Sunday, September 24, 2006

I Have A Mission

So, I've been thinking about religion, in light of the topics of Vernor Vinge's "Rainbow's End", blogged earlier. The next 40 or so years could be a critical period for the human race. Biotech and nanotech will be available on home computers. Roadside bombs are like mosquito bites compared to what terrorists could to with these.

*** Slight Spoiler Alert ***

The bad guy in "Rainbow's End" is having these thoughts and decides to take the facist route of protecting the race from itself by developing YGBM (You Gotta Believe Me) technology -- mind control by genetically engineered brain proteins.

Well, he is the bad guy, but he does have a point. These years could be critical, and could decide if civilization will continue to advance, or if maybe a large percentage of us get wiped out.

In this context, we could eliminate, what, 95% of terrorism if we could eliminate religion. Yes, I know religion is a source of comfort and strength to lots of people, but it's also a source of inspiration to a large percentage of the world's wackos, giving them a "get out of jail free = go directly to heaven" card which allows them to perform acts which any rational ethics would immediately identify as abhorrent.

So, how to get rid of religion? It is a powerful, powerful memeplex. It is a mental parasite with which a majority of well-meaning parents infect their children repeatedly and emphatically as part of their upbringing. Empirical evidence would say that the vast majority of people cannot shake the infection off on their own. So, how do we help?

We're talking memetic warfare here, so we have to choose a delivery mechanism for our counter-meme. I can think of only two possibilities here -- and it seems to me like this is major wishful thinking, to think one could develop a meme to combat years of religious brainwashing. But, what the hell, rational people have got to try something. So, the two delivery mechanisms are:

  1. Unbelievably catchy tune.
  2. The world's funniest joke.
The 1st one seems too hard. There are too many flavors of music, and it is normally not particularly cross-cultural. But, maybe this could be a distributed project. Come up with the pop version, then translate it into hard rock, country, hip-hop, opera, ska, middle-eastern, etc.

The 2nd one seems more promising. The idea is to come up with a joke or jokes which perform a total reductio ad absurdem on the existence of God. (Note, I will use capitalized God, which I normal avoid, to show that I am referring to the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator of the universe Jehovah/Allah worshipped by Christians, Jews and Moslems.)

I have a personal problem here, in that I am not a joke person. I am a spontaneously witty (smartass) person, I have always had problems remembering jokes. So I will need help here. Here's my first efforts:

Q. Why did God cross the road?
A. God can't cross a road, He's already on both sides.

Q. How may Gods does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A. God doesn't use lightbulbs, He can see in the dark.

Q. If God can see in the dark, why did He create light?
A. Nobody knows.

Q. What do you get if you cross God with a human being?
A. God.

Q. What do you get if you cross God with the Devil?
A. God.

Q. What do you get if you cross God with a chimpanzee?
A. God.

The last three suggest God Math, which appears to be pretty much useless:

God + God = God
God - God = God
God * God = God
God / God = God
God + n = God
God * 0 = God (a miracle!)

I told my younger brother these, he liked the first few. My wife and youngest daughter found them stupid and unfunny. Oh well, clearly my work is cut out for me.

If you google "god jokes", there's a lot out there, some with promise. But more than half are actually "atheist in a foxhole" jokes, the opposite of what we need.

So, this is a targetted final product. I need to get a website for the work-in-progress of my Theory of God, which will show how ridulous the concept is. I was going to go to, but then I thought, fuck a bunch of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News. I'll e-mail my son, he can probably point me to where google can give me a permanent website.

I have a mission ...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Forum Post (mortem?)

I have been really somewhat befuddled, there has been some exchanges on the KASE forum re being very active in debunking Halloween "spiritualism". I posted:

I have been somethat puzzled by the enthusiam for Halloween debunking on this forum. I have always had a fond spot for Halloween as it is the only pagan holiday. Pagan polytheism is still theism, but I think it's a little more pluralistic and forgiving than the monotheistic memes that have mostly won out ("worship my god or die").

In Kentucky, we have (guestimates):

  • >90% of people believe in god;
  • >90% of people believe in the soul;
  • >90% of people believe in life after death;
  • >70% of people believe that jebus was the only son of jehobah and their personal savior;
  • >40% of people believe that the rapture is coming Real Soon Now.
Given this, expending energy to debunk Halloween ghost stories seems ludicrous to me. Low hanging fruit?

Plus, debunking Halloween they won't piss off the christians ...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Way Cool Picture

Quick hitter, here is a great picture from NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day", the most excellent site that my most excellent baby sister pointed me at, that I check daily. This shows the aftermath of one cluster of galaxies, the smaller one on the right, punching through the center of the larger cluster on the left. The magenta is X-ray imaging from the Chandra X-ray telescope -- clusters of galaxies are the primary extragalactic objects you see in X-ray. The cone on the right is the shock wave of the smaller cluster's passage -- unbelievable, a sonic boom in intracluster gas.

The blue is artificial, the cluster "dark matter" as inferred from gravitational lensing of background galaxies. This has gotten a fair amount of press as the first proof of the existence of dark matter, and shows that it is weakly bound by gravity, as it is not being affected like the gas (magenta) is.

There are cool animations of the collision here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Trip to the Windy City

Drove (the prius) up to Chicago the Friday before Labor Day, came back Monday. Went with 2 other couples. Stayed at the Hilton on Michigan Ave, great downtown location, lots of walking. Ate the 1st night at a french place Marche, most excellent. Night 2, Smith & Wollensky steak house, OK. Night 3, Chicago pizza at Lou Malnati's -- it didn't agree with either my wife or I.

1st day, took an architecture cruise on the Chicago River -- very nice, very interesting. Day 2, went to King Tut at the Field museum -- what a marketing job. Somewhat interesting, but nothing special, and the place was packed. "Reconstruction of what the face of the boy king looked like ..." -- who cares? Day 3, the aquarium. Featured exhibit, a komodo dragon. Well, it moved some. But, the signs said, max weight 150 pounds -- alligators can get over a ton (wikipedia), they would clearly kick this thing's ass.

The high point of the trip was definitely The Great Water-Spouting Gods of Millennium Park. Lots of LOL at the kids squealing in anticipation, waiting for the purifying and mystical water. I'd been talking to one of the other guys earlier, about what art was, and this was definitely art. I think art will be becoming increasingly participatory in the years to come.

No notable new music acquisitions. Reading-wise, still on the magazine stack, trying to get caught up. Jam wise, trying Buffalo & Dad's rather than Lynagh's -- Lynagh's is getting too successful, playing time is going down. I did bike the last 2 weekends after around a 6 week layoff -- 25 and 30 miles.

What fun, the pope decides to mix it up with the moslems. Moslems react to his reference to islam being a violent religion with violence -- as my friend David says, irony seems to be lost in modern times. I just hope that Pope Benny isn't working with the fundamentalist millenialists to encourage a nice mid-eastern meltdown so that we can get on with the rapture, 2nd coming, etc.