Thursday, March 06, 2008

School Shooting in South Holland

Apparently, there's been a school shooting (in a loose sense) about 1/2 mile from where I used to live in South Holland.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Moses was on drugs?

Well, that's what one Israeli cognitive psychologist claims regarding the events on Mount Sinai. Why is a psychologist trying to analyze Biblical events? Why not leave that to historians, linguists, theologians, or spiritual leaders? Probably because he knew it would get him into Yahoo! News.

This seems like just another example of an academic ranting about a subject in which he is unqualified, until we get to the money quote:

"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," [Benny] Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

It's a perfect example of the scientific pitfall of naturalism. One of the bedrock tenets of modern science is that science deals with the natural, not the supernatural. Thus, when performing scientific analysis, a researcher usually assumes that there is no supernatural cause for observed events. That's all well and good, and the assumption is usually understood and factored (explicitly or implicitly) into the conclusions of the research.

The pitfall comes when the researcher takes this assumption for the purpose of research, and applies it to their perspective on reality. This rapidly leads to a logical fallacy called begging the question or assuming the consequent: a researcher assumes something, makes observations based on that assumption, and then uses the observations to prove the assumption. That's exactly what Benny Shanon is doing. The logical progression is basically:

  1. Assume that Moses had an experience on Mount Sinai.

  2. For the purpose of scientific analysis, assume that Moses's experience was not supernatural.

  3. If Moses's experience was purely natural, the most likely explanation is a religious service incorporating hallucinogens.

  4. Therefore, Moses was probably high on Mount Sinai.

  5. Therefore, Moses's experience was probably not supernatural.

See how the assumption kinda gets lost around step four, and then is magically proven at the end? Either Shanon's a bad enough scientist that he's begging the question himself, or (more likely) he's making the argument in bad faith in order to gain a little notoriety. Instead, he should be claiming, "Assuming Moses didn't meet God on Mount Sinai, he was probably on drugs" -- a statement which is not at all controversial and merits only the response, "Well, duh!"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Anyone remember Frodus?

Anyone remember Frodus? Well, Thrice does. BBC just played a track off of their upcoming Earth EP (part of the Alchemy Index album), and it's a cover of Frodus's "The Earth Isn't Humming" from Frodus's And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm back

I had a friend beg me yesterday to restart this blog. I was pretty noncommittal at the time; I've thought about restarting this thing many times in the past couple years, but I'm always missing either the desire, the time, or the content. I figured the same would happen now, until I ran across CNN Living /'s list of Ten guys women should run from.

Just for a second, ignore the fact that I'm reading this article at all, and check out guy #9: The Virtual Lover. From the name, I assumed this guy's problem would have something to do with an Internet addiction. Not quite:

What a relief it is when a man doesn't try to force you into bed on the first date. How charmed you are when, on the third date, he says he wants to wait until "you both can't stand it anymore." How sympathetic you become when, on the sixth date, he tells you how badly he was hurt by your predecessor. How confused you are six months later when you've realized his pager goes off every time you get naked, but he's still sending you roses and talking teddy bears.

A surprising number of great romancers out there never get around to having sex. To the date-weary woman, this can seem like not the worst combination, but beware. Eventually he will blame his problems on the smell of your breath or the size of your thighs.

That's right, women. You should be concerned about your dating relationship if your guy isn't sleeping with you by the sixth date; you should run from a relationship where this lasts as long as six months, no matter how he treats you otherwise.

Let's engage in a bit of role reversal. What would you think about an advice column suggesting a man dump a woman solely because he isn't getting any?

As a sidenote, CNN appears to be regurgitating four-year-old O Magazine stories.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Not Even Hiding It Any More

CNN has the AP's review of Kingdom of Heaven up right here that praises it for its political correctness. What does the review mean by political correctness? Well, Muslims didn't get angry:

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee was among those worried groups, but half a dozen members came away greatly relieved after a "Kingdom of Heaven" screening arranged for them by Scott.

"It's one of the better representations of Muslims we've seen out of Hollywood," said Laila Al-Qatami, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based group. "We thought that he did a good job tackling a potentially volatile subject and avoided doing a simplified, stereotyped story of Muslim vs. Christian."

. . . . .

Al-Qatami of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said the only faults her group found with "Kingdom of Heaven" were small historical inaccuracies, changes made to beef up the movie's drama and romantic subplot involving Bloom's and Green's characters.

"At the end of the day, we're happy," Al-Qatami said. "I think it's a fair picture of cultural and religious relations of the time."

That's all well and good, but what of the Christian reaction to the movie? There's no mention at all, even though in modern times the Crusades are a rallying cry for anti-Christian hatred rather than anti-Muslim hatred. The Crusades show institutionalized Christian religion at its worst, and are still used to flog Christians with guilt eight centuries later.

AP doesn't say. But it does quote actress Eva Green reinforcing the Christians-bad/Muslims-good meme:

"I think Muslims will be extremely proud and happy, because they're seen as noble, chivalrous characters," actress Green said. "Especially in this Crusade, the Arab people behaved in a more noble way than the Christian people. Saladin was such a great character. He was the hero of his time."

Exactly. A movie about the Crusades is going to come down hard on Christians, not Muslims, but AP stakes the movie's political correctness solely on whether it offends Muslims. The Christian reaction should be at least half the story, but since we're talking in PC-ese it doesn't even merit a mention. And that's what I mean by "Not Even Hiding It Any More": the Christian perspective doesn't merit even a token mention anymore.

Let's see whether the blogosphere will fill this information hole. Crosblog suggests the Christian reaction won't be too positive:

The Muslims in the movie are shown without flaw, as magnanimous in victory as they are skilled in combat. Meanwhile, the number of Christians in this movie with any redeeming qualities, by my count, is four, and are clearly the exceptions to the rule of bloodthirsty hypocrite. (There's a moment at the end, when the loss of Jerusalem appears imminent, when the bishop declares "Convert to Islam! Repent later!" It's just funny.)

Crosblog also points to this article in Human Events, which has this to say about the movie:

Kingdom of Heaven is a dream movie for those guilt-ridden creatures who believe that all the trouble between the Islamic world and the West has been caused by Western imperialism, racism, and colonialism, and that the glorious paradigm of Islamic tolerance, which was once a beacon to the world, could be reestablished if only the white men of America and Europe would back off. Except for one detail: it isn't true.

Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, author of A Short History of the Crusades and one of the world's leading historians of the period, called the movie "rubbish," explaining that "it's not historically accurate at all" as it "depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality." Oh, and "there was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians. That is utter nonsense."

Nor does Kingdom of Heaven take any notice of the historical realities of Christians and Jews who lived under Muslim rule. They were never treated as equals or accorded full rights as citizens, and always suffered under various forms of institutionalized discrimination and harassment.

Meli's Moonlight has this to say:

Here is Yahoo! Movies' caption describing the film:

"KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is an epic adventure about a common man who finds himself thrust into a decades-long war. A stranger in a strange land, he serves a doomed king, falls in love with an exotic and forbidden queen, and rises to knighthood. Ultimately, he must protect the people of Jerusalem from overwhelming forces while striving to keep a fragile peace."

What it fails to mention is that the "overwhelming forces" the common man must protect the "people of Jerusalem" from are the Christians. In typical Hollywood Christophobic style, the revisionists are at it again, pushing cowardly along behind this bruiser of a summer smash hit and leaning heavily on star power to overcome the utter nonsense being passed off as history.

Dr. Mike Kear of the Emmaus Theory likes it:

Good movie. Not world shaking, but certainly good. Great special effects, especially the city of Jerusalem. A small galaxy of stars including Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, Edward Norton (who we never really see), and of course Orlando Bloom. A true epic.

. . .

I think what Scott is trying to express is that Christians and Muslims can probably get along if we only can somehow rein in the fundamentalist extremists on both sides.

Donald Sensing doesn't like it:

The conflicts of the film are entirely one sided. The bad guys are all Christians, which is not really a criticism as the POV is from within the Christian kingdom. And there were some pretty sorry leaders among the real crusaders. Besides, the Christian king of Jerusalem is portrayed as a man of honor, courage and righteousness. No, my problem with these characterizations is not that the movie’s POV is so one-sided, it is that the portrayals are so darn wooden and shallow:

Head bad guy to evil henchman: “Start me a war.”
Evil henchman: “It’s what I do.”

And then he does so by letting the Templars loose on an innocent Muslim village where they literally hack everyone to death. Blood-spattered, the evil henchman mutters, “This is what I am. Somebody has to be me.” Maybe he could break into song!

I'll let you guys know my own opinion once I've seen it.


Hey all!

Haven't been on here in a few weeks for various reasons. Here's a quick update:

I'm now working on Charlotte, North Carolina, on what should be a short project. The filters at the job site don't allow me to access blogspot, though, so I can't post messages during my free time there.

Been feeling sick the past couple days.

E2 is doing well, and that's actually where most of my free time has been going lately, leaving nothing for this blog. The Festival is still on for June 4th, although with any such thing there have been a couple bumps along the way. The compilation CD should be out in time for Cornerstone.

Speaking of Cornerstone, I should write up a cgi script to figure out the booth schedule. Hmm. . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New Pope

It's going to be Joseph Ratzinger, who was Pope John Paul II's close personal friend, and the papacies will likely be very similar. He's taking the title Boniface XVI.

I'm not sure what to think. This ensures that the Catholic church will stay in the right with regard to abortion, gay marriage, and some other important moral issues. But the church's theology and doctrine as a whole are far from the truth, and the papacy itself is offensive to me. Maybe I should be happy that it could have been worse, or maybe I should be disgusted that the office of pope continues. . .

Computer-Generated Gibberish Paper Accepted At Conference

I've messed with the heuristic research-paper-writing computer program before, but it was obviously just for goofing around -- or so I thought.

The guys at MIT who wrote this gibberish-writing programs then had it write a gibberish research paper, submitted it to the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, and had it accepted.

Moussaoui Planning to Admit 9/11 Role

Story here. Of course, the same thing was said a year or two ago, when he entered and then withdrew a guilty plea.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

E2 FEST 2005

The e2 Fest page is up and running on e2 Ministries' site! It's on June 4 in northwest Indiana, and chances are you know some of the bands!

Go to to check out the current band list and all other information. And if you're a Christian band in the Chicagoland area, contact us to get in!