Link blog: atheism, christianity, religion, richard-dawkins

Dr. Marlene Winell speaks about indoctrination by authoritarian religion

Dr Winell speaks to Valeria Tarico. Winell's experiences and those of her clients were much more traumatic than mine, because their churches really did deserve the "fundamentalist" label, but it's still an interesting video on the psychology of leaving a religion. The part about how if something doesn't work for you it's your fault and you must try harder rang some bells. Via Debunking Christianity.
(tags: video religion valerie-tarico indoctrination hell rapture psychology fundamentalism christianity)

txt2re: headache relief for programmers :: regular expression generator

Generate regular expressions from some sample text by clicking on what you want to match. Neat toy.
(tags: programming software tools regexp regex)

‘An Apology’ by Richard Dawkins – RichardDawkins.net

Dawkins apologises for the forum drama: "I would like to start by apologising for our handling of this situation. We have not communicated well with our forum volunteers and users (for example in my insensitive 'Outrage' post, which was written in the heat of the moment). In the process we have caused unintended hurt and offence, and I am very sorry about that. In a classic case of a vicious circle, some of the responses to our announcement also caused considerable hurt and distress to us, and in the atmosphere of heightened emotion that followed, some of our subsequent actions went too far. I hope you will understand the human impulses that led to this, and accept my apology for them. I take full personal responsibility."
(tags: drama internet dawkins richard-dawkins atheism)

Fallacies on fallacies : Evolving Thoughts

"Appeal to authority is not fallacious, so long as the authority cited is relevant and reliable. A principle known as the division of cognitive labor (I think due to Hilary Putnam) suggests that we literally must rely on authorities in the absence of time, resources and cognitive capacities to rerun all experiments and observations since the beginnings of science and history."
(tags: logic fallacy appeal authority putnam philosophy rationality)

Furious backlash from Simon Singh libel case puts chiropractors on ropes | Martin Robbins | Science | guardian.co.uk

"A staggering one in four chiropractors in Britain are now under investigation for allegedly making misleading claims in advertisements, according to figures from the General Chiropractic Council." Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.
(tags: science simon-singh chiropractor guardian health pseudoscience quackery woo-woo libel legal law)

Photographic Height/Weight Chart

Self-submitted photographs of people, tabulated by weight and height. Interesting stuff. Via Metafilter.
(tags: health photos photography images height weight statistics photo biology)

Parchment and Pen » DO WE NEED TO TELL PEOPLE THE BAD NEWS BEFORE THE GOOD NEWS?

Paul Copan has some sensible thoughts on how to do evangelism. On no account should Christians put any of them into practice.
(tags: evangelism religion christianity sin gospel)

Heresy Corner: A Reading from the Book of Dawk

This is hilarious: "And some of the disciples said, O Dawk, our anger is not mixed against thee, but against thy servant Josh, who hath offended us. But others said, Hath not the Dawk deserted us? Come, let us depart the land of Dawk and hearken unto some other prophet, for the Dawk loveth not his people."
(tags: richard-dawkins drama internet forum atheism funny parody dawkins)
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Balls

You know it’s been a good night when your feet hurt and you go through two dress shirts. The CDC Ball was fun, as usual. The demo couple, Marco Cavallaro and Joanne Clifton, were very good. Their tango in particular stood out as a great performance as well as being technically good (how does she do those head snaps?). Definite passion there. Not sure I’ve seen hair grabbing as a move in tango before. Wise to seek partner’s consent before using, I think 🙂

unoriginal1729 has great photographs. The consensus on Facebook about this one is that I am singing, and not that lauralaitaine has just stood on my foot. I don’t remember singing during that one, although I do recall treating one fortunate lady to my rendition of “New York, New York” while carefully choreographing the fast “it’s up to you” bit to be the weave and twiddly thing (technical term) that Clive’s taught. Go me.

There are a few more of scribb1e‘s photographs here, although some of the ones that would have been good didn’t come out because of the low light and rapid motion (q.v.).

I was a bit broken for the rest of the weekend and so missed all of the possible parties on Saturday. Sorry all. Watched Strictly Come Dancing instead, and agreed with the result (Carol Smillie was the weakest dancer, I think, and I didn’t rate her samba this week as highly as the judges did). I am a bit worried that Craig Revel Horwood is mellowing in his old age, but it’s possibly just that the increasing standard of the remaining dancers is giving him less opportunity to stick the knife in and twist it in that entertaining way of his.

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Party photos

There are some photos of my 30th on the web. These ones were taken by Barney. If anyone’s got any more, do point them out to me.

There’s also a video of David B and me dancing rumba, but that will never see the light of day, oh no. Barney got a couple of scribb1e and me singing Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin, too.

Seeing yourself on video is odd: I do hunch my shoulders a lot, don’t I? Must stand up straighter. Also, I sound a lot posher than I think I do. Cambridge has rubbed off on me, dontcherknow.

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The Ends of Invention

In recognition of her recent elevation, S will now be known as Dr S. While on the way in to town to celebrate this the other night, we saw an unusual busker:
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It’s a good way of drawing attention to yourself, although it’s probably a bit hot and smelly, and I wasn’t too sure about the acoustics. He was singing an Oasis song, but we gave him some money anyway. There also seemed to be any number of hen parties out on Riverside last night. Never thought of Cambridge as a hen party destination before.

Last night, the BBC screened Parting of the Ways, the final episode in the new series of Doctor Who. <lj-cut text=”Cut for spoilers”>I liked it for the spectacle of lots and lots of Daleks doing their thing. I also liked the way future humans (as personified by Captain Jack) have turned into the Culture and are happily unrestrained in their affections (the loony Christians who were protesting about Jerry Springer must be absolutely steaming). Alas, the plot made no sense.

The current fad for deus ex machina endings is getting a bit tired, especially after Boom Town (arguably, that might be seen setting the stage for the latest one, I suppose). If all the TARDIS’s can do that, why did the Time Lords ever feel remotely threatened by the Daleks? Rose as Time Goddess made it look a bit too like Buffy for me (the earlier Rose/TARDIS effects were more like Lyta Alexander in Babylon 5), though if it had been written by Joss Whedon, Jack would have stayed dead, and the episode would have been better for it. Possibly the BBC would get more complaints from parents of kids who were distraught about dead Jack than they will about a gay kiss on Saturday night “family” TV.

Nobody explained why the massive TARDIS energy didn’t kill Rose as well as the Doctor. “Bad Wolf” turned out to be a meaningless phrase which might just as well have been “Arthritic Hamster”. And the bit about opening the TARDIS console with a recovery truck was just silly.

But there were lots of Daleks, and everyone lived happily every after (except the ones who Rose didn’t resurrect). Did I mention that there were lots of Daleks?

Charlie Stross (known as autopope in these parts) has released his latest novel, Accelerando, on his website. I’ve been reading it on and off all weekend. My opinions might be skewed by that peculiar disassociation which sets in when you’re reading about the Singularity at 3 am in the middle of a heatwave, but I rather liked it. I found the earlier, near future, chapters more fun than the software iiiin spaaace stuff. The bits about cats were always good. The software iiin spaaace parts reminded me of Greg Egan’s Diaspora, though Stross’s characters aren’t as clinical as Egan’s, which makes them more bearable.

The book shows signs of an SF writing singularity, whereby books become incomprehensible to people from primitive cultures where they don’t know what slashdot is (perhaps a better description would be “unsullied”, rather than “primitive”, in that case). I’m not quite sure what someone who hadn’t spent most of their life in geekdom would make of it. Perhaps someone who meets that description could read it and tell me?

In any case, it’s a wonderfully exuberant book, and worth a read.

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Well Don’t Do That Then

After much prodding, LiveJournal has finally introduced tags, a way of categorising entries and of retrieving entries which have a particular tag. I’ve spent an entertaining hour going back through my old entries and tagging them. So, for example, you can see all my posts on religion or all the posts where I mention what I’ve been up to lately (I’ve nicked livredor‘s “quotidian” tag to describe my daily life). Hopefully they’ll do something similar to Flickr and allow you to search other people’s journals for particular tags, or get a feed which displays all posts with a particular tag.

Speaking of what I’ve been up to lately, I had an excellent time at S’s Graduation Dinner the other night (although the name is a misnomer as they’ve not graduated yet). It was at St John’s, who produced some of the best food I’ve had at a Cambridge college. My favourite photo is this one, as the Three Musketeers seem to be enjoying themselves.

Adam Kay and Suman Biswas, medics themselves, have joined to form Amateur Transplants, a beat combo. They are reminiscent of Flanders and Swann or Tom Lehrer, but with gratuitous use of the word “fuck”. You might have heard their seminal London Underground a while back, but it turns out there’s a whole album, entitled Fitness to Practice. Our favourites are Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin and Snippets, for the excellent parodies of Coldplay’s Yellow and Phil Collins’s Against All Odds. Some MP3s are here, but sadly, physical copies of the entire album seem to have sold out. They should charge to download the remaining MP3s or something: it’s for charidee.

S and I want to go on holiday somewhere scenic, not too hot during the summer (anything over the high 20s in Celsius is too hot, in my book), and not monumentally expensive. Any suggestions?

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Lyrics update

The song lyrics are mostly down to the obscure ones, although I’m surprised no-one’s got 15 yet. Some CDC people would probably know 11 when they hear it, too, but possibly the Spanish thing is a bit much.

In other news, I have an experimental beard:
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I think it makes me look like a tramp, but other opinions vary. It’s going by the weekend anyway, as I want to look smart for family outings.

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Gratuitous link post

Linkage: Beautiful photographs of Cambridge.

Via sjdr, who is a LJ-friend of a LJ-friend, comes a new rhumba for General Dancing: I speak of the top one listed here. Actually, it’s a little fast, but it’s a nice idea. While I was out searching for what that rhythm is actually called (I think it’s a bossa nova, myself), I found animations of ballroom dances. Neat, although expensive if you want to see anything other than the basic steps.

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A Ship With A View

The Lakes were lovely. We had excellent weather, and the scenery was beautiful. S and I took many, many photographs. We walked up Cat Bells, went to the Sellafield Visitors Centre (which, disappointingly, does not sell fluorescent T-shirts saying “I’ve been to Sellafield”), went on a boat trip, and also managed to do a bit of reading in the evenings.

At Brantwood, John Ruskin’s former home, we happened across a performance of The Tempest by Illyria, who were excellent: a company of 5 actors, a simple set and a rollicking performance, in the best tradition of traveling players (being a Pratchett geek, I thought of Vitoller’s Men in Wyrd Sisters).

We also happened across a “3 for £10” deal on SF classics in a bookshop, so I bought Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowiz. I’ve read Canticle, so that’s gone to S. The Forever War‘s grinding tale of the pointlessness of war came to mind when I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on Sunday night. My favourite was The Left Hand of Darkness, though, for the evocative and touching description of an alien society. Recommended.

Fahrenheit 9/11 was biased and polemical and relied too much on pathos (or do I mean bathos?), but was quite terrifying for all that. I hope lots of Americans are watching it.

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Highpoint

Dave and Abbie’s wedding was fun. We started in Kew Gardens for the wedding itself, in beautiful surroundings for a charming ceremony. That was the first and only civil wedding in the crop of five (count ’em) weddings this year, and it lacked nothing on the church ceremonies. We then moved on to Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park, for the wedding breakfast, and, after some quick furniture removal, for an evening of ballroom dancing.

I took some pictures, as did S. Hers are the well composed portraits, mine are the blurry ones with people half out of shot. You can find them all here. Higher resolution ones are available if anyone wants them.

I’ll run out of superlatives if I try to describe it much further. Suffice to say it was a lovely day.

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