April 2005

The people who wrote Over Three Hundred Proof’s of God’s Existence had obviously been debating with a certain sort of Christian on the Internet, namely the nutty, probably American sort (with apologies to the 49% of Americans who did not vote for Jesusland). Remember: you end up covered in mud, and the pig enjoys it. Or as teh JC himself said, don’t cast your pearls before swine. The Proofs are funny, anyway.

I found the Proofs on an old blog entry by Tom Coates on the existence of God. One comment there was pointed out by another commenter on another blog, and I rather liked it too. John Franson wrote:

I’m an atheist for the same reason those above have said they are atheists. I don’t believe in God for the same reason I don’t believe the walls of my house are inhabited by intangible purple monsters [shurely invisible pink unicorns? – Ed.] that come out at night to play Twister in my living room. Agnostics say, “We can’t know if there’s a god or not.” But this shows they’ve been prejudiced by prevailing cultural beliefs. They might as well say, “We can’t know if there’s intangible monsters in the walls or not. How arrogant and illogical of you to say otherwise.” That’s what they’d be saying if the world was populated by wall-monster believers. My belief that God doesn’t exist requires no more faith than my belief that there are no intangible monsters in the walls. I’ll allow that maybe something(s) caused the universe. But if so, there’s no reason to call it “god” or to think it had any of the attributes that anybody ascribes to god.

I oscillate between calling myself an agnostic and calling myself an atheist, but in the light of the above, it seems atheist might be more useful.

(I found Tom Stuart’s blog from his comment on this post of captain_aj‘s on whether it makes sense to call oneself a liberal Catholic. The blog contains Interesting Stuff).

robhu, suzn and I are talking about whether evangelical Christian women are nicer than atheists. Guess where I stand? 😉 suzn mentions some interesting stuff about expectations and co-dependency.

Jacqueline Passey writes about what it’s like to be a woman and why men should care. In the comments, the “Women only like bastards, Nice Guys finish last” thing comes up, as it does in the other discussion. I can’t think of a truer commentary than the one at Heartless Bitches: it’s uncomfortable because I recognise my younger self in their descriptions of the hopeless sort of Nice Guy. While there are women with self-destructive tendencies out there, they’re not all actively looking for someone who will hurt them.

Anyone use Bloglines as an RSS reader? They seem to have forgotten about my account, but I can’t tell whether they’d lost everyone’s or just mine. I could create a friends group for RSS feeds and use LJ for reading them instead, but I like the interface at Bloglines better.

Over at Political Survey 2005 you can answer a load of questions, and it will then place you on two axes, as determined by a clever statistical technique based on a much larger survey described in the Times. It turns out that what differentiated their sample of people was not conventional socialist/conservative economic politics, but rather their attitudes to crime and punishment and to internationalism. People who favour tougher punishment tend to be less internationalist, that is, anti-Europe and anti-immigration. A second, much less important, differentiating factor is a free market/socialist division, which is strongly correlated to attitudes to the war in Iraq. You can read some more technical details in Chris Lightfoot’s blog.

So, here’s where I am:

It seems I’m to the left of a lot of people on the most significant axis, but to the right of most people on the free market/pro-war axis (I’m not pro-war, as it happens, but I did say that businesses were more competent than government institutions).

The interesting thing about this survey is the correlations it shows, though: as the Times article points out, the thing that separates out people surveyed (and so indicates the battleground in the forthcoming General Election, if we believe their sample was representative) was the Europe and crime.

Well, I’m back. Here’s what I did on my holidays (note laptop in background, and Firefly and Battlestar Galactica DVDs, and Chronicles of Amber in my lap). Oh, all right, there was also swimming and scenery, but most of the time was reserved for the important things in life. It was fun.

You lot all seem to have been busy, so I’m queuing up open tabs in Firefox as I accumulate stuff I’m replying to. So far, we have:

So, Battlestar Galactica eh? Unlike Firefly, it’s not getting cancelled as it’s apparently very successful. There are certain similarities. Both have the same cinema verite, handheld look (in both the filmed and CGI shots: not surprising as the same CGI company did both BSG and Firefly). Both focus on people rather than on the particle of the week, both are serial rather than episodic, allowing character and story arcs to develop. (I’m curious about the way the BSG’s makers try to distance it from science fiction: they seem to assume that SF means Star Trek, which as far as I’m concerned is an occasionally fun but weak example of the genre).

What are the differences that might explain BSG’s success? BSG is a big story: an entire civilisation in danger, a Biblical exodus, and characters who are political and military leaders. We rarely see the underdogs in the BSG universe, but since they have so little freedom of action, that’s not very surprising. BSG is darker: no snappy comebacks and laugh out loud moments. Oh, and let’s not overestimate our demographic: while Inara is pretty, we see rather more of Number 6 in BSG, and BSG is generally sexier.

I like them both, although I think it’ll be interesting to see whether BSG can keep up its early promise now it has become such a hit.