Thursday, March 30, 2006

dead but dreaming

Yes, there is a God - a 28in high plush dark elder god.

If you want more information about your favorite high priest of the Great Old Ones, then you need to visit the Home Page for Evil, and then you can pop across to the 2004 Presidential Campaign page. Finally you can finish up with
(oh flaming zombie christ no!) the Sex Magazine - tagline? "For connisseurs of sensual horror".

Good lord.

A Snopes a Day; or, Shit You Should Stop Believing:
A tooth left in a glass of Coca-Cola will dissolve overnight

You always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:
Could you jump off a bridge or a tall building and survive the fall?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

cannot stop the thought

For various reasons this week I have been thinking about death.

I don't have a terribly good relationship with death; and by that, I mean I have a hard time thinking about it. It's one of those that if I let it run around my head for long enough I'll have difficulty sleeping (in a cruel twist of fate, if I'm having difficulty sleeping in the first place, then I'll start thinking about death at which point I might as well give up and go watch Letterman).

While the actual process of dying (let me count the ways - drowning, falling from a great height, being stabbed, heart attack, etc, etc) is pretty scary all by itself - I'm by no means a man of great courage or fortitude - the prospect of ceasing to exist in a meaningful way absolutely terrifies me. I find it hard to conceive of. Of course, on one level I can imagine my non-existence; on quite another level I can't. It's like the difference between knowing that people experience love, and actually falling in love yourself.

I had a discussion with a friend of mine while waiting for our Burger Fuel order to arrive. The good Lord only knows how it came about, but basically we had opposing view points. I am afraid of death so I expressed a desire for immortality, or an afterlife - whilst I am an atheist of some description or another that doesn't mean it wouldn't be a pleasant surprise if there was a life after this one. As long as it was run by one of those blind watchmaker Gods who isn't too judgemental (christ only knows I'm a dirty sinner) I think I'd quite like it. My friend however, would not have a bar of it. Turns out he's not too fussed by the whole death thing and suspects that immortality would be more trouble than it's worth.

Of course it helps if you define what you mean by an afterlife. Your bog standard conception of heaven seems to be boil down to be just like here only nicer - you know, whole bunch of nice people (nice like you presumably - everyone else is downstairs being tortured for their sins - you know, like sleeping with women who are menstrating and eating pork and cutting your hair) ... nice people with halos, sitting on clouds in worthy contemplation of life, the universe and everything, occasionally tut-tutting at the antics of the living.

But this seems unlikely. I mean, what do you do all day? Contemplation only takes up so much of the your time, especially if you're like me and get distracted by pretty lights and those hot female angels (white gowns and wings. Oh yes). Other afterlifes have similar problems - I mean an infinity of Valhalla, fighting all day and then going up to the hall to eat roasts off the bone, quaff obscenely and wench with abandon would have to grate after a while surely?

Furthermore, if the afterlife turns out to be just like life only nicer then you suddenly have to ask the embarrassing question well then why the fuck did we have to go through all those years of hell on earth to get here - why couldn't we have just started with heaven in the first place? What kind of fucking sadist are you? Those of you who are familiar with the Argument from Evil will know one of the Free Will defense - i.e. that God would tolerate Evil as a natural collorary of accepting the Good of Free Will. But what about in heaven? Either the "better-than-life heaven" disproves the "to have free will you must have evil too" theorem, or in heaven you lose free will, which then begs the question about just how good heaven really is then, now that you are will-less drone.

But that's a simplistic view of the Judeo-Christian afterlife. Another conception is that we become one with God - merging with him in some happy-clappy hippy oneness with the Universe thing, presumably becoming one big orgasm of joy. And that's still not terribly satisfying. It seems that in becoming this big luminous being we would lose part of what is essentially us - our individuality. I'm not sure it's the afterlife/immortality that I desire.

There's more to this but I'm feeling pretty drained from the stuff that's happened today, so I'll try to finish this discussion off tomorrow night after South Park.

A Snopes a Day; or, Shit You Should Stop Believing:
Has anyone vanished in the Bermuda Triangle lately? Actually, it's not a Snopes but a Straight Dope article. I have the book they reference, rescued from a school fair I suspect. Kusche isn't the most exciting of writers, but he did approach the subject of the Bermuda Triangle with a unique methodology - he actually went looking for source material, instead of what most Trianglists did, which was read the books of other half-baked, crackpot Trianglists and then go and make up some new shit. Result? All the "disappearances" in the "Triangle" are either entirely explicable, non-existant, or, rather amusingly, didn't actually occur anywhere near the supposed area in question ...

Thanks to the Coriolis effect, toilets flush clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern. Bugger, another thing I believed implictly based on a Simpsons

You always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:

What exactly was the sin of Onan?

Twisted minds distort the picture books of our childhoods
Monkey Fluids
Ho boy. Don't say I didn't warn you ... personally this one is my favorite.

If you're anything like me you'll have to go and change your pants:
Miami Vice - release (US) summer 2006?

Monday, March 20, 2006

more interlude

There's a post about abortion out lurking out there, but tonight is not the night. Instead, I'm off to watch Mythbusters.

So it's all linky stuff: Take a look at the Unanswerables page on snopes - the page where all the really strange questions go. My favorite entry:
They say that if a person has a pet cat and dies, if the person's body is not found fairly soon after death, the cat, having not been fed, will become ravenously hungry and eat the dead person's face off — JUST the face!

Is this true? My cat often looks me in the face. I used to think he was just being friendly. Now I know he's just sizing me up, like a chef at a butcher shop, waiting for "the big day". Since hearing this rumor, every time my cat licks his chops it gives me the willies!
... although it's hard to beat this one ...
A friend of mine asked me if I've ever hear of invisible witches or ghosts that suck the blood out of a person's arm while they are sleeping. Apparently, she saw "marks" on her boyfriend's arm and this was the story that he told her.
... yup. That's going to be the excuse I use next time too.
A Snopes a Day; or, Shit You Should Stop Believing:
The average person swallows eight spiders per year

You always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:
Are twin-blade razors better than single-blade ones? This Straight Dope article from 1983, but I thought it topical since Gillette has just released the 5-bladed razor (it's called Fusion, but that's just because "why yes, my penis is bigger than yours" had already been trademarked) . Personally, I'm waiting for one with lasers).

In a falling elevator, could you save yourself by jumping up at the last minute?

Daily Onion fix:
Conspiracy Theorist Has Elaborate Explanation For Why He's Single

No, you don't see dead people. You're just stone-cold crazy.
John Edward's Cold Reading Gig
Crossing Fingers Over Behind Your Back

Thursday, March 09, 2006

down in the trenches of hell, digging madly: Part 2.

I'd like to blog a little about how fucked up my work is at the moment, but I'm working on a little ulcer to go with my 2 week old flu, so I'll hold in the bile for another night.

Tonight it's all about the census.

Or, more specifically, that question. You know, the controversial one.

Many, many people have lain on their backs and batted this around like a cat-toy; Tze-Ming's posts I thought we ethnic minorities were the ones who were meant to have the identity problems and Re-name in vain are required reading. Hell, I even tackled it a while back with the horribly mis-named speaking of sexual perversions ...

Let me be honest: when someone says that they should be able to put down New Zealander as their ethnicity I feel that it is kind of like saying "I'm not racist - some of my best friends are niggers/ chinks/ wops /dagos /democrats". Ethnicity these days takes on the appearance of a zero sum game - revenge against all the slights us white people have to endure everyday for everyone else flaunting their non-whiteness with impunity. Christ, even I'm not immune. I dearly wanted to put down my ethnicity as Pakeha but because the "We're New Zealanders" campaign had slacked me off I used the New Zealand European box as a gesture of defiance. Sad, I know.

But I still feel that the whole question is a little old fashioned; and if nothing else it's just not terribly precise. If you are going to put me in a box I'd like one that fits like a glove, ta muchly. So next census I'd like questions like this:

  • What country/region did you go to school (or were you home-schooled?)
  • Where were your parents born?
  • Where did you spend your formative years?
  • Were you raised by two parents, one parent, extended family (or combinations thereof)?
... you get the picture. Let's really build a picture of our people. An immigrant from Mainland China is different to an Immigrant from Hong Kong, is different from an immigrant who came here at 3 years old from Mainland China, is different to someone who was born in China, lived until they were 10 years old in UAE, and then came to live here.

And while we're at it, why not take a snapshot of our views as a society? Death penalty, abortion, tax levels, GE crops ... okay, phrasing those sort of questions would take great care, but wouldn't it make the census a more valuable data source?

Or are we afraid of the answers we might get?

Fuck it. Next census I'm going to stick it to the man and put down my ethnicity as Jedi.

A Snopes a Day; or, Shit You Should Stop Believing:
The average person needs to drink eight glasses of water per day to avoid being "chronically dehydrated."

Daily Science Fix:
Fat and Happy: Why Most People Don't Diet and Voice of Reason: Fact vs. Fiction on Obesity

Daily Onion fix:

White House Had Prior Knowledge Of Cheney Threat - Aug. 2005 Briefing Warned, 'Cheney Determined To Shoot Old Man In Face'

Daily Matthew Dentith quote fix:

Stolen from Broken Planet News:
Group challenges science on 'biblically correct' tours; or, why you shouldn't sleep with your sister.

Abortion debates are like watching a car crash in slow motion:
S.D. House approves sweeping abortion ban I'm warning you now - they're up to fricking page 20 on this discussion.

down in the trenches of hell, digging madly: Part 1.

Before I lapse into yet another rant about what's yanking my chain this week, check out this article, Make-it-all Machine for Do-it-yourself Homeowners. If you're a fan of Transmetropolitan (by the venerable Mr Warren Ellis, who helpfully today has a link to a site that tells you exactly how to have sex with a dolphin. Seriously. You can't make thus stuff up. Best quote: "Q6) Where can I find a dolphin to mate with? A6) Aquariums are a bad choice, for many reasons ...") .... anyway, if you're a fan of aforesaid Transmetropolitan you'll be familiar with the Maker - a machine which you shove a bunch of raw materials into and which cheerfully spits out whatever item you need.

This is the future.

You don't buy products. You buy raw materials and designs, which both should, quite frankly, be dirt cheap. Hand in hand with your Maker is a Deconstitutor - where all your rubbish goes to be recycled into new raw materials for your Maker. Entire layers of the supply chain are wiped out - no more retail drones; no more couriers playing football with your $4000.00 LCD holo-TV; no more 4 year olds making Nikes in 3rd World sweat shops.

Nope, now the little bastards can work downt' mine.

But seriously folks, the internet has managed to bring about the efficiency of distribution - products go directly to the consumer and don't waste time sitting on shop shelves, possibly in entirely the wrong area relative to your customer. But we are still faced with the tyranny of distance and the uncertainty of demand. The Maker eliminates both those problems by taking manufacturing out of the retail equation (in so far as finished product is concerned - raw materials still have to travel, until such time as we develop our atom-strippers)

You still have the problem of design impetus (what the hell do the people want?), a problem that is greater or lesser depending of the cost of design. A design has to tell your Maker how to make the product, which could be no mean feat. The cost of programming this design could be what sinks the Maker as a product in it's early stages (that, and the overpricing of designs). Oh, but think of the possibilities: you go to bed at night. Your Maker connects with it's manufacturer and receives the latest firmware upgrade. Quietly the Maker builds the latest version of itself, plugs it in and then as a final act builds itself some legs and walks over to the Deconsitutor for recycling.

For the true believers: Self Replicating Systems and Molecular Manufacturing, by Ralph C Merkle.

In fact, while you're on LiveScience you should probably check out this story. One word: Plasmons. Now why the hell weren't they a monster in Doctor Who?

You always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:
Is it true what they say about gerbils? ... yep, that dolphin thing is going to be theme tonight...

You always wanted to know, and now you're going to have nightmares about it:
Why do we have wax in our ears? Do roaches ever crawl in there?

A Snopes a Day; or, Shit You Should Stop Believing:
We use only ten percent of our brains.

A number of amazing coincidences can be found between the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.