Merry Chri$tmas!

Now that we have embraced Ceremonial Deism, our spiritual lives have improved 9-fold. Christmas was especially good this year.

We don’t usually bother much with prezzies apart from a little something for the kids but this year we decided to honour our fake religion with a splurge.

I finally got the guitar that I have wanted for ages – but I had to promise to get lessons before I was allowed to get it. The kids finally got their Wii.

Georgina got a camera with a zoom long enough to take pictures of corners but she was outdone in the photo department by Jazz who took several thousand photos with her new camera.

The best bit was when each of us, one by one, went into a minor panic on Christmas Eve because we each thought (falsely) we weren’t gonna get what we wanted. Dylan wanted to drive around looking for Wiis, Jazz was crying because she wasn’t going to get a camera and I was upset because my kids had not delivered the multiple hints  that I had given about The Golden Compass books. I think every single present wass wished for late on Christmas Eve after it was too late to do anything about it.

With all this commercialism and phony belief in God, I feel that we are finally living the American Dream!

A Plague on Spammers

Since I am now getting several thousand spam comments  a day I am trying out a new plugin to deal with them. Akismet provides a service where you send them all your comments and it tells you whether they are spam or not.

They claim to have a very low false positive rate but if you leave a comment and it doesn’t show up, let me know.

The Road to Utopia leads through Dystopia

According to Paul Krugman in today’s NY Times,

In a 1963 essay for Ms. Rand’s newsletter, Mr. Greenspan dismissed as a “collectivist” myth the idea that businessmen, left to their own devices, “would attempt to sell unsafe food and drugs, fraudulent securities, and shoddy buildings.” On the contrary, he declared, “it is in the self-interest of every businessman to have a reputation for honest dealings and a quality product.”

Wonder what the mortgage crisis does for Ron Paul‘s chances?

Best Teacher I Ever Had

My lovely wife sent me this:

Mr. Whitson taught sixth-grade science. On the first day of class, he gave us a lecture about a creature called the cattywampus, an ill-adapted nocturnal animal that was wiped out during the Ice Age. He passed around a skull as he talked. We all took notes and later had a quiz.

When he returned my paper, I was shocked. There was a big red X through each of my answers. I had failed. There had to be some mistake! I had written down exactly what Mr. Whitson said. Then I realized that everyone in the class had failed. What had happened?

Very simple, Mr. Whitson explained. He had made up all the stuff about the cattywampus. There had never been any such animal. The information in our notes was, therefore, incorrect. Did we expect credit for incorrect answers?

Needless to say, we were outraged. What kind of test was this? And what kind of teacher?

I wish I had had a teacher like that!

By an odd coincidence, I gave Dylan the lecture last night about how teachers are often wrong and you need to think critically about what they are telling you. Sometimes they make mistakes.
Sometimes you just heard them wrong. Either way, critical thinking helps you see through them.

Sucker for lolcats

funny pictures

Oh! Hai!

Every now and then something finds exactly the right spot on my funny bone and I laugh and laugh and laugh. There something about Absurdist Humour in the Monty Python (“Where is that fish?”), League of Gentlemen (“Those are local things. For local people.”), Not the Nine O’clock (“Ball? Or Aerosol? Neither. It’s for my armpits.“) tradition that makes my cheekbones hurt once I start laughing. The way they layer silly on sophisticated on silly on sophisticated and on and on and on until you lose track of which layer you are at and eventually it doesn’t matter because your cheekbones hurt.

I fully understand that most people either don’t get it or don’t find it funny – but I do. I expect there is a gene for it. My son has it. My wife doesn’t.

funny picturesThe lolcats craze started with I can haz cheezburger? and reaches the very pinnacle of silly intertwined with sophisticated with its oh hai!s and its buttsecks and its lolrusses wiv no bukkits and its PENIS GOES WHERE? and I can’t get enough of it.

The latest advances in the lolcats art are pushing the envelope of silly sophistication. Try on Lolcatsbible (the whole bible translated into Kitteh Pidgin) for size:

Ceiling Cat1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.

2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.

3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!1

6 An Ceiling Cat sayed, im in ur waterz makin a ceiling. But he no yet make a ur. An he maded a hole in teh Ceiling.7 An Ceiling Cat doed the skiez with waterz down An waterz up. It happen.8 An Ceiling Cat sayed, i can has teh firmmint wich iz funny bibel naim 4 ceiling, so wuz teh twoth day.

9 An Ceiling Cat gotted all teh waterz in ur base, An Ceiling Cat hadz dry placez cuz kittehs DO NOT WANT get wet.10 An Ceiling Cat called no waterz urth and waters oshun. Iz good.

Lolscience balances out the religion with some quantum physics and philosophy. (WARNING! It’s very obscure!):

Lolscience lolscience


Just like over here

Nick Clegg has just been elected leader of the LibDems over in the old country and during a radio interview:

Asked whether he had ever taken illegal drugs, he replied: “I’m going to cast a veil over that. It’s the one thing I agree with David Cameron on. I think politicians are entitled to a private life before they go into politics.”

And asked if he believed in God, he said: “No.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury  reacted thusly:

“It matters less to me than to know they are honest and reliable and that what beliefs they have they hold sincerely.

Exactly like the way that politicians and archbishops might behave over here….

..oh wait…

Meta Post I

For the second time in a week, I have written a post that I have deleted in an act of self-censorship.

A little while ago, Paul Graham had an essay about all those things that you are not allowed to say.

The Conformist Test

Let’s start with a test: Do you have any opinions that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of your peers?

If the answer is no, you might want to stop and think about that. If everything you believe is something you’re supposed to believe, could that possibly be a coincidence? Odds are it isn’t. Odds are you just think whatever you’re told.

To be clear – the opinions that I censored are things that I often talk about with my peers. We had such a good time discussing one of those topics at the pub last week that I rushed home to blog about it but then, in an act of cowardice, found myself unable to push the publish button. It’s not my peers that I am afraid of. It’s liberal orthodoxy (it would probably offend conservative othodoxy too, but I don’t care so much about offending that).

Paul Graham goes on…

Like every other era in history, our moral map almost certainly contains a few mistakes. And anyone who makes the same mistakes probably didn’t do it by accident. It would be like someone claiming they had independently decided in 1972 that bell-bottom jeans were a good idea.

If you believe everything you’re supposed to now, how can you be sure you wouldn’t also have believed everything you were supposed to if you had grown up among the plantation owners of the pre-Civil War South, or in Germany in the 1930s– or among the Mongols in 1200, for that matter? Odds are you would have.

How does an opinion rise to the level of orthodoxy when it is so obviously wrong? More to the point – how to we bring it down again?

It’s not easy being a blogger when all the best topics are forbidden.