The Answer

It seems The Onion reached a similar conclusion when considering the related problems of Evil and Free Will:

“Is this all there is?” asked Snake, hiding in a storage locker while two masked guards searched for him in the hold of a cargo ship. “Is this why I was created? To suffer? Will I ever escape this endless loop of grueling labor followed by violent death?”

Snake was then discovered by the guards and cut down in a hail of gunfire.

Snake, who has been fatally shot 2,143 times in the past six months, said he does not know why God deems it necessary for him to endlessly repeat his mission, which involves sneaking aboard a hijacked military ship and discovering who stole the walking nuclear-equipped battle tank known as Metal Gear Ray.

“Why will the Lord not grant me my final rest?” asked a reincarnated Snake, crawling underneath a lifeboat on the ship’s weather deck. “Certainly there must be a greater purpose for me than to kill dozens and eventually be killed myself.”

Added Snake: “As Goethe said, ‘Man must strive, and in striving he must err.'”

Pitching himself over the ship’s railing to avoid a trio of patrol guards, Snake pondered the notion of self-determination, wondering aloud whether he had any control over his own destiny. Before he could draw any conclusions, however, he lost his grip, falling into the sea and drowning.



Bring it, Cosmos

Cosmos is prepared to debate one he describes as a simpleton:

It should be clear by now that I’m willing to debate any issue you choose to raise on your blog. I’m just waiting for something of substance and wondering if you have something of substance to offer rather than the lifeless claims you offer up to support the simple views of atheists that you can’t seem to get beyond.

But I do have faith you’ll keep trying, just no expectation you’ll actually step up.

Well, at least we both agree that the views of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are simple. But interestingly enough, Cosmos also sees a connection between VTU shooter Cho and Christianity that I truly don’t:

I guess we can expect to see christians adopted a picture of Cho as their symbol.

Perfect, there’s our subject for debate right there. You have the position that Cho is a reasonable symbol for Christians, I shall oppose it. You may proceed with the first argument, if it’s too long to easily post here in the comments then simply email it to me and I shall post it here in its unedited entirety.

And then I shall respond to it.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, Cosmos backs down, claiming that he was only being sarcastic, implying therefore that his statement about the connection between Cho and Christianity should not be taken seriously. (Never mind that others are raising precisely the same point based on the Christianity of most Korean immigrants and the religious faith of Cho’s mother.) Of course, this also contradicts his previous statement that he was willing to debate “any issue”.

This should demonstrate to everyone’s satisfaction that Cosmos is simply yet another loudmouth lightweight with an excess of bark and a dearth of bite. I note that I offered him his choice of subjects, which he declined, then suggested a subject which he himself had brought up, which then he again declined. Let him be henceforth known as “Michelle” in honor of another famous master debater.

Anyhow, perhaps someone else would prefer to debate me on a subject of rather more interest to me, which is my notion that the current debate between Christianity and the “new” atheism is a logical extension of the trans-Channel hostility between the Newtonian and Leibnizian calculus camps.


The boys are back

Regular readers may recall that after the team from the next level at our club took all of the eight-year olds early last year, we faced a rebuilding process that was complicated by the fact that everything had to be explained to the kids instead of them being able to see the older boys putting the ideas into practice.

With the exception of two tournaments that we couldn’t reasonably skip, we basically took nine months out of the tournament cycle in order to let the kids develop without getting hurt or having their confidence crushed. Today was their first tournament together as a team of eight-year olds, and they wasted no time in running completely amok.

Despite doing my best to rein them in, they averaged seven goals per game in their first five games, all shutouts, and in some of those cases it could have easily been 20-0. They ran out of steam or they would have won the last game too instead of tying 1-1, the combination of a silly defensive blunder and missing five straight easy chances at the end kept them from a perfect day. But I was proud of them for refusing to quit even when they found themselves unexpectedly behind halfway through the game.

The play of the day was a gorgeous backwards pass from our substitute center-mid, a Brazilian kid whose urge to display his one-on-one skills sometimes works to the detriment of the team. But in this case, he was boxed in by two defenders and flicking it across the field behind him with the bottom of his foot was the only option with any chance of success. Unfortunately, the shot he created for our striker was saved by the goalie, but it was fun to see the look of surprise on the faces of the people watching the game nevertheless.

There are few things more beautiful than seeing flawless execution in sports at any level. These kids have always known what to do, but they just weren’t physically capable of doing it before. Now that they’re strong enough to send a pass cutting all the way across the field, experienced enough to anticipate it and fast enough to run onto it, they’re doing exactly what I hoped they’d be able to do at this point.

I don’t know if these kids can imitate their predecessors and take out the professional feeder squads of Blue and Black, but at the very least, they’re definitely going to scare them.

And what’s kind of cool is that because of the success we’ve been having at the lowest two age levels, the club is adding a third team so the kids can stay with the program three years longer than before.


Mailvox: on “outing”

>Do your critics think that they’re really, really smart for figuring out your real name, Vox?

It’s pretty obvious that they’re just hoping to cause trouble for me somehow. “Outings” of names, home addresses and so forth are almost always done in an malicious manner by a critic. This can be seen in the way that the same individuals who make a habit of “innocently” outing their critics never seem to do the same regarding other individuals of whom they approve.

And it has caused the very occasional problem, or at least, what could theoretically be a problem if I was the sort of individual who didn’t possess any leverage in my day job. I suppose “the occasional discussion” would be a more accurate way to put it.

Of course, everyone always backtracks immediately when I respond to queries about my exotic ideology by asking them for a comprehensive list of what beliefs are acceptable to them and which beliefs are not. They usually begin apologizing profusely right after I ask them if they would like to receive my list in return.

Still, the fact that something isn’t a secret doesn’t absolve one of guilt for attempting to betray it. And what is the point of going out of one’s way to expose a name behind a pseudonym or a home address if one is not motivated by malice? Pandagonians, since Amynda doesn’t hide her IP address, her street address, her telephone number or her social security number, tell me, does this mean it is appropriate for me to post them here? If not, please do explain why not.

I note that by JF’s standard, once the information is out anywhere in any context, it is forever fair game. (I would think that the copyright page from Rebel Moon would have made for a better case than a decade-old archived newsnet post myself.) So, once Devious Diva’s information was released by the first individual, JF and those in agreement with him cannot reasonably condemn those who merely repeated what was at that point public information.

Auguste, fortunately, thinks twice before asserting irony:

One of two things has happened:

a) I’ve been banned – which would be ironic given the whole line of “complaining about something, and then doing the thing” and given the second comment above:

“Yeah, as spineless as her (their) removing non-conforming comments.”

So, nicely done.

Or, b), and since I’m charitable, I’ll just assume this is the answer, something’s going on with haloscan.

This isn’t Pandagon. You have to work pretty hard to even get a warning here, let alone a comment deleted. In four years of blog comments, only twelve people have been banned.


So, what’s our position today?

Sheelzebub of Pandagon comes out hard against Internet outings:

Mouth-foaming wingnut racists have been busy outing Devious Diva.

So, I will reiterate. Again. Since I’m pretty damn sure that some folks will simply never get it. Harassing people isn’t okay. Posting threatening messages isn’t okay. Outing someone isn’t okay.

You know, she just might want to have a little conversation with Amynda about the policy at Pandagon before she waxes too outraged over the whole thing.

Looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree—batshit crazy “Christian libertarian” Vox Day’s (real name: —- —-)


Atheist logic

Jim Downey isn’t what you’d call one of the more formidable champions of Reason:

TEHRAN: The Iranian Supreme Court has overturned the murder convictions of six members of a prestigious state militia who killed five people they considered “morally corrupt.”

But hey, it’s Islam, right? Not like our good Sky-Daddy worshipers would ever want to impose their laws on us in the same way. Right?

Since they haven’t imposed them in that way in nearly 2,000 years of Christian rule throughout Christendom, I don’t think they’re likely to do it anytime soon there, Chicken Little.

Let me see if I can follow his logic: since Muslims believe in a deity and Christians believe in a deity, therefore Christianity equals Islam. And therefore Christians will do to atheists whatever Muslims to, um, Muslims, like randomly kill them for being morally corrupt. QED.

It’s hard to decide whether this post is more deeply stupid or more profoundly ignorant. Either way, it should embarrass every atheist who likes to think of atheists as collectively being more intelligent and educated than the norm.

Now I understand why Brent Rasmussen is so forthright about declaring that atheists have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN COMMON with one another except for their shared disbelief in the existence of a supreme deity. If I had someone like Mr. Downey Syndrome posting logical pyrotechnics of this sort on my blog, I’d be sure to distance myself too.


Bringing Iraq to a town near you

I don’t think the American people were aware of this possibility when they signed up for nation-building in Iraq… actually, I don’t think they ever signed up for that either, come to think of it:

The United States could take in up to 25,000 Iraqi refugees this year — more than three times the number it previously agreed to admit — in an effort to provide some relief to the crisis affecting several Arab countries, the State Department said yesterday. The department also said it plans to allow Iraqis and Afghans working for the U.S. government in their respective countries to immigrate to the United States after only three years of service instead of the current 15 required by law.

“It’s fair to say that, if we get the referrals [from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees], we could resettle up to 25,000 Iraqi refugees within the president’s determination this year,” said Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration.

Thanks, all of you who said that the USA had to do something about Iraq. Well, resettling Iraqi Muslims in your neighborhood is doing something, isn’t it?


Voxian heresies

Cumquat raises the question of the differences between things I have advocated and his understanding of Christianity:

Here is my list of Voxianisms — the areas where (my interpretation of) your writings tend to diverge from what I’d consider “Christian.”

First, a few qualifications: 1) As an agnostic, I have no problem with these Voxianisms, 2) I understand that you’ve never, to my knowledge, encouraged or told others to do as you do, and 3) remember #1 because otherwise I’ll come off as a hypocrite.

~ Thou shalt engage in name calling

Jesus Christ and the Paul apostle both did likewise, ergo there’s nothing inherently wrong there. I note that Paul was particularly inclined towards sarcasm.

~ Thou shalt engage others in arguments

Jesus apparently enjoyed this, as he often did so in public. Again, I see no contradiction here.

~ Thou shalt use vulgarities

There is one verse about rough speech, but in general, the Christian is commanded is to avoid making vows, blaspheming against the Holy Spirit or taking the Lord’s name in vain. There’s nothing about the inherent sin of using old Anglo-Saxon terms for defecation or fornication.

~ Thou shalt joke when commenting on tragedy (1st VT post)

Since when is humor off limits, either for Christians or anyone else? It wasn’t directed at the victims or their families anyhow.

~ Thou shalt, kinda, sorta, support Polygamy

Which both the Old and the New Testament do, in my opinion and the opinion of many theologians. Certainly this single marriage divorce culture doesn’t seem to be working out very well.

~ Thou shalt condone hitting women (in the right context)

Self-defense is approved in the Bible.

~ Thou shalt not necessarily turn the other cheek

Yes, I think this is a flaw. My opinion is based far more on my training than my faith.

~ Thou shalt not necessarily be meek

Or poor. The meek are blessed, there’s no commandment to go forth and be meek.

~ Thou shalt enjoy violent video games

Yes, so what? It’s not real violence, you know.

~ Thou shalt view God as a super being whose ways are only good because he says so.

You’ll have to take that one up with Him. I’m basically just repeating what He said.

~ Thou shalt consume alcoholic beverages

You know that Jesus Christ made wine, right? And also told us to drink it in remembrance of him. Seriously, whatever faith you lost truly doesn’t appear to be Christianity, but some bastard half-breed Churchianity.

~ Thou shalt not support marriage

Except for Christians. Why should non-Christians pay any attention to a Christian sacrement anyhow, or make promises when they don’t believe in a universal standard of truth.

~ Thou shalt not support the equal rights of women

Nope. Show me where Christian doctrine does. And, as someone has already pointed out, voting isn’t a right. If it was, it couldn’t be taken away from you for committing a felony.

~ Thou shall not support multiculturalism

And where does it say thou shalt? Anyhow, multiculturalism is an abomination before the Western cultural tradition, which derives from Christianity. You can support cliterectomies for all the girls if you want, I shall continue to refuse to do so.

~ Thou shalt enjoy the material pleasures of the world

God made the world. He loves it. Why shouldn’t we, subject only to His strictures?

~ Thou shalt allow the above, and worse, to be done by others in the name of libertarianism.

God has the power to impose His will any time He wants and yet He refuses to do so in the name of allowing us our free will. Who am I to put myself in a position that God Himself does not.


The gun, she smokes

The Sports Guy finally receives the proof he’s been looking for all these years:

Just in case they pull down the clip between the time we post this blog and the time you read this, here’s what happens: when an accountant from Ernst & Whinney throws the seven envelopes into the glass drum, he bangs the fourth one against the side of the drum to create a creased corner (we’ll explain why this is relevant in a second). Then he pulls a handle and turns the drum around a couple of times to “mix” the envelopes up. At the 5:23 mark of the clip, Stern heads over to the drum, unlocks it and awkwardly reaches inside for the first envelope (the No. 1 pick). He grabs three envelopes that are bunched together, pretends not to look (although he does) and flips the three envelopes so the one on the bottom ends up in his hand. Then he pulls that envelope out at the 5:32 mark … and, of course, it’s the Knicks envelope.

Now …

A reader named Greg K. from Fair Lawn, N.J. (I’d give you his whole name, but I don’t want him to be randomly found dead in his bathtub tonight), pointed this out to me: If you look closely right at the 5:31 mark, right as the commish yanks that Knicks envelope out, there’s a noticeable crease in the corner of the envelope. You can see it for a split-second — as he pulls the envelope up, it’s on the corner that’s pointing toward the bottom of the jar.

You know a writer is good when he can interest you in things you care absolutely nothing about.