Monday, September 24, 2007

Delusionary Thinking

Not sure what got into me yesterday, biked 43 miles to Spring Station on the other side of Midway, 3h 18 minutes, 2 stops. Quads were talking to me at the end, but I wasn't dying like a couple of weeks ago. I think it's because it wasn't near as humid, although it was near 90 when I got back at ~12:15, and I came back on Parker's Mill, which had a lot of shade -- when I was dying I was on Delaney Ferry, which has very little shade -- and, there were some clouds.

Re the ingenuity and persistence of squirrels (last post), my oldest daughter sends this LOL video.

Music-wise, a couple of weeks ago, I found out that I could get an annual couples pass to The Woodsongs Old-time Radio Hour, which is recorded most Mondays at the Kentucky Theater downtown, for $95. Individual shows are $10 a head, seemed like a good entertainment value. Last week we saw Chris Hillman, original bass player of The Byrds, and Herb Pederson, playing mandolin and guitar, very laid back, very enjoyable. This week was 2 cajun bands, Ann Savoy, and The Red Stick Ramblers. Great Texas swing overtones, you can't go wrong with 2 fiddlers, and some really high energy rockabilly stuff. In the encore they had the setup of the Django Reinhardt Quintet (3 guitars, bass and violin) -- plus a drummer. This is a great entertainment value. The shows are archived here, you can watch them whenever you want. The host Michael Jonathan is kind of a dork, but you have to respect what he's accomplished, they get some really good, varied talent into Lexington.

Saturday we went to the Art House cinemas and saw "Once". Very interesting. It was basically a long form (~90 minute) music video. Filmed on a shoestring in Dublin -- bystanders are looking at the cameramen throughout the movie, and at one point some kids on bicycles are following them gawking. But, it was charming, it worked. My youngest daughter was with us, at one point she said "The songs aren't bad." My reply was, "Since the whole movie is about them writing and recording the songs, it would really suck if the songs were lousy." I could only find the soundtrack at amazon (no iTunes or eMusic), so it is of course on order, which I think was pretty much the point of the movie.

Lexington Blues Jam last week went OK. The end got a little rough. Some bad vocal harmony on "The Weight", and then the main guitarist and the bass player, both of whom I think probably should have played a little more and drank a little less, were clashing both in their playing, and I think in their neurotransmitters.

This week I might wind up mostly singing, with a guitar as a prop. I was cutting carrots longitudinally for grilling yesterday and cut the crap out of the tip of the ring finger on my left hand. That's a serious guitar finger -- I'll have to play leads with 2 fingers like Django Reinhardt, he had 2 of is fingers damaged in a fire. I think chords might be right out tho. We'll see, I guess.

So, re the title: I guess that the thing that is scaring me overall is that there are so many forms of delusional thinking that seem to be socially accepted, or even encouraged, in the US now. Just a few examples:

  • an omnipotent, omnipresent, etc being, aka God, exists;
  • we don't die when we die, i.e., there is life after death;
  • the world is 6000 years old;
  • driving a big SUV keeps me safer in a wreck (it doesn't).
I had some more telling ones a while ago, but they seem to have senior-momented themselves away :-(

I was thinking about the Creation Museum and it's exhibit of Noah's Ark. It's so pathethic, crying is probably more appropriate than laughing. For instance:

  • Were there jaguars (south america) on the ark? How did they get there?
  • Were there dire wolves (australia) on the ark?
  • Were there polar bears (arctic) on the ark? Were they grumpy from being so warm?
  • Were there penguins (antarctic) on the ark?
  • How did they keep track of the ~350,000 species of beetles without a computer?

But, I think that we need to distinguish between delusions and emergent, higher-order mental entities, which share some characteristics of cognitive illusions, as explored recently by Hofstadter in "I am a Strange Loop", blogged here. So referring to a "soul" or a "self" is not delusionary -- as long as you don't think that either is immortal, or can exist without some kind of physical substrate. This was first mused on early in this blog here

On another piece of follow-up, re the jehovah "wanted" poster, I went and looked in Exodus for documentation of the actual involvement of this jehovah character in the murder of an entire generation of Egyptian children over a political squabble (the Feast of the Murdered Children, aka Passover). The evidence is inarguable, his own voice convicts him:

Exodus ch 12 v 12

For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

Exodus ch 12 v 29,30

And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.

And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

"For there was not a house where there was not one dead." Holy crap, what a monster. Guilty, guilty, guilty. It really is a good thing that he doesn't exist, it would be quite a job for us to track down the genocidal maniac and bring him to justice ...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reductio ad Hitlerum

I am officially a sissy, biked only 26.7 miles this morning in 2h6m, 1 stop, through downtown Versailles. But, mowed the back grass and raked the 1st 20 pounds of the estimated 150 pounds of acorns that the 30 foot tall red oak in our front yard will drop this fall. I left about 10 pounds of them in the back corner of our yard as an offering to the squirrels, maybe they will eat less from the bird feeders.

My wife for our 32nd wedding anniversary got me a squirrel-proof bird feeder. It has 2 shells, with 6 aligned openings cut in them. The outer shell is on springs, and anything as big as a squirrel will cause the outer shell to drop such that the holes are closed. We'll see how that does. I have great respect for the ingenuity and persistence of squirrels.

Musicwise, LBJ (Lexington Blues Jam, I have decided sounds better than the Old Fart's Jam) went well Wednesday. Lindsay and Eric were on the road with Harmonica Red, Richard was the designated guitarist, and the wonderful Sheri McGee was the drummer. I think Sheri is the best of the drummers who plays there, she is great to watch and I realized, whenever we have gotten a really great "Who Do You Love" jam going, Sheri has been drumming. She changes tempo and mixes it up, really fun to play with. My songs went well, got to play twice, no bass. We had 6 people from Exstream out, I am going to try to get the LBJEA (Lexington Blues Jam Exstream Auxiliary) going, O'Neils is by far the nicest place we have played, I'd like to keep it a while.

Music-aquisition wise, I am listening to:

  • Chick Corea and Bela Fleck, "The Enchantment", very listenable jazz piano and banjo, 3 stars.
  • Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks, "Beatin' the Heat" -- his 1st studio album since the '70s, with Ricki Lee Jones, Elvis Costello, Bette Midler, and Tom Waits sitting in on tracks. 3 stars, with maybe a few 4 star tracks.
  • The Kinks, "Preservation Act 2". Act 1 got 4 stars, this one I don't think so. Plus some annoying Announcements that will get 2 stars so they don't go on the iPod.
Speaking of which, for the 2nd time my iPod froze, listening to it outside while grilling (carrots, red peppers, portabello, tuna). Plugged it into the sync station, it's still froze. I guess I'll try to google up what to do to it.

So, I was thinking about, why would 61% of people not vote for an atheist? I think it winds up being a "Reductio ad Hitlerum" instinct. Theists intuitively think that atheists, without an imaginary superfriend keeping an eye on them, are amoral with no respect for human life, like Hitler -- who actually was a devout Roman Catholic, which was probably why the vatican was silent about Nazi atrocities. Instead of imaginary superfriends and old obsolete books, atheists have logical ethics. The golden rule and the silver rule ("Don't do unto others what you wouldn't want done unto you") are pretty obvious to anyone who wants to live in human society ...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Antitheism Followup

The Lexington Herald-Leader had an article saying that 25% of those surveyed would not vote for Romney based on his Mormonism -- yay!

Of course, the same article stated that 61% of those surveyed would not vote for an atheist -- the highest of any "religious" group :-(

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mormons Attack!

No biking today, a stationary front / line of rain from New Mexico to New England -- except for a 100 mile gap centered on Lexington, KY. We did finally get some drizzle, but we are still in severe drought. I walked the dog instead of biking, about half the yards look like science fair projects in "Natural Selection of Drought-Resistant Weeds".

This will be a special post, dedicated to one of everyone's favorite topics, antitheism.

So around a month ago, we went to the wedding of an old friend's daughter. She was only around 20, still had a year to go in college, we'd never heard of the boy, we're kind of wondering, what's up?

So, at the ceremony, there's two god dudes, one with official god dude clothes (robe and stole, a Lutheran I think), and one in a suit. They're kind of tag-teaming the ceremony, I'd never seen that before. Then the suit guy says "by the power invested in me as an elder in the church of jesus christ of the latter day saints, I pronounce you man and wife". Uh-oh, Mormons!!!

I work with a mormon or 2, as individuals I have no problem with them, they don't partitularly present as being any more delusional than your average religious person, but, in groups, they really creep me out.

Like the two old guys on the groom's side -- you start wondering how many teenage slave wives they have back in Utah. Mormonism is a young and virulent strain of christianity -- I think in general, the younger the religion, the more virulent the strain. The downwards trends in church-going in, what, pretty much the whole civilized world except for the bible-belt of the USA, indicate that the mind can learn to immunize itself from viruses -- but, Mormonism is I think a new antibiotic-resistant strain. It is very well engineered, with directions on how to live many parts of your life that religions normally stay out of. And, it has the normal (for virulent young religions) harsh treatment of apostasy -- I think your family is expected to pretty much disown you.

After being told by a gorgeous young woman now she had been heavily involved in the bride's conversion, and how wonderful it was, and how she was leaving on her mission soon, we beat a hasty retreat. I talked to the father later (the Lutheran), he said that he considered Mormonism a cult because the Mormons had told him that they believe in current-day prophets ("latter day saints") who are receiving orders directly from god, and if one of these guys tells you to machine-gun children, you do it. Pretty scary.

Then, like 3 days later, I'm having lunch at Arby's and two 15-16 year old boys ride up on bikes, come in, get food, sit down at the table next to me, and ask me if I have heard of the church of jesus christ of the latter day saints. Grrr -- "I'm trying to eat". "Do you work around here?" "No." Grrr.

Sending children out to prosteletyze to strangers is Wrong, and a mark of religious fanaticism. If that ever happens again, I'm going to go on and go for the mind-fuck. "Your parents were well intentioned, but they have infected you with an extremely virulent mind virus. Just remember: when you turn 18, you can tell your parents that you still love them, and you forgive them for infecting you, but you don't want your brain infested by such a parasite anymore."

Yesterday want to the memorial service for my old friend / WRA slaphead, in a babtist church. Very moving, got to sing "Morning has Broken", I had no idea it was a hymn, not too offensive. As the thing went on, and her siblings all talked about how she was now watching them, and how they would be reunited in heaven, I am feeling increasingly alienated from the people there. I understand, it's an accepted part of our culture, but, it still seems delusional to me. Dead is dead. We live on in memories, our works and our genes.

But, I found myself asking myself, "Does believing that an emotional bond is going to last for all eternity (how long is that, anyway) increase the strength of the emotional bond?" I suspect the answer to that question may be Yes.

All antitheism, all the time. My boss last weekend took his #2 son (engineering major at Ga Tech) and #3 son (computer science major at Purdue) and some of his Purdue classmates to our Kentucky pride and joy, the Creationism (anti-)Museum. The word he kept coming back to to describe it was "scary" -- very professionally done, full of children being told by their parents about how things were before/after The Fall of Adam and Noah's Ark; the parking lot packed; and Kentucky State Troopers providing traffic and security services -- that doesn't seem right. Ooh, I'm going to post something about that to the KASES forum, and maybe see if I can get the Kentucky ACLU interested -- using tax dollars for a religious program.

Finally, antitheism item #4. I got to thinking about a "Wanted Dead or Alive" poster for Jehovah, aka Yahweh, God, God the Father, Allah, Adonai. For Murder and Mass Infanticide, with the quote from Exodus where he orders the execution of every first-born child in Egypt (the Passover, or the Feast of the Murdered Children) and some other places where Jehovah personally orders the death of children. So, googling "wanted poster template" located this site, and googling "michelangelo god" gave me some nice pictures to choose from, and here's the preliminary result.

Not bad, but I wanted a little more detail than this. Still, it's a start. Now, need to enlist a small army of skater alternakids to put it up everywhere ;->

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Old Farts' Blues Jam

The Old Farts' Blues Jam has moved to O'Neils Irish Pub in Idlehour Shopping Center on Richmond Road, Wednesday from 5-9. Happy hour is 4-7. I got there about 6:40, got to play a ton, maybe 5 singing 4, then a short break, then played bass for around 5, then played guitar for a few more and sang a couple more. Very roomy stage, nice dance floor, you could really hear well. If we can keep this one as long as we did Lynagh's, we'll be doing great.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Evolution in Action

Found the 3rd dead bird of the summer in the area by the main bird feeder. It joins another sparrow and a robin as suspected avicide vicims of the blackbirds. We seem to be up to around a dozen blackbirds, and that many sparrows. Still a pair of cardinals, and the chickadees, and lots of mourning doves. Haven't seen any bluejays lately (strong-beaked by the blackbirds?), and the goldfinchs seem to be pretty much gone as well. But, have been seeing a lot of the hummingbirds -- I think at least 2 males, since one keeps driving the other off. Just a while ago I saw the 1st ever red-winged blackbird at the bird bath. Also noticed a chipmonk jump 2 feet straight up to get a drink in the bird bath.

Also this morning, saw a blue heron in the creek that runs alongside Paul's Mill Road, south of Troy KY in southern Woodford county. That creek is 90% dry, even the places where one of the horse farms dammed it. Drought here is definitely severe.

Biked 30 miles in 2h34m this morning, thought I was going to die. I got started at 9:08, I was 10 miles from home on Delaney Ferry Rd and walked the bike up the end of a hill, and was going to call someone to come get me, I was totally hurting. Cramping in my left hip and lower stomach, both calves hurting, not a cloud in the sky. I think I made a mistake , I ate ~1 hour before I left, pecan swirl danish, I will go back to not eating before I bike. But, I took about a 10 minute break and then struggled home. I got home totally overheated and sweat-soaked, I spread a dirty towel on the floor and passed out on it for an hour before I showered.

My youngest daughter, who I am proud to say is now a 3rd grade teacher, was over for supper last night. I was telling her I had worked up "Lay Lady Lay" on the pedal steel, she had never heard the song! (I got called out for insisting that we had to immediately rectify that situation -- "I thought you liked to tell us youngsters to not obsess on old music"). So, downloaded Bob Dylan "Nashville Skyline", 1969. What a great album, what nice songs, including the wonderfully raw (unrehearsed?) duet with Johnny Cash on "Girl from the North Country".

Speaking of pedal steel, I think I have found where the current best pedal steels are coming from: ZumSteel. Looks like you can get a custom-made, top-of-the-line ZumSteel for around $4500. If my left thumb gets worse to where I really have trouble playing guitar, I think I will go for one of these. I was afraid that I would really have trouble figuring out how to play a real pedal steel, but John Hughey of Time Jumpers, and the immortal Buddy Emmons both have extensive training materials out, so I think I can transition from my 6 string open E instument to a real one.

Interestingly, I think I read it at the steel guitar forum that the pedal steel guitar player population is totally aging -- average age in Nashville around 60??? Maybe it's another one of those hard things (requires practice) that the "Guitar Hero" generation doesn't have the time/patience/discipline/whatever to acquire. That book on music I reviewed recently ("This is Your Brain on Music") I think said that to become an expert on anything takes ~10000 hours (2 hrs a day for 10 years?). That seems like a lot ...

I also have a mental note to get a new flute this year, and see how the bad thumbs do with that. Looks like I can get one for around $350.

Listening to "Speak for Yourself", by Imogen Heap, who was Frou Frou. Nice chick pop, 3 stars.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Seems to have cooled off here. Grilled out this evening, cooked salmon on one of the cedar planks my youngest got me for my birthday. Had 2 pieces from a half salmon that wouldn't fit on the plank that I cooked directly on the grill like normal (fresh squeezed lemon juice and dill -- but Kroger was out of fresh dill, I had to use dried dill weed!). The normal was good as usual, some brown on the outside, and you could taste some black -- the good stuff. The salmon off the plank literally melted in your mouth and tasted wonderful -- both were excellent, damn cooking is fun!

Currently listening Spacehog's first, "Resident Alien", which went gold in 1995. WRFL played "In The Meantime" the other morning, I called the DJ to ask what that wonderfully catchy tune I had not heard in years was, went and got the album thereafter. They had 2 more albums before they broke up, and the lead singer married Liv Tyler, not sure I will check them out -- but nice that it's measurable how much more there is to exhaust Spacehog.

Went in to work for 5 hours today, I've been refactoring since 8/2, need to get something done ... Was thinking about working Monday (Labor Day), think I will not. My wife is getting off of 3rd shift -- and going to Cincinatti tomorrow with one of her girlfriends. But, I have ribeyes to cook tomorrow, and a chicken for Monday. Damn, cooking is fun!

Technology Review last month had a very upbeat article from their environmental columnist, re, aquaculture in the oceans has great potential to produce totally mass quantities of food (sushi!). This could overcome "the tragedy of the commons" (blogged here) that threatens the fish harvests of the world's oceans.

Last time I visited my older brother in Maine, he was telling me that Maine lobster harvests are at all time highs, and show no problem in increasing. The main food of Maine lobsters is ... lobster bait, from the lobster traps. The traps are constructed such that small lobsters get in and out without problem. Some larger, but undersized, lobsters will get caught in the traps, but they are thrown back by the lobstermen. So Maine lobsters are an example of successful aquaculture. Hopefully many more will follow.

Took a break to put the ribeyes on to marinate overnight. Someone told me you should never marinade for more than 30 minutes -- yeah, right. Last month I grilled for 30 (the cookout that got busted), cooked 20 ribeyes that had marinated overnight. My grill fit the 1st 16, set it on high, put them all on, opened after 3 minutes, "show me fire" -- and fire there was. I ate one of them, the 1st bite I put in my mouth melted there, "ohmigod" I said. Damn, cooking is fun!

My last post, I was so proud of "proprioceptive illusion" -- I thought I had made the concept up, I am so cool -- but then, google it, there are numbers of proprioceptive illusions being researched. I am such a loser -- old and slow :-(

A couple of months ago, I was reading in one of the local weekly newspapers ("Southsider" I think) about someone in Lexington publishing a science fiction digest. I read it, and saw the guy's name, and thought "Wait a minute -- he works at Exstream!". And sure enough, Jason Sizemore, the editor of Apex Digest, was a buildmaster at Exstream. Apparently he had also worked at RenLar in the past. He quit last month to do the magazine full-time. He gave me a sample issue, the quality of the stories was very good. As you would expect, some simplistic stuff ("no one ever expects the spanish inquisition"), but mostly enjoyable. Their big mainstream author for the issue was Kevin J. Anderson, of the Dune sequels and the interminable "seven suns" series I am trapped into reading. This guy is such a hack, the intro to the story said he produces 750K words of literature a year -- I believe it, and I am sure that it all aspires to the same high level of triteness. The guy needs to just focus on writing bodice-rippers, or Anne Rice vampire novels ...

Aside from that tho, Apex Digest was very readable, and had a continued story that made me go on and buy a subscription -- 4 issues/year, $20.

After a month off from heat/vacation, biked last Sunday with the wife, 20.5 miles in 1h50m, 1 stop. Walked the dog this morning, will bike Monday.