## Penn & Teller vs Creationism – Video

“These assholes don’t even know what the word ‘theory’ means…” — Penn Jillette

They are preaching to the converted here, so I’m not sure they are going to change anyone’s mind with it… but God help me, it’s funny.

## What is “Justice”? Karl Popper’s Definition

What do we really mean when we speak of ‘Justice’? … I think those whose general outlook is humanitarian mean something like this:

1. an equal distribution of the burden of citizenship, i.e., of those limitations of freedom which are necessary in social life;
2. equal treatment of the citizens before the law, provided, of course, that
3. the laws show neither favor nor disfavor towards individual citizens or groups or classes;
4. impartiality of the courts or justice; and
5. an equal share in the advantages (and not only in the burden) whic membership of the state may offer to its citizens.

As the old Latin saying goes, “Fiat justitia ruat caelum” (do justice and let the skies fall).

Now go lift something heavy,
Nick Horton

## John MacFarlane Video Lecture on Pandoc & Haskell (4 parts)

A great 4-part lecture by the Berkley-based Philosopher John MacFarlane, who may be more well known in geek-circles for being the author of the program Pandoc — which converts file formats from just about anything to just about anything else.

It’s written in Haskell, and is likely the most popular open-source Haskell program around. Very cool stuff!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Now go lift something heavy,
Nick Horton

## Updated: How to Install Pandoc on Arch-Based Systems (Manjaro, Antergos, Arch Bang, etc)

I updated my “How to Install the Haskell Platform on Arch Linux” post.

I’ve found two things recently that you may like to know if you’re a haskell-ite:

1. Haddock isn’t in the Haskell-Core repos anymore, so you need to build from Cabal (unless I’m missing something…)
2. I’m preferring to build Pandoc with Cabal Install, as I’m finding it easier to keep current with it.
3. Random: Pandoc + iPython is awesome.

If you don’t already have Haskell up and running on your Arch or Arch-based system (like Manjaro, Antergos, Arch Bang, or other) then Read My Post on how to do that.

THEN, do this to get Pandoc running globally:

This takes a LONG time, be patient. Pandoc is HUGE… because it does everything: makes coffee, spots you on biceps-curls, and translates any format of writing to just about any other.

## Salman Rushdie on “9/11 Liberals” – And My Commentary on Anti-American Nutjobs, Human Rights, Violence, and Religion

It’s an odd term, “9/11 Liberal”, but it seems to have some truth to it: a Liberal on nearly all things, save for their pro-war stance concerning the issue of Islamist terrorism.

Here’s a little video of Salman Rushdie on Bill Maher discussing this issue:

I ceased being a “Liberal” long ago and took the aggressive step of uncapitalizing the term, becoming simply a “liberal”.

But many of my affinities still lie with these old Progressives, hippies, bohemians, and communist sympathizers (I was once a died-in-the-wool Marxist) — and against the whackos that populate the far right who are genuinely (often supremely) racist, sexist, homophobic — assholes first, politically interested second — and who either have, or are deeply sympathetic to, fundamentalist Christian tendencies.

I may have settled into a kind of liberal-libertarianism, but my “peeps” have always been those on the Left — especially those on the furthest end of it.

That said, my own view on the terror-war is much harsher than any “9/11 Liberal” precisely because I’m against the Liberal cult of Tolerance — that get-along tendency that white-washes the crimes of any subgroup that can claim oppression.

I am not pro-tolerance when it comes to ANY religion. I am pro-free-speech. Pro-laws-against-violence. Pro-reason. Pro Science. And above all: Pro-Secular-Government.

I’m against all forms of theocracy, dictatorship, and totalitarianism. Period.

Putting religion in bed with politics breeds evil of the most virulent variety. It makes religion the worst of itself. This is true not only of formal governments, but of political movements. The best thing that ever happened to Christianity was its divorce from government — one of many contributions our American founders made that makes their triumph one of the most important (if not THE most important) event in the history of human rights: the Creation of our Constitution-based, anti-theocratic, pro-humanist, Government.

I am Pro-America in a way that makes me cringe every time I hear a member of the Tea Party (those co-destroyers of the word “libertarian”), or the Christian Right, say the same thing. They seem to believe in a very different country than I do. (Not to mention, they seem to have no understanding of the history of the founders they pretend to admire, who fought a war to prevent the very madness these nut-jobs promote.)

I have ZERO tolerance for Muslim-based governments and political-action groups for the EXACT reasons I have zero tolerance for Religious-based governments of any kind. Or, for that matter, zero tolerance for Creationist nut-jobs trying to force religion into state-funded schools; or that idiotic “Brain Gym” group promoting a culture of pseudoscience and irrationality in our schools, as if our education system didn’t have enough of that already; or cultist diet fanatics; or the anti-vaccination crowd… the list is long.

I’m pro-Enlightenment.

I am for those nearly perfect words of Thomas Jefferson (from his original rough draft):

“We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; …”

In short, you simple DO NOT have the right to take the life of another human being because you believe that some magic book told you it was OK.

Fuck Moses. You have to obey our secular laws. No stoning allowed.

That’s not simply a “Muslim” problem, that’s a HUMAN problem: humans are morons who will believe all kinds of bullshit — they will then use that bullshit to justify their totalitarian violence. It is the purpose of secular government to keep the right-to-violence out of the hands of nutjobs — all else is secondary.

I don’t “respect” religion any more than I “respect” astrology or tradition or dogma or authority or any of those things humans have used throughout history to justify their violence.

I respect the sanctity of human rights. Everything else is subservient to that.

Now… Here’s the step Liberals won’t take with me: it is the job of the United States (and the rest of the powerful democracies of the world) to protect and defend the human rights of the people who are being oppressed by totalitarian governments of all kinds (this certainly includes theocracies). It should be our expressed goal to FREE the world of these kinds of horrible governments and violently oppressive regimes, bandits, terrorist organizations, and psychopaths.

I am no moral relativist. I am an absolutist. I am no pacifist. I believe in defending those who cannot defend themselves.

America was born to make the Rights of Man a reality.1

1. it’s worth noting that when it comes to the promotion of freedom and human rights, I believe that we should all be taking both Paine AND Burke seriously — I’ve always found it a sign of idiocy when a person rejects either out of hand. Be a revolutionary with a conservative soul. No zealots allowed.

## David Hume on Skepticism – [Quote of the day]

“All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance
and obscurity, is to be sceptical, or at least cautious, and not
to admit of any hypothesis whatever, much less of any which is
supported by no appearance of probability.”

David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779)

## Ayn Rand (Goddess of Pseudo-Intellectuals) gets Hitch-Slapped & Her Cult gets Swindled by Reality

Hitchens comments on the “transcendently awful” novels of Ayn Rand:

And a collection of her cult-followers get slapped by reality. From Solon:

Rand’s heroes aren’t just rapists, woman-beaters, and thieves. They’re also terrorists who freely blow up or burn properties for ideological reasons, or simply because things didn’t turn out as they might have liked. (Fun exercise: Imagine how conservatives would react to Rand’s storylines if all the protagonists were black. Or Muslim.)

Then there’s the fraud. It’s praiseworthy in Rand’s eyes – if it’s practiced by the right sort of people. Francisco, the rapist/hero, even boasts about defrauding investors from the “looters’” parasitical economy. In an ironic foreshadowing of Galt’s Gulch in Chile, he brags about building defective housing for Mexican workers as part of a government contract.

“Wait for one good mountain slide” – with those workers’ families inside, of course. Comedy gold, amirite?

Is it any wonder that a venture inspired by this book eventually defrauded its customers? And yet, despite the allegations against them, Gawker’s Adam Weinstein tells us that, “GGC developers will still sell you a 1,200-acre “Master Estate” for a mere $500,000. As long as you’re also willing to extend GGC developers a$2 million ‘Founders Club’ loan along with that \$500,000, which they’ll totally pay back, they swear.”

Weinstein snarks, “That silence you hear? That’s the sound of Atlas shrugging.”

We may as well end with The Colbert Report:

## Does Birth Order Change Personality? OR – Your Mom Really DID Love Your Sister More!

Did birth-order affect your personality? No.

“Reluctant to give up their belief in birth order, some theorists have instead given up their faith in standard self-report personality tests (see “Why Did Sulloway’s Results Differ From Those of Ernst and Angst?” forthcoming on this website). They’ve claimed that these tests are invalid — that they are inaccurate or insensitive measures of personality (Kagan, 1998; Sulloway, 1998, 1999). This is like blaming the yardstick when one’s theory of why some kids are taller than others fails to be confirmed. Standard self-report personality tests are the yardstick that produced the results we are trying to account for!”

From a post by psychologist, Judith Rich Harris.

While she was at it, she blasted another taboo: Whether parents love one child MORE than another. Yes.

“As everybody knows, parents don’t treat their kids all alike. And one of the things that makes parents treat their children differently — this is something that Lois Hoffman and Dunn and Plomin agreed on — is birth order. Firstborns and laterborns have different experiences in the home, right from the start. Firstborns are born to inexperienced and anxious parents, laterborns to veterans. Firstborns have their parents all to themselves for a while and then are abruptly dethroned by a rival; laterborns always have to compete for their parents’ attention. Parents give firstborns more responsibility; they give laterborns more affection.

That’s right: it’s the younger child who gets more affection. Two studies (Dunn & Plomin, 1990; McHale et al., 1995) have shown that at least half of parents with two children admit to loving one better than the other, and a large majority of these parents — more than 80 percent — say they love their younger child best. These are big differences in parental affection. If being loved more by their parents made children less aggressive (or more aggressive), then we should see birth order effects on aggressiveness. But the teachers in Deater-Deckard and Plomin’s (1999) study did not judge younger siblings to be any less aggressive (or more aggressive) than older siblings.”

I’m an oldest child of three, so I laughed pretty loud at this one. It also reminded me why I prefer dogs…

## Leonard Susskind Lecture – Why is Time a 1-Way Street?

Brilliant lecture by Leonard Susskind. He begins by complaining that Power Point presentations are ruining his culture! I agree.

I got into mathematics, in part, because of an excessive love of chalk and chalkboards. And I had to go into weightlifting because it is one of the only bastions left where being covered in chalk is still considered a good thing.

Oh, and he also discusses the nature of Time and space

## Leave Einstein Alone, He Was Not Religious [Quote of the Day]

“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

— Albert Einstein, letter to an atheist (1954), quoted in Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffman”

Then another:

“It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere…. Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

— Albert Einstein, “Religion and Science,” New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930″

It’s ridiculous how often religious people seek to claim Einstein as one of their own, most especially the fundamentalists who are extremely hostile to deistic beliefs like his.

If you’re goal is to bolster the claims of fundamentalist religious belief, Einstein’s Star-Wars-style faith in “the force” is hardly helping your case.

He’s best left out of the whole deal.