Police, military coup deposes president of the Maldives
The US State Department’s reaction is ambivalent. President Mohamed Nasheed was a strong advocate for action on climate change and won the presidency in the first truly democratic elections after former president Maumoon Abdule Gayoom’s 30-year reign. Via DemocracyNow!
“Thinking for oneself is based on a particular kind of courage in which you hold truth, wisdom, and honesty in high esteem. When you place a high value on truth, you have to think for yourself. If you’re unwilling to muster the courage to think critically, then someone will do the thinking for you, offering double-think and doubletalk relief.”—Dr. Cornel West (via Facebook)
“The harassment has ramped up in recent years, says Michael Mann of the Pennsylvania State University, whose book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, due to be published by Columbia University Press in early March, includes a retelling of his own ongoing experiences with harassment. “Political intimidation, character attacks, what appear to be orchestrated phone and email campaigns, nasty and thinly veiled threats, not just to us but to our families, are what it means in modern American life to be a climate scientist,” says Mann. Even this magazine, after publishing last October articles on the science of climate change—about its being under fire and about communicating that science to the public—received an abundance of letters with the tenor, “How could PHYSICS TODAY print such a one-sided portrayal of climate science when many reputable scientists disagree?”
Fossil-fuel interests, says Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher at NASA, “have adopted a shoot-the-messenger approach. It’s been a very successful strategy. They have created a chilling effect, so other [scientists] won’t say what they think and the conversation in public stays bereft of anyone who knows what they are talking about.” Schmidt cofounded RealClimate.org, a forum for climate scientists to “provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary.” Meanwhile, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a vocal opponent to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, is suing NASA for the release of Schmidt’s personal emails.”—
Points are infinitesimal and have no spatial extent - that is they have no area or length, just a set of coordinates that determines their position in space.
But we have to represent a point with something and most people represent them with a little circle. Earlier today I was thinking to myself, “Why not another shape?” Maybe a square or a star or anything. It occurred to me though that points and circles have something in common: they are rotationally symmetric. If you draw a circle on piece of paper, you can spin it around as much and in any direction you want and it will still look the same. The same is true for any single point.
It might be a trivial point (get it?), but it made me grin a little bit when I realized that a little circle probably is the best representation for a point.
Just got done watching this interesting documentary about the lives of three committed D&D gamers. Escapism and early lives that were rough or unconventional seem to be themes common to each of the film’s subjects. All three are in the lower or middle rungs of the economy. This correlates fairly well with D&D people I have known personally.
As a young adult I have really mixed feelings about D&D and it’s various pen-and-paper offspring. On the one hand I still take pleasure from reading the fiction and the scenarios, and even some of the rules in D&D books. On the other hand, games that are not in a lose-win-draw format don’t have as big of an appeal for me as they used to. I like games like Warhammer 40k and Hordes where there is winner and a loser. If I win, cool. If I lose, what can I learn from the loss to play a better game.
The dungeon master can always kill the players no matter what. An angry god can just destroy the continent that the players are on and *woop* you lose. Most dungeon masters don’t do that or else the players won’t be very interested in playing. At the same time being invincible is no fun either. It isn’t a drama if the hero always wins. So to me D&D doesn’t feel as much like a game, more like mediated social interaction; telling a group story. There isn’t anything wrong with that, it just doesn’t fulfill the same desire that a game of 40k or few rounds of Team Fortress 2 does.
“One of the more delusional aspects of capitalism is the idea that if one pursues the acquisition of private wealth with abandon, that this is somehow automatically “good” for human society. The laissez-faire advocate and novelist Ayn Rand wrote that if one does not support this notion that greed is good and pursuing “enlightened self-interest,” (as Adam Smith characterized it), is the highest virtue, then one defaults to supporting a centralized oppressive regime that allows no personal freedom and no private wealth whatsoever. One supports living in darkness and despair or, in a word, Hell. This Manichean thinking is in keeping with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition dating back to the Indus Valley divide between the Vedic traditions and the Zoroastrian belief system of ancient Persia. The notion that the world is characterized by an ongoing “war” between the forces of light and the forces of darkness is at the base of much of so-called western thought.”—
First, I don’t really believe there are true atheists. As Paul Tillich well pointed out, everyone has an ultimate concern and the object of their ultimate concern is their god. He called secular humanism as quasi-religion and the U.S. Supreme Court picked up on that and used it in a ruling about religion in the public square.
Second, every atheist I have ever read or met does not reject the God I believe in and worship and serve. The ones I know are rejecting an idol (and, of course, replacing it with one of their own making)–e.g., the God of the gaps, the deus ex machina of bare theism or the all determining reality of Calvinism.
Third, atheists do Christians a service by making us pay attention to what we believe and why. If it were not for atheists, there would not be the amazing renaissance of Christian philosophy that Alvin Plantinga rightly points to in his New York Times interview. We probably wouldn’t have the likes of Plantinga, Keith Ward, Richard Swineburne, et al.
Fourth, atheists do Christians a service IF they force us to purify our theism of elements foreign to Christianity. Is our “God” too often a projection of our ourselves or ideal selves into the heavens? Is our “God” too often a mere object, a prop to support our cultural values? Is our “God” too often a mere explanation for what we cannot yet explain so that he gradually disappears as science fills in those gaps?
Several modern and contemporary theologians have identified atheists as allies of true Christianity in its battle against “religion.” Barth praised Feuerbach for helping Christianity overcome its captivity to culture religion; he found Feuerbach an ally in his attempt to promote a non-religious Christianity that tried to correct the German tendency (and probably human and even American tendency!) to identify God with the cultural ideal. Bonhoeffer, of course, wrote about “religionless Christianity” in Letters and Papers from Prison. Jurgen Moltmann was stimulated by atheist philosopher Ernst Bloch to say that only a Christian can be a good atheist. Now, Peter Rollins (in his most recent book Insurrection) is promoting a form of Christian atheism–one that denies and rejects a bland theism that treats God as an object–as the explanation for things or the support for our own interests.
Fifth, having said all that, I do think that belief in a god, the sole supreme being, the creator and moral governor of the universe, is more rationally satisfying than its denial. I think Mortimer Adler’s wonderful little book How to Think about God is a good example of how that can be demonstrated. Hans Kung’s book Does God Exist? is compelling. Adler uses a form of the cosmological argument to show that without belief in god there is no explanation for the universe. Kung uses a form of the moral argument to show that without belief in god there is no escape from nihilism. These arguments have value when believers in a deity (theists) are up against aggressive atheism (e.g., in some secular schools).
However, I think that far too many Christians especially in the Western world tend to think of God along the lines of what Christian Smith calls “therapeutic, moralistic deism” and/or tend to think of God as the prop, the support for their own happiness and personal fulfillment. Rollins is right that atheism can be a kind of therapy for those idolatries.
Sorry, don’t buy it.
I appreciate the spirit of reconciliation, truly, but there are in fact true atheists. There is no persuasive argument from logic or evidence that points to the existence of a deity. Therefore, atheism.
I don’t require any catharsis from another source to salve my lack of a deity, because it is no lack at all.
“I have two grandchildren… I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”—
Newt Gingrich, noted intellectual and current GOP frontrunner. (via paxamericana)
We can only hope..for the secular atheist part anyway.
Have you seen All-American Muslim? Here’s the description:
All-American Muslim takes a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan - home to the largest mosque in the United States - through the lens of five Muslim American families. Each episode offers an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community.
It’s actually quite a good show. As for the families in the show, they play football, are police officers, raising children, planning weddings, etc. - y’know, doing things just like us, OMG! </sarcasm> In other words, the families in these shows do not fit the stereotypes many Americans hold about Muslims. So where’s the problem?
Well, apparently it’s just that: The Florida Family Association was outraged TLC would portray Muslims in a positive light. They launched an email boycott, supported by other groups, and targeted advertisers on the show. At least one (FFA is claiming nearly sixty) succumbed to the pressure from FFA. In an email, Lowe’s Home Improvement Store. In an email to the FFA, Lowe’s said:
“While we continue to advertise on various cable networks, including TLC, there are certain programs that do not meet Lowe’s advertising guidelines, including the show you brought to our attention. Lowe’s will no longer be advertising on that program.
If I (Andrew) can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to call 1-866-900-4650, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact us by mailing your correspondence to Lowe’s Companies, Mail Code CON8, 1605 Curtis Bridge Rd., Wilkesboro, North Carolina 28697.”
Well, I suppose I won’t be shopping at Lowe’s because they don’t meet my standards for not supporting bigotry. What do they suggest - we judge Christianity by Anders Behring Breivik, who committed the massacre in Norway? Should we pull shows about families like the Duggars because terrorists have been motivated by Christianity?
I didn’t hesitate to email Lowe’s. I suggest you do the same. Use the graph above from Osborn Ink - pictures help.
Are you freaking kidding me? The knee-jerk reaction people have to this show is very frightening to me. If you actually watch the show, you see that these people are about as integrated as you could imagine. I still think their religion is problematic and not really defensible from a logical or empirical point of view, and I think their subculture places some unnecessary and unethical shackles on both men and women solely because of their gender. But these aren’t bad people and most of their views are not very far from the American mainstream.
So talk of trolls with protruding mammary glands has gotten me thinking about how the sexes are represented in nonhuman species in games. Every game that I’ve seen follows more or less the general principle of “human, but with X!” model of design, e.g. Minotaurs “humans, but with cow/bull heads!”. This means that all female races have breasts that are apparent, even when they are not nursing young (or at least, I assume so from the pictures). But most animals, even mammals, don’t have breasts. So why should breasts so universal in species creation?
Obviously, we identify with things that look humanoid, which is why most fantastical creatures that we play do not have tentacles or fins, but at the same time it is weird that we cannot let go of this notion of protruding mammary glands for females of every species. Are we so unable to think of truly different species that we are stuck in the notion that breasts = female and female = breast? If I were to draw an alien, does the default always end up being male in our minds?
It’s apparent in the way me treat our games that the default is often male: the Lizardmen for example, do not reproduce in any way that would involve male genitalia. And yes, I realize that Lizardpeople sounds silly (Lizardpeople, dear reader), but we still view the male as default - Tyranids should all be sterile sisters based on their insect-like nature, with hive queens and all, but we often don’t think of them as such. So how do we make it female? Breasts and hips.
Granted, I realize that playing games we still need the cues that we have from culture to identify gender, and especially in miniature games, it’s hard to identify something as male or female by just facial features due to size issues. But in role playing games I feel like this is missing a major feature of being different than what we are. Perhaps it would be interesting to have a race that doesn’t involve sex influencing gender - Terry Pratchett in his book explores this with dwarves, and I don’t see why it can’t be important to role playing games - why not explore how egg laying affects dragonborn culture, especially if they are like some lizards where two females can share in reproduction, and how they therefore interact with humans? Why are breasts so damn important to us?
I know breasts are the easy way for game designers to show characters are female, but in a lot of ways, I think that’s lazy. Lots of women don’t have prominent breasts or even breasts and they are still women and men who have breasts who are still men. Hell, I played a transgender Deva whose sex was female but whose gender was male, and he’s still he. The options for role playing should be as wide as we can imagine.
I know then the problem comes up as “well, don’t we want to have depictions of women for every race?” and we do, and I want to be able to identify them as women, but I think we can do that without invoking the rather unique biology of humans, that isn’t even true of all people. And maybe we can even expand our definition of gender in games to be beyond a dichotomy, to further expand what we understand about gender in our own culture. Why not have a species with a third gender, or even ten? Why, when we can imagine a world so much better than ours, do we keep making our dominant culture in different shades?
Worst example: Argonians in the Elder Scrolls series.
Why do you have boobs? Also, who makes all the string bikinis in Cyrodil? To Bethesda’s credit, the underwear in Skyrim is a bit more believable. I’ve stripped a lot of apprentice necromancer’s of their robes. Don’t judge.
Why does it cost students $75 dollars to submit a graduate application? If you apply to four schools, that is $300. That is a significant sum for many undergrads that I know. I also have a hard time imagining that it costs $25 worth of time to process each application.
The best way to travel is to boldly go where no one has gone before. This is true for vacations, for self-exploration, for life itself. If you want your days filled with adventure, laughter, love, learning and the occasional mind-meld, follow this route.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few—or the one. Sometimes you must make great sacrifices for the greater good. And, like the Genesis device, it will all come back around.
Expressing your emotions is a healthy thing. Sure, McCoy seemed angry all the time when exclaiming, “Dammit, Jim! I’m a doctor not a mechanic/bricklayer/soothsayer,” but he knew that by expressing his anger and frustration it wouldn’t get the best of him and he could then perform at his peak capacity.
When estimating how long a job will take, overestimate—and when you do better your captain will always be impressed. Replace the word “captain” with “teacher” or “mom/dad” and you’ll see what I mean. Sure, Mr. Scott might have been telling the truth—maybe it would take six hours to get the warp engines back online in the heat of the battle. Or maybe he was padding things so he looked good. Either way, when the engines did come back on line, everyone was happy.
Wearing red makes you a target. This is true of cars, dresses and, most especially, shirts. Red gets you noticed—which is good if you want to be noticed, bad if you don’t want to end up vaporized.
When you don’t know what to say, pause. It will give you the time to figure it out. Or at the very least, you’ll sound like you’re being thoughtful. “But….Spock…..why?”
The most powerful force in the universe is friendship. It’s more powerful than phasers, photon torpedos, even more powerful than the force itself. With friends, you can accomplish any task, escape any perilous situation, defeat any enemy—and you get to laugh together when it’s all over.