
Under God is nominally included in their oath but may be optional;.
The problem now is “which God?”.
Many of us would have some concern if it was Allah.
We have been around this loop of discussing capital punishment a few times on Omninerd.
Usually the collective wisdom is that one can imagine many cases where execution is richly deserved and is the proper thing for society to do in such cases. Probably the current case of the abortion doctor killer is in that category.
I would welcome a discussion of execution by the state from first principles, avoiding emotional examples if possible.
I think we should look at such things as
- Why do we do it?
- When do we do it
- Is it effective policy
- Is revenge a proper part of a justice system
The following discussion is in the realm of generality and can easily be rejected on the basis of specific arguments or people. Nevertheless, a fair observer might see some truth in the notion of a double debating standard and find it interesting to discuss why it may be so. Anyway, it is better look for Omninerd than debating habits in mens lavatories.
It is apparent, even on Omninerd, that conservative commentators on politics and the economy, are able to make short aggressive claims without much support in the way of evidence, or even using good manners. They are able to relate personally or locally while liberals have to view things nationally or globally and are never allowed to be personal in retaliation.