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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Comments in A visit to Cash Harvest Cult:

*: I'll bare my breasts if someone fought for me..... Then again, I'm male, so I don't know if that would work.

Anonymous Coward: ??? Got picture or not? Then we all can decide for you whether it will work.

Me: I've nicer breasts than most Singaporean Chinese females.

*: How do you know unless you've been ogling?

Me: There's no point ogling. If I wanted to look at nice breasts I'd look downwards.


SUG: about your breasts again? sigh

how come everything leads back to your breasts?! it's ridiculous

Me: jealous ah :P

SUG: not at all. I think my hair's just as nice, especially after I cut my hair (which I will do soon). and after I went to US my breasts grew a little bigger because I grew a bit fatter
I would say that inequalities which are caused by luck: initial social position, differing natural talents, etc are unacceptable, whereas those caused by differing life choices (I choose to be a poet instead of an investment banker therefore I get paid less, etc) and differing levels of effort would be acceptable.


I think this points to a very fundamental difference in philosophy between extreme left-wingers (dare I say, Communists, in a purely descriptive, value- and implication-free sense) and the rest of us, and I don't think this gulf can ever be breached. But then, as someone pointed out:

Why is it objectionable that people get paid differing amounts because of "differing natural talents"? Why not pity those poor chickens, pigs, and cows. Wasn't their fault they were born like that. Should a klutz who chooses to be a juggler (though he works hard at it) get paid as much as a talented juggler?


On the other hand, I have a lot more sympathy for this point:

Where there are rich and poor it is very common that the rich are rich precisely because they have succeeded in some way or another off the backs of the poor. I think it is this suspicion that makes many people uncomfortable with economic inequality. For myself I find it hard to see what beyond greed motivates the very richest to amass wealth in such an extreme fashion. In London if you picked any random City CEO and made him redistribute a tenth of his yearly bonus he could thereby vastly improve the lot of all the cleaners in his company. But it's not the cleaners who hold the power, so it's never going to happen without coercion, is it?


In an ideal world, we would be able to siphon off the *undeserved* wealth and distribute it to the poor. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world, and trying to siphon off too much wealth (deserved or otherwise - depending on whether you think rewarding natural ability is unjust) will result in wealth - both deserved and undeserved - from migrating and just disappearing. Progressive taxes and other redistributive mechanisms are, fortunately or otherwise, the best tools we have to deal with this problem.
"Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers." - Jimmy Breslin

***

Someone: why are so many people applying for the YR hoping to improve their general knowledge of the world

but it's like the world according to the gospel of gabriel, jiekai, jolene, jireh and caleb.

then again it's probably more educational than the gospels of mark luke john and matthew.


Frigid Girl: i used to be mistaken for a boy anyway =p
trivia haha

that was in primary sch. my hair was really really short
and i got into a lot of fights haha

Me: heh
so what happened in sec sch

Frigid Girl: err
i grew stuff that made me un-androgynous
or rather impossible to mistake for a guy

Me: hehe
secksy

or you mean hair :P

Frigid Girl: right
how did you guess ;)


Cock: there was this wondertul story retold in the god delusion about this experiment done in israel on a couple of 7 year olds

one group was taught the story of one of joshua's massacres

another was taught the same story but changed the names of joshua and the city getting conquered to a chinese general.

it was found that kids found the actions of joshua naturally repugnant.

wheras kids taught the same story in the biblical context made up all sorts of defences as to why joshua rightly slew so many people.

Me: the midanites were evil
therefore they deserved to die

who conducted such a seditious experiment :P


Someone: i feel the PC brigade has grown into the PC Legion of Doom
backed by, amongst others, the Feminist Shadow Council

well, today some girls in class briefly mentioned the harvard guy who was fired [Ed: Lawrence Summers]
they mentioned that the harvard guy had been "misogynistic"

smth sparked in my head, and I asked if it was the same guy i knew of
it was

well then I immediately spoke up for him as the victim of a neo-feminist witch-hunt
we didn't quarrel, but i'm not sure if they were properly convinced

i'm getting very sick of discourse that tries to attack what is termed "patriarchal discourse" when they keep trying to poke holes in male Law, male Science, male History

it just gets extremely irritating
and Law doens't simply mean our judicial system either
it has, what, psychoanalytic implications
i'm nto even going into that here


Someone else: no wonder stereotypes of sci ppl being geeky unromantic is true
the things they learn..

imagine watching sunset with a girlfriend... and then u tell her "Is the setting sun really where you think it is?"

and then u say "Refraction makes us believe that the sun is higher in the sky than it actually is."

so actually the sun set already, u're just seeing the light


Comments box on Cash Harvest Cult review:

Frigid Girl: did you ever read the bible from cover to cover? you sound like you know the bible more thoroughly than most christians.

anon: to frigid girl. reading something cover to cover or reading it every single day means nothing if there are no thought processes running while reading.

how else could some university students read their journal articles twenty times and know not what the latter say?

Me: Indeed, I agree with anon.

How else can one read the Bible and remain Christian?

Friday, January 19, 2007

"How institutions support markets

Effect on China (other transition countries) re: adoption of international accounting stds:

- Minimize cooking of books of accounts (currently 4 books: one for government, for the firm, for foreign partners, actual account)"

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wah, no need to go to Settlers Cafe anymore.


Event Title: Weekly Boardgame Sessions
Organizer: Boardgame Interest Group

Description: Free boardgaming sessions right in NUS! Come and join us to have an evening of fun and laughter. You can sharpen your observance skills through games like Saboteur, your investing ability through games like Cashflow, or simply your reflexes through games like Jungle Speed. Mostly importantly, you get to relax and have fun with your friends with great boardgames and great food.

Date/Time: Every Tuesday 5pm - 8pm
Venue: Olive Cove, Engineering Blk E2 Cafe, http://www.nus.edu.sg/campusmap/
(just click on the "Dining Hall/Food Kiosk" link and scroll down.)
Price: Free
Contact: Please email us if you have any enquires. boardgameinterestgroup@gmail.com

A visit to Cash Harvest Cult

A visit to Cash Harvest Cult

I went to City Harvest Church last Sunday to try to save a friend's soul. I have since found that at least 2 other people I know go there, but I have mixed feelings about attempting to save theirs.

Now, I'd read accounts (example) of the place before, but visiting it and experiencing it firsthand was an enlightening experience, both of the slickness of megachurches and the Gospel of Prosperity they preached.

They're very smart. Besides religious services and Bible Study classes (I can start my own too!), they also offer self-improvement courses, health care for the elderly, English classes for PRCs (conducted by British teachers), a corporate leadership seminar and the like. All this, of course, is aimed at trapping you within a social network surrounded by fellow sheep, and pervaded by their influence, to trap you further and deeper.

My companion was asked at first if I was his sister. After the revelation, besides being asked if my hair was rebonded (wth, it's been 11 months), I was also asked if I played the drums/was in a rock band. Wth, if for no other reason than that rockers don't have nice hair.

The service opened with an extensive rock concert, aka Praise and Worship (about an hour). This was very smart, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, by offering musical entertainment in the form of prayer (or prayer in the form of musical entertainment), it caught and focused the audience's attention, especially the younger crowd, by situating religious worship in the context of popular culture, entertainment and coolness. Free entertainment involving the audience (jumping [god, I hate the jumping, especially since it set up harmonics that discomfited me and threatened to tear the fabric of my being apart], clapping, hand waving) was also good since it involved the audience in the spectacle and stimulated them. Not least, making the audience stand during the rock concert wore them down and made them more receptive to what was to follow.

On that day, they had a guest rock band, and the drummer looked like he was on ecstasy. I swear, the beat was so heavy it could've shocked a stopped heart into beating again (luckily, it didn't manage to drown out the quiet voice of reason in my head, though it probably did for most of the sheep). Even I had my heart rate increased by the incessant beating of the drums. And then when they suddenly stopped, and the soft parts of the songs followed, there was a sudden emptiness which would've made me susceptible to suggestions. And then the drums started up again. The war on the senses and mind was not just conducted through auditory channels - roving spotlights and alternately flashing lights disoriented the audience (as in a rock concert). This continued semi-cyclically for a while, and the crowd was sent into a trance and/or whipped into a frenzy, shouting Merdeka! Glory! All they needed to complete the club experience was dry ice (and maybe some booze)


The more I looked at the jumping, the more familiar it seemed. Suddenly, I remembered what was so familiar about it:


Just over 3 years ago, I had witnessed a Nam Wah Pai Qigong demonstration, and shaking violently was how they'd charged up their Qi in preparation for stunts. Surely the jumping was done for similar purposes? Also, caught up in the momentum of the moment, many people waved hand signs. I saw at least one hand which looked like it was displaying the sign of the devil. Whatever spirit was present, it certainly wasn't the Holy Spirit.

The rock concert was also accompanied by very slick music videos which also flashed the lyrics on the many plasma screens in the hall.

After the rock concert, announcements were made (I hope I got the order right), to background music (probably to get the audience into the right frame of mind). I didn't hear very much though, since my ears were still ringing.

Then the sermon started. One speaker said that 'he'll be really pleased that we can see miracles happen today'. I didn't see any miracles when I was there (and I doubt any happened in the 20 minutes after I left), so I assume he was referring to the power of mass hysteria. First- or second-timers were then asked to stand up. Besides being welcomed by everyone (including neighbors), we were also passed contact cards to fill up. I was tempted to fill mine up appropriately, but didn't want to take the chance of being spammed, so.

The usual fawning praise was then heaped upon their god. They talked about praise for nations, despite the fact that the world is ridden with grief, conflict and strife. Their raising of funds for a van for Sri Lanka was then highlighted, and their god then praised, despite not only not having contributed to the relief effort, but allowing the problem to happen in the first place through its negligence. Well done!

Bible verses were then quoted willy-nilly. Deuteronomy 8:18 was referenced ("But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.") 8:20 ("As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.") was, however, totally and conveniently forgotten. Luckily, I had the Skeptic's Annotated Bible in my palm, so I could look it up for myself.

Speaking of Deuteronomy 8:18, it was one of the out-of-context verses quoted to preach City Harvest's Gospel of Prosperity (previous op-ed on this issue). Besides monetary propserity, it was also promised that the Holy Spirit would help you remember facts for your exams [MFTTW: hahahahha yes that was a big draw in rjc]. An example of a church member who sold insurance (?) was brought up. His boss said he was serving his church too much, and that his work would suffer. He then replied that if he didn't serve, his work would suffer: 'You are the source of my prosperity'. Very good - their god gives conditional blessings. This is one of the most repulsive things about City Harvest to me, since from the Jesus of the Gospels is clearly a left-winger who disdains money, the best example of which is Mt 19:24: "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."*

* - If anyone spouts the nonsense about the gate called the Eye of the Needle again, you can point them to The camel and the eye of the needle, Hebrew NT Application - Biblical Hebrew. If they still persist in their idiocy, you may prick them with a needle, or bury them in camel shit, whichever is more appropriate.

Apologists always complain that skeptics take biblical verses out of context, and then embark on tortured routes to show the concordance of scripture. If only they would apply the same standards to Christian speakers (or indeed themselves) in bombarding audiences with cherry-picked quotes from all over to try to make a point.

Conveniently, just after this secondhand testimony of prosperity, the person at the mic asked for money. "Give it all for him this morning... If you're writing a cheque make it payable to 'City Harvest Church'... You can pay by Mastercard... For those of you on the Internet you can click and follow the instructions". Meanwhile, the words "prosper", "prosperous" and "God loves a cheerful giver" were repeated liberally. "Give to God" is really short for "Give to us"; if I were still a sheep, I'd find donating to the poor a much better way of 'giving to god' than dumping money in one of those red buckets to pay for plasma screens, video recording and renting an Expo hall. Adding to the cash harvest, the guest band's CDs were also promoted, at a ridiculously cheap price of $22 (Usual Price $23.60). Given that the cost price of making a DVD and a CD is maybe a tenth of that, you can imagine where the revenue goes. This was even worse than the moneychangers in the temple (John 2:13-16) - at least they didn't claim transacting with them was akin to giving to their god.

Another testimony was given, this time by a couple of how some of the church members reached out to professional dancers. The strategy, instead of hard conversion, was to befriend non-believers, show interest in their life, read the same comics as them and introduce customers to them. Perhaps most important was to keep inviting them to church or church events (my brother-in-law got suckered once by one church, but he got good ice cream and didn't cede his soul in the end, so I guess it's alright). Over eight months, the couple applied these techniques to one guy to break down his defences, and he finally gave in (another soul lost to darkness!) He was then baptised in the River Jordan, which was a bad idea since it showed he was impure (in the Trial by Water, if you sink it means the water accepts you and you're pure. Since he came out alive it's obvious that he was rejected, and thus impure). 17 dancers were brought to church, and 9 souls were lost assimilated into the Borg. Even more disgusting was how they described their preying on souls in periods of vulnerability, eg family crisis.

Another sermon followed: "Today, you're gonna hear something you've never heard before. When you hear it it'll badly impact you". With such promises I couldn't help but be hyped up. Perhaps he was going to talk about the genocide of the Midanites (Numbers 31)? How women were not allowed to wear Jeans (Deuteronomy 22:5)? Or maybe introduce us to hardcore pornography (Song of Solomon).

Unfortunately it was none of these, but rather a self-improvement seminar. The 'soul', mind and emotions were conflated, and we were told that if the needs of the soul were not met (political self-actualization?), one would feel empty. After some words on culture and world view, an attempt was made to impose their world view on us:

1. There's a creator
This was interpreted by them to mean disavowing Evolution and the Big Bang, since that'd mean there was no meaning and purpose to life.

2. We are fallen.
I couldn't help but scoff; "We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes" - Gene Roddenberry

3. Plan of Redemption

4. Restoration
We were urged to restore the earth to an illusory, original state of vague perfection.

Even after 4 points, there was still nothing new. They should screen The God Who Wasn't There next week, since no one will have the patience to read Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth.

The conversion rhetoric was then pumped up, like at a MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) seminar. Incredibly, the flock's situation was compared to that of the Jews in Babylon, since they were supposedly surrounded by idolatry, violence and immorality, and living in a culture against their beliefs and mocked and persecuted for them. Of course, this is very far from the truth, as are the claims of persecution by the Christian Right-Wing in America. Christians are a large minority (at least) in Singapore, and the emphasis on materialism is perfectly in harmony with Singaporean culture. Furthermore, the inculcation in the sheep of a false sense of persecution, as well as the conjuring of a past and future both portrayed as states of mythical perfection also dovetail perfectly with the siege mentality engendered in and the social engineering performed on the populace of this island. Perhaps they were referring to how other churches criticised their Gospel of Prosperity, in which case Scientology might be a better comparison than the Jews in Babylon.

More verses were quoted willy-nilly, one of which was Jeremiah 29:4-7 ("Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; *Be fruitful and multiply*"). "Be fruitful and multiply" was equated to developing culture and building civilization. This is debatable, but why did they need to seek scriptural justification for this secularly-worthy end? Also, conveniently enough, the following bit was missed out: Jeremiah 29:8-9 ("For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.") Irony, thou art dead!

We were then offered a false dichotomy - everything we did would either make the world a worse place or help transform it for their god. To guide us, we were offered a checklist of 3 items:

1. Know the word (logos)

I found this interesting, since the last of the Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian is: "1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.".

We were told that we had to obey natural laws, and that if you didn't believe in the Law of Gravity we could try walking off a cliff. Yeah, if we didn't believe in Evolution we could also abuse antibiotics and create superbugs.

Similarly, if we didn't obey moral laws, our relationships would suffer: husbands had to love thier wives, and wives obey their husbands. Indeed, if only the Unionists has obeyed the moral law that slavery was permissible, we wouldn't have had the tragedy that was the American Civil War.

2. Apply the word (logos)

Hurr hurr.

'After a while your mind starts to renew. You're transformed'. Maybe it was just me, but this sounded a lot like brainwashing to me.

3. Live the word (logos)

Also, we were urged to transform ourselves and impact our community. This was beginning to sound like a motivational seminar about the power to transform our lives. Deepak Chopra is God!

We were told that living the word would make people ask us: 'How come you're so joyful?... How come you're so full of faith?' If I wanted to see joyful people full of faith, I could just visit the asylum.

We were then treated to platitudes about the "Ugly Singaporean", with his having a long list of bad attributes, respectively starting with the letters S, I, N, G, A, P, O, R, E, A, N. As readers who've attended self-improvement workshops or some such before might've noticed, this spells "Singaporean", and if they guessed that contrasting qualities of a "New Singaporean" would be enumerated, respectively starting with the same letters (eg The Ugly Singaporean is 'Gullible' but the New Singaporean is 'Globalized'), they would be right. Personally such cheap tricks have always pissed me off. Unfortunately, one thing they didn't add was that the Ugly Singaporean goes to church because he wants to get rich (or good grades). More's the pity.

We were also told that if we gave to the poor, we would get back more than what we gave. Who is the truly generous one? One who gives because he expects/knows a return on his investment, or one who gives knowing full well he may not get his money back?

The trite bit about 'All things are possible to one who believes' was rolled out. Unfortunately, since there was no question and answer question, I was not able to ask why God hated amputees.

The usual rubbish about the coexistence of faith and reason was then presented, in relation to 'becoming a lifelong learner'. A straw man argument was made about not leaving your mind outside when you came to church, but having established that reason had a role to play, he then did a bait and switch and talked about lifelong learning. Of course, what he was supposed to do was talk about bringing your mind into church and using it to examine both faith and his sermons, but of course that was not touched on.

Throughout the sermon, we were asked to periodically parrot phrases to each other as well as to say certain keywords out loud. If you repeat something often enough, you will eventually believe it. Good reinforcement technique, that.

We were then told that the traditional interpretation of scripture was to make the word of god dead. The implication was presumably that their radical, warped Gospel of Prosperity was thus justified. Hoho, the free license given would've been a great load of fun if anyone cared to come up with alternative interpretations.

All this segued into a song, during which I noticed the looks of ecstasy on the sheep's faces. Women may be gullible and irrational, but another reason why they may fall so easily to religion is that, like chocolate, it fills a void in their lives. Anyhow, the right strategy for religious growth is to target women - where there're women, there will be men, since women like women, men like women but nobody likes men (it's the same rationale behind Lady's Night-s at clubs).

After the song, we were told that Jesus could change fishermen into fishers of men. How MLM testimonies, death cults and pilates could do the same, or how some versions of Christianity could turn rednecks into abortion clinic bombers was not revealed.

I wonder if anyone has done a grammatical analysis of so-called tongues. I heard the phrase 'baba' a lot, so I guess they were speaking in Scythian.

Unfortunately my brother-in-law was waiting for me and he was hungry so I had to leave 20 minutes before the festivities ended, and in the middle of the closing rock concert. Nonetheless, I don't think I missed much that had not already been observed.


Someone: glissalolia? some wierd word like that

i think it's more of an emotional thing. i mean, going clubbing (i've been told) is much the same thing

well, it's not so much that it was rubbish, is that it scared the hell out of me

i was all of 10-11 years old. and this was a sunday school teacher i liked. i really liked her, she was nice, and sweet

auntie ***
bought me my first bible

then during church camps, they had one of those "come forward and we will pray for you"

and i was kind of pressured to go forward
and i id
and then auntie *** starte d praying for me

and it was nice
and then she broke out in tongue
and then i thought
WTF?!?!

i was damn scared la

i looked around
wondering if anyone else wasn't seeing what i was seeing. a completly brainwashed dog
slavering in front fo me

it really distrbed me la


Also see: The Battle For Your Mind: How Revivalist Preachers Work

Addendum: I'm told that City Harvest cell groups have an offering session (donation drive) when they meet - they cull cash from you not just once but twice a week. Enming was really inspired when he called it Cash Harvest Cult.

Extracts from Palahniuk: "When people shout this way or sing "Amazing Grace" at the top of their lungs, they breathe too much. People's blood should be acid. When they hyperventilate the carbon dioxide level of their blood drops, and their blood becomes alkaline.

Respiratory alkalosis.

Peopld get light-headed. People fall down with their ears ringing, their fingers and toes go numb, they get chest pains, they sweat. This is supposed to be rapture. People thrash on the floor with thie hands cramped into stiff claws.

This is what passes for ecstasy...

Part of my training was how to press my hands over smebody's eyes so hard and fast so the pressure registered on their optic nerve as a flash of white light.

Divine light.

Part of my training was how to press my hands over somebody's ears so hard they heard a buzzing noise I could tell them was the eternal Om."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"People want economy and they will pay any price to get it." - Lee Iacocca

***

HWMNBN is fond of saying that he has a grudging respect for fundamentalists, since they do not try to water down their religion to suit modern realities. To wit:

I've always nurtured a grudging respect for fundamentalists, despite my abhorrence of the lifestyle they would inflict on me. This is because, to my mind, they have the courage to stick to their convictions, comapred to the moral backsliding and namby-pamby compromises most modern so-called 'religious' make. All the great religions (except Buddhism, and I say that with only partial qualification) are fundamentally strict, doctrinaire, brutally rigid theocracies. But in my opinion; you either believe all the way, and stand by your convictions... or at least have the courage to say, "Fuck it, this religion is total bullshit." I lose all respect for those who simply waffle because they want it both ways; creature comforts and modern hedonism while still hiding behind the pathetic security blanket of a warped and sullied religious framework, and justifying it with catch-phrases like "It's a living religion" and "Times change". People always want their cake and eat it. Face facts. Religions prohibit sodomy; they oppress women, they impose restrictions on food, economic activity, lifestyle, and general happiness. It's only that mainstream Christians make a lot more excuses because of their growing prosperity and technological opportunity relative to the rest of the world, and hence they appear more 'liberal'.


However, I strongly disagree with this stance.

Firstly, even ignoring the issue of whether strict literalism is really faithful to the meaning of texts, fundies are even more hypocritical than liberals, since they claim they're adhering to literalism, but eschew it for some parts they're not literal. This is seen in cases such as Flat Earthism and resolving internal textual contradictions (which require some fancy footwork, ie Interpretation).

Thus, since they claim they are being faithful to their text, this is even more hypocritical than those who admit that they interpret their text in light of past and present realities. To wit, say liberals have a breakdown of 90% interpretation and 10% literalism, and fundies have theirs as 10% interpretation and 90% literalism. Yet, the latter claim to be faithful to the text. Who is more hyporitical here?

Also, true literalism is impossible. Even if there are no translational issues (eg The Koran being in Arabic), words mean different things today than they did millennia ago (just read the OED to find out how). Context is also really quite important. How do you know if a literalist reading is really truer than a contextual reading, since words never make sense taken out of their context? If our civilization was wiped out and millennia later aliens found a video left behind by us, would they have to assume that this was a definitive representation of our civilization? What if the video ended with "A Walt Disney Production"? In many ways then, literalism is being less true to textual meanings than informed interpretation.

This is one point on which I agree with post-modernists.
I wake up, log in to CORS and find that the last tutorial has been reinstated. In IVLE there's an announcement that: "We are trying to reinstate the third tutorial at 2 pm friday. Check IVLE regularly!" So I have now been unscrewed, and the world is at peace again, yay.


In other news, strange things are still happening in my room. This morning at about 8 I was awoken by strange sounds. After a while I recognised them as coming from a "noise maker", a small gadget with several buttons on it that'd make funny sounds when you pressed them. Some such sounds being machine gun fire, sirens and bombs falling. Not wishing to take out the ladder before I had fully awoken, I closed the door and went to sleep in another room, but I can still hear machine gun fire sounding continuously from where I am now. The strange thing is I haven't touched the device in years.

Update: Actually it's a bouncy ball I bought in Melbourne. The way it's supposed to work is that each time it bounces on the floor, it makes one noise. Something set it off this morning, so I threw it down the rubbish chute. I hope no one thinks it's a bomb.
My air-con just turned on by itself. Maybe the bomoh cursed me again.

1:21 AM: It just turned on again. And within 10 seconds it turned off.


Thanks be to Sgbox1988 for uploading this. That was really fast!

Comments on this segment available if you scroll down (if you're on the main or an archive page), or here.


Comments on YouTube:

"does Gabriel look like a girl, or is it just me???"

"I THOUGHT GABRIEL WAS A GIRL! Until HE spoke! Totally freaked me out."

"yeah, me too. A fat, ugly woman to be exact. Where did they get this idiot from anyway?"

"wah...gabriel went for a gender change or what"

"I hope garbiel shuts up. i don't like him at all. but that's my opinion."

"gabriel is a guy or ger?"

"Gabriel's got really really nice hair.
*blinks*"

" They got him from gssq. Surprisingly, he was a lot more articulate on his blog than on TV. His answers were a little bit of a cop-out, though..."

"i swear i thought gabriel was a woman till she, sorry I mean he started talking"

"Looneys. wats up with gabriels body?"

"Looking at Babyboss and Gabriel makes me feel sick."

"The magnet in babyboss'arm is actually a chick magnet."

"Wendy looks good when she is in that pink dress."

"yeah, me too [I think that Gabriel looks like a girl]. A fat, ugly woman to be exact. Where did they get this idiot from anyway?"


Someone: you looked like you just swallowed a lizard in your soup.

but you're at this posh restaurant so all you can do is wave "waiter, waiter!" in the most dignified way you can muster with a lizard stuck in your throat.

Nietzsche's The Anti-Christ on Christianity and Equality

Extracts from The Anti-Christ, Friedrich Nietzsche, about Christianity and Equality:

"We others, who have the courage for health and likewise for contempt, — we may well despise a religion that teaches misunderstanding of the body! that refuses to rid itself of the superstition about the soul! that makes a "virtue" of insufficient nourishment! that combats health as a sort of enemy, devil, temptation! that persuades itself that it is possible to carry about a "perfect soul" in a cadaver of a body, and that, to this end, had to devise for itself a new concept of "perfection," a pale, sickly, idiotically ecstatic state of existence, so-called "holiness" — a holiness that is itself merely a series of symptoms of an impoverished, enervated and incurably disordered body!...

Christianity also stands in opposition to all intellectual well-being, — sick reasoning is the only sort that it can use as Christian reasoning; it takes the side of everything that is idiotic; it pronounces a curse upon "intellect," upon the superbia of the healthy intellect. Since sickness is inherent in Christianity, it follows that the typically Christian state of "faith" must be a form of sickness too, and that all straight, straightforward and scientific paths to knowledge must be banned by the church as forbidden ways. Doubt is thus a sin from the start... "Faith" means the will to avoid knowing what is true...

The most modest exercise of the intellect, not to say of decency, should certainly be enough to convince these interpreters of the perfect childishness and unworthiness of such a misuse of the divine digital dexterity. However small our piety, if we ever encountered a god who always cured us of a cold in the head at just the right time, or got us into our carriage at the very instant heavy rain began to fall, he would seem so absurd a god that he'd have to be abolished even if he existed. God as a domestic servant, as a letter carrier, as an almanac — man — at bottom, he is' a mere name for the stupidest sort of chance...

The conclusion that all idiots, women and plebeians come to, that there must be something in a cause for which any one goes to his death (or which, as under primitive Christianity, sets off epidemics of death-seeking) — this conclusion has been an unspeakable drag upon the testing of facts, upon the whole spirit of inquiry and investigation. The martyrs have damaged the truth.... Even to this day the crude fact of persecution is enough to give an honorable name to the most empty sort of sectarianism. — But why? Is the worth of a cause altered by the fact that some one had laid down his life for it? — An error that becomes honorable is simply an error that has acquired one seductive charm the more: do you suppose, Messrs. Theologians, that we shall give you the chance to be martyred for your lies?

... — In the last analysis it comes to this: what is the end of lying? The fact that, in Christianity, "holy" ends are not visible is my objection to the means it employs. Only bad ends appear: the poisoning, the calumniation, the denial of life, the despising of the body, the degradation and self-contamination of man by the concept of sin — therefore, its means are also bad...

The inequality of rights is essential to the existence of any rights at all. — A right is a privilege. Every one enjoys the privileges that accord with his state of existence. Let us not underestimate the privileges of the mediocre. Life is always harder as one mounts the heights — the cold increases, responsibility increases. A high civilization is a pyramid: it can stand only on a broad base; its primary prerequisite is a strong and soundly consolidated mediocrity...

To the mediocre mediocrity is a form of happiness; they have a natural instinct for mastering one thing, for specialization. It would be altogether unworthy of a profound intellect to see anything objectionable in mediocrity in itself. It is, in fact, the first prerequisite to the appearance of the exceptional: it is a necessary condition to a high degree of civilization. When the exceptional man handles the mediocre man with more delicate fingers than he applies to himself or to his equals, this is not merely kindness of heart — it is simply his duty .... Whom do I hate most heartily among the rabbles of today? The rabble of Socialists, the apostles to the Chandala, who undermine the workingman's instincts, his pleasure, his feeling of contentment with his petty existence — who make him envious and teach him revenge .... Wrong never lies in unequal rights; it lies in the assertion of "equal" rights...

The Christian church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie, and every integrity into baseness of soul. Let any one dare to speak to me of its "humanitarian" blessings! Its deepest necessities range it against any effort to abolish distress; it lives by distress; it creates distress to make itself immortal .... For example, the worm of sin: it was the church that first enriched mankind with this misery!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007



Sweet mother of god...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Girls Out Loud appearance

Well, that was better than I expected. Some comments:

- I need to improve my media voice. It's still quite dull. I also need to improve my body language (eg Rolling eyes, which the editors gleefully used)
- The one-on-one interviews were conducted individually before the around-the-table discussion. If I'd known what they'd said, I'd have had more material to work with, but then again the discussion wasn't that free for all.
- Someone else was supposed to be the skeptic, but he backed out, so that's why they called me in.
- I was told to be very un-PC, but there was no point looking mean and insulting people for the sake of insulting people (ie Claiming they're liars without evidence) - "I'm a skeptic, not an asshole". Especially if I'm not paid to be, like the hosts. Hurr hurr.
- The claim that the gun test didn't work (the metal balls [meteroid fragments] were supposed to move to his stomach to protect him but they didn't) because he wasn't in real danger was really lame.
- The segment is obviously heavily edited, so not everything happened in the sequence as depicted
- Maybe one of them cursed me. I just realised the incident where I got injured after upskirting the ballerina was within a week of the filming of this segment.

- A lot of material was cut. Some of the stuff that was talked about:
* The sort of magic the 3 talked about was very vague, and so sort of a cop out. The Witch and Sorcerer talked about inter-personal magic, eg Giving people charms and oils to make people like/forgive you, improve your self-confidence etc. The witch also said she cast a spell on herself to make herself more sociable. I said if you take up Yoga, meditate or do other mundane things, you can also achieve these effects.
* I asked if the Witch kept a journal to track her spells and she said she did, and had a 80% success rate. I asked if she excused the failures by claiming that the stars were not in alignment (or something along those lines) but she claimed she didn't. Without further information, I wasn't able to judge the validity of these claims, ergo the shrugs.
* The bomoh talked about seeing ghosts.
He said it's up to you whether you want to believe. I then said that if you want to see it you'll also see it.
* I can't remember if I brought up Elvis sightings or the Monkey man monster in India

Update: The video is now on YouTube. Scroll up, or click here.
"It is bad luck to be superstitious." - Andrew W. Mathis

***

NUS has finally screwed me administratively.

Not getting modules or tutorials in CORS I don't mind, since this is not due to their screwing up (the principle of bidding I support, even if not the implementation, and resources are always limited but wants unlimited). Taking 2 months to do my SEP (exchange) credit transfer was also alright, since it did not ultimately affect me.

However, what has happened this time is that a module with 3 tutorial slots (Friday 10-11, Friday 11-12 and Friday 2-3) had one cancelled (Friday 2-3). Even if they had to cancel one, they should've cancelled one of the two which were close together, to prevent timetable clashes, but for some reason they don't.

Unfortunately, I have a LKY SPP class on Friday from 9-12. So what I have to do now is try to change to another class, even though this is already week 2. My 2 options are a Monday class (6:30-9:30) and one of the Thursday classes (2-5pm).

Unfortunately, my classes on Monday are 10-12pm and 4-6pm, and the bus ride to Bukit Timah campus may take longer than usual due to road congestion. That class also has 33 students, which must make it one of the most packed LKY SPP classes. Not to mention problems getting dinner. Meanwhile I won't be able to make the Thursday class unless I switch my 1-2pm tutorial with the 12-1pm tutorial. This is assuming they let me change classes in the first place.

What might be the best bit is the reason why they cancelled one tutorial slot (ie The reason for the fuss in the first place). The department has a policy of providing 1 tutorial slot for every 25 students enrolled in the course. This module has 46 students, so 1 tutorial slot was scrapped (ah, but if only 5 more students had enrolled!) This despite the lecturer offering to personally take charge of the last slot to save students trouble.

If nothing works out, I should just skip the Friday tutorial, breaking my otherwise spotless NUS attendance record (thanks to NUS itself, so if they send me letters I'll send them some in return). Hurr hurr.

Update: NUS has unscrewed me.
"An optimist stays up to see the New Year in. A pessimist waits to make sure the old one leaves." - Bill Vaughan

***

someone: are exam results published?
(coz here they are published. and eg for maths exams, the results are put on a piece of paper and thrown out of the window)

wlel, i read a lot of nus honours theses
some of them were ok. some were REALLY BAD and i thot, shit, hese are the honours ones, what are the rest like?!?

yes, thrown from the window of senate house (the building where u get your degree from) to the waiting students below

Me: how dramatic

someone: anywy u shd be able to tell just from readng whether its good ornot what

Me: I think my power is not so high yet

someone: i think can lah

Me: haiyah
I think research is not my forte
oh well. see how my research goes this semester

someone: why is research not yr forte?
u hv the same pedantic tendencies as me
plus the same obsessive compulsiveness
(eg look at your power rangers collecdtion)

Me: good for research meh

no I don't have season 14

someone: of course. its the same qualities u need 4 research

Me: then my thesis sure A+ lah
hurr hurr

someone: why dont u do thesis on power rangers?

Me: how to relate to economics?

someone: sureycan find a way lah

Me: ...

someone: i mean, i read an international relations article abt Star Trek
it was actally one of the best articles i've rea
non-interference etc. its v relevant

Me: yeah
but power rangers doesn't lah

pls lah
target audience boys 3-8

someone: so why u still watch?

Me: I like


Someone: you didn't try the sachertorte?

Me: I did
I didn't like it

Someone: too dry, was it
i ate it without cream, in a toilet

Me: WTH

Someone: :D


Me: I'm trying to guess my friend's crush

she said I don't know him
which means I probably do

MFTTW: AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA
........girls.

so after the entire rigmarole of guessing who he is, i suppose now you have to go up to him and make him aware of her existence on this planet...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power." - David Brin

***

Facebook | Christians for a Complete Biblical Canon - "Thie group is for good Christians who will not accept an incomplete biblical canon that only has 66 books."
Some people don't understand how it was compiled...

Various sexual facts - "On his third voyage, in 1777, Captain Cook visited the Pacific island kingdom of Tonga, where he met King Fatafehi Paulah (reigned c. 1770-84), 36th of the Tu'i Tonga dynasty. A corpulent but husky octogenarian, the king claimed that it was his royal duty to deflower every native maiden. He said that he had never been with the same woman twice and was presently performing his appointed task 8-10 times a day, every day. Assuming he never wearied of his geis, and subtracting an arbitrary 65 days a year for illness and whatnot, he would have despoiled around 37,800 damsels during his reign."

Artist cooks meal in own body fat - ""BON APPETIT," said Chilean artist Marco Evaristti as he presented his friends with his newest creation: meatballs cooked with fat from his own body, extracted by liposuction."

Bad Science or Bad Argument: The Role of Science Arguments in the Animal Experimentation Debate - "Advocating both sides of the coin requires some fancy footwork. For example, one of PETA’s best known positions, that "When it comes to feeling pain, hunger and thirst, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals" (usually shortened by opponents to simply "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy") (Bennett B2). While this may be true, PETA would also like to remind us that "enormous physiological variations exist among rats, rabbits, dogs, pigs, and human beings" (PETA, Animal, emphasis added). If there really are enormous physiological variations, how can one assume that rats’ experiences of pain, hunger, and thirst in any way resemble pigs’, dogs’ or boys’?... Rather than arguing that animals should not be used as means to ends, the activist attempts to show that using animals as means to ends is silly because the end is useless, inapplicable data. No longer are animals given an a priori right not to be enslaved as experimental subjects, but rather their lives are placed on the old welfarist scale that inevitably tips in favor of the slightest human interest. These arguments fall wholly within the realm of traditional, speciesist logic and thereby endorse that viewpoint."
They're even more radical than PETA; no matter how extremist you are, you can always find someone more extreme than you. Reading this is an instructive lesson on why it is more fruitful to publicly support gay marriage because homosexuality is natural than because no one has any business dictating what consenting, informed adults do to/with each other. Ditto for similar liberal causes.

Debunking Christianity - "This Blog has been created for the express purpose of debunking Evangelical Christianity. We are all ex-Christians. Most of us are ex-ministers, and even ex-apologists for the Christian faith. We are now freethinkers, skeptics, agnostics, and atheists. With the diversity of our combined strengths, we seek to debunk Christianity."

Aspire :: View topic - do guys prefer girls to have long or short hair?? - "this method got instant whitening effect. I dun think u guys will like it. I believe all girls, includng me will like it. The method is using QUAKER OATS. First, scoop out about 2-3 scoops of oats using a spoon( any size but not the stirrer) Second, dilute it with abit of water (tap water will do), not too much but until it's like very sticky glue Next, use that spoon to spread it on your face ( the oats shdn't slip of ur face if it's sticky ) After that, close ur eyes for abt 15 mins? abt there - the oats shd hv dry up and "attached" to ur face As soon as you feel that the oats have harden, u can stand up and peel it off or just wash it off. Trust me, u can see the instant whitening."
Wth.

Kindergarten of Christ - "The American evangelical organisation Kids in Ministry trains children as young as five in the gifts of healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues... 'I want to see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as young people are to the cause of Islam,' she says. 'I want to see them radically laying down their lives for the gospel.'... while liberal America perceives the Christian right and its burgeoning political influence as a threat to individual freedoms, reason and common sense, what I sensed among the gathering at the Christ Triumphant was rather a defensiveness – almost a sense of beleaguerment. Like Christians in Ancient Rome, they saw themselves as the victims if not exactly of persecution then certainly of a 'conspiracy' by the media, Hollywood and the forces of secular liberalism to attack and undermine their faith... A boy of about nine stepped off the stage and walked directly to a girl in the audience and pointed at her: 'God has told me that if you keep on praying every day, you will blow people's brains out.' There was a moment's hesitation – could he mean? No, surely not – and then a thunderous round of applause... The emotional hysteria generated in Charismatic gatherings was also, Hand told me, 'alien to the Christian faith'; and, he thought, 'particularly questionable and at times dangerous' where children were involved. 'These kinds of experiences have immense potential to deceive both the children themselves and the adults who encourage them. For most of these children, they'll look back in 10 years' time and wonder what on earth it was all about.'"
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

***

God & Me, John Derbyshire

"Q. What caused you to lose your faith?

A. I can identify four factors: age, parenthood, biology, and exile. It’s counterintuitive, but often the case, that you get less religious as you get older. Well, perhaps it’s not really counterintuitive: Other passions fade, why shouldn’t religious feeling?... You hear a lot about deathbed conversions, but not much about deathbed apostasies. Well, let me tell you, it happens.

Parenthood. Again, this is counterintuitive, and I’m sure a lot of people go the other way, but the experience of raising two kids — mine are now 13 and 11 — was one I found de-spiritualizing. For one thing, it pushes genetics right in your face. (I recently heard quite-new parent Jonah Goldberg, in conversation, wonder aloud how anyone ever came to believe in the “blank slate” theory of human nature. I share Jonah’s bafflement.) See below for more on this. Again, it made me realize how perfectly natural religion is. We have a religious module in our brains, and with little kids you can actually watch it waking up and developing, like their speech or social habits. The paradox is, that to the degree that you see religion as natural, to the same degree it becomes harder to see it (and by extension its claims) as supernatural.

I can report that the Creationists are absolutely correct to hate and fear modern biology. Learning this stuff works against your faith. To take a single point at random: The idea that we are made in God’s image implies we are a finished product. We are not, though. It is now indisputable that natural selection has been going on not just through human prehistory, but through recorded history too, and is still going on today, and will go on into the future, presumably to speciation, either natural or artificial. So which human being was made in God’s image: the one of 100,000 years ago? 10,000 years ago? 1,000 years ago? The one of today? The species that will descend from us? All of those future post-human species, or just some of them? And so on. The genomes are all different. They are not the same creature. And if they are all made in God’s image somehow, then presumably so are all the other species, and there’s nothing special about us at all.

Now of course there are ways to finesse that point — intellectuals can cook up an argument for anything, and religious intellectuals, who cut their teeth on justifying some wildly improbable stuff, are especially ingenious [Ed: Emphasis mine] — but the cumulative effect of dozens of factlets like this is devastating to the notion that human beings are a special creation. And without that notion, traditional religious belief is holed below the water line. The more you read and learn in the modern human sciences, the more your image of homo sap. fades back into our being just another branch on the tree of life...

Q. Do you believe religion is good for people?"

I have now come to think that it really makes no difference, net-net. You can point to people who were improved by faith, but you can also see people made worse by it. Anyone want to argue that, say, Mohammed Atta was made a better person by his faith? All right, when Americans say “religion” they mean Christianity 99 percent of the time. So: Can Christianity make you a worse person? I’m sure it can. If you’re a person with, for example, a self-righteous conviction of your own moral superiority, well, getting religion is just going to inflame that conviction. Again, I know cases, and I’m sure you do too. The exhortations to humility that you find in all religions seem to be the most difficult teaching for people to take on board. Mostly, I think it makes no difference. Evelyn Waugh would have been no more obnoxious as an atheist.

And then there are some of those discomfiting facts about human groups. Taking the population of these United States, for example, the least religious major group, by ancestry, is Americans of East Asian stock. The most religious is African Americans. All the indices of dysfunction and misbehavior, however, go the other way, with Asian Americans getting into least trouble and African Americans most. What’s that all about?...

I have trouble seeing the Roman church as an institution as being any friend of liberty. When I say this to my Catholic friends, they always say: “What about John Paul II?”... He was mad that the communists presumed to think that they owned men’s souls because in his mind the Church was the rightful owner of men’s souls. That’s why he hated Communism. Well, nobody owns my soul. That’s why I hate Communism. That’s liberty, as I understand it."
"I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure." - John D. Rockefeller

***

Why University Students Do Not Drive Social Change in Singapore - "I believe that the presence of the academic elite on the political scene, as a countervailing force to the establishments, is a relatively recent phenomenon in Asian countries. It is recent because mass education at the tertiary level was limited to a small elite segment of society in the past. These elites also sought to use education as a means to join the establishment, and not to fight against it, such as in the mandarin system in China. However, the dictatorships in Thailand and Korea drew their support from the military, and alienated the academic elite base. In turn, academia sought the overthrowing of the system, and became co-opted in a new system. In Korea and Singapore, top students engage in an intense competition for places in government ministries."
Comment: But then again how do you explain the social activism of university students back in the 60s, 70s and even right up to the 80s? I am pretty sure back in the day, those students lived with their parents much like today and parents were even stricter and more controlling over their lives.

Phineas Gage Information - "Phineas Gage was the foreman of a railway construction gang working for the contractors preparing the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Rail Road near Cavendish, Vermont. On 13th. September 1848, an accidental explosion of a charge he had set blew his tamping iron through his head... Some months after the accident, probably in about the middle of 1849, Phineas felt strong enough to resume work. But because his personality had changed so much, the contractors who had employed him would not give him his place again. Before the accident he had been their most capable and efficient foreman, one with a well-balanced mind, and who was looked on as a shrewd smart business man. He was now fitful, irreverent, and grossly profane, showing little deference for his fellows. He was also impatient and obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, unable to settle on any of the plans he devised for future action. His friends said he was "No longer Gage.""
Obviously, the shock of the explosion was so powerful it affected his ethereal spirit. Hallelujah, this is proof of the existence of the immortal soul! And this miraculous survival is also proof of the power of God!

Shopping and philosophy | Post-modernism is the new black - "Modern marketing has consciously co-opted the tools of post-modern “discourse” to sell more stuff. Brands such as Nike explicitly adopt rebellious attitudes in their advertising campaigns. Thus capitalism employs the critique that was designed to destroy it. It is what one American critic, Thomas Frank, has called “liberation marketing”: in the words of a cosmetic company's appeal to potential customers, “because you're worth it”. Mr Frank sees it as a woeful bastardisation of the American counterculture and post-modernism; others might enjoy the irony... So should every businessman have a Lyotard by his bed? Only if he wants to send himself to sleep. Pomos made a point of writing impenetrable prose: it was necessary, Foucault argued, if they were to be taken seriously."

Apple's Copy Protection Isn't Just Bad For Consumers, It's Bad For Business - "Apple's copy-protection technology makes media companies into its servants. Other copy-protection technologies, like Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, are just as bad, says Internet activist Cory Doctorow. "

A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection - "Windows Vista includes an extensive reworking of core OS elements in order to provide content protection for so-called "premium content", typically HD data from Blu-Ray and HD-DVD sources. Providing this protection incurs considerable costs in terms of system performance, system stability, technical support overhead, and hardware and software cost. These issues affect not only users of Vista but the entire PC industry, since the effects of the protection measures extend to cover all hardware and software that will ever come into contact with Vista, even if it's not used directly with Vista (for example hardware in a Macintosh computer or on a Linux server). This document analyses the cost involved in Vista's content protection, and the collateral damage that this incurs throughout the computer industry."

Journalists and media groups file civil suit vs. Mike Arroyo - "Since 2003, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo has been filing numerous libel cases against members of the press. The libel suits, now numbering 10, have implicated 45 journalists, a number unprecedented in any administration. “(Arroyo) is not out to defend his honor; he is out to chill the media in their exercise of the freedom of the press,” said Harry Roque, international law professor of the University of the Philippines, who drafted the complaint in behalf of the press."
But public figures have important reputations which must be protected...

Open letter to Apple: The killer App is not voice nor music - "There is only one killer application in current (2.5G/3G) mobile phones. It is not voice calls. It is not music. It is not the camera function. The only killer app is SMS text messaging. Ever since Nokia first released its global messaging survey in 2001, to operator studies from the UK and France in 2002, to customer surveys in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia in 2003, onto South Korea and Japan; to the university study of phone addiction by the Catholic University of Leuwen in Belgium; and even now proven by the first American survey of SMS usage by ComScore Media Metrix - every scientific survey on the topic verifies that SMS text messaging is addictive. And that heavy users of SMS prefer text messaging to voice calls. Already more than half of British total population prefer communicating via SMS than voice on their mobile phones."

Facebook | Stop Microscopic Animal Abuse - "We always worry about our visible furry friends, but what about the trillions of microscopic creatures whose suffering goes unnoticed on a daily basis? It's time to stand up and fight for the voiceless (and limbless)... Here are a few suggestions to get you started: 1. Stop breathing- billions of microbes are killed in your lungs every second. Don't walk on solid surfaces- you crush countless innocent animals with every step you take (not a Police reference). 3. Run free, naked, and veto showers- Soap kills. 4. For the love of all that is holy do not eat!"

Exploring the Mind-Body Orgasm - "We recognize four different nerve pathways that carry sensory signals from the vagina, cervix, clitoris and uterus, and they all can contribute to orgasms. That's a new recognition... We have documented in our laboratory that women can have orgasms from imagery alone without touching their body. The point is that women can experience orgasms and sexual pleasure from many forms of stimuli. It does have not have to be through genital stimulation."

Early embryos can yield stem cells... and survive - Could extraction technique resolve ethical problems? - "A single cell can be teased from a human embryo and used to produce stem cells while leaving the embryo intact. The process, published online in Nature this week, could enable stem-cell lines to be generated without the controversial destruction of human embryos — but some ethical objections remain."
Nothing can ever solve the problem of 'we don't like it' - apologetics can only convince those who are already amenable to persuasion.

Conservative Christian says God has predicted US slaughter - "Pat Robertson, an American Conservative Christian broadcaster says God told him a terrorist attack will result in "mass killing" in the United States in the second half of 2007... The broadcaster's 2006 forecast of heavy storm damage in coastal areas was followed by the second-lightest hurricane season since 1995."
Obviously his faith and prayer averted the catastrophe.

Harun Yahya - The Disasters Darwinism Brought to Humanity - introduction - "Fascism and Communism come at the head of the ideologies that caused mankind to suffer those dark days. These are seen as enemies, as ideas that tried to destroy each other. In actual fact, there is a most interesting truth here: for these ideologies were nourished by a single ideological source, drew strength and support from that source, and, thanks to that source, were able to draw societies to their side. At first sight, this source has never drawn any attention, has always remained behind the scenes up until now, and has always shown people its innocent-looking face. That source is the materialist philosophy, and DARWINISM, the state of that philosophy as adapted to nature... Once the idea of Darwinism, the root of harmful ideologies, is finally overturned, only one truth will remain. That is the truth that all human beings and the universe itself were created by Allah (God)."
This is even more far out than Islamic 'Science'.

Research examines toys' pain and (mental) gain - "Recent research at McMaster revealed that players who spent four hours a week on "first-person shooter" games such as "Quake" and "Halo" showed an 8 percent improvement in spatial reasoning and short-term memory -- which could have tantalizing possibilities for producing games targeted at senior citizens, he says."
"Invention is the mother of necessity." - Thorstein Veblen

***

Bad Arguments for the Existence of God

"Every sect, as far as reason will help them, make use of it gladly; and where it fails them, they cry out, "It is a matter of faith, and above reason."
- John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690)

... The Bible is Historically Accurate. Therefore what it says about Jesus is accurate... that's like saying that everything in "Gone With the Wind" is true because there really was a Civil War...

FYI, here's a great quote from Paul Doland on Evolution and Probability:

"I will borrow an analogy that I read somewhere, but I cannot remember the source. In this analogy, the person said to imagine someone driving a car, ignoring all signs and just making random turns. A few days later he calls me and tells me he is in Chicago. I explain to him that is impossible. The probability that he would have taken each and every turn necessary to end in Chicago is so small that he couldn't possibly be there. Of course he had to wind up somewhere. Yet anywhere he ends up, I could calculate the probability that he ended up there to be very small. Any probability discussion on whether life exactly as we know it could evolve faces a similar problem. Yes, the probability that life exactly as we know would evolve is very small, but it proves nothing about the probability of life as we do not know it evolving...

You're Just Mad at God

In other words, I really believe that God exists, but I think he's a jerk. While it's true that I think the Christian God would be (at best) an insecure codependent and (at worst) murderously psychotic if He existed, that doesn't mean that's the reason I disbelieve."
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