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Links With Your Coffee - Monday

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  • More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops - NYTimes.com
    CHARLESTON, S.C. — Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout.

    The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.

    And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.

    “Is everyone in favor of sponsoring a picnic for humanists with families?” asked the board president, Jonathan Lamb, a 27-year-old meteorologist, eliciting a chorus of “ayes.”

    More than ever, America’s atheists are linking up and speaking out — even here in South Carolina, home to Bob Jones University, blue laws and a legislature that last year unanimously approved a Christian license plate embossed with a cross, a stained glass window and the words “I Believe” (a move blocked by a judge and now headed for trial).


  • It's Better to Have Rich Parents Than to be Educated
    The truly amazing thing to me is that parental income isn't just crucial in getting to college, and getting through college -- its effects linger on, basically, in perpetuity. One of the most remarkable findings from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project is that a child from a family in the top income quintile who does not get a college degree is more likely to wind up in the top income quintile himself than a child from a family in the bottom income quintile who does get a college degree.

  • Joho the Blog » How?

    Oh, it's magic


  • Time for Single Payer: How Insurers Pass Risks and Costs to You | CommonDreams.org
    The chief executive officer of Aetna, Ronald Williams, recently told a U.S. Senate committee that a government-run health-insurance program for all Americans would shift the cost of medical care to private insurers rather than save money. Most Americans probably don't understand that cost-shifting - or risk-shifting - is the most important process in the health-insurance shell game that has crippled American health care in the past 50 years. Some call it a "hidden tax."

  • Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog: The 10 "Most Important" Philosophers of the Early Modern Period

  • Science-Based Medicine » Human subjects protections and research ethics: Where the rubber hits the road for science-based medicine
    Arguably the most difficult aspect of science-based medicine is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. That’s where scientists and physicians take the results of preclinical studies performed in vitro in biochemical assays and cell culture models and in vivo in animal models to humans. There are numerous reasons for this, not the least of which that preclinical models, contrary to what animal rights activists would like you to believe, do not predict human responses to new therapeutic agents as much as we would like. However, the single biggest reason that we cannot answer questions in human studies as easily as we can in cell culture and animal studies is ethics. Of course, answering questions using cell culture and animal studies is not “easy,” either, but performing studies using human beings as subjects is an order of magnitude (at least) more difficult because the potential to cause harm exists, and if harm is caused by the experimental treatment under study, that harm will be done to human beings, rather than cells in a dish or mice bred for research.

  • What Were You Thinking? « Mostly Anecdotal
    It’s not Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. You’ll never find yourself on the corner of Grant and Royal.

    The squares are each designated by a letter and a number, sixty-four squares. The rows are labeled “a” through “h” and the columns “one” through “eight.” The square in the lower left is a1 while the one at the top right is h8

    They’re tough streets. Just last week a Bishop was slain at the intersection of Avenue C and 4th Street. And a few days ago, my son, Chris, was there. He got there through the Internet Chess Club portal. I was watching him play.


  • Computer Program to Take On ‘Jeopardy!’ - NYTimes.com
    YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. — This highly successful television quiz show is the latest challenge for artificial intelligence.

    What is “Jeopardy”?

    That is correct.

    I.B.M. plans to announce Monday that it is in the final stages of completing a computer program to compete against human “Jeopardy!” contestants. If the program beats the humans, the field of artificial intelligence will have made a leap forward.

    I.B.M. scientists previously devised a chess-playing program to run on a supercomputer called Deep Blue. That program beat the world champion Garry Kasparov in a controversial 1997 match (Mr. Kasparov called the match unfair and secured a draw in a later one against another version of the program).

    But chess is a game of limits, with pieces that have clearly defined powers. “Jeopardy!” requires a program with the suppleness to weigh an almost infinite range of relationships and to make subtle comparisons and interpretations. The software must interact with humans on their own terms, and fast.


  • Americans Can Handle the Truth


 

Comments

RE:More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops - NYTimes.com

I'm so glad to see this kind of thing happening. In discussions I've had about why people are religious, 'family' is the #1 reason that I'm given for why religion still has a place in their lives. It seems that like so many things, giving women a sence of place in which to raise thier childern is the key to social change.

Having come from a Catholic upbrining, I've always found it hard to see the baby (community, moral study, activism) from the bath water (religious dogma). As in, I was never sure what were the tools of he dogma to maintain control, or what were natural human social sturctures that religion had to addopt to remain relevent.

The "Church of Atheists" rubs many the wrong way, but if religion is really the threat that so many Atheists think it is, then giving people religion free social instutions is critical to curbing that infulence. imho.

(sry for spelling mistakes, i'm on a friends computer)

I too was glad to read the NYT times article - and this was about South Carolina! Whoa. After 9-11 it seemed that was wearing their religions on their collective sleeves. Where were the non-believers I wondered? We seemed few and far between, although the absence of a flag on the car could be hint. I'd like to think that the pendulum is swinging back toward reason, with less emphasis on religion. Perhaps the abuse of scripture has shed light on the shortcomings of organized religion.

As for Americans handling the truth - we need the truth to come out. It was a calm discussion, but Noonan wasn't winning me over at all. Although with such a short time for the segment, most viewers probably agreed with one view from the get-go.

Gypsy - What is your avatar picture? I have wondered off and on and there really is no good time to ask...

Drag her avatar to your desktop and notice the name of the file - google - and voilà!

Huh - I can't remember where I found that picture. I think I linked to it from someone else's pics. But Tim found a new one!

I don't think that flikr host is the originator.

P.S. yes I like it cuz it's escher-esque.

Oh - I love that! Surreal Legos - what could be better :)

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