mercredi 31 juillet 2013

Canadian Bigfoot

The most recent bigfoot video. It comes from British Colombia, Canada. As is the norm, Jeff Meldrum weighs in.

via JREF Forum

Dry heat vs humid heat

I live in California. And each summer we will get a few bad heatwaves. While I'm sweltering under 115F (46C) conditions I'll suddenly have someone on the internet tell me that "at least it is a dry heat!" Which sort of makes me want to punch the wall. Which I won't do....of course because of the heat that I apparently shouldn't even notice. :rolleyes:

So....dry heat vs humid heat.

Easy to dehydrateEasy to get heat stroke

Which is truly worse?

via JREF Forum

Pat Robertson: transgenderism is not a sin and should not be judged or condemned



The 83-year-old televangelist sat down on Sunday for the "Bring It Online" advice portion of his Christian Broadcasting Network show, "The 700 Club." A viewer named David wrote in asking how he should refer to two transgender females who work in his office and have legally changed their genders. Instead of criticizing the trans individuals, Robertson approached the situation in a seemingly level-headed manner.

"I think there are men who are in a woman's body," he said. "It's very rare. But it's true -- or women that are in men's bodies -- and that they want a sex change. That is a very permanent thing, believe me, when you have certain body parts amputated and when you have shot up with various kinds of hormones. It's a radical procedure. I don't think there's any sin associated with that. I don't condemn somebody for doing that."

He even went on to tell the person asking for advice "It's not for you to decide or to judge."

The broken clock analogy seems so trite, but it does seem to fit.

via JREF Forum

New Snowden leak: The NSA logs everything you do on the internet with XKeyscore.

Well, this is surely illegal (by any logical pre-2001 reading of US law)...


You've never heard of XKeyscore, but it definitely knows you. The National Security Agency's top-secret program essentially makes available everything you've ever done on the Internet — browsing history, searches, content of your emails, online chats, even your metadata — all at the tap of the keyboard.

The Guardian exposed the program on Wednesday in a follow-up piece to its groundbreaking report on the NSA's surveillance practices. Shortly after publication, Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former Booz Allen Hamilton employee who worked for the NSA for four years, came forward as the source.

This latest revelation comes from XKeyscore training materials, which Snowden also provided to The Guardian. The NSA sums up the program best: XKeyscore is its "widest reaching" system for developing intelligence from the Internet.

The program gives analysts the ability to search through the entire database of your information without any prior authorization — no warrant, no court clearance, no signature on a dotted line. An analyst must simply complete a simple onscreen form, and seconds later, your online history is no longer private. The agency claims that XKeyscore covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet."

via JREF Forum

Wine Containers

In another thread, a poster present this picture. Rather than derail that thread (not that it'd do much harm, but rules are rules), I thought I'd ask here: Why the devil did people make containers like that?!

I have a coffee mug at the office that's tapperd upward--the base is wider than the top. This configuration makes it remarkably difficult to spill the coffee when it's full and sitting on the desk. The wide base lowers the center of gravity, making tipping over unlikely. That seems the most rational choice for a container that will hold valuable liquid and which can't be closed very well. (Coffee is a VERY valuable liquid--I have to guard my french press when the coffee maker goes down....there have been attempted raids....)

If the container will be closed, you'd think space would be an important consideration. What I mean is, you'd think they'd want to pack as much liquid--in this case wine--as possible into as small an area as possible. The relatively pointy bottom of these containers means that a huge volume of space is wasted not holding liquid. Now, maybe you can get away with that at home, or in a warehouse or something--but I've seen these containers on ancient shipwrecks. Space is ALWAYS at a premium in a ship; any space not holding cargo is losing the captain money. And if it's relatively top-heavy, like these are, it's even worse. Ships move in weird ways, which can easily upset such vessles I would think. A cylindrical vessle would be much more efficient, even factoring in the wasted space due to the round shape (cone volume=1/3*b*h; cylinder volume=b*h).

Yet for some reason they seem to be popular. The Greeks used them. The Egyptions did. The Romans did, though that may be because they were copying the Greeks. I know other cultures have, but I can't think of the names off-hand. These aren't illiterates who are merely copying what their ancestors did--these are advanced civilizations (for their time) that knew engineering principles and had showed a fair bit of adaptability (the Egyptions adapted to new fighting techniques, and the Romans were as interested in copying good ideas as developing them). Simply put, they should have known better.

What makes this shape so attractive that people are willing to use it over and over again? I have to be missing something; what is it?

via JREF Forum

An interesting way to teach math

Here's an article about a fun equation. Basically, a mathematics professor and a student modeled a zombie outbreak, to see what would happen. It had some interesting results--for example, the only way to deal with them is actually repeated, agressive attacks.

The most interesting aspct, however, is that the equation is being used to teach mathematical modeling. Math is hard to learn--it's so abstract and taught so poorly most of the time that kids really struggle to stay awak for it, much less internalize anything. But as any gamer can tell you, make those numbers mean something and it's suddenly pretty easy to pay attention. While I think we're on the downward part of the current zombie popularity curve, they're certainly still in the public eye to a sufficient degree to make using them as a teaching tool powerful.

My boss and I were discussing unintended consequences the other day. Here's a perfect example: make movies, teach math! :D

via JREF Forum

George Zimmerman armed when stopped for speeding in Texas

This, apparently, is a big story. There's been hundreds of articles just in the last hour... The incident happened earlier today.


George Zimmerman, the former Florida neighborhood watch leader cleared of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, was pulled over for speeding in North Texas on Sunday, CBS DFW reports.

According to the station, Zimmerman was armed when officers pulled him over on Highway 80 in Forney, east of Dallas.

TMZ has apparently acquired the dash cam footage:

Some articles appear to say the gun was already in the glove box, but most say he had it (I'm assuming) on his person, and then was told to put it into the glove box.



Please folks, just like in the hero thread we are not to discuss why Z is famous. Or any details surrounding that.

Please just discuss the details surrounding this particular incident of July 31st 2013.

via JREF Forum

Too hot in Qatar to play football (soccer)

Very sad news about international soccer player Christian Benitez. Details about his demise are still shady but the New York Times raises an interesting question about Qatar and the 2022 World Cup to be held there.

via JREF Forum

New 9/11 Truth Conference

Okay…boys and girls, a new 9/11 truth conference. This time it is going to be in Washington, DC on Sept. 14/15, and only $125 for both days.

I wonder if the national press is going to cover this historic event.

I don’t see David Ray Griffith on the speakers list, but it is my understanding he got a $5 million grant to study the afterlife, so he’s busy working on that.


via JREF Forum

Zimbabwe elections

"Uncle Bob" Mugabe is standing for the seventh time.

Apparently if beaten he will step down:


President Robert Mugabe, 89, has said he will step down after 33 years in power if he and his Zanu-PF party lose.

....although, given the history of election irregularities in Zimbabwe, I think it's more likely that opposition supporters are more likely to be those who are beaten.


Mr Tsvangirai won the most votes in the first round of the 2008 poll, but pulled out of the run-off with Mr Mugabe because of attacks on his supporters, which left about 200 dead.

The elections are being monitored by the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) but not by Western (a.k.a. colonial) observers.

IMO Mugabe and his cronies have destroyed the Zimbabwean economy and created a refugee crisis which has added to tensions in neighbouring countries. My brief experience of working with Zimbabweans in South Africa back in 2007 left me feeling what a terrible shame it was that they had to leave home and live in shanty towns to earn enough to keep their families back home.

I hope that Zanu PF lose, that there is a smooth and safe transition of power and that the new leaders don't follow Mugabe's lead and continue the kleptocracy.

via JREF Forum

Some teachers in Arkansas will be Locked and Loaded with a 9 mm this fall.

Well, they took prayer out of the schools in 1962 but now some US teachers will be packing more than their lunch this fall. Some of us can remember when a fist fight in the school yard was the worse it got. The times they are a changin'.

Do you think teachers should be packing heat and how do you think it will affect the atmosphere of the school?

via JREF Forum

mardi 30 juillet 2013

Surface debacle

Sales don't even cover advertising costs.

How many more disasters will the board tolerate before they give Ballmer a pink slip?

via JREF Forum

Distracting Depression

Does anyone find that distraction can help?

Any recommendations on good distraction when you feel the worst is coming?

via JREF Forum

What causes psychopathy/sociopathy?

I've always wondered that. I, personally, thinks its mostly on the nurture aspect of it but I'm open for any other suggestions.

via JREF Forum

Protected titles

Notoriously, 'nutritionist' is not a protected title, at least in this country. Anyone who wants to call themselves 'nutritonist' can do so, and can then write columns in newspapers and magazines regarding nutrition, with predictable results. Similarly, anyone can call themselves 'doctor'. But not 'dietitian', or 'architect'. These titles are legally protected, as far as I can tell, meaning that you have to have particular qualifications and perhaps be registered with a particular organisation.

I have tried - without success - to find a list of all protected titles. Perhaps my Google-fu is weak, but all I come up with is either lists of such titles within a particular field, or lots of campaigns to get 'engineer' protected, as it is in some other countries because the word does not have the connotations in other languages.

Is there anywhere a list of what I may or may not call myself? It's not actually illegal (I assume) to call myself King Rat; but can I call myself Sir Rat? Are there legal repercussions if I describe myself as a barrister, or anaesthetist, or Sergeant Major Rat?

via JREF Forum

Majority of Muslims agree with view that God is not a necessary part of the Universe

They agree that God is all powerful so could create a universe where he was not necessary.They also agree with Scientists that arguments from authority are fallacious, so Muhammad should not be considered a prophet.

via JREF Forum

The excellence that is Atlanta Nights

I want to talk about my new favorite novel: Atlanta Nights by Travis Tea. I just finished reading it, and it is amazing. Before talking about how amazing it is, let me tell you the story of how it came to be, for those of you who do not know.

It starts with a vanity press by the name of PublishAmerica. A vanity press is a publisher whose business model is to make profit primarily from authors rather than from selling to readers. Many vanity presses are obvious pay-to-publish presses, but some are more subtle. In the case of PublishAmerica, they pretended they were a legitimate publisher. They claimed that they only accepted good manuscripts with real publishing potential; they didn't accept just anything so they could get money from the author. Also, they did not take money up front. So how were they a vanity press? From what I understand, they made their money by allowing authors to buy their own books in bulk at discounted prices, which many authors are willing to do so they can self-promote. This was the press's main source of income. They did not work like a genuine publisher, and they were not up-front or honest about being a vanity press.

It happened that there was a man named James D. MacDonald, fantasy/sci-fi author, who had for some time been active in giving advice to aspiring authors. He and a couple other sci-fi authors realized that PublishAmerica was a deceptive vanity press, and they advised new authors about this. As a result, PublishAmerica got upset and made this comment:


[S]cience-fiction and fantasy writers have it easier. It's unfair, but such is life. As a rule of thumb, the quality bar for sci-fi and fantasy is a lot lower than for all other fiction. Therefore, beware of published authors who are self-crowned writing experts. When they tell you what to do and not to do in getting your book published, always first ask them what genre they write. If it's sci-fi or fantasy, run. They have no clue about what it is to write real-life stories, and how to find them a home. Unless you are a sci-fi or fantasy author yourself.

There were some other comments as well, equally disparaging of science fiction, and equally trying to claim PublishAmerica was legit.

After this, MacDonald decided to test out their claim that they only accepted manuscripts with real potential. To do this, he set out to create a completely unpublishable manuscript and submit it. The plan went like this:

1. Come up with thin, cliche characters, and very vague descriptions of 40 chapters of a crappy, cliche romance/mystery story;

2. Send one chapter description to each of 40 sci-fi authors, without letting the authors talk to each other or see the other chapter descriptions;

3. Have the authors each write their one chapter as badly as possible;

4. Have a computer program mash together random phrases from four other chapters and include that as a chapter;

5. Assemble the chapters in the order received, not in an order that makes sense of the story;

6. Submit the resulting incoherent mess to PublishAmerica.

And that was what they did. And PublishAmerica accepted it with this message:


Dear Mr. [Deleted]

As this is an important piece of email regarding your book, please read it completely from start to finish.

I am happy to inform you that PublishAmerica has decided to give "Atlanta Nights" the chance it deserves. An email will follow this one with the sample contract attached for your review. If you do not receive the email with the attached sample contract in twenty-four hours, please contact me, so I can resend the document via another method.

[Omitted contract details]

Welcome to PublishAmerica, and congratulations on what promises to be an exciting time ahead.


Meg Phillips

Acquisitions EditorPublishAmerica

There was a contract offered as well. Then the hoax was made public, at which time PublishAmerica suddenly realized that the manuscript was not up to their high standards, and they revoked the contract to publish.


Dear Mr. [Deleted],

We must withdraw our offer to publish Atlanta Nights. Upon further review it appears that your work is not ready to be published. There are portions of nonsensical text in the manuscript that were caught by our editing staff as they previewed the text for editing time assessment pending your acceptance of our offer.

On the positive side, maybe you want to consider contracting the book with a vanity publisher such as iUniverse or Author House. They will certainly publish your book at a fee.

Thank you.

PublishAmerica Acquisitions Department

A plausible explanation, indeed.

You can find the full correspondence here, under the heading "The making of Atlanta Nights".

MacDonald did an interiew about the whole process here.

If you are wondering whether maybe the novel was not that bad and PublishAmerica actually does vet manuscripts, here is the opening to the novel:



Whispering voices.


Pain. Pain. Pain.

Need pee--new pain--what are they sticking in me? . . .



Whispering voices.

“As you know, Nurse Eastman, the government spooks controlling this hospital will not permit me to give this patient the care I think he needs.”

“Yes, doctor.” The voice was breathy, sweet, so sweet and sexy.

“We will therefore just monitor his sign’s. Serious trauma like this patient suffered requires extra care, but the rich patsies controlling the hospital will make certain I cannot try any of my new treatments on him.”

“Yes, doctor.” That voice was soooo sexy!

Bruce didn’t care about treatments. He cared about pain, and he cared about that voice, because when he heard the voice, the pain went away, just for a few seconds, like.

“Report to me if there is any change,” the man’s voice said.

“Yes, Dr. Nance,” said the sexy voice.

A door closed, and Bruce heard breathing, and smelled the enticing smell of shampoo, and perfume. It was Chanel Number 5.

Many of the chapters are worse than this. Some are just boring. The whole novel mangles spelling and grammar. There is Eye of Argon levels of thesaurus usage. Then there is the computer-generated Chapter 34, which starts:


Bruce walked around any more. Some people might ought to her practiced eye, at her. I am so silky and braid shoulders. At sixty-six, men with a few feet away form their languid gazes.

I know I was hungry, and impelling him lying naked. She slowly made for a man could join you I know what I ought to take you probably should have. He wants it worriedly. About think what to wear?

Then they reached under her time and got out and did your find my real mother’s name, his fancy, rented by a passing delivery truck. Well, Maggie Ooh, Andrew, you but I know my leftover cake!

Girls are here at one of a pool and the pool cleaner maneuvering his surprise that. He smiled certain her way down cruel and flashed him.

So this is what PublishAmerica accepted as having potential. While, as mentioned, the contract offer was revoked, the authors eventually published the book themselves. You can buy it on Amazon. There is also a substantial excerpt here.

I highly recommend this novel. It is absolutely hilarious. The writing is awful in such amazing and excellent ways. And the story behind it is kind of awesome as well. Atlanta Nights. Hell on wheels.

via JREF Forum

Probably a simple maths question

There was apparently a question on University Challenge last night, and I can't work out how to work it out. The question is this: if you have a pool of 7 people, how many possible 4-person teams could you make from it? I know the answer, but I don't know the method of calculating it. I could do it using pen and paper, but not in anything like the time allowed to answer it on a quiz show, so there's clearly some trick to this sort of problem.

Assume, of course, that a team using persons 1/2/3/4 is the same as 4/3/2/1.

Any ideas?

via JREF Forum

Fox Anchor asks whether lunar vocanoes disprove global warming

Nothing to do with science in my opinion

via JREF Forum

Looking for a free backup software

I'm in need of a free backup service that can backup multiple computers (each with it's own account) to one backup server. I find plenty of free backup software, but none of them will do multiple accounts. Does anyone here know of any?

Thank you in advance.


via JREF Forum

Contact Epson

Please, I need to contact Epson but I can find no phone number or a way to email them. When I try at their site, all I get is how to buy parts. I have a carton of their ink but cannot read the very fine printed instructions. I want to get those from Epson.

How do I contact Epson? Thanks

via JREF Forum

Alien space probes visited Earth many times...maybe not?

Here are some notable paragraphs from the article:


"In 1949, John von Neumann developed a mathematical model of the device that was cloning itself. According to current calculations made by Nicholson and Forgan, there are three possible scenarios for such probes to operate. This includes flying with running engines, the use of gravitational acceleration and, finally, "jumping" from star to star. Even the Voyager is capable of "bouncing" from gravitational fields of the solar system."

And the best one:


There is no reliable information, for the time being, to prove that UFOs, or flying saucers, are vessels from other civilizations. One can only build theories, like Nicholson and Forgan do, and wait for brothers in mind, if they do exist, to show themselves to us.

So the headline of the story doesn't really reflect the conclusion of the story. Here's my question; how often do you see this kind of news reporting on the internet? If so, then why do you suppose that these writers never take the time to come up with headlines that are much more accurate to the actual story itself?

I know that Fark has a section devoted to this somewhere so don't bother pointing that out.

via JREF Forum

Psychology, narcissism and GOD: True self vs False self

So I have had the misfortune of being reduced to a quivering mess by my ex. a level 83 covert narcissist wife.

I wont bore you with the sob story but I have been researching Narcissistic abuse syndrome, Narcissism and some psychological information... Mainly because I'm angry that it happened.

While doing so I stumbled across some principles in psychology (we are already close to hostile woo ground) In this concept it is theorized we have a True self and a False self(ego)


I don't have an opinion other then BOLLOCKS for this next part but I feel it may lead to an interesting discussion.

While going on my self help, investigatory research hunts. I have not found much discussing the true self concept without leading into "its purpose is to serve god and ego is to serve man". A lot of narcissistic abuse recovery seems to be filled with spiritual garbage(no offense) no evidence, not a viable option

I think what I would like to bring to attention is:

I am sure I have felt something close to a true self, almost unconditional love as well as what seemed to be healthy levels of self image, pride, empathy. All the hugs and cuddles. I'm no psychologist and personal experience is always colored with bias. And how can I even tell if they where healthy levels? Anyway I felt pretty good at the time. I would like opinions on the true self and false self concept. ego versus ... whatever the other thing is. Woo enabling mumbo jumbo?

I have been stripped of a lot of my personality as a result of the abuse. I'm left in a dysfunctional state and researching as much as I can to get better. I feel I have reached a dead end with this. I'm sure I will be fine though.

via JREF Forum

UK Fracking - do it in the North East it's desolate anyway

Conservative peer (and South of England resident) Lord Howell suggests that fracking should be done in the North East of England because it's desolate anyway.


"But there are large and uninhabited and desolate areas. Certainly in part of the North East where there's plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody's residence where we could conduct without any kind of threat to the rural environment."

I think that demonstrates breathtaking ignorance both of the North East of England and of how fragile "wilderness" (not that we have that my most standards) areas are:

via JREF Forum

Wiki's list of Atheists in politics and law

Not a great showing, but Blighty has a good few in there. Including Prime Ministers and party leaders.

This makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

Interesting to see that very few of the United States entries are current.

How did your country fair?

via JREF Forum

Understanding photographic software.

Can some photographer / software expert provide a brief rundown on what different photographic software actually does?

I rarely edit photos , because in the main I take pictures as an aide memoire , because I have a crap memory of what things look like.

I use Picasa to keep track of photos, but generally use Windows itself to copy, file , move images. I have never installed any software that came with a camera because I don't use raw files and have no idea what I would do with such software.

I did however, recently download a trial version of an HDR utility that stitches several bracketed exposures together to produce an HDR image. This told me two things.

1.I need a decent tripod to do this


2. There seems to be a huge amount of photographic software out there that many photographers apparently use all the time.

Which makes me ask- what does it actually do?

What actually is Photoshop? Lightroom? Photoshop elements? (and various others). What do these do that I can't do in free (or OS) applications like Picasa, windows various photo viewers, Irfanview, or The Gimp.

Of course, I could download a lot of trial versions and experiment, but I'm far too lazy and in any case I'd be half way into an install when Adobe Flash would start its third update of the day and throw a spanner in the works.

So far I've learned that software can-

Remove "redeye"...I never actually experience this, as I never use flash.

Straighten ("level"??) horizons... I can't imagine why I'd need to do this.

Organise files in folders...Windows 3.1 could do that.

Organise files in albums...What's the difference?

Crop and resize images...MSPaint , irfanview (again!), Windows power toys- all free , do this just fine.

What photographic software do people here find is worth actually spending money on and why?

via JREF Forum

lundi 29 juillet 2013

Catholics must now be gay....or tolerant


New York, NY––During an interview given while walking from his airplane arriving from Brazil to the 1983 Ford Escort awaiting to take him to the Vatican, His Holiness Pope Francis declared the new ex-cathedra Catholic dogma that all members of the Catholic Church must become homosexual, the New York Times reported. ---

So I'm thinking this is perhaps a drastic misinterpretation. or satire. :p

But the Pope did say some actual interesting stuff on homosexuality recently.


“I have yet to find anyone who has a business card that says he is gay,” the pontiff said at a press conference in which he addressed the reports of a "gay lobby" within the Vatican.

“They say they exist. If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” he added. ---

via JREF Forum

Non-"Eurocentric" explanation of why Europe became the world power.


I saw this long tract:

critiquing one argument as to why Europe became the dominant power in (relatively) recent history. The criticism is long and complex, but the main theme is that the arguments given are too "Eurocentric". What is a non-Eurocentric explanation for this phenomenon? Although, what would that be, considering that to explain the rise of, erm, Europe, wouldn't that require Europe-specific things be considered?

Also, the conclusion is:


Guns, Germs, and Steel is influential in part because its Eurocentric arguments seem, to the general reader, to be so compellingly "scientific." Diamond is a natural scientist (a bio-ecologist), and essentially all of the reasons he gives for the historical supremacy of Eurasia and, within Eurasia, of Europe, are taken from natural science. I suppose environmental determinism has always had this scientistic cachet. I dispute Diamond's argument not because he tries to use scientific data and scientific reasoning to solve the problems of human history. That is laudable. But he claims to produce reliable, scientific answers to these problems when in fact he does not have such answers, and he resolutely ignores the findings of social science while advancing old and discredited theories of environmental determinism. That is bad science.

So what is good science on the problem?

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How is Christianity (or Islam) ANY different from Scientology, Mormanism, etc.?

Aside from the obvious differences in philosophies :rolleyes:

The last couple months, as I take my required theology courses, I've been witness to a maddening tap dance around ********. How do otherwise rational, intelligent people believe this crap? I like some of these people, I really do, but they are in the same class as me, hearing the same stuff, and still believe? Are they merely acting? As the classes get more "advanced", as I go deeper down the rabbit hole, I'm having a hard time writing the papers necessary to pass these classes and get into the classes I'm actually going to school for.

So, take Christianity. Scholars know the Bible is all out of order. Jesus is sold as the last revelation--God ceases to reveal his Word to people once Jesus was born and crucified, because Jesus was the fulfillment of the Jewish prophesies. Great! But wait, here comes Saul. Saul is a Pharisee who tortured the early followers of Christ. And, while walking down the road in between tortures, Jesus came down revealed the truth to Saul (where have we heard this before?). The newly converted changed his name to Paul, stopped torturing, and started writing a bunch of letters. He never actually met the real Jesus and this occured about 3 years after Jesus' death. He used his social standing to spread the gospel and open churches.

Then Mark, who is not really Mark but an unknown author, wrote a version of the Gospel based off of Paul's letters and common Jesus stories of the day. This was around 70, about 40 years after Jesus' death. Taken in context, he also wrote as a message to his people to take hope and pray for a better day. In fact, most of the gospel of Mark can be taken as an allegorical story.

Then Matthew, who is not really Matthew wrote the next version. It's mostly based on Mark, but there's a bunch of new stuff, which scholars attributed to a hypothetical source, Q. Yes, Matthew didn't pull stuff out his ass, he MUST of had some secret source. This was written about a decade later.

Then Luke, who is equally not Luke, wrote another gospel another decade later. This has even more embellishments, but also uses Q and Mark.

These make up the synoptic gospels because they match. Yes, some random charismatic dude sees (hears?) god, writes down the message god gives him, and then convinces other people his message is the right one. Other random people write crap based off his crap and add their own crap three times--and this is proof of Jesus and Christianity.

Don't even get me started on John. *********** mushroom eater.

AND THEN, the writer of Luke (maybe) goes and writes Acts, that further embellishes the conversion of PSaul and provides further "proof".

I was thinking about posting this on a Christian forum, just to get an idea of why people believe this utter ********.

****! I have to get my paper written. Ever watch The Gospel According to St. Matthew, written and directed by a gay communist atheist? It's on Amazon Prime for free! I have to watch it a second time to finish my paper :mad: I have one more class, tomorrow in fact, and then I can start taking actual business courses.

Sorry, I really needed to rant. Rant over. TL;DR, religion is dumb.

P.S. Islam--an angel told me what to write :rolleyes: FFS, how are these religions even a thing?

via JREF Forum

need help finding an anomonous blog site

I was thinking about making a personal blog site but most of the things I want to post are not fit to print for the mainstream. I was wondering if there is such a thing as an anonymous blogging site. One thing I notice is people making their own web pages full of weird stuff. In other words I want to make a personal blog but I don't want to clean it up too much. I also don't want anybody to know I am doing it. Is that possible in this day and age? No jokes here I am serious.

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expansion of the universe

Is it possible to explain to a layman(myself) the flaw in my logic regarding the accelerating expansion of the universe. Quantum theory is i understand it is not comprehensible intuitively but the, admittedly basic explanations, i've heard for for the accelerating expansion seem more intuitive based. The trouble i have is i was always led to believe that the universe is expanding and the further out the galaxies are the faster they are receding, so the expansion is increasing. The problem i have understanding is the fact that information cannot travel faster than speed of light. To my untrained mind it seems to me then that when we look at a nearer galaxy( say 1 billion light years away) and compare it to a galaxy (10 billion light years away) and see that the latter is receding faster does this not show that 10 billion years ago the galaxy was receding a lot faster than they were 1 billion years ago and hence the expansion rate has slowed down over time? Is there a basic way to explain this to me without using high level mathematics that i will not understand?

via JREF Forum

Agricultural revolution…yes / no?

This is the claim made by a company called Azotic:

Our nitrogen-fixing bacteria is unique as it fixes nitrogen intracellularly within crop plants. It is environmentally friendly and has the potential to be ubiquitous to all crops.

(more can be found here: )

…also claims to replace 60% of a plant’s nitrogen needs.

Nitrogen fertilizer production is approaching $100 billion annually. Is a major pollutant. Requires large amounts of energy to produce. A major user of natural gas. Produces a significant carbon footprint.

So does this new technology really have the potential to revolutionize agricultural production? Is it time to start short-selling nitro producers?

…and if it’s for real…what are the implications? Just off the top of my head…what percentage of food costs are directly connected to nitro fertilizer? What nitro producing companies are going to see their annual sales plummet? Something new comes along that wipes out 60% of your market…your shares are going to nosedive. What countries are going to see their tax base shrivel up (Trinidad and Tobago)? Any social issues associated with significant changes in the costs of food production?

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Hills or Hollywood? Who invented Little Grays?

My blog about my research at the Hill archive. I have to admit, learning more about Barney, I never bought he was influenced by "The Bolero Shield". He might have possibly seen it, but it's role as an influence has been pushed by skeptics for years.

I think there are other possible influences, especially considering they couldn't really agree on any one depiction as being exactly right.

Barney was very honest, despite the whole abduction experience which I believe he came to believe was real (at first, before hypnosis, he was far from sure). If he said he didn't see "The Bolero Shield" I really think he didn't.

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If Hitler captured Stalin?

If Hitler captured Stalin he would have used him to set up a puppet Russian state. Hitler was very practical in that way.

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How Bankrupt the U.S. before sececcsions and civil wars?

Splitting off from the Proposed secession amendment thread:

No melt down of the Constitution needed, only the bankruptcy of the federal government to the point where they can otusno longer attack the seceding states. Yes, the government would collapse, like a bankrupt corporation. In receivership, it would be re-organized, like a corporation. All new, no old debts, excellent time to renew the Constitution. (go back to part time representatives? eliminate pork? OK to line item veto? re-divide states? ) AND, a good time for some areas to decline further participation, and secede. Or, like large corps in receivership, re-organize by spinning off different components into separate companies/states?

Hmmm, maybe that is B.O.'s plan? The anti-gun stance is to disarm us citizens, making it easier for an Emperor to arise from the ashes of the good old U.S. of A?

Redundant/clarifying: There is no over riding government to supervise the bankruptcy of America, like the bankruptcy court does when corps go bankrupt. And no state to handle things like when cities go bankrupt. So, the re-organization would be up to us citizens, how ever we would like it. No civil war needed. Though many civil wars have ended in partitioning of countries.

Whaddya think? Is this America's future?

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Wireless speakers/home theatre

I'd like to stream sound from my bedroom television or laptop to speakers in the living room or anywhere else throughout the house. I'd prefer not to run wires all over my house, so communicating over Wifi would be ideal. Bluetooth is also fine if it can reach throughout my house.

Can anyone recommend some speakers? I don't need a high-end system, just portable speakers, so under US$500 would be great ^_^

[Addendum] I recently purchased a pair of Sonos wireless speakers, and was extremely unhappy with the product, returned it the next day. I won't buy any more Sonos products.

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Obama Says Ho Chi Minh Was Inspired by Founding Fathers, Conservatives Freak Out

Full Article


After a meeting with Vietnam's president Truong Tan Sang on Thursday, President Barack Obama said the following to reporters (emphasis mine):

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Sang shared with me a copy of a letter sent by Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman. And we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperation with the United States. And President Sang indicated that even if it's 67 years later, it's good that we're still making progress.

(Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese communist and nationalist revolutionary leader who died in 1969. He fought alongside Allied forces during World War II, but fought American forces during the Vietnam War.)


Several conservative media outlets blasted the president on similar terms. "Obama may have just been trying to flatter his guest who was obviously eager to show that Ho was not the monster history shows him to be," Chris Stirewalt, digital politics editor for Fox News wrote. "But his connection between the American founders and Ho shows either a massive lack of historical knowledge on the part of the president or a remarkable degree of moral flexibility." (The Drudge Report quickly picked up the Fox piece.) The headline at read, "Obama Praises Communist Dictator & American Enemy Ho Chi Minh." And so on and so forth.

I know conservatives have a rocky relationship with history, but this is ignorance at a new level.

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I must admit that I am occasionally baffled by the use of extreme caricatures in public discourse. I don't see how mocking someone's appearance could possibly be considered an accepted way to make a point.

I definitely understand the idea of someone exaggerating a feature in, for instance, a cartoon, to make someone more recognizable in a simplified drawing. But many caricaturists go out of their way to draw a semi-realistic portrait... only with extremely exaggerated features, where you would easily have recognized the person without going such lengths to hammer the point in.

Seriously, when making a point, who cares if Obama has a prominent jaw (which, by the way, I thought was considered an attractive feature in males) or that Bush has a long upper lip? Apart from the occasional low-level very crude humor that goes on in certain places (and which I sometimes enjoy with guilty pleasure), why should anyone print a drawing that makes fun of someone's appearance in such a way in, for instance, a newspaper? How can this be considered acceptable by people in general? It is completely immaterial and childish. It is on the level of flinging schoolyard insults at people you happen to disagree with.

Beyond that, I must say that I find many caricatures of today quite unsettling and sometimes even disturbing or distressing to look at - in particular the ones that jack up the feature exaggeration fifteen notches. I guess it's something about facial recognition and distorted faces that messes with my head.

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UK latest Tory policy - park on double yellow lines

The latest great idea from a Conservative party think tank is a proposal to allow people to park on double-yellow (no parking at any time) lines for up to 15 minutes. Their propose is to re-invigorate the high street by allowing this.

I'm listening to the owner of the proposal being interviewed on Radio 5 live right now. It's clear to me that this is a typical "silly season " story and it's also clear to be that the person proposing it hasn't thought it through well enough.

The reason why double yellow lines are introduced is for safety. UK high streets can be narrow and the combination of pedestrian, cycle, bus, motor car and emergency services traffic is often dangerous if indiscriminate parking is allowed. North View in Bristol can quickly be reduced to gridlock by a single stopped car.

The proposer of the bill conceded that there are some areas where it is too dangerous to allow parking on double yellow lines but gave no indication how a driver would discriminate between double yellows where 15 minutes parking would be allowed and those where it would not. Presumably there's also have to be a significant increase in the number of traffic wardens to police the 15 minute parking.

In short, a proposal where the proposer can attribute its ultimate failure to be implemented to killjoys who don't have the electorate's real interests at heart.


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Zero Hours Contracts and How the Left Can Win the Welfare Debate?

Ok - I was thinking about this today after reading that Sports Direct has 90% of its staff on zero hours contracts:


Sports Direct's entire 20,000 part-time workforce are employed on zero-hour contracts at a time when 2,000 full-time staff are about to cash in bonuses of up to £100,000.

The contracts, handed to 90% of the company's 23,000 employees, leave staff not knowing how many hours they will work from one week to the next, with no sick pay or holiday pay, and no guarantee of regular work.

Bosses at Sports Direct, the UK's biggest sports retailer, were this month hailing their bonus policy for full-time staff as that of a model employer.

It's clear that corporate welfare is a massive problem - where tax-credits are dished out the businesses to subsidise them paying below a living wage. I'd like to see such tax-credits rebranded in terms of business-welfare to see how that affected the debate in the right-wing press....

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Odds Of Shell Casing Landing Straight Up

This was in a Joseph Wambaugh novel. Guy obviously has committed suicide, but cops find a shell casing on the desk that is standing straight up. They run some tests, and figure it happens once every 60 times or so.

I wonder if anyone has any idea what the real odds are.

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dimanche 28 juillet 2013

China's Team Sport Dilemma

It's a curious issue. China has rapidly come to dominate the world in individual or doubles sports. If it is a sport that requires only one or two people, China tends to excel (track and field being the notable exception).

But in team sports -- soccer, basketball, etc. -- they suck. And not just a little. Ask any Chinese citizen about their national soccer team, and they'll just hang their head in shame. China's performance has been abysmal. Any outstanding Chinese team player who wants to gain meaningful experience and skill must leave China to play on teams in other countries.

Yet Chinese culture is not an individualist culture, it is collectivist. It is a culture in which groups are supposed to work together. So why are individuals thriving, while teams are mired in incompetence and ineptitude?

A few years ago, I decided to launch my own (very unofficial and sporadic) investigation into this phenomenon. My initial hypothesis was that it was due to a combination of lack of money, and lack of proper coaching. It seemed reasonable that less money in sports would lead to a lower quality of player; and that inexperienced or poor quality coaching would inevitably result in sub-par performance.

And as it turns out, both of those issues may have some impact...but not as much as you might expect. These days, there's actually quite a bit of money being pumped into team sports like soccer and basketball, with a thriving national network of teams and tournaments.

And coaches? China's using that money to import top foreign coaches from all over the world. These are coaches who have led teams from other countries to national and even international championships. So it can't be an issue just of coaching.

Ultimately, the problem actually seems to be that issue of collectivism. I made an unwarranted assumption when initially thinking about this question...that collectivism leads to better teamwork. It's a team, Chinese tend to get along with each other very well. But they don't excel. And the reason is that while collectivism encourages them to work together, it also discourages them from excelling as individuals. The team member who scores significantly more points than his teammates will face phenomenal peer pressure from them because he's making them look bad. Even the fans will criticize him, accusing him of being a show-off and a grand-stander, selfishly trying to do everything himself (even though he's leading his team to a victory).

I talked with quite a few Chinese players, who all confirmed this attitude. One soccer player, who scored three goals in one game for his team and was praised by his foreign coach, was subsequently ostracized by the rest of his teammates for more than a month, until he lowered his standard of play to a level that was equal with the rest of them. Why? Because when he did better than them, not only did he get praised as an individual (instead of the team sharing the praise collectively), but the rest of the team were criticized by the coach (causing them to lose face).

Most recently, I had a discussion with Jason Dixon about this. Jason is an American basketball player who came to play in the Chinese Basketball Association about a decade ago. He went on to become one of the top players in the sport here, and after retiring (and becoming assistant coach of the team he'd been playing for) became only the second player in China's history to have their number retired by their team (Yao Ming was the first). He's famous in China, and led his team to several national championships.

When I asked him about this, he agreed absolutely. All across China, foreign players (each team is allowed to import a few foreign players) are the top players on their teams. Why? Because they're not afraid to play as individuals. They don't care about the 'face' of their teammates, they care about winning games.

It probably helps that most of these foreign players don't mix much with the local Chinese players. They are housed separately, go out separately...they are together only when practicing or playing. So they just don't care that much when their Chinese teammates ostracize or criticize them.

Jason knows all the Chinese players who've had the chance to play on American teams, and he said that every one of them feels more comfortable and free to perform to their best ability when overseas...and that there is often a noticeable slump in their performance when they return to play for a Chinese team. One of the main reasons for this is that they feel pressure not to make the rest of their Chinese teammates lose face by playing too well.

Individual or pairs sports don't suffer from this problem; competitors in such sports have the freedom to excel, to do their best.

I've found this an interesting analogy for business. There's very much the same attitude. Teams tend to work together very well, so long as everyone on the team performs equally. If someone is performing poorly, the others on the team will put significant pressure on them to improve; in this way, the collectivist system can be beneficial.

But when someone on the team excels, it causes friction and discord. Not only fellow team members, but even the team leader, may feel that this overachiever is making them lose face. And they'll face significant pressure from all sides to stop making the rest of them look bad.

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This is for Trayvon

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town fulla losers; we're pullin outa here to win..

Hello to all,

It's been a few years since I dropped in here, and at least a few more since I was really active; but I've been busy on other fronts. Sales of the book are now up to around 400, and with good Amazon reviews. A staunch friend has also been kind enough to build me a website. This visit is to issue an invitation to come over and check that out; at . What I can offer as inducement is that you'll find some very serious anti-theism. Observations and arguments that are not focussed on complaining, but on winning. I think that most of you want what I do, and what Voltaire did. That within a generation or two most copies of the Bible, Qur'an, Book of Mormon and similar will be in museums. Very few on our side now believe that goal to be realistic, but if you're among them then what you'll find at poppersinversion may come as a very pleasant surprise. All are invited, and all comments welcome. :)

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Rise of the Warrior Cop

I came across this article in the WSJ the other day and I was interested enough to start reading a new book called Rise of the Warrior Cop, by Radley Balko:

Balko's take: it's a relatively new phenomenon that we accept that the police can break into your house at any time, without knocking or any warning, often based on nothing more than a tip from an informant. Balko claims that prior to the 1960s SWAT style raids were very uncommon, and it was accepted that except in extreme circumstances the police in carrying out a warrant would knock on the door and give the occupant an opportunity to surrender peacefully. He believes that botched raids where children are present, family pets are shot, and occupants are unnecessarily treated with excessive force have become the norm, not the exception.

The trend to militarize the police went on the rise during the Nixon administration with the War On Drugs and went into overdrive in the last decade with the War On Terror. Now (also according to Balko) there are 100 SWAT style raids in private homes in the USA every day. Federal agencies such as NASA and the Department of Education have SWAT teams. Many of the raids are carried out on nonviolent and consensual crimes- e.g. private poker games.

I'd like to add that I am not anti-police. Most encounters I've personally had with the police have been positive. I am however anti-politician and I blame police militarization and the abuses of bad cops mainly on bad politicians and the bad policies they pass into law.

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9/11 - Don't be a Rah-Rah American?

“I really believe that the way America will look best, the way we can really do best, is to not be Americans so vigilantly and so vehemently,” Shulan said."


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Find Add/Remove?

Where do I find Add/Remove programs in Windows 7? Or, better yet, where do I find what version of Thunderbird I have? I have tried everything I can think of. Even Properties whih usually shows versions. Not now.


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GOP: Hypocritical on furloughs, hypocritical on medicine, hypocritical on government

GOP wants to END Obamacare because it's 'big government telling private citizens what kind of medical care they can have, and intruding into the lives of its citizens, and it's TYRANNY!'


GOP wants to PASS strict abortion laws, even though it's 'big government telling private citizens what kind of medical care they can have, and intruding into the lives of its citizens, and it's TYRANNY!'

On a related note, GOP wants Obama to show leadership and step up and end all this sequestration foolishness and avoid government shutdowns for political reasons.


GOP wants to shut down the government for political reasons IF they don't get their way with Obamacare and/or abortions.

How bad is it? Even some GOP members think the GOP are acting like a bunch of spoiled children.

Meanwhile, a coworker of mine says "the government should not be giving handouts to people! They shouldn't just be given things they didn't earn!"

Me: Even children or the elderly, or any other people who are in that situation for things that are beyond their control?

Him: Yes!

And then he hobbled out to his car, which was parked in a handicap parking space. He has cerebral palsy. The parking space was just given to him for something that was beyond his control. The sidewalk that sloped down the the street on both sides was just given to him for something that was beyond his control. The irony was totally lost on him.

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Cold and/or wet weather making you sick

This question has probably been raised here before but I couldn't find a thread on it.

I always hear people saying don't go outside when its cold otherwise you will catch a cold or the flu. Obviously there's no direct causal link (even though some would argue this) but does cold/wet weather lower your immune system so you are more susceptible? To lower your immune system I've heard your body needs to at the point of hypothermia, in which case a common cold isn't your greatest concern. I've also heard the cold and flu viruses thrive in low humidity and cold, which would mean going out in the cold isn't going to make it more likely that you will get sick.

What do the scientific studies/ research say about this kind of stuff? And what do you guys think of it?

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National Scout Jamboree 2013 False Flag Insider Warning

Apparently there are quite a few people out there who feel they "saved" thousands of boyscouts from a false flag, germ warfare attack.

I saw this posted on my facebook this morning by a friend I had otherwise thought was reasonably intelligent. Supposedly Nevada Governor David Lory VanDerBeek is somehow the one willing to "out" the government on this one.

But wow.

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samedi 27 juillet 2013

Satanists turn Fred Phelps' mother gay

"Just over a week ago the Satanic Temple, unwavering disciples of the Prince of Darkness and aspiring adopt-a-highway participants, performed a Pink Mass over the grave of Catherine Idalette Johnston, the mother of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Jr. Westboro has yet to officially comment on the eternal gaying of its leader’s dead mom, but the owner of the cemetery where the ceremony was performed has filed charges with the local police department. The captain of the Meridian PD, Dean Harper, told local news station WTOK-TV on Monday that they were “in the process of constructing affidavits” and “will have [the satanists] arrested as soon as [they] can.” He added, "It is an unusual crime that we haven't come across—to my knowledge—in a while." "

:D :D :D

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Too Fat To Live In New Zealand


A South African chef has been told he is too fat to live in New Zealand despite losing 30kg since he first arrived in the country.


New Zealand authorities said the visa had been turned down because of the "significant risk" of complications such as diabetes, hypertension heart disease.

A spokesman said: "It is important that all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimise costs and demands on New Zealand's health services."

Around 30% of New Zealanders are obese.

I don't even...

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proposed amendment on secession

"With the approval of the concerned state's legislature, and the approval of three-fourths of the remaining states, the concerned state secedes from the union."

What do you think?

If a state doesn't want to be here, and we don't want them, why should they stay?

What is the negative?

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Blood as Ink

Out of idle curiosity, I was wondering about the properties of blood when used as ink.

Writing in blood sometimes pops up in the cliche of signing a deal with the devil in blood.

Apparently real-life practitioners of the occult sometimes use blood (mixed with sour salts to prevent it coagulating) to write spells.

There's the controversial Blood Quran supposedly written using ink made from Saddam Hussein's blood.

According to this site: "Using one’s own blood to write Buddhist sutras is an ascetic practice, that can be included in along with other, more drastic ascetic practices that were practiced in China over the centuries[...]"

So I was wondering, does blood actually make a passable ink? Does it fade with age? Would it damage the paper it's written on in time due to acidity? Does it pose a health hazard?

ETA: Forget the acidity question, looking it up I see that blood is slightly alkaline.

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Does anyone care if a community riot anymore??

Does the majority in America care if a minority riots anymore? If they burn down their own community, have no supermarkets with thousands of shuttered buildings? I am thinking the majority is becoming less and less caring. That they will call in the Guard to contain the damage, move further away from the riot area and the minorities life will get worse and worse . Looking at pictures of the Detroit ruins today and it is tragic. At last, the carnage in Chicago is being addressed. Hopefully, it will in other places too.

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Kevin Trudeau in Contempt

Pitchman in contempt for not paying $37M fine


Friday's ruling was the latest round in more than a decade of legal battles that began with a suit filed by the Federal Trade Commission. The regulatory agency alleged some of Trudeau's informercials included false and misleading statements about his books.

A federal judge in Chicago agreed and ordered him to stop. Then in 2007, Judge Robert Gettleman fined Trudeau $37.6 million for violating the order.

On Friday, Gettleman said Trudeau failed to pay and ordered him to transfer ownership of companies and financial accounts to a court-appointed receiver. Gettleman found him in contempt, opting not to give him jail time out of concern that those hurt by his actions would never get compensated.

He likened Trudeau to a puppet master in control of a vast network being used to keep his assets hidden and suggested that without his cooperation there would be no way to get at that money.

So, he was ordered to stop those infomercials containing false and misleading statements.

He didn't.

For that failure he was fined $37.6 million.

He didn't pay.

For that failure, he's now found in contempt and ordered to transfer ownership of his various companies and accounts to a court-appointed receiver.

But he's not going to jail because the judge doesn't think they can extract the money without Trudeau's unimprisoned cooperation.

I would think putting Trudeau in prison until the fine is paid would expeditiously produce those funds.

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Worthwhile WTC Cleanup/Rescue Video

This is apparently a shortened version of a longer film produced in 2005. It focusses on the volunteers who worked onsite in the cleanup/search and rescue operation.

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the JREF. The JREF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.

Major points:

1. Ground Zero was swarming with volunteers who came from all over the country to help out, from various professions, walks of life, social groups, etc. Some were professionals; others were amateurs, and others had no previous experience at all.

2. There was little direct supervision, at least at first. Crews spontaneously organized to clear debris and search for survivors/remains of victims.

3. Esprit de corps was very high. There was much off-site socializing in nearby restaurants, churches, etc. which had volunteered their support to the rescuers.

Question for Truthers: Given this, how is it possible than not a single person has ever reported finding anything that they regarded as suspicious at Ground Zero to any investigative agency - government or otherwise, or any reporters (including those like Wikileaks)? Have they all been threatened or bribed into silence, or were they all somehow "in it" from the start? If so, how were they organized? Or is it that the "inside job" evidence is so subtle that only a few highly trained experts can recognize it?

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Although I must admit that I was initially drawn to look it up due to a particular movie featuring Sean Connery dressed like a christmas tree, I've since become somewhat intrigued by the rather strange tale.

Admittedly, I haven't finished reading the work itself, but I thought that it would be interesting to see any views or sources people here may have.

Things to ponder:

What earlier sources did the Pearl Poet (the author of the story) draw on?

What's the significance of the Green Knight? Is he the Devil? Or is he Christ? A Christian interpretation of the Islamic Al-Khidr? Or a creature of folklore? Why does he reside in a chapel, of all places, that is ominous and portent?

Is there any significance to Morgan le Fay's role, or is she just a plot device?

Was the Pearl Poet simply a skilled writer, who inserted all these ambiguities to create a fascinating tale?

Who WAS the Pearl Poet?

Clearly, the test of chivalry is at the center of the tale - I tend to favour the view of the tale as an allegory of Nature testing the limits chivalry. Perhaps the twist at the end alludes to a contemporary view that nature, while chaotic and tainted, is indeed part of Creation and an ally to man.

I suppose we will never know, but I would be interested to see what those with more knowledge than my self have to say.

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Anonymous book, YOU pick a page number, We will prove Universal Prophesy

Ok, I'm so sick of seeing Biblical or Qur'anic quote mining on this site and elsewhere that is proffered as evidence that the mysteries of the universe have been explained in these documents.

So Challenge to the JREFers. Pick an old book. Before telling us the title of the book, ask for a page number. Once someone gives you a page number then go to the page and REVEAL.

Post up the quotes from said book that reveal the magical predictive powers at work.

I'll go first. Got my book, gimme a page number.

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Greatest Live Album?

My choices:

The Who, Live at Leeds

The Allman Brothers Band, Live at Fillmore East

Wings Over America

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I’ve probably mentioned a few times one these forums, sometime in the past, that I have a co-worker who is aggressively religious. When I say aggressive, I mean shaking her fist in my face and saying, “God will punish you!” I worked in the same department with her for eleven years and she was part of the reason for my becoming agnostic/atheist.

She had one saving grace, her only child.

I first met Donte when he was about ten, and saw him grow up through his awkward years. I remember him at about 15 years old, with more elbows and knees than he knew what to do with.

She worked hard at raising him. She made sure every school day that he actually walked into his classroom. He made so-so grades, but plugged away at it with his mother at his back. Raising a black kid in downtown Baltimore in the 1980s was tough, and she was a single mother. I don’t know if his father was involved in his life; I never heard a father mentioned, that I recall.

There were rough times for this kid. When he was about 15, some gang members jumped him and broke his jaw. Apparently he wasn’t polite enough to the gang leader’s girlfriend. When he was about 18, he was shot and lost a kidney. They took his tennis shoes.

However, he graduated high school, when there was about a 30% graduation rate. He got a job with a catering firm, and at about that time I was transferred to another department. I made a conscious decision never to ask his mother about him, since most of the time, anything I said to her would trigger a stream of holy invective. However, we did have a pleasant exchange about six months ago when she brought around her 18 month old grandson, Donte’s son, Dominique.

Donte was murdered last week at the age of 36. He was living with a girlfriend, not Dominique’s mother, and the girlfriend has a daughter. The daughter has a boyfriend who brought his laundry to their house. Donte objected to the laundry being done there. A few days later the boyfriend allegedly shot Donte several times as he was diving on the way to work. His car overturned and his body found inside.

So little Dominique grows up without a father too. And Donte’s mother is left to mourn. And a 22 year old is likely to go to jail for a long time. Because of laundry and the instinct to solve temporary problems with permanent solutions.

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A true story of theology

This is a summary from a part of the book Krigarnas och helgonens tid: Västeuropas historia 400–800 e.Kr (The Era of Warriors and Saints: Western European History 400-800 A.D) written by the Swedish historian Dick Harrison. It's a very interesting book and I might write about more stuff from it.

The archbishop of Constantinople Nestorius (dead about the year 451 CE) thought a lot about the virgin Mary, and was upset that people called her "mother of God". He reasoned that she wasn't, since God the father had existed since long before Mary and Jesus had both a human and a divine nature. Thus anyone who called her the mother of God was compromising the human nature of Jesus and equalled him completely with God, a severe sin. Nestorius and his supporters thus refused to call the virgin Mary "mother of God" and preferred instead to call her "mother of Christ". In this period of the history of the Byzantine Empire, such disputes were more than enough to get you killed.

The then theologically victorious priests in Alexandria emphasized the purely divine part of the nature of Jesus than did Nestorius, and thus it was perfectly fine to honor Mary by calling her "mother of God". In 431 at the church meeting of Ephesus Nestorius was declared a heretic and lost his status as archbishop of Constantinople.

Shortly thereafter the supporters of Nestorius, the Nestorians, suffered severely from persecution and were forced to abandon their faith or go into exile. Many of the Nestorians went into exile in the east. The Sassanid rulers of Persia who had adopted Zoroastrianism as their state religion were not interested in theological disputes within Christianity and accepted the Nestorians. The Nestorians established an important center for learning in Nisibis and missionaries would under during the following centuries spread the religious teachings of Nestorius far and wide. In China Nestorians existed from the 7th century to the 10th century, and as lately as the 13th and 14th centuries Nestorianism was a popular religion in Central Asia. Even today there are still Nestorian minorities in the Middle East, primarily in Syria, Iran and Iraq. Among immigrants to Sweden (and almost certainly other Western countries too) they are known as Assyrians.

That was my summary of Harrison's writing on the subject. Now I'd like to ask the faith apologists about this. Wasn't it an utterly silly thing to kill people over? Even if you accept the universe as imagined by Christianity, isn't it clear that this is something you can't possibly know? Wasn't it utterly forlorn of Nestorius and his theological rivals to use brain power on this matter? Wouldn't it be better if people at this time instead of wasting ink, time, brain-power and blood on arcane theological issues instead spent time on truly worthwhile things, like science (which unlike religion and theology actually helps you to really understand the world), art, literature, improving the lives of poor people etc?

I also take issue with the claim that you need a detailed understanding of theology in order to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. If you are studying Byzantine history then you do need to understand these theological disputes because theological disputes were political disputes, church and state were deeply intertwined. However, you don't need to understand these theological disputes in order to reject Christianity. Akin to how you don't need to understand the evolution of Norse/Germanic mythology (for example, Tyr (derived from the same Proto-Indo-European god as the Greek Zeus) was originally the highest of the gods, it was only later than Odin rose and replaced him as the highest god) in order to not believe in its gods. Theology, as Thomas Paine wrote, is the study of nothing.

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George Zimmerman car rescue staged?

link to article suggesting the car rescue may have been staged

I am not endorsing this theory, just starting the thread to see if this becomes something.

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William Shakespeare's Star Wars


Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.

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South African chef 'too fat' to live in New Zealand


Authorities in New Zealand have told a South African chef he is too fat to be allowed to live in the country.

Immigration officials said Albert Buitenhuis, who weighs 130kg (286 pounds), did not have "an acceptable standard of health".

He now faces expulsion despite shedding 30kg since he moved to the city of Christchurch six years ago

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Czech atheists vs Czech Islamic association

I'm not sure how true or accurate this is but it may be interesting to some here:

Does anyone speak Czech? I think this is where the articles from:

I don't know why it's in English (and excellent English too) when the rest of the site is in Czech.

via JREF Forum