Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Lynx jet

Lynx jet, is one of hte best marketing campaigns I've seen in a while pity they no fun air hostess's union took away their actual jet .

I wonder how the economics would work. you need to charge the same price as other airlines except you need conservatively about twice as much room per passanger (double the price once) and a bit extra room for the stage and the spa pool (er I hope it doesnt spill! - actuaklly I think that might be a bad idea) and then hosteses who seem to vary from show girls to fairly high class prostitutes will probably want twice as much money and tips. But at least some people would probably be willing to pay for it. Maybe you could do a small plane going between two major cities charging a little more than twice as much.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas wins palestinian elections

Things jsut got simpler in the middle east.

Why? well for a long time hamas soldiers have been shooting rockets at israel. Previously the government of palestine could have disowned thoe militants and said they were just crazy members of some other organization. This was part of the reason for israel's frustration at palestine and their attacks on hamas (lets say police actions to be charitable).

But thats gone for the moment.

If hamas's soldiers are part of hamas then it simplifies issues quite a bit when hamas soldiers send rockets into israel then palestines legitimate government is attacking israel with its legitimate soldiers.

If this happened lets say in any normal country (ie enemy soldiers attacked your citizens the legitimate response would be retaliation against that country (not jsut the individual soldiers) and possibly war.

maybe israel should give them a chance to either be reasonable or put their foot in it. Withdraw to the wall, and if palestine tries to attack (attack israel propper) them deal with them as one would deal with any country that attacked you.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sperm donors

According to the fertillity associates people there is a shortage of sperm donors.
Frankly I dont believe them - you only need a handful of men to service the whole damn country - and I could probably find you them myself.

I wouldn't mind having 100 kids if they dont mind having my dodgy eyesight!

Pesumably either the artificial insemination people are incompetent or they have some specific standards which are presumably not the same as the standards that the poeple are applying have because if that was the case there should not be a "waiting list" there should instead be jsut a huge list of options.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Songs that make me think

Songs that make me think (skipping the romantic ones)

Anggun - snow on the Sahara

"If that’s the only place where you can leave your debts - I'll hold you up and be your way out"
[Helping someone]

Nickleback - photograph
"Every memory of walking out the front door I found the memory of the friend that I was looking for"

U2 beautiful day

"You’ve been all over and it's been all over you - it’s a beautiful day don’t let it get away"
[Smell the roses]

Nsync - sailing

"Well it's not far down to paradise at least its not for me"
[Finding your own peace in little things]

John Farnum - that's Freedom
[Freedom - something people fight and die for]

R Kelly - the worlds greatest
Chesney - the one and only
[Maybe you ARE that good]

Willie nelson - the highwayman
"Ill find a place to rest my spirit if I can perhaps I will become a highwayman again or perhaps I will be a single drop of rain but I will remain..."
[An eternal soul - a Buddhist sort of an outlook on life]

Jimmy Barnes - working class man

"Working hard to make a living bringing shelter from the rain fathers some left to carry on blue denim in his veins"
"Simple man with a heart of gold in a complicated land"

Savage garden - Affirmation
[I believe we place our happiness in other people’s hands, I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem, I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair - I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires.

Peter Gabriel and Kate bush - don’t give up
"No one wants you when you loose"
[You can loose in the eyes of the world the world isn’t fair]

Bruce Hornsby and the range - the way it is
"say hey little boy you can't go where the others go because you don’t look the way they do, says hey old man how can you stand to think that way."
[Standing up against unfairness]

R Kelly - Gotham city

"City of justice - we all need it."
[Justice - nice to imagine it exists]

Mike and the mechanics - silent running
"Teach the children quietly, for some day sons and daughters will rise up and fight while we sit still"

Midnight oil - forgotten years
"The hardest years the wildest years the desperate and divided years (we will remember) these shall not be forgotten years!" "Our shore line was never invaded our country was never in flames"

Dire straights - brothers in arms
General: "we are fools to make war on our brothers in arms"

Phil Collins - we wait and we wonder
"We wonder just what they must be thinking to take the life of one so young"
"How can the scars ever heal when all is said and done?"
"Killing the old, the innocent, the young, while sons follow in fathers footsteps not understanding that what they do could be so wrong"
[Terrorists and freedom fighters and so forth mindlessly creating their own quagmires of death]

Phil Collins - both sides
"They’ve been fighting here for years but now there is killing on the streets while small coffins are lined up sadly now united in defeat"
[Fighters creating their own quagmire]

Dune - who wants to live forever (I like it better with a girl singing it)
"This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us"
"Who wants to live forever?"

West life - seasons in the sun

It's hard to die when all the birds are singing in the sky"
[We all die]

Our Lady Peace - Innocent -
"We are all innocent"
[true from a certain perspective]
"I remember all the feelings and the day they stopped"
[escaping from the tyranny of our feelings]

Phil Collins - I wish it would rain down on me
[The kind of pleasantness in depression and not caring anymore]

Black Men United
"and I regained my name"

Boyzone : father and son
"I was once like you are now..."

Linkin park - in the end
"I had to fall to loose it all but in the end it doesn’t even matter"
[the world is unfair]

mattafix - big city life
"don’t you ever get lonely from time to time – don’t let the system get you down"
[sometimes the system itself harms its members]

Melanie c - if that were me
"would they look if that were me, how did you fall did you fall at all."

Mike and the mechanics - the living years
"every generation, blames the one before - and all of their frustrations come beating on your door, I know that I’m a prisoner to all my father held dear, I know that I’m a hostage to all his hopes and fears, I just wish I could have told him in the living years."
[how we are effected by parents]
"we all talk a different language talking in defense" "you can listen as well as you hear" "we sacrifice the future its the bitterness that lasts"
[We make arguments by how we talk even more than what we talk about of ten there is very little in it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Big brother

I was reading a post about brig brotherish activity and I suddenly realised - when you say "big brother" I think of a tv show where people compete to stay in the house. A bit like survivor but probably more fun to actually do - and I HAVE ACTUALLY READ "1984" (and know it quite well).

And if this is happening - if the phrase will loose much of its negitive implications.

So you will be in a conversation and say "that is terribly big brotherish" and the audience will wonder what is humorous quirky and with the potential for monetary reward about it.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Friendly france

apparently we spy on lots of countries.
But does any one else get annoyed by the line "spying on friendly countries such as france..."
during the previous labour government France was NOT an ally - they sent troups into our port and sunk a ship and killed a NZder - how unfriendly can you get?

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Dilbert has a blog! well ok Scott Adams has one

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

god hating Believers?

Austin Cline asks

Where Are the Moral Believers?

We just don’t see millions of believers in the Jewish/Christian/Islamic god, for example, shunning him solely for his moral crimes. There are no large organizations campaigning against religion from the moral high ground rather than the perspective of disbelief. There are few, if any, anti-God books written by theologians who still believe in a god. Rebellion need not be tied to disbelief, so where are the righteous rebels who stand against gods who have done great evil? Where are the moral believers?

Why aren’t millions of believers saying, “Yes, I know there is a God because the universe is intelligently designed, and I believe that the [Bible, Koran, or Torah] describes him accurately. Based on the actions of this god, however, I cannot follow or worship him because I am a decent human being.”

The crimes attributed to the gods people believe in are unambiguous. Some react by denying that they really occurred. In many cases, at least, this is a legitimate response — some of the events described are implausible or at least have little historical evidence backing them up. At the same time, though, these same believers don’t take the extra step of saying something like “But if these stories were true, God would be an immoral monster whom I would never worship.” Why not?

It would seem in some old religions such as the roman religion many people would have looked on one god or even al gods and declared them to be unworthy of worship.
In the christian religion there may well be devil worshipers but without somthing else to focus your attention it seems pretty hard to look at god and hate him because hate seems to imply you think you can influence them and most peopel probably dispair quite quickly of doing that to god and then jsut move on to ignoring or disbelieving. In a sense a believer might argue disbelief is the ultimate possible revenge.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Debating protocol

I was wondering about a new law rather like Goodwins law (the first person to invoke hitler looses the argument) but more general...

1) the first person to repeat their argument looses
2) the first person to fail to adress any of the latest points from the other party in two sucessive posts looses.

So if the following conversation occurs

Mike: god is good
Bob: no he isn't what about the problem of evil
Mike: god is good because the bible says so
Bob: but the bible says all sorts of things about killing
Mike: god is good because jesus said so

I suggest Mike has lost and quite possibly in his second sentance and certainly in his third

and if this occurs

Bob: christianity is not true
Mike: but there is evidence that a number of the people in the bible are real people
Bob: Christianity is not true

Then Bob looses
in reality he might jsut "almost" repeat his argument in which case he might have to do it 3 times

Fair enough?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

French involvement in rwandan genocide

from Secular blasphemy
Judge Jacques Baillet, the prosecutor at the army tribunal, has opened up an investigation into the role of the French army in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. France, unlike the other western powers who chose to look the other way as an estimated 800,000 people were brutally murdered, actually had troops in Rwanda. Instead of trying to stop it, allegations are the French army conspired to aid the murderers in both committing the atrocities and escaping after the fact.

Rwandan Tutsis say that French troops first failed to stop the killings, and then established a buffer zone which enabled the killers to escape. These claims have poisoned relations between Paris and Kigali. Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s President, has accused France of failing to tell the truth about Opération Turquoise.

Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson still won't lay of those funky mushroms

Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke was divine punishment for “dividing God’s land."

"God considers this land to be his,” Robertson said on his TV program “The 700 Club.” “You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.’"

yeah sure Pat, god is striking down all the Israeli leaders in order to defeat the palestinians... Sure...

Douglas Wood / Bob Elis

Bob Elis makes himself look like an asshole

No-one has yet asked why Doug Wood is still alive, unlike his Iraqi friends who were shot dead beside him in the room he shared with them. He's alive, of course, because Sheikh Hillali pleaded for him, offered money for him, and offered to replace him. And the Howard Government gazumped the credit for it, by, when they heard of it (Alexander Downer called it 'a tip-off'), ratting on the deal to hand him over and needlessly endangering his life with a shoot-out. Hillali, who risked his life, will get no AO and Wood, who said 'Never heard of him', will get millions for spinning his story in a pro-Howard way and keeping Hillali, his saviour, out of it, and shouting 'God bless America!' the way almost no-one does anymore, on his release.

What a greedy, graceless, bumptious capitalist pig he has proved to be.

He was scared, I suppose, by his 'debreifing', in which he was told (or I bet he was told) that if he didn't praise the Howard Government, and apologise to it, he might well be punished under our new harsh laws for 'giving comfort to terrorists' with his troops-out call on the video.

Somehow you are greedy and graceless to not suddenly convert to Bob Elis philosophy and oppose the governments if you are kidnapped by terrorists and are rescued by those governments.

In addition you are supposed to fall in love with some other contributing party that you have never heard of. What a moron....

Global warming

Vast majority of Global warming focused on the northern hemisphere

Bugger - I wanted lake taupo to get at least a little warmer!

Father Fessio

He also made some interesting comments about islam that may or may not be true - I would probably hedge and say "partly true" - regarding whether Islam can adapt to our modern values or if it will be "extreemist".

HH: And so, is it fair to describe him as a pessimist about the prospect of modernity truly engaging Islam in the way modernity has engaged Christianity?

JF: Well, the other way around.

HH: Yes. I meant that.

JF: Yeah, that Christianity can engage modernity just like it did...the Jews did Egypt, or Christians did to Greece, because we can take what's good there, and we can elevate it through the revelation of Christ in the Bible. But Islam is stuck. It's stuck with a text that cannot be adapted, or even be interpreted properly.

HH: And so the Pope is a pessimist about that changing, because it would require a radical reinterpretation of what the Koran is?

JF: Yeah, which is it's impossible, because it's against the very nature of the Koran, as it's understood by Muslims.


Father Joseph D. Fessio, who is the Provost of Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida discusses the pope and other issues with Hugh Hewitt (I think)

HH: Oh, that's very interesting. In this Steyn column, he pointed out that the reproduction rate in Spain, a very Catholic country, is at 1.2, that every generation, half of Spain is gone, not necessarily in whole terms, because they have inward immigration, mostly from North Africa. But I thought Benedict would address himself to this depopulation of Europe. But you're suggesting perhaps not.

JF: Well, I mean, he'll address himself to it in the sense that if Christians take seriously the word of God, both in the Gospels and in Genesis, they're going to be fruitful and multiply. As you say, that kind of a reproduction rate is not going to work. In fact, this year, well, last year, actually. 2005, there were more Muslims born in France than people of traditional French background. Within four years, the top four cities in Holland will be...most populous cities, will have a Muslim majority.

Now besides the religious alarmism in this what would the world be like if muslims outnumbered non muslims in almost all the western countries? It would seem a bit nieve to suggest that the government would not get considerably more islamic.
Also there would probably be quite a bit of brotherhood exhibited between the more and moe powerful islamic states posibly also a move towards the old "single islamic empire" concept.


Death of a Hero

Via No right turn
Hugh Thompson Jnr has died.

Warrant Officer Thompson landed his helicopter in the line of fire between fleeing Vietnamese civilians and pursuing American ground troops to prevent their murder. He then personally confronted the leader of the American ground troops and was prepared to open fire on those American troops should they fire upon the civilians. Warrant Officer Thompson, at the risk of his own personal safety, went forward of the American lines and coaxed the Vietnamese civilians out of the bunker to enable their evacuation. Leaving the area after requesting and overseeing the civilians' air evacuation, his crew spotted movement in a ditch filled with bodies south of My Lai Four. Warrant Officer Thompson again landed his helicopter and covered his crew as they retrieved a wounded child from the pile of bodies. He then flew the child to the safety of a hospital at Quang Ngai. Warrant Officer Thompson's relayed radio reports of the massacre and subsequent report to his section leader and commander resulted in an order for the cease fire at My Lai and an end to the killing of innocent civilians.

Impressive -
Rather like Oskar Schindler or John Rabe and Paul Rusesabagina , Raoul Wallenberg and Harald Edelstam

As Eldestam said When asked what made him do it,
"I cannot tolerate injustice." I'd like to think that none of us, if we see that injustice clearly, can tolerate it. I'd like to think that all of us have compassion and have caring. I would like to see that enrich all of our lives and I welcome you to join."

I wonder if there were any similar incidents on the other side. Maybe during the Tet offensive (eg Hue) or somthing. But they are probably all dead or at best too scared to say anything - so I guess we wouldn't know...

Friday, January 06, 2006

In summary

I think we can safely say

1) assuming "having apparent choice is free will" then "free will is having apparent choice" -> true but trivial.
2) "choice only matters if you have free will" and at the same time "You should believe in free will is good if you have free will" -> two unsubstantiated value judgements.
3) "choice implies freewill by definition" -> refuted.

4) "We have free will" - not sufficient information from the below logic.

Richard argues

"I don't assume anything even remotely contentious"

1) I can refute the proposal that they are uncontentious, because it is being argued here! And others such as Dr Pretorius, Clark Goble A-train MavXP and Myself (in fact almost every comment) have all at least asked the question whether the conclusion is misleading. Making it surprising that he says

"my arguments cannot be countered."

He then argues

"It's not as if you can admonish the machine for making the wrong choice!"

What he is doing here is adding "blame" into the equasion.

But Richard has previously argued as any good utilitarian should that

[moral responsibility] is a sliding scale, whereby we are more responsible the more open we are to the influence of praise/blame (recall the pragmatic basis of morality we are using here).

Ie that the use of blame (admonishing) is a function of the outcomes we can achieve by using it. So blame is almost identical to reprogramming of a computer that is in error - it jsut doesn't work in as reliable a manner.

The "cold and hardened murderer" is psychologically screwed up. I would want him locked away for our safety, but I'm not sure whether it would be appropriate to blame him for having a screwed-up brain.

If that was the example obviously not being a murderer would "have value" regardless of whether we blamed the person or not and we might try to convince them to see the world more reasonably.

And even more fundimentally I refute the argument that you can't admonish a person for making the wrong choice because that is exactly what I am doing here with Richard. Ie I take a determanisticperspective and yet like a train implies

why is it useful or necessary? that is, what happens differently if you don't "believe" it?

It seems to make no difference. In fact admonishing relies on determinism (and the ability to be effected by admonishment).

Finally denying free will doesnt deny that the universe has some intrinsic value or that life has value or that people can have an effect on the world so you can still have value judgements relating to outcomes. It just means that that effect is in a sense predictable, (even if the uncertainty principle says WE can't predict it!). Richard looks at this sort of issue in his post on determanism .

Free Will

Richard from Philosophy Etc makes the following argument

a) We can either choose what to believe (about free will), or we can't.
b) If we can't choose, then we can't make the wrong choice (since we can't make any choice).
c) If we can choose, then we make the wrong choice if we choose not to believe in free will.
d) So we can make the wrong choice by not believing in free will, but we can't make the wrong choice by believing in it.
e) Therefore, anyone faced with the choice ought to choose to believe in free will.

Or, a simpler version yet:

A) If we can choose at all, then we must have free will.

B) We should choose, if we can, to believe in free will.

There are a number of flaws in this logic so I will first point out the assumptions

1) clearly you cannot detect if you are exposed to a choice - if that was the case this debate would not take the form of a Transcendental Argument (one that requires/has no proof). So there is no reason to think that there being free will or not would have any effect at all on the degree to which people believe it or the act of believing or not believing would result in any more correctness (since all the decisions would be based on no information).

2) If one doesn’t have free will one doesn’t have to consider negative consequences this is similar to a strong form of Pascal’s wager which argues with no god there is no significant reason for anything so anything that happens with no god is not worth considering. Richard rejects this argument.

Now getting into the specifics Richard enters the word "ought" into the debate something that requires quite a bit of justification in philosophy.

e) anyone faced with the choice ought to choose to believe in free will.

This is normative but it implies some sort of truth seeking behavior but in that case the opposite should also be true "If I don’t have free will, then I ought not believe it." (Unless he uses that Pascal’s wager style argument as described earlier)

b) If we can't choose, then we can't make the wrong choice (since we can't make any choice).

This section uses an interesting argument saying basically if you don’t make a choice you can't be wrong. That is frankly ridiculous. A computer can be wrong and it has no "free will" and it implies that if you chose not to make a choice you would not be wrong. Imagine driving a car towards a T junction and choosing not to make a choice about going left or right and plowing into the telephone poll at the end.

It doesn’t consider that you could value being correct in a deterministic world.
I for example would argue "whether my dad being a good or bad dad makes me do bad things have no effect in whether I ought to do them." And I will (in the only sense that makes sense to me) "try" not to hurt you even if doing that might be my father's (for example) "fault".

This means in as far as there is value to believe in free will if it is correct (I am not sure what that might be) there is value in not believing in it if it is not correct (I can actually think of examples here but I take no stand at the moment regarding if these are greater in magnitude than the others)

Possibly what happens here is one confuses the strong sense of the word "choose" with the weak sense.
The weak sense of the word is that your current beliefs are replaced casually to your future beliefs. This is Un-contentious. But also is the case with everything in the universe for example so too are a computers. I.e. if the computer has an image of an apple stored in it and it makes an adjustment to that that will be reflected in the image a few seconds later surely that is not what is meant by "free will".

The strong sense involves talking about some sort of choice that is not entirely a result of the environment (and is in a sense beyond the power of god or anything to control) and is in a sense special in the universe. In this sense choice is equivilent to free will but this means you force the conclusion into the question.

I'll demonstrate this with religon. (folowing the pascal's wager theme)

"If your god given soul exists - god made you, therefore if you exist you should believe in god if you god given soul doesnt exist there is no soul making the decision so it doesnt matter."

the challenge is of course that this is just one hypothesis another is that you matter whether you have a god given soul or not and the same is true regarding "free will".

as wikipedia notes
Free will is the philosophical doctrine that holds that our choices are ultimately up to ourselves. The phrase "up to ourselves" is vague, and, just like free will itself, admits of a variety of interpretations. Because of this ambiguity, the utility of the concept of free will is questioned by some. Several logically independent questions can be asked about free will.

Choice consists of that mental process of thinking involved with the process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one for action. Simple examples can involve deciding whether to get up in the morning or go back to sleep, or selecting a given route to make a journey across a country.

Most people generally regard having choices as a good thing. But a severely limited or artificially restricted choice can lead to discomfort with choosing or even to unsatisfactory outcomes. On the contrary, unlimited choice may lead to confusion, regret of the alternatives not taken, and indifference in an unstructured existence; and the illusion that choosing an object or a course leads necessarily to control of that object or course can cause psychological problems.

One needs to be clear about exactly what definition one is using for this debate.

The Population Clock accidental and intentional solutions

I expect to see over the next decade a trend towards techniques such as the Infertility virus

The fear is of course that such a virus might jump species - that may or may not be a danger depending on how it acts

Dr Lyn Hinds: People are very concerned when you talk about using genetically modified organisms. This is a virus and people don't always understand what viruses can do. We hear about viruses perhaps jumping species. This mouse virus, we're running tests now to ensure that it is truly only going to infect mice.

But an interesting question is if it did happen - would that be a good or a bad thing if we accept that the earth is already over populated and it shows little indication of stopping growing until it is well past 20 billion.

Of course committing genocide on the human race is not the plan here it is instead to have a way to bring down the population while causing the minimum amount of suffering. And it seems highly unlikely it would cause us to become extinct because

1) The virus will almost certainly not be able to cause all people to be infertile.
2) You will always be able to use antiviral treatments and artificial insemination.

What if a smart scientist in a small lab with some good contacts followed the same logic outlined here and thought he would do the world a favour?

human nature and katrina

A good look into human nature from Snoopes / Barbara Mikkelson

Warring with compassion for the victims of Hurricane Katrina is anxiety over one's safe haven being invaded by outsiders, but because the latter is not a nice emotion to admit to experiencing, it needs be reframed as justifiable concern in light of the odious nature of the folks elbowing their way in. By presenting the evacuees as rude or ungrateful or as the crime-riddled worst dregs of society, garden variety xenophobia is cloaked in the more respectable mantle of entirely defensible fear for one's safety and/or distaste for objectionable behavior. In such fashion, the internal tug of war between the selfless ("My heart goes out to these people; what can I do to help?") and the self-centered ("I like my town just the way it is; I hope the refugees don't come here") is quelled.


a recent NZ study that concluded that abortion raises the risk of depression .

Now I accelt that some of this effect will be the result of moe depresed peopel wanting abortions (not surprisingly). But to some extent surely it isalmot beyond dispute that abortion causes depression (I think it obviously would in at least some cases). BUT if we are going to use this as an argument in the abortion debate the question is how does this compare to giving a baby to a woman who doesnt particularly want it (maybe some post natal depresion will result from that).


By the age of 25, the study found, 42 per cent of those who had had an abortion had also experienced major depression during the previous four years.

This was nearly double the rate of those who had never been pregnant and 35 per cent higher than those who had chosen to continue a pregnancy.

of course the above debate is particularly relevant in the context of the legal technicalities because

Under the 1977 Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act, abortion is an offence under the Crimes Act unless two "certifying consultants" approve it on certain grounds, usually that a woman's mental health would be endangered by continuing the pregnancy.

so two scenarios - lets say the above criteria was a 43% risk of mental health problems - in that case meantal health is being improved by the policy. Lets say it is 35% - then the result is unclear - lets say it is 10% (although this seems pretty unlikely!) in that case it is probably acting contrary to it's stated purpose


I suggest regarding the previous post that the following go together

2. His father is a King.
13. He is acknowledged as a king.
14. He rules.
15. He prescribes laws.
12. He marries a princess. 50%

ie if the story is about a king his dad was probably a king and there is a god chance he will marry a "princess" of some sort (political marriage).

these also tend ot go together

16. He loses favor with the Gods or his subjects.
17. He is forcibly driven from authority.
20. His children, if any, do not succeed him. 99%
18. He meets with a violent death. 80%
21. His body is not buried conventionally. 60%

ie if you are driven from authority your children dont suceed you and you quite often are killed either immediatly or later by the new reigeme and you get thrown in a swamp or whatever.

these two go together

8. The child is raised by foster parents in a far country. 10%
9. We are told virtually nothing of his childhood years. 95%

and these two say the same thing

6. There is an attempt to kill the child/god shortly after birth.
7. He is spirited away, escaping a premature death.

these go together

1. He is born of a virgin mother.
5. He is reputed to be the son of a god.

and these

10. On reaching manhood, usually at age 30, he commences his mission in life.
11. He successfully overcomes the most severe trials and tests.

you probably wont overcome severe trials unless you are of a good age and a mission implies trials.

I cant make muchsense of this

3. The father has a unique relationship with the mother.

and this is stupid

4. The circumstances of the child’s conception are unusual, often humble.

humble conception IS usual at least 2-6 thousand years ago it was.

22. He has one or more holy resting places.

this is after the fact (the place generally became holy AFTER he existed or did not exist) - in this case the argument seems to be "he is famous therefore he must not have existed." Or it could be the mroe reasonable "what arethe odds you actually know where he was burried? Ie the place you think it is is probably wrong.

19. His death occurs on the top of a hill.

this one is ok

the problem is that according to his theory any king who was overthrown probably did not exist.

But I do think the methodology could work with a bit more refining.

His work however does remind me of an old trick in academia where you list a large number of statements and by picking enough that are basically the same and along the lines that you want you can create the results pattern that you want.
Lee Salisbury takes an itneresting look at religion and historical figures.

Last century a student of mythology, Lord Raglan studied all the myths and legends that influenced western civilization in his 1936 book entitled The Hero. His basic premise is that the mythical hero’s life is a remnant of ancient ritual drama enacted at the coronation of priest-kings.

According to Raglan, rituals involved specific acts performed for magical purposes. Ritual dramas required participants play specific roles. A quasi-boiler-plate plot always determined the character’s role. Eventually, myths of priest-kings outlived the ritual and became many myths and folktales from which we derive many legendary heroes such as Hercules, or Moses, or Robin Hood.

Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter continued this archetypal tradition of mythical characters. They affirm inherited patterns of thought derived from past collective experiences of humanity. Freud believed these archetypes to be present in our subconscious psyches. Thus, their popularity, as well as opposition from adherents of competing myths, continues today.

Raglan concludes there are at least twenty-two standard archetypal characteristics of this duplicated singular myth. The closer the legendary character fits these characteristics the less likely the hero is a historical personage. Historical persons dramatically differ from Raglan’s twenty-two characteristics are as follows:

1. He is born of a virgin mother.
2. His father is a King.
3. The father has a unique relationship with the mother.
4. The circumstances of the child’s conception are unusual, often humble.
5. He is reputed to be the son of a god.
6. There is an attempt to kill the child/god shortly after birth.
7. He is spirited away, escaping a premature death.
8. The child is raised by foster parents in a far country.
9. We are told virtually nothing of his childhood years.
10. On reaching manhood, usually at age 30, he commences his mission in life.
11. He successfully overcomes the most severe trials and tests.
12. He marries a princess.
13. He is acknowledged as a king.
14. He rules.
15. He prescribes laws.
16. He loses favor with the Gods or his subjects.
17. He is forcibly driven from authority.
18. He meets with a violent death.
19. His death occurs on the top of a hill.
20. His children, if any, do not succeed him.
21. His body is not buried conventionally.
22. He has one or more holy resting places.

Lord Ragan counted each hero’s archetypal event. Alexander the Great received the most points for a historical personage, seven. Here is how some people you might have heard of scored.

* Oedipus scores 21
* Theseus scores 20
* Moses scores 20
* Dionysus scores 19
* Jesus scores 19
* Romulus scores 18
* Perseus scores 18
* Hercules scores 17
* Llew Llaw Gyffes scores 17
* Jason scores 15
* Robin Hood scores 13
* Pelops scores 13
* Apollo scores 11

Following are some thoughts on Lord Raglan’s analysis:

A score of six or less qualifies one as a historical figure. This is not definite proof that the person existed, since most cartoon characters score low too.

A score of more than six indicates the hero does not represent a historical figure. This does not mean that the hero is totally fictitious. Rather it does indicate that many aspects of the hero’s life have been replaced by the archetypal fiction.

Is this reasonable? It seems to have some validity.


I was a bit surprised by the rather glowing praise from our usually anti-Israeli media.

Something like

"And in other new Sharon the butcher of babies has slaughtered some more innocent suicide rights (death with dignity) protestors... Wait breaking news… saint Sharon of Zion the liberator of Gazans has begun a courageous life and death struggle one that our hero is unlikely to survive."

Even scoop goes from stories like
"evil (Sharon) sometimes wins"
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the health of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He is following developments closely and very much hopes that the Prime Minister will make a speedy recovery. His thoughts are with Mr. Sharon and his family

and the TV presenter cals him a man of peace and other similar praise.

I gues it al comes down to "dont speak I'll of the dead" or "nearly dead"

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Did Jesus exist?

Did Jesus exist?

An Italian court is tackling Jesus - and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.

this could be quite fun if the athiest organizations put some money into funding him and the church put some money into funding the defence. Take it al the way to the highest court in Italy!

Did Jesus exist?

Did Jesus exist?

An Italian court is tackling Jesus - and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.

this could be quite fun if the athiest organizations put some money into funding him and the church put some money into funding the defence. Take it al the way to the highest court in Italy!


Looks like Sharon has had it but egardless of whether you like him or not his replacement at the moemnt is Ehud Olmert his right hand man (really only good as a right hand man - not really prime minister material) - so it makes little difference except that it will be harder for Ehud Olmert to push through unpopular policies - somthing you might like or not like depending on how you feel about Sharon.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The future of science

It has always been the case and probably always will be that if you sitting here now try to "reinvent the wheel" when looking at a science fact (for example) you will fall very far short so most people don’t do it and almost everyone who does is wrong.

Only every so often is an individual smarter (even in a limited area) than the (admittedly not perfect) sum of humanity before him. That is both natural and the exceptions are likely to be a diminishing group until one day it is basically zero forever.

What will that mean for us?

Dangers to earth

the guardian looks into the same question (although probably not actually trying to destroy the earth this time)
They say

1: Climate Change

Chance of temperatures rising more than 2C (the level considered to be dangerous by the European Union) in the next 70 years: High
Danger score: 6

2: Telomere erosion

Chances of a human population crash due to telomere erosion during the next 70 years: Low
Danger score: 8

3: Viral Pandemic

Chance of a viral pandemic in the next 70 years: Very high
Danger score: 3

4: Terrorism

Chances of a major terrorist attack in the next 70 years: Very high
Danger score: 2

5: Nuclear war

Chance of a global nuclear war in the next 70 years: Low
Danger score: 8

6: Meteorite impact

Chance of the Earth being hit by a large asteroid in the next 70 years: Medium
Danger score: 5

7: Robots taking over

Chance of super-intelligent robots in the next 70 years: High
Danger score: 8

8: Cosmic ray blast from exploding star

Chance of encountering a supernova in the next 70 years: Low
Danger score: 4

9: Super-volcanos

Chance of a super-volcano in the next 70 years: Very high
Danger score: 7

10: Earth swallowed by a black hole

Chance of Earth being gobbled up by a black hole in the next 70 years: Exceedingly low
Danger score: 10

I propose
1: Climate Change
danger score = 0.1
It is VERY unlikely that this will wipe out humanity - cause death and disease? Sure - but not wipe it out.
Probability -
95% that something will happen
About 50% that it will be much more noticeable than summers being a little hotter and less snow.

2: Telomere erosion (i.e. our genome decaying
Danger score = 0.1
Either we will fix it with GE or we will probably be to stupid to care (lets say civilization falls over in that time)
probability = I think evolution would fight back on this one (of course you could then say we have a NEW species but that is a bit stupid since it is self referential) IF humans still had a niche - so maybe 5% over the very long run - millions of years.

3: Viral Pandemic
Danger score -.5
A super virus could be dangerous and might wipe out humanity - but it has not done so in the last few million years it is unlikely it will do so in such a way that we could not react. It could however wipe out a lot of people
Danger that it will happen 9.9/10

4: Terrorism
Danger score 4
the first thing with a decent danger score - the problem here is technology - weapons get better and more powerful one day a planet destroying machine will be almost hand held. At the moment however such a weapon doesn’t exist (so current technology danger = 0)
Probability of minor attack 9.99/10
Probability of one that might destroy earth 5/10
Probability of one that will wipe out humanity 3/10

5: (Nuclear) war

Danger level - 3
Even a nuclear war would probably not wipe out life on earth but it might and in the future that might be more likely but I also expect government to be more integrated in the future.

Chance of a global nuclear war in the near future 1/10
Chance in the long term future 3/10

6: Meteorite impact

Danger score - 9
A big enough asteroid could wipe us out pretty easily

Probability - about 1/300000000 of wiping us out but much less that it might cause serious damage.

7: Robots taking over
Danger score - 2
I think both cybog and GE technology seems to be likely to outrun AI by a long way this means that the "takeover" will be more of "us merging into them". So I don’t see it as a danger per se.
Probability - 9.8/10 the other possibility probably involves us becoming primitive.
Probability that robots will take over like some sort of "I robot" movie 1/10. I don’t see people being irresponsible enough to start some evolutionary thing going with robots where they gain the sort of motivations like the desire to replace us with them.

8: Cosmic ray blast from exploding star

Danger level - 8
We would be toast if it was close enough

Probability - .1
Something else would probably get us first

9: Super-volcanoes

Danger score: 7

Probability - 10/10 that it will happen (pressure has to be released)
1/10 that it will seriously cripple humanity
1/1000 that it will happen in our lifetime.
Of course it is quite possible that it would be taupo so us NZders would be cooked well done.

10: Earth swallowed by a black hole

Danger score: 10
Probability closes enough to 0 to not matter.

Sam figures out how to destroy the earth

Yup no kidding
Please do not actually employ any of these methods to destroy earth - Most of the rest of us wouldrather it remained here.

Science fiction

I like science fiction that proposes a new way of loking at the world that may indeed be true and investigates how this works. As a result some of my favourite books are

Darwin's radio - Greg bear's concept that evolution and things like altruism could be asisted by viruses (even though he took it to ridiculous level).

Foundation series (Azimov) - Azimov's approach to artificial intelligence and galactic utilitarianism is interesting but of great interest is how the second foundation trilogy brings in in the concepts of a wave of robots purging the universe of competing lifeforms. A safe strategy indeed.

Forge of God (greg bear) - related to the previous concept the idea that a civilization might put out ships designed to clear life from the solar system and to replicate.

Revelation space (alistar reynolds) - the approach to explaining the alternative scenario to foundation where a wave wipes out life this is whee it ends in a catistrophic dawn war.

I'm Sure I can think of more. butclearly Im strting to follow one path too much here.


David writes on religion
I invite you to picture two versions of a beneficent Creator. One who cares about us and what we do.

--- Version one ferociously punishes anyone who dares to lift a head and question. This one damns to cruel torment anyone who fails to recite exactly the right set of incantations, in exactly the right way, with exactly the right mental attitudes. The jealous craftsman of a narrow cosmos, just a few thousand years extant, He rants and denounces and bitterly resents any questioning, offering us only two possible outcomes -- either perpetual thoughtless torment or endless thoughtless bliss. The choice is supposedly up to each of us...
....and yet, He never steps right out -- unambiguously booming from the sky -- to make the two doorways clear.
. No, in order to pick a path between two discrete and simplistically diametric conditions -- heaven vs. hell -- you must successfully choose one specific set of written incantations to recite, with utter and unquestioning faith, from among all of the other prescriptive incantations that are offered, out there. Choose the wrong one -- even with utter sincerity -- and you roast.

What a guy. Only there is another version.

-- A craftsman of mind-boggling subtlety, who formulated Maxwell’s Equations and all the other staggeringly beautiful innovations of math and geometrodynamics and quantum subtlety that translate into “let there be light!” Whose vast universe spans billions of years and may encompass a plenitude of living worlds.
. One who clearly left the workroom door unlocked and all His blueprints on the table, for bright, upstart apprentices to decipher, exercising their curiosity and impudent minds, the way the brightest and best young apprentices always have.
. One who clearly has intent that we should figure it all out.
. One who may even have in mind work for us to do.

a reassuring image indeed no wonder he writes books!

David Brin

David Brin has a blog
In further support of the contention that our world, rather than growing more violent and dangerous, is actually growing much less so, do drop by an article on SLATE: “The Peace Epidemic
The world isn't so dangerous after all.” By Timothy Noah - http://www.slate.com/id/2133226/

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Just finished reading Stephen baxter's Evolution.
Itis a great read.
It follows the evolution of mamals and a chain of DNA from their beginings at the feet of the dinosaurs to their eventual extinction and the last humaniods.it tells plausible stories using sound researched data (therefore much better than books like "first and last men" by Olaf stapledon - with which it is compared on the back cover).

I love a story that tells stories in epic time frames and of plausible futures.

this was almost as good as alister Reynold's revelation space