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On not understanding religion

by ThatBritGuy Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 01:01:55 PM EST

Or why I finally lost patience with Dawkins, et al.

A key point - based on a comment made by asdf - which I think is worth bringing out more, because it's not just a footnote, it's the main event.

This is a very sketchy bullet-point diary, but I think it's worth bringing out these ideas because they matter to anyone who's planning a long term campaign for more civilised values.

Read more... (82 comments, 899 words in story)

Gored

by ThatBritGuy Wed Oct 17th, 2007 at 04:05:12 AM EST

The BBC is reporting that Gore has ruled out a run.

In an interview with Norwegian broadcaster NRK, he said he would not run for the White House again.

Mr Gore told NRK he wanted to focus on his climate change campaigning, which won him a Nobel Peace Prize last week.

It's hard not to see this as yet another example of Democratic wetness. It's nice that Gore wants to concentrate on climate change, but I'm having some difficulty imagining that being Mr Gore would have a more positive effect on that than being President Gore.

I am somewhat angry, in fact - and I suspect I won't be the only one.

Comments >> (14 comments)

The Electric Shepherds

by ThatBritGuy Sat Aug 11th, 2007 at 05:27:00 AM EST

For a noob, the most distinctive thing about Second Life is its banality. While the hype promises a virtual community celebrating every possible form of creativity and diversity, the reality is mostly virtual suburban sprawl. Flying across the mainlands reveals identikit malls alternating with acres of virtual McMansions, and open plots or shops for rent speckled with garish levitating FOR SALE signs.

Although you can rummage around Second Life for free, staying in-world costs money - quite a lot of money for a significant presence. So the losers are out to make a buck, while the winners can live out the perfect virtual white-picket fantasy of a beach house with a virtual speed boat that can't go anywhere.




From the diaries - whataboutbob

Read more... (27 comments, 1956 words in story)

Before and After Science

by ThatBritGuy Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 04:56:27 AM EST


The Famous Unbelievable Diary from last month gave me an excuse to put down some ideas about the status of science in general at the moment. The comments made by our self-styled environmental-atheist bouncing Czech are indicative of a deeper issue with science which I've seen evidence of everywhere - including ET.

The conclusion is:

    Most people hate it.    

Here's why:

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

Read more... (111 comments, 1907 words in story)

Collaborative tools

by ThatBritGuy Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 10:57:14 AM EST

I'd like to suggest some, but I'm having the busiest week of the year here so far, and it looks like I'm going to be somewhat distracted for the next week or two.

Sorry.

However - as a side thread to ET-TVTM perhaps we can use this as a space to talk about what's available and/or secure, and settle on something that can be used for future off-line project work.

Read more... (6 comments, 232 words in story)

Yo! Lifestyle!

by ThatBritGuy Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 08:31:51 AM EST

There's a new magazine in town. I picked up a copy of Sublime on the off chance it might be worth trying to write for.

Billing itself as The First International Ethical Lifestyle Magazine, the omens were - shall we say - not auspicious. I'm pretty much against having a lifestyle on principle. It seems to be a lot like not having a life, but rather more expensive.

Read more... (7 comments, 798 words in story)

Plot? What plot?

by ThatBritGuy Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 01:18:49 PM EST

I don't have time to write more about this, but I've been following with some interest the aftermath of this Summer's terror hysteria, with the suspicion that there was really no serious plot of any sort.

So I'm not entirely surprised to see that the BBC is reporting that a Pakistani judged has ruled that there is not only not enough evidence to convict the alleged ringleader, there is no real evidence at all.

The arrest of Rashid Rauf in Pakistan triggered arrests in the United Kingdom of a number of suspects allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic flights.

The Pakistani authorities described him as a key figure.

But an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities or that he belonged to a terrorist organisation.

As well as forgery charges, Mr Rauf has also been charged with carrying explosives.

But his lawyer says police evidence amounts only to bottles of hydrogen peroxide found in his possession.

Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant that can be used for bomb-making if other chemicals are added.

Peroxide can also be used as a mouth wash. I have some bottles (plural) in my bathroom. I suppose it's lucky the police don't know this.

Read more... (19 comments, 581 words in story)

You want carbon taxes? We've got carbon taxes.

by ThatBritGuy Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 07:56:09 AM EST

It looks like London Mayor Ken Livingstone is about to make himself very unpopular with the rich and feckless. Plans were announced today to raise the London congestion charge to £25 for 4X4s and other high-end cars with high-end emissions. Budget cars with low emissions will have the charge waived. The charge area itself is being extended early next year to include more of West London, including some poorer areas, and also a section of the Westway, which is the main access road to central and northern London from the West.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

Read more... (16 comments, 397 words in story)

A red sash, and a hearty prayer

by ThatBritGuy Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 08:31:11 AM EST

BushCo seems to be drifting further and further into madness. According to the Washington Post, sexual abstinence isn't just for teens any more.

The federal government's "no sex without marriage" message isn't just for kids anymore.

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it's a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

Read more... (10 comments, 277 words in story)

fOtofair 2006 TBG

by ThatBritGuy Sat Oct 28th, 2006 at 09:21:22 PM EST

 TBG fOtofair 06

Assorted images lurking furtively but mostly quite inoffensively on my hard disk...

Comments >> (23 comments)

Rumsfeld loses the plot

by ThatBritGuy Thu Oct 26th, 2006 at 07:19:48 PM EST

There's not much to say about this, because it speaks for itself. Cspan has the video of of Rumsfeld morphing from soft-spoken speechmaker into gesticulating loon when asked a hard question about Iraq about five minutes in.

Remember - it's complicated. And complex. And even multidimensional. And just back off with the questions, okay?

You can almost feel the press corps squirming in their seats with embarrassment.

There's more entertainment around 25 minutes in, when Rumsfeld explains to the press that "He didn't just fall off a turnip truck."

And later at 32:30 when he answers a question with "The problem is the word 'It.'"

Snark is pretty much redundant.

If you don't have a Mac and can hack rtsp in RealPlayer, you can see the entire video, in all of its ghoulish pumpkin-headed Halloween madness, at:

rtsp://video-cspan.org/project/iraq/iraq102606.dod.rm

(RealPlayer on my Mac won't play this, for some reason.)

If you do have a Mac there's a highlight online with a transcript at Think Progress.

Comments >> (4 comments)

Revenue sharing

by ThatBritGuy Sun Oct 22nd, 2006 at 05:54:25 PM EST

...Just some random thoughts about revenue sharing in a Scoop-like setting. These are more about the alleged ThatBritBlog project, which is still happening (or at least being thought about) quietly in the background, than anything that's happening here and now. But it's an interesting subject so some debate could be appropriate.

Read more... (19 comments, 1269 words in story)

Democracy in the UK

by ThatBritGuy Thu Oct 19th, 2006 at 11:11:20 AM EST

Some interesting facts about the state of party politics in the UK from Charter 88, which is part of the New Politics Network.

20% of Conservative Associations and 40% of Lib Dem Local Parties have fewer than 100 members per constituency. Conservative Associations in the North of England typically have fewer than 50 members per constituency.

34% of Conservative Associations, 50% of Constituency Labour Parties and 73% of Liberal Democrat Local
Parties received less than £5,000 in income in 2005.

32% of Conservative Associations, 44% of Liberal Democrat Local Parties and 50% of Constituency Labour Parties distributed less than 1 leaflet per household in the 2005 general election.

At least 67% of the population received no personal contact from any of the three main parties in the 2005 general election. In solid Labour seats, this figure increased to 82%.

You can read the full report here.

Comments >> (5 comments)

Should the US merge with the EU?

by ThatBritGuy Thu Oct 12th, 2006 at 08:44:07 AM EST

(from the diaries --poemless)

In the silly (or possibly delusionally grand) thinking stakes, this idea has to be one of the silliest, or possibly one of the grandest.

It's certainly Orwellian - welcome to Oceania - but is it it really all that insane a suggestion?

The advantages of economic union would be obvious. Ignoring the false rhetoric about sclerotic European economies, the EU and the US together would become the biggest trading bloc in all of history. But that would be just the start of the benefits.

Read more... (70 comments, 460 words in story)

Not the Nine o' Clock News

by ThatBritGuy Sat Oct 7th, 2006 at 03:44:05 PM EST

Readers of a certain age will have fond memories of this satirical show - which was a lot like Monty Python, but based on real events.

As it happens, it's also a good lead in for black comedy news stories you won't find being reported by the mainstream media in the UK.

For example, this one, which I'm shamelessly stealing from this Kos diary.

Rocket launcher `found at dentist's house'

A retired Grange dentist is accused of being part of a bomb plot after a record number of explosives were seized in a Lancashire town [...]

Police found rocket launchers, chemicals, British National Party literature and a nuclear or biological suit at his home.

Read more... (24 comments, 436 words in story)

Climate Change in the Supreme Court

by ThatBritGuy Tue Sep 12th, 2006 at 08:05:40 AM EST

From The Register:


The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the arguments in the case of Massachusetts vs the Environmental Protection Agency.

The suit, brought by Massachusetts and eleven other states, along with a few cities and environmental lobby groups, accuses the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of failing to regulate CO2 emissions from motor vehicles.

The legal action was brought after the EPA denied a petition asking it to intervene and set limits on vehicle emissions in 2002. It argued that it had no obligation to regulate CO2 emissions. It must oversee gases that represent an "endangerment to public health and the environment", but said that CO2 did not necessarily fall into this category.

Eighteen scientists filed a "friend of the court" brief arguing that the court had "misrepresented the findings in Climate Change Science", a 2001 report. The brief says the court used selective quotes from the report to suggest that the science on climate change is uncertain.

Professor John Dernbach of Widener University Law School's Harrisburg campus, one of the four lawyers who worked on the brief, told Patriot News: "EPA really blew the science" because it ignored the findings of the main scientific source it quoted.

Read more... (3 comments, 327 words in story)

LondonMeet Shoe Blogging

by ThatBritGuy Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 08:17:08 PM EST

...with some political discussions too, as a footnote.

Saturday morning saw the usual suspects (except for Migeru, who was late) meeting in the sunny/rainy/windy/showery location of upscale Knightsbridge tube station, suspiciously close to the Westminster no-protest zone.

A minor comedy moment with half of the party waiting upstairs, while the other half waited downstairs, didn't dampen our enthusiasm. After assembling the troops we marched to Wagamama, covert noodle temple of Pastafarianism, for lunch. (Or, in my case, breakfast.)

Read more... (65 comments, 624 words in story)

***Big Green Blogging Part 1

by ThatBritGuy Mon Aug 14th, 2006 at 03:47:35 AM EST

Whataboutbob asked if anyone had been to the Big Green Gathering?

Since I'd never been before, I thought it would make a good day out. So I packed the camera and blew my carbon budget driving half way across the country to a windswept hilltop secret location northeast of the village of Cheddar - home of mildly hallucinogenic cheese, and a scenic gorge with rather too many pubs and tea shops at one end.

But I was there to get my hardcore hippy on, not go British with mainstream tourist busloads. Which is a good point to mention some background. The BGG has been going for twelve years now. It's not the biggest UK festival - Glastonbury, which more or less gave birth to it, makes it look like a sideshow - but it has acquired a level of counter-culture credibility that the more mainstream festivals can't match.

As counter-culture commentator Andy Worthington says in Festival Eye, the UK's main festival listings and information magazine:

...For the discerning festival goer the BGG remains the main event. No celebs (unless you count Billy Bragg), roots music, a viable sense of community, conscious cinema, radical politics, permaculture, spirituality and healing, a stone circle, tipis, and horse-drawn vehicles...

So that's the theory - even if I'm not quite sure I know what conscious cinema is.

But it was indeed a good day out. This is what I found...
From the front page

Read more... (10 comments, 1129 words in story)

***Carbon gets personal

by ThatBritGuy Sat Jul 22nd, 2006 at 07:45:59 AM EST

From The Register

The government is ready to consider introducing personal, tradable carbon allowances, the environment secretary will say this evening, as part of its efforts to persuade members of the general public to reduce their energy consumption.

The move has been described as "a good idea whose time has not yet come" by environmental campaigners. They argue that it is premature to shift this kind of responsibility onto consumers who still have very little choice about the kinds of energy they use.

Environment secretary David Miliband said the scheme would cover people's use of electricity, gas, petrol and air travel. He argued that a trading scheme would be fairer than tax increases, because only those who exceeded their allowances would have to pay.

The idea is that everyone would be set a carbon ration. Those who chose to reduce their emissions could then sell the excess to other people.

Interesting, but - how can anyone monitor energy use accurately enough to police a scheme like this? There are obvious points in the supply chain where monitoring becomes possible, but making the monitoring personal will require a huge database, and possibly some kind of ID scheme.

From the front page - whataboutbob

Read more... (21 comments, 391 words in story)

A useful pretext

by ThatBritGuy Tue Jul 18th, 2006 at 05:51:18 PM EST

The BBC says

Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers last week was timed to divert attention from Tehran's nuclear programme, the Israeli PM has claimed.

Ehud Olmert said that the cross-border raid in which the two soldiers were taken and eight others killed was co-ordinated with Tehran.

Aside from the obvious question of how exactly a tiny border raid is supposed to divert attention from a nuclear program - Olmert apparently thinks that a kidnapping without any retaliation would have been enough to move the Iran problem from the top of the G8 agenda, where it wasn't anyway - this suggests, that just as many people have been thinking, this is really a convenient way to drum up support for an attack on Iran.

The original nukulaar weaponz gambit from March and April clearly didn't work. So this would seem to be Plan B.

Read more... (15 comments, 363 words in story)
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People say that life is the thing, but I prefer threading

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