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Cover Yourself

  • Weird: Ednaswapのsong: 「Torn」 is best known by its cover by Natalie Imbruglia. I sometimes hear people talk about the Ednaswap versions as covers (which bugs me a bit, particularly as the Ednaswap versions are more musically interesting)
  • Weirder: Jonathan Coulton has released a cover of his own song, 「Still Alive」, as the "official" version is sung by someone else. I'm not sure which I like more.

Troll vs Troll: PZ Myers vs Scott Adams. (Really, they're not John Grubor or Jason Scott level trolls, just terribly intereresting people who are marginal). On this topic, I agree with PZ; I've seen Adams pretend some of his opinions were jokes before, when they got too much negative attention.

Currently interesting spots in the world:

  • Syria, where the wave of uprisings has been very badly managed by Assad, but where the military is strong enough that an uprising is unlikely to remove him. He has been pushed to lift emergency rule RealSoonNow™, and it might actually happen
  • Egypt, where a democracy is being forged. It's interesting to see Al-Ahram reporting on this, as they used to be a mouthpiece of the government
Also, I spotted a town near Philadelphia that would be a terrible place to put a data centre: Lansdowne. Contrast this to the best place in PA for that: Leetsdale! (oddly, the median income in Lansdowne is much much higher)

There's a film called 「The First Grader」 that I'd like to see soon.


As best I recall I mostly actually agreed with PZ on the meaning of the word atheist, and I think the crowd that want it to mean 'lack of belief in God' and nothing else are more or less revisionists. The word means what people use it to mean, and the argument-from-etymology that it _really_ means something else just doesn't hold water.
Oh, and now having read the other link, I agree with him on Scott Adams too.
I don't think it's cool to let secular humanists claim the whole term just because they're the most high-profile kind of atheist movement. Objectivists, (most) Marxists, and various other movements are atheistic too.

Maybe by taking part in this struggle over meaning, we're engaging in that "what people use it to mean" process; choosing one definition and trumpeting it, done by sufficient groups of people, is how eventually these things are decided.

I'm not arguing linguistic prescriptivism here, but I know I prefer the term "atheism" to be fairly small, and a mirror image to "theism"; I see it as being a side on an early (and not entirely binary) divide in how people lay out their worldviews, and not something very specific. I realise people might define terms differently though; I just hope my categorisation framework is attractive enough that people coalesce nearby, either by my doing or because they come to similar conclusions.

The main reason I consider PZ a troll isn't this though (sorry for the potentially misleading link), it's that he often takes his dislike of religion into knee-jerk territory and abandons fairness. He doesn't always do this; sometimes he'll even criticise others for being unfair. Still, insinuating that all Catholic priests are sexual-deviants, or that religion is always negative in human affairs, as he's done, is bombastic and not cool. It's one thing to consider religion wrong and a delusion, quite another to blanket-mischaracterise people and groups that are religious as being malign and entirely negative. We can fairly plan or hope for a post-religious society without this kind of stuff. We should require ourselves to be honest and careful, both because how we handle external disputes will dictate how we handle internal ones, and because it's political-philosophical good practice to be careful over facts.
Ah, this comment pre-empts what I was going to ask, which was, "What, in your opinion, are PZ's more unsavory views? I don't know much about him -- the only times I end up on his blog are generally through links from other blogs which tend to agree with him (usually about feminism), so there's massive selection bias."

From what I've seen recently (by which I mean, the MRA post, kerfuffle, redaction, and backpedaling), Scott Adams is a petulant idiot.
(the other one is pretty cool, though)
I feel like nobody has ever given Scott Adams the usual advice on what to do when one finds oneself inside a hole.
"Stop digging."
Yeah, his approach is more along the lines of "Claim that you love holes, and in fact, this hole here is wonderfully avant garde and your audience just isn't clever enough to understand it."

re Syria

Who needs an emergency law, when you have troops ready and willing to gun down large numbers of protestors?

"Badges? We don't need no steenkin' badges!"