Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rejection Letters

I've been unemployed for quite some time now. In spite of my efforts, I almost never hear a response. Today must be a special day for losers, because I received two email rejection letters!

Thanks for your interest in working at business name. We’re always on the lookout for the best talent and although we’re interested in your skills and background, it's not quite a fit for the positions that we have open right now.
We’d like to keep in touch as business name continues to grow, and we’ll contact you when any relevant positions open up.
We really appreciate your interest and look forward to connecting with you in the future.

And because I'm not a complete dick, I did censor the business names and job titles. One company is well known, and the other is not. Both positions were entry level.
I am writing following your recent application for the position of job title with business name.
We received a very good response to this job opportunity and unfortunately we will not be taking your application further on this occasion.
Please continue to look for other opportunities on business website.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success in your future career. Thank you for your interest in business name.
Kind Regards,

I feel so loved.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Empty Wager

This is a short read that someone on facebook posted. I really enjoyed it, so I thought I would share it with all of you. It's from a book that I had read before, and I think that I might revisit it in the near future.

The fundamental problem with religion is that it is built, to a remarkable degree, upon lies. I refer not merely to twenty-megaton displays of hypocrisy, as when Evangelical preachers get caught with male prostitutes or methamphetamine (or both). Rather, I refer to the daily and ubiquitous failure of most religious people to admit that the basic claims of the their faith are profoundly suspect. Mommy claims to know that Granny went straight to heaven after she died. But Mommy doesn’t actually know this. The truth is that Mommy is lying—either to herself or to her children—and most of us have agreed to view this behavior as perfectly normal. Rather than teach our children to grieve, and to be happy despite the reality of death, we nourish their powers of self-deception.
How likely is it that Jesus was really born of a virgin, rose from the dead, and will bodily return to earth at some future date? How reasonable is it to believe in such a concatenation of miracles on the basis of the Gospel account? How much support do these doctrines receive from the average Christian’s experience in church? Honest answers to these questions should raise a tsunami of doubt. I’m not sure what will be “Christian” about any Christians left standing.
Many readers of Letter to a Christian Nation have taken inspiration from Blaise Pascal and argued that evidence is beside the point and that religious believers have simply taken the wiser of two bets: if a believer is wrong about God, there is not much harm to him or to anyone else, and if he is right, he wins eternal happiness; if an atheist is wrong, however, he is destined to spend eternity in hell. On this view, atheism is the very picture of reckless stupidity.
While Pascal deserves his reputation as a brilliant mathematician, his wager was never more than a cute (and false) analogy. Like many cute ideas in philosophy, it is easily remembered and often repeated, and this has lent it an undeserved air of profundity. A moment’s thought reveals that if the wager were valid, it could justify almost any belief system, no matter how ludicrous or antithetical to Christianity. Another problem with the wager—and it is a problem that infects religious thinking generally—is its suggestion that a rational person can knowingly will himself to believe a proposition for which he has no evidence. A person can profess any creed he likes, of course, but to really believe it, he must believe that it is true. To believe that there is a God, for instance, is to believe that you are not just fooling yourself; it is to believe that you stand in some relation to God’s existence such that, if He didn’t exist, you wouldn’t believe in him. How does Pascal’s wager fit into this scheme? It doesn’t.
The reasons to doubt the existence of God are in plain view for everyone to see: everyone can see that the Bible is not the perfect word of an omniscient deity; everyone can see that there is no evidence for a God who answers prayers and that any God who would grant prayers for football championships, while doling out cancer and car accidents to little boys and girls, is unworthy of our devotion. Everyone who has eyes to see can see that if the God of Abraham exists, He is an utter psychopath—and the God of Nature is too. If you can’t see these things just by looking, you have simply closed your eyes to the realities of our world.
I have no doubt that many Christians find great consolation in their faith. But faith is not the best source of consolation. Faith is like a pickpocket who loans a person his own money on generous terms. The victim’s gratitude is perfectly understandable, but absolutely misplaced. We are the source of the love that our priests and pastors attribute to God (how else can we feel it?). Your own consciousness is the cause and substance of any experience you might want to deem “spiritual” or “mystical.” Realizing this, what possible need is there to pretend to be certain about ancient miracles? 
- Sam Harris

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ECON 2302 - Microeconomics Notes

Microeconomics 101 Notes

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

The "War" on Christmas

This is a brilliant video that I stumbled across on in reference to the - quote unquote - War on Christmas.

Granted, it's by a British bloke and it's addressed to an English audience, but application of the message could/can/should be used here in the United States.

Friday, December 10, 2010

more scientists identify as democrats than as republicans

6% of scientists identify as Republicans
55% of scientists identify as Democrats
32% of scientists identify as Independents
The rest don't know.

To put it mildly, this isn't a shocking poll.

I wouldn't really call myself a scientist, but since I do hold a Bachelor of Science in Physics, I am - by at least some measure - a science-minded person. When I began college at age 17, I (yes, I can admit it) considered myself to be a conservative Christian. By the time that I graduated five years later, I was a liberal atheist. To be fair, though, I did - so far as I can recall - always have some level of doubt about the truth of the Christian claims that I was sold as a child.

The ability examine things critically, which is an idea that is central in science, can vastly change the way that you view the world.

  1. (main)
  3. (the poll)
  4. (poll demonstrating that conservatards doubt climate change more than liberals do)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

a response to religious bullshit

The following screenshot is a blog post from one of the social networking sites that I'm on. I blocked out the screenname and picture of the poster because I'm not a complete dick.

My response was as follows:

This is a stupid story, and it doesn't seem believable.
The professor made the same sort of God test that I made when I was seven. He also did so, according to the story, unprompted. It would be relevant to know what sort of course this incident occurred in, and if there was a religious discussion in a prior period.
I also don't believe that that the professor stood there, in silence, with the class doing absolutely nothing, for ten minutes. That just doesn't seem plausible.
However, for the sake of charity, let's assume that the story is true.
First, it implies that God is willing to use violence to convey his message. This sort of thing shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has read the Bible, but it still isn't something that any rational person would consider to be virtuous.
Secondly, it demonstrates that God, in one way or the other, responds to tests of his existence. I, and others, have been diligently searching for proof of his existence for two millenia, and have received no response. Why does God respond to some of these tests, but not others?
Thirdly, if God is busy protecting Americans soldiers, then why does he suck at it? How many thousands of American troops have been injured or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Fourthly, if God is too busy to do one thing because he is doing another, then how can he still claim omnipotence?
As a corollary to number four, if God prioritizes his tasks, then how does he choose them? It seems to me that he should be focusing on the countless thousands dying of starvation, or suffering from cancer, than helping American athletes play sports.
[commenter on the blog] says that she really doesn't understand atheists. I don't understand how a rational person can read a story like this and not call bullshit.

I wonder if the OP will delete my comment or not!

Friday, December 3, 2010

adventures in online deception

I am a member of several internet dating slash social networking sites.

On this one particular site, the images are uploaded to the top of the stack. Users can have an infinite array of pictures, but the ones uploaded most recently are displayed first. Each profile displays nine pictures at a time, and the user has the option (though the the interface for actually doing so is horrible), to create photo albums and arrange the photos.

A while back, I became friends (only via profile friending - similar to the Facebook) with a larger, but still cute, girl. Her sizable (quantitatively) collection of photos showed off a lot of her, so there wasn't any deception there.

More recently, she added some new pictures. The site alerts friends to new uploads by other friends, so I immediately checked them out when I got the alert. She was noticeably thinner in all of the pictures that she uploaded, so I sent her a text asking her if she had lost weight.

She didn't answer the question initially, and instead asked me why. I told her why, and then after a delay she answered that she hadn't lost weight, and that the photos were old.

fan-fucking-tastic. I just unintentionally hurt someone's feelings, which is one of my least favorite things to do.

Regardless of how you feel about the gravitationally challenged, the offense here should be fairly obvious. Because of the way that this particular site handles photos, uploading old pictures without labeling them as such is deceptive. Granted, it was probably unintentional in this case, but it's still deceptive nonetheless.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Deep Fried Turkey!

I deep fried a turkey today for late-Thanksgiving.
It was delicious!

Monday, November 1, 2010

msnbc is NOT the equivalent of FOX News

1 Timothy 2:11-12

1 Timothy 2:11-12 (King James Version)
11Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 
12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."
What a load of shit.
The first apologist to tell me that I've taken this Biblical Quote out of context wins a prize!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I remember. Do you?

too easily annoyed?

I went to the movies tonight.

I hear the sound of popcorn crunching, people (in the audience) talking, ice clanking together inside of cups, and candy wrappers crackling. 

I see the blurry screen (why AMC is still in the dark ages of traditional projection is beyond me), the flicker associated with traditional projection, and the constant lighting up of cell phones.

I smell what I can only describe as the unfortunate pairing of wet dog, and dirty carpet.

Perhaps I'm too easily annoyed.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Olbermann's Special Comment on the Tea Party

Last night, Keith Olbermann gave a special comment on the Tea Party and the upcoming election.
If the Tea Party wins, America loses.

Thanks, Keith.
I didn't realize that it was that bad.

The video starts with a systematic outline of the tea party nuts that are running for public office:

If you already know that the Tea Party is nuts, then you can skip to the last few minutes (summary):

You can view the transcript here:

Read it.
Watch it.
Learn it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Alien Anthology on BluRay!

I've been waiting for this release for a long time.
It's finally here, and the box art is gorgeous.


I didn't include the scan for Alien Resurrection because, quite frankly, that movie doesn't exist to me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The God Questions

There are two questions in play when it comes to God. One question addresses what you believe, and one question addresses what you know.

Question 1 [what do you believe?]
Do you believe in God?

  • If your answer is yes, then you're a theist.
  • If your answer is anything other than yes, then you're an atheist.

Question 2 [what do you know?]
Do you know if your belief about the existence of God is true?

  • If your answer is yes, then you're a gnostic.
  • If your answer is anything other than yes, then you're an agnostic.

In this context, "anything other than yes," includes: { I don't know, I can't know, I'm not sure, I don't give a shit, probably not, I haven't been exposed to this particular definition of God, etc. }

If someone asks you if you believe in a particular God, then claiming agnosticism isn't an acceptable answer because that label answers a different question.

In reference to any particular God, each person falls under exactly one of those four categories.

The agnostic atheist box is a different color, because it is the only position that doesn't carry a burden of proof.

Muslims and Juan Williams

Michael Moore absolute nails the situation in his open letter to Juan Williams.

If you hear conservatives talking about this topic in passing (I live in Texas; I've heard conservatives talking about this topic in passing), then you will observe that they don't give a shit about the facts. They don't care that they're making hasty generalizations, They don't care that they're condemning an entire group of people for guilt by association. The only thing that they care about is that a group of people that are different than them are living out their constitutional rights in this country.

That's it - it's just xenophobia. It's disgusting, but you can expect that sort of thing from the bat-shit crazy crowd on FOX News. That's what they do; they play on people's basic, primal fears, and they do it for theatrics and ratings. Real journalists, on the other hand, are held to different standards.

Juan Williams fucked up by trying to portray himself as a respectable journalist for NPR while simultaneously appearing on FOX News as a political commentator. You simply can't put, "respectable journalist," and, "FOX News," in the same sentence. The two are mutually exclusive.

Michael Moore really sticks it to Juan Williams with the following quote:
"Here's something else that I'd sincerely love to talk about with you: what do you think when you see rich middle-aged white men talking on TV about how they get nervous around African Americans on the street? And then they explain that we can't let political correctness stop us from talking about black-on-white crime?"

Recommended Links & Sources:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Science versus Faith

I love having intelligent friends on facebook; they always upload/share/like the best stuff.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Teen Pregnancy, Religion, and Sexual Education

When it comes to matters of sex and reproduction, education is the key. Abstinence based education, which is one of the many retarded derivatives of religion, simply doesn't produce results.

In a report recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following data was presented showing the teen pregnancy rates in comparison to the United States' average.

If green (and light green) were blue, and if blue (and light blue) were red, then this could almost be a typical political party affiliation map. What does that tell you? Maybe, just maybe, those elitist, socialist, godless, liberals know what they're talking about when it comes to sexual education.

The map is the bluest (back to the preggo map) around the Bible Belt states, so it would appear that Christianity isn't very effective at preventing premarital sex or teen pregnancies.

statement from Planned Parenthood said the following:
"This new CDC report makes it crystal clear that the teen birthrate is lower in states that provide students with comprehensive, evidence-based sex education. The report demonstrates that the surest way to reduce teenage pregnancy is to provide young people with comprehensive, medically accurate sex education..." 
And which states don't provide students with comprehensive, evidence-based sexual education? The religious Bible Belt states. I wish I could say that this was shocking, but I'm not convinced that my sarcasm would translate well over the internet.

This is precisely why religion is harmful. There are no secular voices calling for abstinence only education; this is a religious deal. These religious conservatards with their Christian morality are the ones refusing to interject knowledge into the minds of today's youth.

That's a problem.
Teenage pregnancy is a problem.

It should be obvious but I'll say it again:
when it comes to matters of sex and reproduction, education is the key.

Recommended Links & Sources:

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Moral Landscape - my next read

Sam Harris' book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values was just released. I bought it today on amazon, so I should get it by the end of the week.


Even though I'm currently reading, Good without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, I think I'm going to read Harris' book first. I'm only a chapter or so into Epstein's book, and since Harris has more street credit (no offense to Epstein), I'm more excited to read his thoughts first.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Richard Dawkins is the man!

The title of the video is guilty of false advertising. As a couple of the commenters stated, there really wasn't anything cruel about Dawkins' response.

Religious people are just used to people coddling their beliefs, so rational responses are viewed as cruel or aggressive.

The essence of Dawkins' response is so true though; religious convictions can typically (not always) be attributed to the accident of time and geography. 

Jailbreaking iPhone 4, iOS 4.1

I still remember the first time I saw an iPhone in real life. I was waiting for a table at Texas Roadhouse with my girlfriend at the time, Janalyn, and the two girls sitting next to me were texting hardcore; one of them was on an iPhone 2G. It looked gorgeous, and I knew that I had to have one.

I got an iPhone 2G with my tax refund in February of 2008, and I've had every iPhone since then.

Jailbreaking only makes iPhone better!

This jailbreak was fairly straightforward. After updating iTunes, and saving everything that I needed to save from my phone (just in case), I upgraded to 4.1 from 4.0.1 as normal through iTunes. After that, I followed the instructions from The jailbreaking tool is called limera1n, and it is completely free (geohot does accept donations though, and a donation is well worth it).

After the jailbreak was complete, I backed up my SHSH blobs using TinyUmbrella. Without getting too technical (because I'm not sure that I fully understand it myself!), this allows you to restore your iOS back to the backed up version if Apple releases a new version. For example, if Apple releases iOS 4.2, then they will stop approving iOS 4.1 for restores; you need the SHSH data to trick iTunes into thinking that Apple approved the 4.1 software file.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

go away, day

Sometimes when you're depressed, the only fix is when you can sleep it off, and hopefully forget the cause(s) by the time you wake up. It doesn't always work, but it's the only option that you really have.

I still have to hit the gym, get rid of the headache, and finish cleaning my room too.