mardi 31 mars 2015

Latest Google Easter Egg: Pac-Man on Maps

I like it. Pick any place with streets and zoom in to a certain degree then just click the Pac-Man icon in the lower left, and Voila!

E.g., here:


via International Skeptics Forum

How Morality Can Answer Science Questions: A New Understanding

I have started lots of threads, over the years, about how science could answer moral questions. But, thanks to all the feedback I've gotten, I know realize I had this exactly backwards! Thanks to everyone, here, I now know that it is Morality that can answer Science questions, instead! Here's what I learned about how:

Science is only based on observation and experimentation and such. But, morality comes from feeling a much deeper understanding of assumptions, about how the Universe should work. We humans now have the power to proverbially "put the Universe in its place"!

I don't think it should be controversial, here, that morals can answer moral questions. For example, if we wanted to know if corporal punishment should be official policy in schools, or not, we can merely survey the teachers and principals about how they feel about it. Since the scientific studies on the subject, showing how bad such a policy is supposed to be, are all going to be ignored by most parties, anyway, morality can feel free to ignore them systematically, within that society. That much is eye-rollingly obvious.

But, morality can go even farther! Morality can ALSO answer SCIENCE questions! For example, if we wanted to know if the Earth was flat or round, we can first probe WHAT we want to do with the planet: If it is our moral duty to launch satellites to monitor the weather, so we can have more accurate information for crop growing; and assumptions about the Earth being flat don't seem to be able to deliver on that goal effectively, we can ditch them for the more-moral round-Earth ideas.

However, there is going to be some variation in the moral landscape, of course. If one belongs to a society of paranoid, delusional folks, who believe all satellites are spying on us; and that being on a flat Earth is much more convenient for map-making: Then we can effectively determine that the planet is, in fact, flat. Scientifically!!!

The nature of moral answers to scientific questions will, obviously, be very provisional, and subject to a lot of such variations, like that. But, that does not mean they cannot be consistently enforced! Any lawyer knows that, in the courtroom, The Law IS reality! The word of the law trumps any actual facts you might have on the matter. (This, of course, is why corporations can legally be declared "people".) So, as long as we pass laws that match our morals, we can uphold them as effectively, and as reliably, as any delusion we care to cater to!

I predict most academics won't see it this way, right away, of course. We are only entering the second quarter of 2015, after all. It will take some time, and generational turnover, before these ideas are widely accepted. But, I predict that, IN THE FUTURE , answering science questions will be a lot easier for us, and not so much reliant on the mere rigorous discipline of the scientific method. We can do it all with MORALITY!!!

What does everyone else think?!

via International Skeptics Forum

Question on Napoleonic war books

What are the best and most detailed books that cover the entire Napoleonic wars (the three wars from 1792 to 1815).

What would the fine folks here recommend?

Thanks in advance.

via International Skeptics Forum

Harry Reid - OG!

Damn... it's good to be a Gangsta!

A funny news report has some conservative pundit(s) starting a CT in which Harry was injured, not by an exercise band accident, but rather by some Vegas Mob thug after having insulted them or failing to fulfill some favor, or both. :boggled:

Harry's staff retorted that the problem with that theory is " completely ignores the important contribution of the Yeti."


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F.U. Indiana Song

A gay comedian, who goes by the name of Randy Rainbow, tears Governor Mike Pence and Indiana Republicans a new one for their bigoted anti-gay law that will allow a “religious exemption” for businesses who refuse service to gay Americans. (Probably NSFW)

Mike Pence: "Was I expecting this kind of backlash? Heavens no." :D

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF 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.

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Thousand Year Old Antibiotic Kills MRSA

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have tested an eye infection remedy from the 10th Century Anglo-Saxon medical text Bald's Leechbook and have found that it's extremely effective at killing MRSA.


"We chose this recipe in Bald's Leechbook because it contains ingredients such as garlic that are currently investigated by other researchers on their potential antibiotic effectiveness," Lee said in a video posted on the university's website.

"We were going from a mature, established population of a few billion cells, all stuck together in this highly protected biofilm coat, to really just a few thousand cells left alive. This is a massive, massive killing ability."

Garlic, onions, wine, and cow bile, brewed in a brass vessel for nine days. I guess now the trick will be to determine which combination of compounds achieved the effect so it can be produced a little more efficiently.

via International Skeptics Forum

Why doesn't bigfoot use tools?

Bigfoot is supposedly a very intelligent primate. Far more intelligent than the non-human primates we are familiar with. Able to avoid humans, able to sense and avoid game cameras, able to conceal it's tracks, etc.

So why doesn't bigfoot use tools?

Or, if you believe they do use tools, what is the evidence for this?

We have this from OntarioSquatch FAQ:


For it to posses that level of intelligence and adapt to live in North America’s harsh wilderness without the use of tools means it could possess both physical and mental qualities that make it easy for it to evade humans.

This from the BFRO:


Tool Use

This trait of the human species is largely absent in the sasquatch. As mentioned above, they use branches and rocks to hit trees or other rocks and they throw rocks and other objects out of hiding to scare people out of their territory (as do chimpanzees). Only one case has come to my attention of a boy being inadvertently hit by such a thrown rock (though not seriously injured). Rare reports indicate the possibility of the sasquatch using sticks to kill birds or mammals or to dig in the ground with them.

On one occasion they were observed to fashion "straws" out of the stalks of dead weeds and to drink through them out of a metal tub. They are undoubtedly observant of human appurtenances, such as guns or obvious cameras, and may then take extra care to avoid exposure.

Accounts of tool use seem to be rare, and rudimentary with bigfoot.

Yet we have many accounts of tool use among other non-human primates:

Bigfoot has also supposedly had a long time in the company of humans, interacting with and observing them.

It seems like bigfoot ought to be an accomplished tool user.

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Politics and urban legends

And next, Arkansas.

Defying Criticism, Arkansas Legislature Passes Bill on Religious Freedom


Despite intensifying criticism from business leaders both within and outside of Arkansas, the state legislature on Tuesday passed its version of a measure billed as a religious freedom law, joining Indiana in a swirl of controversy that shows little sign of calming.

The bill, passed when the General Assembly concurred on three amendments from the State Senate, now goes to the state’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, who expressed reservations about an earlier bill but more recently said he would sign the measure if it “reaches my desk in similar form as to what has been passed in 20 other states.” The Arkansas Senate passed the measure last week.

While there were several attempts up until the last minute to add a clause to the bill that would explicitly bar discrimination of gays and lesbians, a measure that Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana pledged to add in a news conference on Tuesday, the sponsors of the bill in the General Assembly rejected such moves.


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Hacked by HolaKO


Just kind of odd, a commercial web site I visit for warranty works and RMAs was hacked.

It is a white page that says Hacked by HolaKo and some savegaza message.

Very odd they would hack a manufacturer of document cameras.

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Laptop shopping!

Gonna replace my old Gateway from '07.

That's right, I run em into the ground. Have been using workarounds to keep the one I have functioning.

So: I'm getting another Windows system. My needs are simple: playing music and videos, and that's about it. I don't need a lot of the bloatware that usually comes on laptops, spreadsheets and so forth.

That probably wouldn't affect price though.

My old laptop has listed 452 gig capacity. The replacement has to have at least that.

Obviously I'm way out of the loop. Fielding all recommendations ASIDE FROM "Buy some stupidly overpriced shiny Apple product for idiots with more money than sense."

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Historical math problem.

A question came up as to the amount of fuel it took to deliver one liter of fuel to the German forces near Moscow in 1941. Feel free to guessimate mileage, etc.

Any help is appreciate, me no math.

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UK - Election 2015

Hot on the heels of Labour's outrage over David Cameron saying that he'd serve a full second term if elected (but wouldn't seek a third term), the conservatives have claimed that Labour would raise taxes by £3,028 a household.

This claim, like so many from all sides, does not stand up to scrutiny:

It's difficult enough to make a choice but moreso when misleading information is presented.

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lundi 30 mars 2015

If America is So Bad Why Come here???

New Daily Show Host Joked U.S. Worse Than Apartheid South Africa


On Monday, Comedy Central announced that South African comedian Trevor Noah would be replacing Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show. To get a feel for Noah's brand of humor, one could simply watch his debut on the fake news show in December of 2014, when he jokingly declared that present-day America had worse race relations than Apartheid South Africa. After introducing Noah as the show's newest contributor at the time, Stewart noted: "And I know that you flew in, I guess, yesterday from South Africa." Noah replied: "Yeah, I just flew in and boy are my arms tired....No, no, seriously, I've been holding my arms like this since I got here." He made the completely discredited "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture with his hands and added: "I never thought I'd be more afraid of police in America than in South Africa. It kind of makes me a little nostalgic for the old days back home." -

Every attempt to smear America as racist or to point to wealth disparity seems to be underlined by the same motivation


This is why we need leaders like Ted Cruz to fight for our freedoms

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George Carlin

Years ago, George Carlin saw what was going on:


Here is how George Carlin put it:

..."Politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every day lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want – they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I’ll tell you what they don’t want – they don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking… They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your ****in’ retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later ’cause they own this ****in’ place. It’s a big club and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club…

The table is tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice… Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. They don’t give a **** about you. They don’t care about you at all! The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their ******** every day, because the owners of this country know the truth… It’s called the American Dream, ’cause you have to be asleep to believe it...."

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Google protecting our freedoms

These days it seems its all about perception management.


...Google may even be actively taking part in that information warfare, especially the branch known as “perception management,” and in addition to its participation in mass surveillance...How will anti-government and anti-establishment perspectives fare once Google takes on the mantle of arbiter of truth?

...Google lent its front page — the most popular on the internet — to the war effort, inserting a line below the search box reading “Live! Secretary Kerry answers questions on Syria. Today via Hangout at 2pm E.T.”

Kerry used the massive platform provided by Google to spread the since-debunked claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the US-backed rebels.

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The stupid; It burns !

Burned my thumb articulation. Blister of 1 cm starting to grow with smaller blister of 2 cm underneath. I have looked at all advices about burn wound. I do not have cream or anything like that.

Any tip what I could use instead ?

PS: 21h30 here . No drugstore open as far as I know. So I have to find an alternative or suck it down until tomorrow morning.

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Lots of Americans see other side as a threat

A third of polled Republicans think Obama is an imminent threat to America.

22% of Democrats think the same about the Republican party in general.*

America is under threat!

* Of course they are actually proposing laws that threaten the rights of many so perhaps not all perceptions of threats are false.

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27 Things Only Developers Will Find Funny

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Shooting at NSA Gate/1 dead, 1 injured

1 dead, 1 injured in incident at NSA

Apparently two men in a vehicle tried to ram the gate at NSA for as yet unknown reasons; one of the gate guards shot and killed one of the men and severely injured the other. No word yet who they were or what their motive might have been for attempting to forcibly storm a US Intelligence Agency. Hopefully we'll find out more when the injured man tells authorities his story.

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Rich Man's Trick

I do not accept the notion that 9/11 was an inside job CD false flag op by the illuminati or the powers that be or rogue elements inside the USG.

I do believe that we live in a world we we are all manipulated by media and PR and as such our thinking is informed by what we read and see.... more than what we experience first hand. I don't know that Sri Lanka exists... from first hand knowledge of being there... I accept it does based on what I have seen and read in media.

We also know that marketing and PR and so forth are all about us. We are targets of persuasion and in many cases... perhaps most we accept PR and marketing and all manner of official statements and so forth as factual... objective and without a motive. We know people and institutions "spin" to influence thinking... lawyers do it in court. We witnessed Yellow Cake and WMDs stories and Cowlin Powel with his vial of white powder at the UN. We are besiged by propaganda which masquerades as fact.

It's obvious that people and institutions with power and access to and control of media in some cases will use PR, propaganda, spin etc. to advance their goals, agenda or franchise. Why wouldn't they? Why would,. for example, the police force want there to be no crime or threats to property and safety? If that came to pass... there would be no need for the massive police forces we see today. Same for the military. If all nations were at peace... why would we need a military? Military needs enemies, tangible security threats and the fear that people feel to maintain their franchise in society.

We also know that our economy is a capitalist one which is about wealth creation. Capitalism exploits resources and labor and (manipulates) markets (supply and demand) to aggregate wealth to what we call the 1%. Most people work to make ends meet... some to have some luxury and everyone accepts how "the game is played". When marxist socialism arose in the USSR it was a threat to the capitalist system of it spread to the capitalist countries.

This youtube

touches on this and relates it to world events over the past 100 yrs... and especially to the assassination of JFK and even 9/11... alleging that they were "conspiracies" by very rich and powerful to aggregate power and control the world essentially.

I sat thru this long video. I found it very interesting and of course I can't prove or disprove what it alleges is what has gone down.

What has interested me in this large discussion about "conspiracies" is that they are often asserted to be "false flags" massive deceptions. Yet... the actions of the west around the world, militarism, occupation, exploitation of raw materials for the capitalist economy and corporations and their owners... in what is largely called "hegemony" would seem to create a natural response from those exploited, and oppressed, who are displaced, whose land is occupied, whose resources are stolen, who are turned into wage slaves or even slaves, who are manipulated to fight wars by external powers.

As such... I find that 9/11 makes "sense" as blowback... Western policies and activities created the response we call 9/11. It was a push back.. a sort of insurrection by the oppressed... It was the people who the powers that be identified as a threat.. an enemy.. because they MADE them into one.... which conspired to do 9/11. Isn't rebellion and push back or blow back inevitable at some point? How much oppression can anyone or group take?

The oppressed have no platform to have their grievances addressed and for their to be justice. The world is played out like law of the jungle... eat or be eaten... the strongest survive... and grow stronger... in the control of property and wealth and resources and so on.

I think the Rich Man's Trick raises many valid points... but it also goes off the rails as well.

It surprises me that CT people want to make 911 an inside job when blowback, insurrection, rebellion is a natural predictable outcome of the policies of the West. It was almost predictable.. perhaps not precisely where, when and how... but that it was inevitable. The military DOES accept the notion of insurrection, asymetrical warfare and so on.


"An insurgency is a rebellion against a constituted authority (for example, an authority recognized as such by the United Nations) when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents.[1] An insurgency can be fought via counter-insurgency warfare, and may also be opposed by measures to protect the population, and by political and economic actions of various kinds aimed at undermining the insurgents' claims against the incumbent regime.[2] The nature of insurgencies is an ambiguous concept.

Not all rebellions are insurgencies. There have been many cases of non-violent rebellions, using civil resistance, as in the People Power Revolution in the Philippines in the 1980s that ousted President Marcos and the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.[3] Where a revolt takes the form of armed rebellion, it may not be viewed as an insurgency if a state of belligerency exists between one or more sovereign states and rebel forces. For example, during the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America was not recognized as a sovereign state, but it was recognized as a belligerent power, and thus Confederate warships were given the same rights as United States warships in foreign ports.[4][5][6]

When insurgency is used to describe a movement's unlawfulness by virtue of not being authorized by or in accordance with the law of the land, its use is neutral. However when it is used by a state or another authority under threat, "insurgency" often also carries an implication that the rebels' cause is illegitimate, whereas those rising up will see the authority itself as being illegitimate. Criticisms of widely held ideas and actions about insurgency started to occur in works of the 1960s;[7] they are still common in recent studies.[8]"

War and oppression has become a self fulfilling prophesy... and a means to make fortunes and amass power and control. It seems that this is more on auto pilot than conspiracists want to believe. IE terrorism is synthetic and created literally intentionally not as a response to hegemony.

It seems more plausible to CTers that 9/11 was an inside job than a bunch of suicidal people who got lucky and gave us a lesson in physics and killed thousands of people in the process of "striking back".

What say you?

via International Skeptics Forum

Indiana Religious Freedom Act Opens Door For First Church Of Cannabis

Indiana Religious Freedom Act Opens Door For First Church Of Cannabis


In a classic case of “unintended consequences,” the recently signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana may have opened the door for the establishment of the First Church of Cannabis in the Hoosier State.

While Governor Mike Pence (R) was holding a signing ceremony for the bill allowing businesses and individuals to deny services to gays on religious grounds or values, paperwork for the First Church of Cannabis Inc. was being filed with the Secretary of State’s office, reports RTV6.

Church founder Bill Levin announced on his Facebook page that the church’s registration has been approved, writing, “Status: Approved by Secretary of State of Indiana – “Congratulations your registration has been approved!” Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love, Understanding, and Good Health.”

Levin is currently seeking $4.20 donations towards his non-profit church.

According to Indiana attorney and political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, Indiana legislators, in their haste to protect the religious values and practices of their constituents, may have unwittingly put the state in an awkward position with those who profess to smoke pot as a religious sacrament.

Shabazz pointed out that it is still illegal to smoke pot in Indiana, but wrote, “I would argue that under RFRA, as long as you can show that reefer is part of your religious practices, you got a pretty good shot of getting off scot-free


Love the new Jesus-figure.

Attached Images

File Type: jpg shutterstock_124875025-800x430.jpg (71.8 KB)

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Innocent prisoner's dilemma

I know this is from Wiki but I have seen this in a number of wrongful conviction cases which we have discussed

The innocent prisoner's dilemma, or 'Parole Deal', is a detrimental effect of a legal system in which admission of guilt can result in reduced sentences or early parole. When an innocent person is wrongly convicted of a crime, legal systems which need the individual to admit guilt, for example as a prerequisite step leading to parole, punish an innocent person for his integrity, and reward a person lacking in integrity. There have been many cases where innocent prisoners were given the choice between freedom, in exchange for admitting guilt, and remaining imprisoned and telling the truth. Individuals have died in prison rather than admit to crimes which they did not commit.

It has been demonstrated in Britain that prisoners who freely admit their guilt are more likely to re-offend than prisoners who maintain their innocence, yet parole officers perceive prisoners claiming innocence to be more likely to re-offend.

United States law professor Daniel Medwed says convicts who go before a parole board maintaining their innocence are caught in a Catch-22 which he calls "the innocent prisoner’s dilemma".[1] A false admission of guilt and remorse by an innocent person at a parole hearing may prevent a later investigation proving their innocence.[2]

So thoughts on solutions?

via International Skeptics Forum

dimanche 29 mars 2015

Why are churches tax exempt?

Simple question from someone simple-minded. It seems more and more that churches are involving themselves in the political process imo.

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Why do we have to pay a TV license in the UK?

I don't even have a TV - I certainly don't watch the BBC anymore. Last time I watched it I kept hearing about different Malaysian Jets going missing... it all seems a bit weird to me.

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Whose at the top of the pyramid?

Whose got ultimate power in this world?

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9/11 documentaries

What are the latest documentaries that have been produced on 9/11?

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Where does money come from? The federal reserve? The bank of England? Do those banks have to labour before they seemingly create money out of thin air that doesn't match the price of the paper it's printed on? Has anyone seen Zeitgeist part 2?

Who thinks CEOs and middle managers distribute money equally to their underlings based on their technical abilities whilst they themselves waste most of the week in meetings trying to psyche out colleagues and play mind games?

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Education sucks?

People are only taught to memorise and repeat information - instead learning to use logic and critical thinking. Then they are told they are clever for passing a multiple choice exam. Crazy, huh?

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Nearly every software has spyware these days!

Ever wondered why that is the case?

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Slip Sliding Away

Extra slippery for fun and profit.

This may well be a transforming invention.

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What is the present status of Shaken Baby Syndrome?

I have been trying to read up on it. I notice now the preferred term is abusive head trauma.

There seems to be a lot of disagreement if it exists or not. I do note that in looking up the issue, there are a number of recent cases where people are charged with it.

The one opinion I have is that there is child abuse and you shake an infant enough, it is going to do serious harm. I also think that is probably way over-diagnosed.


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Quick Magna Carta question

So, most of the barons were annoyed with King John.

They "forced" the king to sign the Carta.

Were there any provisions - along the lines of Monty Python - "Who made you king anyway?"

I can always remember being taught* that part of the deal was, "Who made you king anyway? We'll continue to let you be king, if you quit being a dick**"

I'm reading up on it now, and I'm not seeing this provision. Am I just wrong?

*Yes, I know I could've been taught wrong.

**for lack of a better word.

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From that Fun-Loving Guy Tom DiLorenzo

Whenever you think that Thomas DiLorenzo and his enabler, Lew Rockwell, have descended into the ultimate fever-swamps of lunacy, they will find a new way to delve even deeper.

This week, it's the amazing discovery that The Great Satan himself, Abe "Lenin" Lincoln, ordered the army to violate the virginal flowers of Southern chivalry:

Every time DiLorenzo meets someone who actually knows something about the history of the Late Unpleasantness, he gets his head, backside, and other parts handed to him, but he keeps on swinging all the same.

Never mind the latest woo Paul Craig Roberts, Joseph Mercola, Bionic Mosquito, and rest of the fun-loving gang are peddling . . .


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Weird music problem.

Windows Media Player stopped finding all my music in the "My Music" folder. It wouldn't display anything except the samples that came with the computer. But it still plays the playlists I have.

So I got Winamp. And after a few days it started doing the same thing.

So I got MusicBee. Same ****.

Any suggestions?

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Why didn't/doesn't progressive/ "left wing" talk radio catch on?

The mid-mornings and afternoons here in the southern US are filled with conservative/right-wing AM radio talk. Rush, Beck et al.

I remember the Air America attempt. I've heard some conservatives from my circles in the past make comments about how "left-wing" radio didn't succeed was because the message was flawed, it's target audience was at home getting stoned and eating steaks (paid for by food stamps of course) and not working, etc.

I'd love a couple hours a day of Jon Stewart, John Oliver and a few others.

So what say you? Why didn't/doesn't progressive/" left wing" talk radio catch on?

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samedi 28 mars 2015

PEGIDA comes to Montreal . . .

and runs away with its tail between its legs. :cool:

PEGIDA cancels anti-Islam demonstration in Little Maghreb


About 15 supporters of the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam group that was founded in Germany and recently saw a branch open in Quebec were said to have shown up at a demonstration the group had organized in an east-end neighbourhood known as Little Maghreb on Saturday afternoon.

They were hard to detect among the hundreds of counter-protesters who had shown up to PEGIDA Québec’s debut rally at a Pie-IX Blvd. shopping mall to tell the far-right group its message of intolerance has no place in Montreal.

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What we write is to what we think as how we write is to how we think.

What we write is to what we think as how we write is to how we think.

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UFO sighting.....By me.

Had me going for a while. No, I knew it wasn't reptilians from Antares. I'm sitting in my police car, facing South. 750 PM. The Sun is just below the horizon.

To the south I see two reddish lights. One is fairly steady, one seems to be moving around in relation to the other. Almost as if it's hanging by a wire or something. Slow moving... Heading NW.

I was thinking some kind of prank... Suspended lights on a baloon... Something like that. I'd guess altitude at over 1000 feet.

So I popped the trunk, got out the big 10x binocs we carry, and finally figured it out.

Wanna guess? The position of the sun is the clue.

Two large birds,, either great white egrets or

geese, flying together, with the setting sun reflecting very strongly up where they were, but invisible to me. I suspect

egrets, they are brilliant white and thus very reflective and they normally fly from their hunting spots in Forest Park to wherever they roost.

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Graphene lightbulbs to go on sale.

The first commercial product to use Graphene will go on sale later this year and it's an LED lightbulb. Graphene has already been used in a number of applications including sports equipment, but it's use in lightbulbs marks the arrival of Graphene in the everyday consumer market. The developers say Graphene lightbulbs will be cheaper, use 10% less energy and last longer than current LED lightbulbs.

For me, the most significant element of the story is that Graphene is now commercially viable. Wonderful though it is, it has been prohibitively expensive. Now, it can be provide cheaply enough to make a consumer product using it practical, we can expect more uses in the very near future. Exciting times ahead!

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TV Magic Cards

Anyone else buy this because of Marshal Brodini?

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF 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.

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Can anyone here translate Chinese?

Looking at a list of smart-arse exam answers, one of them was this:

I'm hoping that this actually answers the question. It's probably nonsense, but given that I can't understand Chinese I can't say. They look like genuine Chinese characters, which possibly implies some familiarity with the language, but that's not a great deal to hang any hope on.

So, can anybody read this and, if so, what does it say?

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Guns don't kill people they kill kids and so on.

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vendredi 27 mars 2015

The Psychology of Atheism

It turns out it was daddy's fault. :(


Psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz (PhD in Psychology from Stanford University) speaks on a number of influential atheists (like Friedrich Nietzsche, David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Sigmund Freud, etc.) and how they may have become atheists. It ends up that many of these atheists had abusive or weak fathers who influenced the way the saw God


YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF 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.

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garmin bluetooth with s4

I've stolen my husbands excellent garmin nuvi 2797, and am really impressed with the bluetooth. it is happy to pair up with my iPhone 5 work phone but won't pair with my samsung s4 , which is a version 4.4.2

my phone can find it, but it's apparently unable to find my phone.....

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"Small fires" claims and the WTC

I wasn't sure where exactly to post this since the post that initiated my interest in actually pushing the matter is in a thread where this would be off topic. And I hate thread necromancy if I can avoid it...

Any way... to the point:

Full Size:

The graphic is intended to put a sort of "human" scale to the claims that the fires in the towers were "small", as I've seen for years the sizes alluded to in relative percentages of building heights often characterized to falsely minimize how substantial the disasters were. I have not decided yet whether to take the GFX materials further since a good deal of what I can think to bring up in this way is already done.

The graphic is not intended to be an in-depth analysis (at least not at this point), only to point out visually and somewhat from a different angle how significant the event was.

So for starters.... commentary is welcome on the graphic to see if it can be fashioned into something useful for current discussions and/or improved. It's the bigger of my reasons for posting it. The other - smaller - reason is if anyone feels like bringing up any objections to the whole idea of characterizing the WTC fires as large scale factors in their collapses.

And as a tertiary reason... perhaps this may be useful to a few people with or with out tweaks.

So... there you all have it.


Some notes about the modeling information used...

WTC 1 image: Obviously as noted on the label as the source.

WTC 5 image is from the FEMA materials

Floor Slabs in the 3D of WTC 1 massing were fashioned to scale based on elevation CAD files I downloaded a while back IIRC from one of the NIST FOIA's.

The WTC 5 massing model size was approximated based on information from one of the FEMA reports.

Massing height for the WTC 1 representation are taken from the CAD files I have on hand, and the WTC 5 graphic is 9 stories based on floor slab spacing of 12 top 13'

via International Skeptics Forum

BT keyboard won't type on Venue 7

I got a free Dell Venue 7 tablet when I bought a 2 in 1 this year. I just picked up a blue tooth keyboard for it. The tablet pairs to the keyboard but doesn't take typed input. Under the "Keyboard and input methods" there is no option for blue tooth or external keyboard.

I tried the keyboard with the 2 in one and it worked fine. Any ideas, other than I'm screwed and blue tooth tattooed?

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My Favorite President

Hello fellow Skeptics,

I was wondering if anyone has recently drudged up any conspiracy theories on Abraham Lincoln. I have read about a few already, what with Mary portrayed as both a victim and villain as well as Abraham but with a more tilted scale than the former for consistency. My theories behind what I think now may take time to build so I will start off slow:

What diseases are believed to be attributed to Lincoln?

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Most objective media source(s)

I was following another thread where they cited their media sources as being accurate or not.

Which media sites are the least political and give the most objective news without agenda slant possible?

I have lately been getting my news from Al Jazeera as it seems the most honest imo.

via International Skeptics Forum

Fear of the clap

Jazz Hands, Clapping & Twitter Trolls: The Unsuccessful Derailing of NUS Women’s Conference

"Aliya Yule is an undergraduate at Wadham College [Oxford], and currently serves as OUSU’s Women’s Campaign Officer. A tweet sent by Yule at the NUS [National Union of Students] Women’s Conference this week, in which she asked for delegates to show their approval with jazz hands instead of applause, prompted a large Twitter backlash. Yule writes in response:

By now, many of you will have seen the #jazzhandsgate furore which took off on Day 1 of NUS Women’s Conference (which is like a national OUSU Council for feminists). During the day, I tweeted NUS Staff asking that they remind people to adhere to an earlier request not to clap during motions debates, but to instead use what are colloquially known as ‘feminist jazz hands’, also known as ‘consensus hands’, a signal from British Sign Language which means ‘applause’.

Several people on my timeline had asked that the request be repeated, as it was triggering their anxiety and was also distracting from the discussion of the motions. Anyone who has been to a conference will know that tensions are running high with some of the most vibrant student activists in the UK in one room. Conference is charged with heated debate, there is a lot to get through, say and do, and for those with generalised anxiety disorder and other disabilities, this can be a difficult and exhausting space to navigate and participate in."

Are today's students/feminists really this delicate?

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[Split Thread] Driverless Cars and Pilotless Planes


Originally Posted by Joey McGee (Post 10551062)


Originally Posted by uvar (Post 10551022)

And considering we haven't got computer-driven ground vehicles licked yet

This is 99.9% false.

No, it's 100% true. The Google car, for example? Not programmed to handle rain yet. It also can't tell the difference between a newspaper (an obstacle it can drive over) and a rock (an obstacle it needs to avoid).

But I do have an objection to uvar's post: robotic driving is a FAR more difficult problem than robotic flying. The reason this isn't intuitively obvious is that the stuff that makes robotic driving difficult (like recognizing what objects are, choosing paths, etc) is stuff our brains have evolved to do just walking around. It's actually quite complex, but we're wired for it and have years of constant practice before we even get behind the wheel for the first time. The stuff which makes flying a challenge for humans (and why you can't throw a random person in a cockpit and expect good results) all involves stuff we aren't specifically wire for and don't have to do in our natural environment, but it's computationally simple in comparison.

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AIA Convention 2015 to vote on AE911T resolution

Craig McKee blogs at "Truths and Shadows":

Major coup for AE9/11Truth – American Institute of Architects green lights Building 7 vote


Originally Posted by Craig McKee

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth ... succeeded in getting a commitment from the largest association of architects in the U.S. to debate and vote on a resolution supporting an investigation into the destruction of World Trade Center Building 7 on Sept. 11, 2001.

The vote will take place at the annual convention of the American Institute of Architects, May 14-16, in Atlanta, GA.


For any resolution to be considered by convention delegates, it must be sponsored by the AIA’s board of directors or strategic council; a regional, state or local AIA chapter; or 50 AIA members. In this case, the sponsor was AE board member Dan Barnum, who holds the prestigious title of Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Another 54 AIA members are listed as co-sponsors – all of whom are signatories of the AE9/11Truth petition.

Here is the text of the resolution that was just approved by the AIA resolution committee:



NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the AIA Board of Directors shall adopt a Position Statement, to be published in the AIA Directory of Public Policies and Position Statements, stating:

  • The AIA’s belief that incidents involving the catastrophic failure of buildings and other structures must be investigated using the highest standards of science-based investigation and analysis in order to provide accurate and meaningful information in the development of model building codes;

  • The AIA’s recognition that many members of the architecture profession believe the NIST investigation into the complete collapse of 7 World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, did not adhere to the principles of the scientific method and, as a result, the conclusions of the NIST investigation are fatally flawed;

  • The AIA’s belief that this perspective merits further study; and

  • The AIA’s support for a new investigation into the complete collapse of 7 World Trade Center.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it is advised that this Position Statement be incorporated as Position Statement #3 under the Construction Industry Regulation Public Policy. The recommended language of this Position Statement is as follows:

World Trade Center 7

The AIA believes that incidents involving the catastrophic failure of buildings and other structures must be investigated using the highest standards of science-based investigation and analysis in order to provide accurate and meaningful information in the development of model building codes. In adherence to the scientific method, investigations should:

  • Consider all available data;

  • Consider hypotheses that most readily explain the available data;

  • Test those hypotheses and analyze the results without bias; and

  • Provide for external review and replication by making all data available.

The AIA recognizes that many members of the architecture profession believe the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) investigation into the complete collapse of 7 World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, did not adhere to these principles and, as a result, the conclusions of the NIST investigation are fatally flawed. The AIA believes this perspective merits further study and supports a new investigation into the complete collapse of 7 World Trade Center.

Have fun.

via International Skeptics Forum

jeudi 26 mars 2015

NDEs books taken from Christian book store


Heaven, apparently, can wait, a chain of Southern Baptist-owned bookstores says.

More specifically, the flurry of books retelling personal visits to the afterlife are now off the shelves at the 180 LifeWay Christian Resources bookstores in the United States, after they were deemed "subjective" by denominational leaders.

The Baptist Press news service quotes company spokesman Marty King as saying, "Last summer, as we began developing LifeWay's new structure and direction — what we've now identified as One LifeWay — the role of heaven visitation resources was included in our considerations. We decided these experiential testimonies about heaven would not be a part of our new direction, so we stopped re-ordering them for our stores last summer."

The bookstore move comes after the Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination's governing body, last year passed a resolution declaring the books suspect. Among other complaints, the resolution noted, "Many devout and well-meaning people allow these to become their source and basis for an understanding of the afterlife rather than scriptural truth."

Despite the SBC's disdain, the books themselves are popular. Don Piper's "90 Minutes in Heaven," coming to movie theatres this year as a feature film, had sold 5 million copies by 2013, according to CNN's Belief blog. Baptist Press reports the Piper book's sales are now up to "6.5 million copies in 46 languages."

The same CNN article noted that "Heaven Is For Real," the book recounting the story of 8-year-old Colton Burpo, was "on The New York Times best-seller list for 126 consecutive weeks and sold 8 million copies." The Burpo book was also released as a feature film last year.

But popularity isn't enough for LifeWay, which, along with other Christian and general booksellers, was burned when "The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven," a best-seller by Kevin and Alex Malarkey, was revealed to be a hoax, as reported.

Alex, severely injured in an automobile accident, released an open letter to the Pulpit and Pen blog admitting, "I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible."

Taken from:

via International Skeptics Forum

HIV Epidemic in Southern Indiana

Governor Mike Pence has declared a medical emergency in Scott County, Indiana which is reportedly the epicenter of an epidemic of HIV cases. All confirmed cases have been related to needle sharing and intravenous drug use of the opioid painkiller Opana, according to Pence. Link below contains a very somber Governor Pence realizing the gravity of his state's situation.

Indiana Declares Public Health Emergency to Battle Worst HIV Outbreak in State History - ABC News

There have been 79 confirmed cases of HIV since January in the city of Austin, Indiana. This city, with a population of just over 4,000, has seen an average of 5 cases of HIV a year until recently. The sociological impact of joblessness and poverty in Austin is covered in this Tribune article.

Scott county is virtually in the middle of nowhere on Route 65 just north of Louisville, and no one seems to have noticed this problem in the upper levels of government despite the fact that many in Austin knew about the drugs and prostitution, according to video accounts.

The governor is just now accepting CDC advice and ordering a needle exchange program and free HIV testing, despite his general opposition to such programs, "if the local governments should deem it necessary or appropriate."

This is the same governor Pence who just signed a law permitting discrimination on certain minorities based on deeply held religious beliefs. My question is why has it taken him 3 months to notice an epidemic of these proportions? I find this more than a little jaw dropping that such a belated response hasn't gotten more criticism in the media.

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Damn Server.exe/Stub.exe... WTF?

What the hell is this thing?

Searches are being useless, leading to "hacker" forums which don't give me any answers.

Task Mgr shows it changed name from stub to server just a few weeks ago but has no history, no details or source company and no processes but it chews up half my cpu cycles.

I want to kill it with fire! :mad:

Any help anyone? :boggled:

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Theoretical Science is Science of the Gaps

I'm not saying theoretical science is a worthless or bad thing, as long as it isn't abused like “God of the gaps” is.

Not sure what compelled me to start this thread or whether it's worthy of any response.

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Ebony magazine editor rips country music

But once again, it's OK for black people to rip on something predominantly white.

But if the roles were reversed? Evil racist whitey! The horror!


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Arab foreign ministers agree on unified military force

Will this get off the ground? What could go wrong? What could go right?


CAIRO (Reuters) - Arab foreign ministers meeting in Egypt agreed a draft resolution on Thursday to form a unified military force, in a move aimed at countering growing regional security threats.

The agreement came after warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck Shi'ite Muslim rebels in Yemen on Thursday, in an effort to check Iranian influence in their backyard without direct military backing from Washington.

"The Arab ... ministers agreed on adopting an important principle, which is forming the unified Arab military force," Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby told reporters after the meeting in the resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

"The task of the force will be rapid military intervention to deal with security threats to Arab nations," Elaraby added.

The draft resolution will be referred to the Arab leaders during their March 28-29 summit in Egypt.

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Rick Perry's glasses

Is this a new thing or something? Why is he wearing glasses in this campaign and not the last one?

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My special computer issue - no post, no beep, logo on screen

Power went out, now my computer:

Won't beep

Won't post

But the HP logo is on the screen


I took out the only stick of ram and it gives the constant beep

Bad bios?

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More violent cops...

We are headed for a big problem. I don't know what, but this kind of violence born by those who are supposed to protect the citizens is simply unacceptable.

*********** tiny dicked, ignorant, *****************.

I *********** hate cops. And yes, I am looking at "good" cops too. Get your *********** "brothers" under control.

Jesus *********** christ I am mad. In case that wasn't obvious.

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Are we living in false vacuum?

Hello All,

This is quote from Wikipedia entry if Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics


Some cosmologists argue that the universe is in a false vacuum state and that consequently the universe should have already experienced quantum tunnelling to a true vacuum state. This has not happened and is cited as evidence in favor of many-worlds. In some worlds, quantum tunnelling to a true vacuum state has happened but most other worlds escape this tunneling and remain viable. This can be thought of as a variation on quantum suicide.

So,we live in false vacuum and is indication of many worlds?

Any thoughts?

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FDA to examine homeopathic medicine regulation

A great opportunity for a concerted campaign against homeopathetic. Hope to see Science Based Medicine et al, with broad skeptical support, put pressure on FDA to do similar to the Aussie Health and Medical Research Council and declare it basically useless.

No doubt we will see massive lobbying from homeopathetics and the industry, so needs to be tenacious efforts.

Guess as U.K. citizen not much point me writing in to FDA, but urge all Yanks hereabouts to do so.

via International Skeptics Forum

Saudi Arabia intervenes in Yemen

Al Jazeera reports 150,000 troops backed by the air force are deploying into Yemen.

BBC report.

Frightening. This is Saudi Arabia vs Iran vs al quaeda.........Sunni vs Shia. It could be an awful mess.

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mercredi 25 mars 2015

James O'Keefe claims Cornell dean advocation pro-IS groups on campus


Of Project Veritas fame, convicted criminal James O'Keefe has resurfaced with yet another undercover "expose" of a Cornell dean supposedly advocating pro-IS groups on campus.

via International Skeptics Forum

War, pestilence, even climate change, are trifles by comparison. Destroy the soil and


There’s no longer even an appetite for studying the problem. Just one university – Aberdeen – now offers a degree in soil science. All the rest have been closed down.

via International Skeptics Forum

Some nice WWI photographs

I was browsing and came across a nice little set of WWI photographs, including some from underground cities that I'd never seen before. Thought I'd throw in the link here.

Hidden worlds of WWI

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'No blacks' Chinese restaurant shut down in Kenya

This story is interesting not simply because of the location, but because the owners were Chinese. It's nice to find an example of someone other than White People behaving stupidly.


A Chinese restaurant in the Kenyan capital Nairobi has been shut down and its owners summoned by authorities after it emerged it was barring black patrons, reports said.

The restaurant became the focus of city authorities after furious residents took to social media to denounce an apparently racist policy of not allowing African patrons to eat there after 5pm...

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Phobias! You got 'em?

Anyone else have dumb, unshakable phobias?

I have a two very common ones:

1) Heights. No, I don't want to look over the edge of that super tall building. Oh, I'm sure it's a great view. No, really not interested. Oh, me? I'm quite all right being on the ground. All right, if it's such a nice view could you climb all the way up and take a picture for me, great thx.

2) Bugs. Bugs of all types. Six legs. Eight legs. Hundred legs. Nope nope nope. No, I don't want to hold. Oh, a harmless cricket? Still not interested. A tarantula? You're kidding, right. I said get it away from me before I taze you.

Also, two incredibly dumb phobias:

1) Sleeping in a unlit room. I'm an adult who still has night terrors. It's really hard for me to sleep alone without a small nightlight. Without one, I will "hear" the sound of footsteps, as if someone is in the house, or I will trace outlines of non-existent figures in front of me. I also have to shut the closet door, because it's very unnerving to see it open when I'm in bed.

I stopped watching horror movies years ago, but recently gf-chan and some friends decided on a whim to see a movie a bogeyman who comes out of closet. It's disrupted my sleep for weeks. Same thing happened when I watched a play through of Silent Hill.

2) Aliens / alien abductions / alien invasions. I watched the movie Fire In the Sky when I was a child, and the alien abduction sequence absolutely messed me up for life. Pure eschatological terror in a manner I can't describe.

I'm not at all bothered so much by Star Wars type aliens, chestbursters, ET, the Xenomorph, or little green men. Specifically, it's the depiction of the emaciated, buggy-eyed "grey" alien. I'm pretty sure my reaction is similar to people who get really unnerved by ventriloquist dummies.

Ok, those are mine. What are yours, if any?

via International Skeptics Forum

Nebraska state senator compares police to ISIS, suggests he’d shoot a cop

But it's OK, because he's black :thumbs up: And don't anyone dare criticize him cuz if they do they're racist.

Gotta love ""If I was gonna carry a weapon, it wouldn't be against you, it wouldn't be against these people who come here that I might have a dispute with, mine would be for the police," Chambers said. "And if I carried a gun, I'd want to shoot him first and then ask questions later like they say the cop ought to do."

LOL - you go Ernie!

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Kill the Gays + Lesbians?

I too find it "“utterly reprehensible” that a proposed ballot measure would authorize killing gays and lesbians here in California.

Here's a link from a story in The Los Angeles Times,

and a few snippets:

This ballot initative would authorize the killing of gays and lesbians by "bullets to the head" — or by "any other convenient method."

It needs 365,000 signatures to qualify for vote,

right now it has 42,000 as of today.

The so-called Sodomite Suppression Act that was proposed by Huntington Beach attorney Matthew McLaughlin.

McLaughlin's proposal calls same-sex intimacy "a monstrous evil" and says it would be better for gay people to die than for Californians to "be killed by God's just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst."

It also would make the spreading of "sodomistic propaganda" punishable by a $1-million fine, 10 years in jail or deportation from the state. And it would ban gay people from holding public office.

* * *

I'm a long time heterosexual male surfer + have a lot of friends,

both male and female, who surf and are gay or lesbian.

I do not care what grown, consenting adults do in their bedroom or whom they date.

And to read that some lawyer just 45 miles away from the beach I surf at wants to kill these people with bullets to the head or any other convenient method is simply incredible to comprehend in this day and age.

Your thoughts?


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[Ed] Right Wing Watch

Do people who read "right wing watch" sit there hitting f5 just waiting to get outraged and post about it on message boards?

Mod InfoThis thread was split from ‘Duck Dynasty’ star fantasizes about atheist family’s rape and murder, and has been renamed.

Posted By:Locknar

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Welp, it's official. EBT cards accepted at Chinese Buffets

My favorite Chinese Buffet now has signs up that they accept EBT cards.

The fattest segment of American society, poor people "down on their luck" AKA on the govenment dole AKA lacking the most privledge AKA (insert next decade's phrase on euphamism treadmill) can now have Chinese buffet for dinner.

Wonder Twin Powers...activate accelerated Ameri-fattening!

I haven't asked, but hazard a guess it's by the pound takeout only, no crab legs. Or some agreed poundage for a dinner's worth of calories and nutrition.

Well, why the hell not? Why should supermarket rotisserie takeout chickens and tubs of Swedish meatballs get all the action?

ETA: EBT cards, for those who don't know, are debit-like cards from the government that can only be used to buy certain kinds of food, nothing negotiated between Congress and agri-business.

via International Skeptics Forum

EnChroma Colorblindness Glasses

Has anyone seen this commercial?

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF 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.

A company claims to have invented glasses which provide "color for the color blind".

I am currently arguing with someone who desperately wants them to be real, but I have my doubts. I know that these type of glasses hit the market every couple of years, soon to never be heard from again. I also don't think their explanation of how color deficiency works is accurate.

Does anyone have any reason to think this might be legit? Or any compelling arguments that might help me convince my friend not to part with $400?

via International Skeptics Forum

Bigfoot phenomenon solved! No more mystery, only misery for footers.

This is the real explanation for the phenomenon. I challenge anyone (skeptic or woomeister) to prove this to be wrong. We have for very long given the opportunity for woomeisters to prove their assertions. Here is what the claimed "evidence for bigfoot" actually proves. We have many examples of each of these. All bigfoot resolved claims fit into one of these three categories.

This is bigfoot:

1) Hoaxers/liars/storytellers

2) Deluded individuals (by intoxication, or mental illness)

3) Occasionally mistaken identity

Footers don't like the answer? Too bad. Reality is not one of the strong points to being a bigfooter. I challenge you to put up or shut up. Bigfoot is no longer a mystery. We know what bigfoot really is now.

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Twain/Bierce quote on religion

Hi! I guess my Google-fu is weak...

Looking for a quote on religion from, I think, one of the two listed in the subject.

Something about religion being professed to be followed by many, except for the (Quakers? Amish?), who have the audacity to practice what they avow.

Sorry for the vagueness. I read this several years ago and have forgotten the source.


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Yet another healer who cannot heal himself..

Like all healers who claims magic/psychic powers cannot even heal themselves. First there was William Bengston who claimed he could heal mice from cancer who could not heal himself from a heart attack:


Yes, he is doing a lot of good work out there. He is also involved with the EMU (Energy Medicine University). He apparently had a heart attack sometime last year but is back teaching again. I want to do one of his workshops as I have the feeling that some kind of resonance/entanglement is occurring only when it is transferred by him personally - similar to an attunement. There doesn't seem to be much evidence on how his workshop students do in terms of healing cancer, or any other problem.

Taken from:

Now we have another healer like this who claims he has the power from god to heal,Benny Hinn who suffered the same fate:


Benny Hinn Admitted to California ICU for Heart-Related Issues

2:00PM EDT 3/23/2015 Steve Strang

Benny Hinn has was in the Intensive Care Unit this weekend. The healing evangelist suffered from shortness of breath and doctors admitted him to an Orange County, California hospital for treatment after returning exhausted from a weeklong crusade in Brazil, Charisma News has learned. However, Hinn says doctors say he'll make a full recovery.

Taken from:

Its however sad that people believe in this nonsense even when they actually have no such things as "super powers".

via International Skeptics Forum

Germanwings Airbus crash, French Alps

I wonder how long it will take for the clueless brigade to "confirm" this crash is fake...

Bonus drinking game: 2 shots if/when they mention "vicsims"

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What is the future of the Middle East,

What is the future of the Middle East, and it's ultimate economic burden on the West!

War in the middle East has consumed most of the later half of the 20th century, and 15 years of the 21st century.

In 1948, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt together with forces from Iraq conspired to invade the

newly formed state of Israel, however this coalition was defeated by Israel in 1949.

This was just the start of the conflict.

There have been other conflicts, too numerous to mention.

Peace keeping is costing the West about 9 billion dollars annually.

Yemen seems to be the latest country to submit to anarchy.

Any ideas on how we are to turn this around?

via International Skeptics Forum

Positive vs. Negative Atheism

There is no god. There, I said it.

The discussion surrounding the two flavors of atheism has been bogged down for a while. Far too often a watered-down argument (and a perception of weakness) is presented when a more assertive claim is perfectly defensible. And all of this is done in service of a narrative that is quite irrational.

First, definitions: Both the positive and negative atheist lack a belief in the existence of any god. Where they differ is that the positive atheist takes it a step further and asserts that there is no god. Neither position is a claim of absolute certainty.

If you accept negative atheism, you might as well go all the way to positive. It's easy to show that it is only a baby step away. But before that, let me address the conversation itself.

90% of the time when a negative atheist defends his position (while distancing himself from positive atheism), his claim will look something like this:


Originally Posted by Negative atheist

Well, I can't completely, 100%, absolutely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no possible, conceivable, imaginable way that a god of some vague, nebulous definition might exist, so... I'm just gonna withhold judgment for now.

I'm exaggerating, but only a little.

There's another attack on positive atheism you have probably heard before, this time from theists:


Originally Posted by Theist

The only way you can know God doesn't exist is if you had knowledge of all existence, and then you would be like God.

Both of these are blatant examples of special pleadingWP . Where else do we use this standard when discussing existence? If someone claims that there are Reptilians infiltrating the White House, do we require that unwavering, absolute proof to the contrary be presented before we feel comfortable voicing strong disagreement? If someone claims that Bigfoot is in their backyard, do we withhold judgment until we acquire 100% knowledge of the universe? No, we don't. Why should we start here?

Given all of that, showing God does not exist is quite simple. I will do this by use of a simple analogy to illustrate a rational thought process.

Suppose I (a perfect stranger) were to say to you, "I am a dog owner." Do you believe me? You probably do. You wouldn't withhold judgment until some kind of evidence about this particular dog is presented.

Why do you believe me? This belief is not completely without evidence, but the evidence is contextual. You know that dogs exist. You know that it is quite common for people to own dogs. You know that dog owners typically talk about their dogs. My claim of dog ownership perfectly coincides with other, easily-verifiable facts. Sure, I might be lying, but lying about this would be far more unusual than me simply telling the truth.

Take it a step further. What if I went on to describe my dog thus: "He's 20-feet tall, weighs about 2,000 pounds, and can leap over the Empire State Building."

This time, you take my claim as false. Why is that? Because of everything you know about dogs and physiology and the laws of physics. My claim is now sharply in contrast with the facts. There's no need to sit on the fence and wait for me to produce photographs of my very large dog: You are perfectly justified in immediately saying I'm wrong.

Now, let's try something different.

What is the God claim all about? In general, it is the claim that there is a non-physical entity capable of many extremely powerful acts, such as creating things out of nothing, or reshaping the entire universe in an instant. But more to the point, this entity has a mind.

So what are the contextual facts about minds? Humans have them. Other animals have them. So far, so good. But where do we experience minds that are not tied to a brain or some kind of physical substrate? Where do we see minds that are capable of making/shaping things, not by triggering nerve impulses in hands, but just through sheer willpower alone? Nowhere. Again, a claim is presented that does not conform to the things we all know and understand.

The God claim is, on its face, completely contrary to the facts. Sure, it could be true, but it most likely isn't. As such, we are justified in the immediate rejection of the claim that there is a god. Such rejection should not be confused with close-mindedness. We should remain open to evidence, but until it is produced, we are arguing from a solid foundation when we say there is no god.

via International Skeptics Forum

Chemists claim to have solved riddle of how life began on Earth

Chemists claim to have solved riddle of how life began on Earth


(—A team of chemists working at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, at Cambridge in the UK believes they have solved the mystery of how it was possible for life to begin on Earth over four billion years ago. In their paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry, the team describes how they were able to map reactions that produced two and three-carbon sugars, amino acids, ribonucleotides and glycerol—the material necessary for metabolism and for creating the building blocks of proteins and ribonucleic acid molecules and also for allowing for the creation of lipids that form cell membranes.

Scientists have debated for years the various possibilities that could have led to life evolving on Earth, and the arguments have only grown more heated in recent years as many have suggested that it did not happen here it all, instead, it was brought to us from comets or some other celestial body. Most of the recent debate has found scientists in one of three chicken-or-the-egg first camps: RNA world advocates, metabolism-first supporters and those who believe that cell membranes must have developed first.

The chemists with this new effort believe they have found a way to show that all three arguments are both right and wrong—they believe they have found a way to show that everything necessary for life to evolve could have done so from just hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide and ultraviolet light and that those building blocks could have all existed at the same time—in their paper, they report that using just those three basic ingredients they were able to produce more than 50 nucleic acids—precursors to DNA and RNA molecules. They note that early meteorites carried with them ingredients that would react with nitrogen already in the atmosphere, producing a lot of hydrogen cyanide. By dissolving in water, it could have very easily come into contact with hydrogen sulfide, while being exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun. And that, they claim, would have been all that was needed to get things going.


via International Skeptics Forum