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  • Are you good without God?
    Millions are.
    (tip to Pedantsareus)
  • Catholics are Cannibals

    The Simpsons mock the Catholics

  • Is the Swine Flu Vaccine Safe
    The risk of getting Guillain-Barré from a flu vaccine is almost certainly less than 1 in a million; the risk of getting it from flu itself is more than 40 in a million. Swine flu is estimated to have killed 800 people in the US already, or more than 2 in every million so far. And during the first wave of swine flu this summer, 1 out of every 20,000 children aged 4 or under in the US ended up in hospital. Still think it's safer not to get vaccinated?

    Perhaps you heard Bill Maher's reference the the problems with the Swine Flue Vaccine in 1976. He was, as you now know, talking out of his ass.

  • The New Plague
  • Jesus Like Ikea
  • Wow, great photos.

 

Comments

Wow, great photos.

I wonder how many other animals jumped over that fence the night he had the camera set up.

It's interesting to think about winning a contest for a picture you weren't there to take. Such is the era of modern technology.

Did you see ,a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1213851/Stunning-shots-thirsty-bats-swooping-lick-water-garden-pond.html">these? Yeah, it would have been 1000x more impressive if it was a "manual" picture, but still the effort to set up the thing is considerable.

Wow, I need a new camera.

Oops bad linking

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1213851/Stunning-shots-thirsty-bats-swooping-lick-water-garden-pond.html

I also like the lighting on the wolf better, though I don't know if it was intentional, or the photographer just had one flash/light to use.

I think the water is catching a lot more of the reflected light. The woods hold a bit more darkness with the wolf. Gives it a little creep factor. great pictures.

There are websites that track Bigfoot that put out cheap versions of these photos from game spotting cameras. They never spot Bigfoot but they get some really interesting shots.

Actually the water is not much of a factor, it's mostly the fact that the background is close to the subject relative to the light source.

You see it all the time with any on-camera flash picture with any camera, the subject usually gets exaggerated while the background is dark, that's because the inverse-square law applies. The flash is a point of light basically, so it illuminates something, but something twice as far will be illuminated not by half, but by 1/4.

oh, besides, the bat pictures have multiple light sources of course.

yeah, that se up is pretty intense.

Is the Swine Flu Vaccine Safe
The risk of getting Guillain-Barré from a flu vaccine is almost certainly less than 1 in a million; the risk of getting it from flu itself is more than 40 in a million. Swine flu is estimated to have killed 800 people in the US already, or more than 2 in every million so far. And during the first wave of swine flu this summer, 1 out of every 20,000 children aged 4 or under in the US ended up in hospital. Still think it's safer not to get vaccinated?

It's also very rare to get this condition, if even possible, as her condition hasn't even been linked conclusively to the vaccine.

The 40X number is deceptive. Since only 5-20% of people get the flu each year. So that means that you are only 2 to 8 times more likely to get it if you don't get the vaccine.

If you are healthy and don't often work and socialize in large groups. Your odds improve. If you are unlikely to get the flu and there is a small flu year (5%) it is actually conceivable that taking the vaccine increases your chance of the ailment.

It's rare either way and there are multiple ways the flu can kill you, so odds are still on the vaccine saving you.

"Are you good without god?"

An interesting link from one of the commenters on that page:

http://www.dangeroustalk.net/billboard-wars.html

Fascinating to see the difference in tone between many of the 'religious' and the 'atheist' billboards.

see, i don't get this whole idea, i'm glad you brought it up. i've been trying to figure out the idea of an "atheist community" for over 3 years now. isn't it kind of like an "anarchist community? a contradiction in terms? wtf are atheists doing posting billboards? i though not believing in a god was like not believing in unicorns or faeries. why don't you take out ads proclaiming the advantages of not being superstitious in general? the christians advertise because they're a business, full stop. it looks to me, an interested outsider, like the some atheists want to make a business out of it and therefore advertise. there's nothing wrong with this, of course, but it undermines your position that god=unicorns=fairytales. there's no money in disbelieving in unicorns.

am i wrong here? will someone please straighten me out? i'm feeling crooked.

i understand this question goes to the heart of the very existence of this fine blog, so i promise to be thenthitive.

People are becoming a community while the non unicorn people remain disorganized because the Non-god-believers are actively opposed,discriminated against in society.

And for the first time in a long time they are able to speak without huge repercussions.

it looks to me, an interested outsider, like the some atheists want to make a business out of it

Non-profit organizations doing sporadic billboarding isn't making anyone rich. Dawkins and Hitchens probably have nice incomes from their books, but they could probably write on any number of topics to make their green.

see, i don't get this whole idea, i'm glad you brought it up. i've been trying to figure out the idea of an "atheist community" for over 3 years now.

Think of it as a rational thinking community or a critical thinking community, rather than an atheist community. Theism, the personal God variety is irrational and so it gets a lot of attention, but other forms of non-scientific thinking get a good share of the criticism. Those who believe in reason push against the anti-vaccine crowd, and others that wear a fuzzy thinking cap. In defending atheism we are defending reason.

norm, all i can say about this is that you know perfectly well, as do dawkins et.al. that religion is not only capable of coexisting with reason, but has been deeply involved in producing our modern concept of it since, oh, the dawn of human history. there are plenty of religious people who can think circles around all of us, and plenty of atheists too. and probably serial killers, child molesters and nazis, if you want to take it to logical extremes.

the fact that some people hide from reason behind religion and try to mold the world into a place less challenging for them is a side point- and also their democratic right, btw.

It is certainly true that making irrational decisions is a democratic right, but it's not a side point. Your rant about serial killers, child molesters etcetera notwithstanding that is just typical Becker obfuscation.

Religion is capable of coexisting with reason only if they reinterpret God's word twice a day. The rational religious, I know an oxymoron, eventually see the light, ha ha, and modify their unreasonable views. Of course that's the 20 or 30 percent who view the religious texts as metaphorical. The majority of the religious crowd are batshit crazy when spouting their beliefs.

ITs not so much that reason and religion can coexist in the same thought. It's more that we all compartmentalize some beliefs from reason.

Everything from Maher's vaccine beliefs or things as simple as individuals delusions about how others may view them.

When strong emotion is involved everyone can throw up a wall to defend a sensitive spot. It's just that religion takes a really big divider when believed passionately.

ITs not so much that reason and religion can coexist in the same thought. It's more that we all compartmentalize some beliefs from reason.

very well put, i agree, to a point. but this doesn't attemt to deal with the historical fact that much of our rational understanding has come out of religion itself. it has also come out of people struggling with (or against) religion. point being, religion has been indispensable in a number of ways in forming what we now call rationalism. and rationalism is NOT the same as atheism, although i don't deny the obvious connection.

the historical fact that much of our rational understanding has come out of religion itself. it has also come out of people struggling with (or against) religion.

The way you seem to define religion it gets credit for everything.

rationalism is NOT the same as atheism

Indeed, good to see that you understand the connection, and point I've been making all these years.

The way you seem to define religion it gets credit for everything.

the way you define religion it gets credit for nothing. which is just stupid. historically and philosophically speaking, it's simply dishonest.

the way you define religion it gets credit for nothing

That's simply not true. Religion was a motivation for some great music. Okay your turn name something religion didn't have a hand in.

it seems to me that if you want to push legal rights for atheists, and freedom from discrimination (which is what you're going to say,i know) you'd be better off pushing things like free speech, democracy, the bill of rights, whatever- and NOT trying to convince people to actually BE atheists.

since when do atheists prosylytize? i guess this is what is meant by the "new atheist movement". but i would reommend some serious thought about what you actually want. the jews stopped prosylytizing over 1000 years ago (with some notable exceptions, we cant control everybody) and it's the reason we're still around AT ALL, for sure, full stop. i'm not sure you have any idea what your'e up against, since atheists (by nature) tend to be disinterested in religion and are mostly real lame on the fine details- that is, where the devil lies.

I think most atheists don't care whether you are an atheist. Most of us are tired of religious views being afforded any special status in secular affairs by virtue of being religious. I agree that we're "better off pushing things like free speech, democracy, the bill of rights, whatever...", but the fact is that the deck stacked against a person who takes an entriely secular moral theory for or against in any public policy debate. I see total clowns who get seats in policy debates solely because they are the "Reverend" so-and-so. They are given a pass when it comes to having their facts straight, they get away with shameless bigotry on which any secular person would be taken to task.

I don't care if religious people derive the moral basis of their public policy decisions from their religion, just so long as they make their argument in the public sphere secular.

BTW: I was searching for the phrasing Obama used to say the same thing during the campaign. I searched OGM and didn't find it right away, so I said 'forget it'. It was interesting to read some older posts here and to compare the alarm over Jeremiah Wright with reality now - of ZERO importance.

Most of us are tired of religious views being afforded any special status in secular affairs by virtue of being religious.

i hope you'll excuse me, tim, if i use this statement to take off on one of my patented rants. i certainly respect your position and it's nothing personal. :)

it's a fucking DEMOCRACY, for fucks sake! it's about interest groups and percentages. you're lucky the large, ancient, well-entrenched majority you're fighting are only "rationally compromised" instead of , say, nazis. because that's what democracy is! you don't want religion in the public square "just because it's religious"? how bout gayness in the public square "just because it's gay"? or blackness in the public square just because its black? neither of these things has anything to do with reason, either. it's just about percenteges and pull in a democratic society. if you want to let the gays march in 'frisco with public backing and not be willing to pay for a christmas tree on the white house lawn (or whatever) you're in a serious rhetorical bind.

what about diversity, taxation/representation, one person/one vote, you know, all that stuff? does it all go out the window when you see the fucking easter bunny?

rant over. thank you.

Damn Becker! You're really stirring the pot lately!

more like smokin' it, doooood. it's the american way. :)

Ehhh, I think what he is really saying is that he is fine with religion in the public square as long as govt does not endorse it.

What he is saying is that discussion of our rather secular policies should happen on an even playing field and not include some reverence for every religious opinion.

One of the founding principles of democracy is that essentially the minority cannot be allowed to legislate the minority out of existence. This is one of the goals of the bill of rights and its part of what protects our democracy from becoming undemocratic.

If only Franklin had passed his workers Bill of rights.

I am pleased to provide you a takeoff point for your rant - be my guest. Now that you have that off your chest, may I be so bold as to remind you that you asked why there sometimes seems to be a whiff of prosylytizing by atheists. I attempted to provide an explanation for why it looks that way, but that it isn't really that. Most of us couldn't care less about converting you - what your seeing is a backlash against the "dominionists" who really do want a theocracy and fellow travelers who want special status. So I don't understand the rant on democracy. When gays start telling us their "gayness" affords them special staus as society' moral arbiters, then your analogy will make some sense.

the "dominionists" who really do want a theocracy and fellow travelers who want special status.

care to expand on the identity of these "fellow travellers"? people like karl rove, perhaps- wingnut atheists? we don't seem to hear much about them here.

When gays start telling us their "gayness" affords them special staus as society' moral arbiters,

isn't that what's going on? taking over entire cities for celebrations of buggery? changing the rules and the very definition of marriage? and why, according to your understanding of democracy, SHOULDN'T they be allowed to do this?

Karl Rove? Funny you mention him. What's your point? Did you think I suffered from the misapprehension that an atheist couldn't be an opportunistic hypocrite?

SHOULDN'T they be allowed to do this?

Shouldn't be allowed? Who said anything about "shouldn't be allowed"? I repeat - I'm glad you found my comment a convenient excuse for launching your rant, but it ignored the content of comment, just as you ignored the my subsequent comment. Both gays and religious wackos should be allowed to say what they want and not a single atheist billboard suggests otherwise. I'm merely interested pulling the religious spokesmen off their holy pedestals and stripping their views of "sacred" status – though you're free to hang on to any delusions concerning their wisdom you wish. I do think the government should forgo endorsement of anyone's holiness. Government subsidy of gay pride parades - if that is what occurs, I don't know - seems just as out of line as national days of prayer.

I, for one, have no interest in replacing sacred priests, rabbis, pastors, or whatever else with sacred gays. As for marriage, were it not for the institutional and legal precedents that afford marriage "special" status, I'd prefer the institution having meaning only within religious contexts. Were there no legal changes involved, I couldn't care less whether my 34+ year marriage were reclassified as a civil union.

tim, you have shown yourself over the years here to be eminently sensible and well-informed, i don't "ignore" any of your comments. i just twist them out of all recognition, for a laugh or to make a point (usually both). this seems to be pretty standard practice in blogging so i hope i'm not crossing any lines. i certainly don't intend any offence to you personally.

but you still didn't answer my question about "fellow travelers", unless you were in fact thinking of rove and his ilk.

i wasn't trying to imply that you or norm or anyone would be particularly challenged by the existence of atheist assholes. (if stalin doesn't bother you you're pretty safe.) i was just wondering who you were actually talking about.

BTW, I think Rove is also likely to be a closeted (Gannon-loving) gay. Anytime you want to discuss that porcine ball-o-shit, you feel free. I suspect that I (and Norm for that matter) can survive the knowledge that there are atheist assholes in the world.

can survive the knowledge that there are atheist assholes in the world.

Yes we can!

Oh and Becker I do proselytize, in the sense of promoting an idea, critical thinking. I hope you can see the difference between promoting a methodology and promoting a dogma.

ah, the dogma of methodology... :)

no, of course i know the difference, norm. i do take exception, not on a personal level but on a definitional one, to your conflation of atheism and rationality, as if atheists have some kind of unique, "sacred" connection with critical thinking.

to your conflation of atheism and rationality, as if atheists have some kind of unique, "sacred" connection with critical thinking.

It's the atheism that arises from the practice of critical thinking, not the other way around. Atheism is just one of many views that follow from a practice of critical thinking, the religion that postures a personal god does not.

Atheism is just one of many views that follow from a practice of critical thinking, the religion that postures a personal god does not.

ooh, these threads are getting so skinny! hard to read. nothing to do about that? information technology hasn't progressed that far?

you are so wrong. :) critical thinking can lead to narciscism, ethno-bigotry, ayn rand-ism, wal-mart-ism, all kinds of things. critical thinking is not the be-all end-all. but i can still do it better than you. :)

you are so wrong. :) critical thinking can lead to narciscism, ethno-bigotry, ayn rand-ism, wal-mart-ism, all kinds of things.

If you think I'm wrong your critical thinking skills are just not up to snuff. :) I'm not claiming critical thinking is a religion, or a moral system, or anything more that a tool to find the truth. How that truth is used is a separate question. I have not doubt that you'll continue to conflate the two as you've done since the beginning of time. Critical Thinking is not a religion, or religion like. They are in different categories.

you think i'm going to bother trying to read that? repost at the bottom if you can't "fix" it!

and i know what norm will say. " you don't make a choice to me gay or black", nya nya nya.

so, isn't democracy, the way WE envision it, about making choices? choosing to be a member of this group or that group, and pushing for your rights? come on! i'm sure there are plenty of "born atheists" out there (red7) but most of you have chosen it. does this make your cause any less valid?

We are all born atheists JB, even you.

i see your point. maybe i should have said "raised as", or even "brainwashed to be". you know what i meant, though, i hope.

Yeah, it's more like we have un-chosen to be religious and superstitious in general. Born without god-belief, raised to believe this or that crap, and then realizing it's crap and un-believing it.

i know there are many atheists who have posted here over the years who are uncomfortable with the idea of a "church of atheism". from norm himself i get mixed messages. maybe this would make a good forum post.

since when do atheists prosylytize?

These billboards don't do that.

"Let Jesus save your immortal soul." is proselytizing.

"You aren't the only one that doesn't believe." is not.

It's just bringing a community together, not recruiting people to change their beliefs.

oh yeah? how about "stop worrying about god (there probably isn't one) and get on with your life"?

you juxtaposed two out of hundreds of examples to make a false point.

and anyway, who uses public billboards just to unify a minority community?

All depends on what you mean by Church

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