Progress bars


I know that it sounds silly but think about it a design that allows us to measure progress, something that measures the progress of the patterns in your head and lets you know it’s working or not. Sounds like a reasonable thing for intelligent designer to have provided? amirite?

Originally posted on Cubik's Rube:

Argument against the human body being the product of intelligent design #234978: lack of progress bars.

I’m bad at a lot of things I’d like to be less bad at. Now, the part where that takes hundreds of hours of effort to make tiny incremental improvements to your skill level, I get. But I’m also painfully aware of the possibility that, after putting hundreds of hours of effort into something, I won’t have achieved anything worth crowing about at the end of it all. That has to be possible as well, right?

My base level of talent at, say, drawing, is so low that, even if I worked really hard at it, to the same degree as other people who’ve practised long enough to get really good (which, let’s face it, is unlikely), I’m not convinced I’d make anything like enough progress for it to be worthwhile. Because that incremental…

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Belief does not create two religions


Here is something that shouldn’t be argued with though I know that there will be those that do. sigh.

Originally posted on Kids Without Religion:

Early in the morning, before anyone else is awake, before the birds are even stirring, I walk down to the edge of the stream behind my house. I kneel down and call to my water nymph. She answers.

Not everyone can see her. Not everyone believes I see her. But I worship her. I promise her that I will love and revere her above all others, above my parents, my spouse, my children, myself. I request her help, ask her to carry out acts of mischief on others. Find money and treasure for me. Help me attain my goals. She bends to my will. She exists through me, for me.

Those who don’t believe in my water nymph are a-nymphs. (Not to be confused with nymphos.) Their a-nymphism is a belief system, too, which, through contrast, helps validate my conviction.

This idea of belief and unbelief in nymphs is a…

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SNAP responds to new UN report blasting Vatican (Geneva)


It’s difficult to say it better than this. I can’t wait for the world to see the numbers involved – they’re staggering!

Originally posted on The Iniquitous: Crimes of Sanctuary:

For immediate release Friday, May 23, 2014

Statement by Miguel Hurtado of the U.K/Spain, SNAP leader (+44 7787 638245,

For the second time this year, an international panel of experts is harshly criticizing the Catholic hierarchy for endangering children. We are grateful that more secular authorities are finally stepping up to safeguard children from powerful Catholic officials who commit and conceal devastating and widespread sexual violence against children. We hope this trend continues.

Most significantly, the UN panels clearly finds numerous acts by Catholic officials, in cases of child sexual assault, to constitute torture and trigger the Vatican’s duty to prevent, punish and remedy torture.

We are also grateful that the UN panel isn’t buying what the Vatican is selling – the patently absurd and self-serving claim that top officials in this powerful global monarchy lack real power or responsibility to protect kids from predators (and must only rely…

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Who Doesn’t Like A Challenge … er!

Opinionated Man offers a challenge thus:

My challenge is simple. A single post written today or tomorrow, under 1000 words, and in a different genre (style, form, or whatever I am not picky) than you normally write in. It can be pretty much whatever on whatever, but if I am going to re-blog it make it tasteful.


There once was a man from Nantucket

ding dong… ding dong

Blah blah blah

No thank you.


I wonder if they get angry if you slam the door like that?

I should be able to do simple. I’m simple. Keyboards are simple.

Picking up my beer, I notice that it too is simple. Everything is simple. So, why is this so hard?

“Who was at the door?” she said.

“Some guy” I replied.

“Some guy? What did he want?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Should I call him back?” I asked.

“I .. uh… what was he wearing?”


“What?” I ask as I head to the wilds of the garage for another beer.

“Was he wearing a suit or anything?” she asks as if this line of questioning is important some how.

“No, he wasn’t wearing a suit. It’s not too late, I can run down the block and get him back here if  you like” I offered.

“We need more potatoes” she fires back.

I pretend not to hear. Normally when I get home things are a bit strange but this is just a bit much. I wander in to the kitchen and watch her for a moment. She’s digging in the pantry like she’s panning for gold in the vegetable storage thing.

I can’t stand it. “Okay, I give. What difference would it have made if the stupid guy was wearing a suit?” I ask.

“A what?”

“A suit! What difference would it have made if he was wearing a suit?” I asked again, this time a bit perplexed.

“What guy?” she asks while turning to look at me like I’ve got two heads.

I now feel like I have two heads. “What is this conversation about?” I ask her with a look of pure childhood wonder.

“Rosemary” she says.

Near to stuttering I ask “Rosemary …. WHO is Rosemary?”

“She called today to talk to you, that’s who is Rosemary”

I check the floor then the ceiling, then the counters. Slowly I walk over to the pantry to see if there is maybe some odd fumes or something. It looks like a normal pantry. Well, one with too many cans of beans, but normal just the same. I’m still waiting but there is no extra information coming forth.

“Okay, did this Rosemary say what she wanted to talk to me about? Did she leave a number?” I ask.

“Oh, yeah… but I deleted the message by accident” she quips. “She wanted to know about the insurance on my car” she finally says.

Now, at this point there are brain cells in the back of my skull trying to jump off and down my spine to commit suicide. “Why did she want to know about the insurance on your car?” I stammer?

“I’m not sure, maybe it was her car I bumped into at the gym?” she rolls out of her lips like an ice queen.

While running out to the driveway I stopped to get another beer. I have a feeling I’m going to need it. I frantically check the car up one side and down the other. Nothing is broken or dented, not even a scratch. Perplexed, I pull up a chair and sit down to drink my beer and ponder what the hell is going on. Just as I’m about to decide to send another beer down the hatch to find out where the first two have gone I hear some very quiet chuckling from deep in the garage. Normally I would attribute this to too much beer and not enough sleep but it got louder…

When I turned around,  there she stood with a huge smile on her face, her arms curled around her stomach, half doubled over.

My face must have said it all. She straightened up a bit and barely managed to point a finger in my direction as she squeaks out the words “I Got You”

Humor. Humor is why I drink. It is today.


At Least They’re Fucking Thinking

There is much yet to be said for the sound of religion dying.  I doubt that anyone expected it to die with a whimper but what exactly is the sound of religious belief in its death throes?

It might actually sound like this summary I found:

What I mean by all the that is this: the intuition I’ve had for a long time, and grows stronger with every atheist I listen to, is that atheists have different goals than everybody else. One might be tempted to say that they seek truth, while believers seek comfort. I suggest this is false. What atheists seek is technical utility: they want information that allows us to predict the movement of stars, build a better mousetrap, solve equations. Their science helps them achieve this. But the actual truth of things may go well beyond this, and may even, at points, contradict this. And it may be that there are more important things than curing polio or building a rocket to Mars, such as morality, purpose, and the sense of the transcendent.

Redefine everything so that your magic belief seems okay. Define atheists as no better than yourself – atheism is a religion. Here we see a claim that wanting to know the truth is simply a utilitarian thing, not important for real questions. Then there is the thought put forward that maybe there is more to life than this, maybe there is stuff that contradicts utilitarian science and because the atheist doesn’t embrace the possibility they are lost or worse, wilfully stupid.

Well, for the theists who think this way there is some bad news. There is also a possibility that they worship the satan they fear so much. A possibility that we live in a simulation, a possibility that the god they choose is the wrong one… there are many possibilities and without evidence (pesky science) there is no way to know if any of them are true. They assume they know which one is true but HOW do they know? Damn, there is that science thing again, but they don’t like science. They would much rather play roulette with their guesses than to know the truth.


The good news is that at least more of them are starting to think about the problems that their religious belief poses. It’s a good sign.



Why don’t we have Hindu scriptures?


Triple face palm … you’re welcome

Originally posted on What comes to my mind...:


For those who can’t read the text, it says:

Because the Bible is written in American and all that… but then we learned in History class that the Indians came in America first so why don’t we have Hindu scriptures?

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Ask Peggy Mason Anything!


Well, if you’re wondering what I do in my spare time (all three minutes of it each day) I am proud to inform you that I have signed up for a course. For those who might be confused I am not talking about medicine.

The course primarily will cover neuroanatomy, neural communication, and neural systems. Mason will supplement her online lectures with discussions of the underlying neurology of topics that her students select from current events or YouTube videos.

I will am time a travelling armchair neuroscientist and you want too.
That covers dyslexics and Brits. Now a moment of silence for the blind readers.

I’m looking forward to this.

Originally posted on Science Life:


A MOOC in progress

Ask Peggy Mason, PhD, professor of neurobiology, anything. Ask her about her research on the neuroscience of empathy (spoiler: rats have empathy!). Ask her what it’s like to run her upcoming free, massively open online course on neuroscience for the lay-person, where more than 31,000 students are already enrolled. Ask her what she means when she refers to herself as a “neuro-evangelist.”

Just click here and join her as she hosts an AMA (ask me anything) today, at the science section of the social media site Reddit.

As a researcher, Mason spent decades studying the underlying biology of pain. More recently, she’s turned her attention to the neuroscience of empathy. In 2011, Mason and her colleagues demonstrated the first evidence of empathy in rodents. They found that rats would repeatedly free trapped companions, even when given choice of chocolate instead. In January of this year…

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