New weblog

I wanted to get back into blogging, but I decided to start fresh. My new blog is called Recurial, and it’s about politics, poetry, and programming (I was trying to think of an interesting, short, available domain name, and this was the name that popped into my head).

So, that’s where my writing is going to be from now on. I still read the comments here on occasion, though.

Posted in Site News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Back to School Again

The most boring blog posts in the world are ones giving excuses for why the author hasn’t posted as much as he or she wanted to. Unfortunately, you are now reading such a post.

Classes started again today, and I have a rather difficult course load this semester. So, to the few readers I still have left: I apologize, but I will be putting this blog on standby.

I will still be reading and responding to comments, and I am always available via email.

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Sigmund Freud on Religion

Sigmund Freud (born 6 May 1856, died 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology.

Sigmund Freud (born 6 May 1856, died 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology.

While many of Freud’s theories about psychoanalysis are no longer believed to be fact by most modern psychologists, he often had very profound things to say, both about his field of psychology and about other subjects.

On the subject of religion, he had the following things to say:

  • A religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it.
  • Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.
  • Our knowledge of the historical worth of certain religious doctrines increases our respect for them, but does not invalidate our proposal that they should cease to be put forward as the reasons for the precepts of civilization. On the contrary! Those historical residues have helped us to view religious teachings, as it were, as neurotic relics, and we may now argue that the time has probably come, as it does in an analytic treatment, for replacing the effects of repression by the results of the rational operation of the intellect.
  • The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life. It is still more humiliating to discover how a large number of people living today, who cannot but see that this religion is not tenable, nevertheless try to defend it piece by piece in a series of pitiful rearguard actions.
Posted in Atheism | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

We already have “death panels” — they’re called health insurance companies

So, the new talking point from the far-right is that Obama’s health care plan is a secret plot to kill your grandma (as seen on Fox News and Sarah Palin’s Facebook page). They claim that the bill will create “death panels” to decide whether elderly people are worthy of care or not.

There’s no truth to this conspiracy, of course. The provision they point to is one for voluntary end-of-life counseling, which was actually proposed by a Republican and is overall a pretty good idea.

However, there already is an entity that will sit in judgment of you when you get sick, deciding whether you are worthy of treatment. It is official policy among the private health care providers in the US to look for ways to deny care to sick people.

They are perfectly happy taking your money when you aren’t sick, but once you try to make a claim they will scour through your record looking for any reason to deny your claim. A small error on your application form, even an insignificant one or one that you could not have known about or fixed, becomes justification for revoking your coverage and handing you the hefty bill for your treatment. For many patients unable to pay for the treatment, this is a death sentence.

Forget a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor; this is a profit-driven corporation standing between you and your doctor.

Why does the right worry about their fake, hypothetical “death panels” when a more serious and sinister problem already exists, and is already killing innocent people?

Posted in Current events, Noteworthy, Opinion | Tagged , , | 46 Comments

Richard Feynman on light.

Mind. Blown.

Posted in Videos | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A physicist, an engineer and a programmer were in a car…

A physicist, an engineer and a programmer were in a car driving over a steep alpine pass when the brakes failed. The car was getting faster and faster, they were struggling to get round the corners and once or twice only the feeble crash barrier saved them from crashing down the side of the mountain. They were sure they were all going to die, when suddenly they spotted an escape lane. They pulled into the escape lane, and came safely to a halt.

The physicist said “We need to model the friction in the brake pads and the resultant temperature rise, see if we can work out why they failed”.

The engineer said “I think I’ve got a few spanners in the back. I’ll take a look and see if I can work out what’s wrong”.

The programmer said “Why don’t we get going again and see if it’s reproducible?”

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Doctored photo of Obama smoking

Politics Daily reports that the Arizona Republican Party is running a photo of Obama with a cigarette dangling from his mouth as part of their campaign against health care reform. The image appeared on AZGOP news, but appears to have since been removed.

Look how hopeless he looks — irresponsible even with his own health. Surely a great PR strategy.

Except the photo is doctored. Photoshopped. The original photo was taken by Kwame Ross on Aug. 3, 2004.

I’m not alleging that the Arizona GOP doctored the photo themselves — just that they didn’t bother to do any research before posting the photo. Obama does smoke. This doesn’t bother me but might bother some people, so it makes sense that the GOP would try to use that against him in their propaganda. Hard for the Arizona GOP to pass up an opportunity to use a photo that shows him looking so tired and hopeless while smoking, though, even if it’s a fake photo.

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Richard Dawkins interviews a creationist

In this 7 part series, biologist Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright, a creationist.


Parts 2 through 7 below the fold.
Continue reading

Posted in Atheism, Other, Videos | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Joel Fought Back — after going to court over 30 downloaded MP3s, verdict is $675,000 fine

What punishment do you think would fit the crime of pirating 30 MP3s? If you said “over $600,000,” you probably work for the RIAA.

After a valiant and creative defense from Charles Nesson and his law students, Joel Tenenbaum lost the legal battle that has captured the Internet’s attention for days under the nickname Joel Fights Back, in reference to the fact that Joel chose to go to court rather than settle under pressure like the majority of the targets of the RIAA. The final verdict of his case came in a few minutes ago.

$22500 per MP3 is completely unreasonable. To put it in perspective, Air France paid $24000 to each of the families of the victims of the crash of Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. This makes a single MP3 worth slightly less than a human life.

I won’t recount the whole story here. The link above as well as these blogs do a better job of explaining it all than I ever could. I just want to share my thoughts on the subject.

I pirate music. All of my friends pirate music. Any of us could have been in Joel’s place. Indeed, the MP3s he shared were shared by millions of other people. He was just a drop in the ocean. This is where the injustice bothers me most; it’s just luck that he’s on that stand, rather than me or one of my close friends, or pretty much anyone my age. Hell, I’d bet that every single student I see on campus when school starts again is guilty of the same crime Joel is. How can any of us say he deserves such a verdict?

This isn’t justice, and it makes me ashamed of my country’s justice system.

UPDATE: JoelFightsBack.com is accepting donations. I have donated $30 to helping Joel out with this financial burden, and (hopefully)with future legal defense. While I don’t like the idea of paying money that could end up in the hands of the RIAA, I sympathize so strongly with their cause that this was the least I could do.

Posted in Current events, F***ed up, Opinion | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

AT&T declares war on the Internet

AT&T has started blocking access to img.4chan.org, which means access to the 4chan imageboards /b/ and /r9k/ are unavailable to most (not all) AT&T customers. An article on the wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica has details:

-Most AT&T DSL (largest ISP in the US, 15.5% of US Internet users) customers ARE currently not able to access img.4chan.org (/b/ & /r9k/)

-There are a few AT&T DSL users that are NOT affected. Florida, and Ohio are where we’ve gotten those reports. (Parts of Georgia are still alright as well.) AT&T is a megacorp made from the smaller pieces it was broken down into in the 80s- different equipment and such.

-AT&T Mobility (Cell Phones) and AT&T Uverse customers ARE NOT AFFECTED.(Lie, Uverse is blocking it also)

-It IS NOT a DNS issue. Affected people have tried OpenDNS with no success.

-It IS very visible on a traceroute. It drops within the AT&T network.

-It DOES NOT affect AT&Ts Tier 1 backbone (major bandwidth backbone in US).

-It DOES NOT affect other servers on 4chan.

-People HAVE called customer service (allegedly) and confirmed a block, but agents have denied further info.

Near as I can tell, multiple customer service agents have confirmed that this is intentional, and not a bug or an accident. The ED article seems to be updated regularly. The story has also been covered on Reddit, with a very active discussion.

The apparent reason for this was to alleviate bandwidth costs on the part of AT&T due to a DDoS attack against 4chan. As far as I know, ISPs have the right to throttle connections, but not to arbitrarily block a connection like this. It appears that AT&T is breaking the law.

Of all the sites AT&T could have chosen to filter, 4chan is probably the one that’ll put up the biggest fight. Part of me is looking forward to watching what happens next. Don’t get me wrong, though; censorship is serious business. Something needs to be done.

EDIT (11:50pm, Jul 26): AT&T has begun to allow access to 4chan again.

Posted in Current events, F***ed up, Tech and games | Tagged , | 3 Comments