Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Online Integrity

Thersites has had a little dust-up. We hope all goes well. He's a fine writer.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rephrasing the Argument

I left this at Melinda's (that is, if it passes muster):

I'm still at a loss as to why run-at-the-mouth atheists need to have an article written about them. There's an overall subject that begs to be written about, which is simply zealotry or tribalism, and rather
than tackle the larger subject you go for the one in which you can isolate and crucify a teensy number of blowhards (like minnie mouse, who seems to require a prescription).

I saw on some network somewhere a show about The Rationalist Society, a group of people in India who perform an extraordinary service for villagers: they go from town to down performing magic tricks and show how they're done so that the villagers don't get suckered by visiting godmen who'll try to cure a potentially fatal snakebite with magic instead of medicine. Their atheism, in other words, saves lives. At the same time, it seemed to me that the documentary was evidence that they had become a tribe of their own, with rules, orthodoxy, chants, and so forth. They had become a tribe of sorts while explicitly
existing to burst the bubbles of tribal culture. (My description comes from one half-remembered documentary, so take it with a grain of salt.)

In any case, people form tribes naturally, and some people take it too much to heart and become assholes. The way to write about this in the case of atheists is not to deal with the arguments, which, even if you identify them as outrageous are rarely as ridiculous as religious arguments, but to identify X argument as the rallying point that attracts the stupids that may accrete to the atheist "cause". (Anthropologists tend not to add "this is of course bullshit" to descriptions of tribal beliefs.)

There may be other aspects of the culture that produce mindless woofing or backslapping or spittle-sprays. If there's some sort of ceremonial aspect to the behaviour (as there was under the supposedly atheistic communist regimes) point to that as evidence of tribalism.

There are chunks of this to re-write or rephrase, but I gotta go.
This is terribly old news, but this entertainingly-written summary deserves life:

Arse & All

by Jim Provenzano

On April 1, 2001, Australian rugby player John Hopoate (pronounced "hop-o-wotty") announced his resignation from the West Tigers club. His resignation followed widespread publicity after the National Rugby League judiciary a week before handed down a 12-match suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct. Hopoate, a winger, was suspended for jabbing his fingers into North Queensland players' anuses.

Monday, May 22, 2006

More Nice Firefox Extensions

Let's say something nice again. Well, only two things.

Nuke Anything Enhanced is a tool that lets you clear up crap on a web-page. Something bugging you? Remove it. Stupid background or foreground image getting in the way? Remove it. Blinking tag? Gone.

Tab Mix Plus is the king of extensions for making Firefox do what you want it to do. My most crucial uses are making new tabs appear to the right of the current tab instead of at the far right of every tab open. My tabs are also marked in red until I read them, when they turn black. They're all the same size so that I don't have to adjust when I click them away. I can organize and drop them where I want on the tab bar. This makes reading random news items so much easier it's like a reinvention of the web for me.

Quoth Larry DeRita

You talk about "rumsfeld's fondest ideas and theories" as if you have the first clue as to what those are. I have worked with him side-by-side for five years, and I wouldn't even try to divine what his fondest ideas and theories are.
DeRita is apparently Rumsfeld's spokesman. Thanks for not trying.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

5 Professors Quit Religious School

The Only Source of
the Truth

5 Professors Quit Religious School
Some Complain of Academic Constraints at Loudoun Institution
By Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 19, 2006; Page B05

Nearly a third of the faculty members at Patrick Henry College in
Loudoun County are leaving the school because of what they described
as limitations on their academic freedom, causing unusual
introspection at the politically connected Christian liberal arts

They claim that Patrick Henry College, established in 2000 to attract
academically gifted home-schoolers with the hope of send them on to
work on Capitol Hill or at the White House, does not value equally
both parts of its mission: to offer students a strong biblical
perspective while educating them according to a classical liberal
arts curriculum. In one case, the professors said, faculty members
were reprimanded for writing that the Bible "is not the only source
of truth."


Thursday, May 11, 2006


I don't appear to have anything original to say, so I'll try something mildly constructive.

Here's what I browse with: Firefox.

I also use a Mac, and Firefox is probably the clunkiest and slowest browser for it. Still, with the right extensions it does things that nothing else does.

The right extensions:

Adblock: does what it says, and you can alter the list of included items, urls, blah blah.

Adblock Filterset.G Updater
: a set of continually updated filters for the above. I rarely see adds for anything anywhere.

BugMeNot: right-click in a field and get a log-in for a surprising variety of sites. Registering is a pain in the ass, and why bother if you don't need to.

Download Manager Tweak: I'd rather have a new tab than the other options, and this lets me have it the way I want. I note there are a couple of negative comments at the link; I've had no problems.

Fasterfox: a much-hated bandwidth drainer according to a lot of webmasters. Oh well: Firefox is already pokey on a Mac (quite terrific on a PC) so I need an advantage. Improper tweaking can apparently cause poor performance, so use with caution.

Greasemonkey: customize the way Firefox sees certain sites, pages, what have you. I look for pictures using Google Image Search so I use two Greasemonkey scripts that help with the process: one makes the search for large images only so I don't have to fuck with it every time, the other makes the thumbnails link directly to the images instead of to a page. Instant image-stealing-Photoshop-heaven. If you're smarter than me - show of hands please - you can write your own scripts.

Image Zoom: better control over images; fit them to the window and so on.

Linky: open multiple links in multiple tabs at once, or multiple images in a single tab, or open multiple links while ignoring the ones you've already visited. A good research tool.

More later, maybe.