Consciousness Detector

 I had a dream involving a pair of artificially intelligent androids with a couple humans.  The androids tried to convince the humans they were conscious but the humans wouldn't believe them.  Then another species came on the scene with the ability to detect consciousness.  They said the robots had consciousness but--bad news--the humans didn't.  The humans then had to run for their lives.


I don't have a paid account, so I can't make a real poll, but who cares? 

When spiritualists and occultists claim that they can teach you to Compound Money Like the Masters, are they:

a) so deluded by their own bull shit that they actually think that they can do this, or

b) intentionally selling snake oil to take advantage of superstitious rubes?

Five years ago, I probably would have said (a).  (Or perhaps, even worse, I would have thought it possible.)  Now, I'm pretty sure it's (b).  How did I ever get on their mailing list?

  • Current Mood
    cynical cynical

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama

By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire
Delivered at the Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will...

Bless us with tears - for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger - at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort - at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience - and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility - open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance - replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity - remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand - that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


"This is absurd," says 7-year-old.

Even though it's now a moot point (THANK THE GODS!) I just had to share this post by 7-year-old political blogger Stas:

Here is why I'm asking grown-ups to vote for Barack Obama. I am 7 years old so I can't vote......

My mom told me that I shouldn't base my election analysis on "feelings" (I like him/her) or "beliefs" (I share his/her beliefs) but on logical arguments. She asked me to create my own rational explanations for my support of Obama. Here is one of my arguments:

McCain and Palin are not be qualified to be President / Vice President of the U.S. The President's job is to do good for the country and the world. To do good for the country, the President must make smart decisions on important situations.

Governor Palin believes the world is 6000 years old. This is absurd. This is not a rational belief. This is a mistake. Scientists, experiments and evidence have shown this to be completely false. Therefore, she is not rational. If she is not rational, she should not be allowed to be President or Vice President.

Please vote for Barack Obama.

If only our professional pundits were so articulate.

People wonder why I don't trust the NYPD.


September 16, 2008


Contact: Jonathan Moore (212) 490-0400


On September 18, 2008, attorney Jonathan Moore will file a lawsuit on
behalf of attorneys Michael and Evelyn Warren against The City of New
York, the New York City Police Department, Sergeant Steven Talvy and
other officers for injuries arising out of an incident of police
misconduct on June 21, 2007.

On June 21,2007, Sergeant Talvy of the NYPD SNEU beat and arrested
attorneys Michael and Evelyn Warren after they questioned why the
police were viciously kicking a young man they had already taken to
the ground and handcuffed. For stepping forward to inquire into the
welfare of the young man, Michael Warren received several blows to
the head and was charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration
and Resisting Arrest; Evelyn was punched in the face and charged with
Disorderly Conduct.

The Warrens were forced to appear in court on 7 occasions over the
course of a year to defend against the false charges. On July 2,
2008, all charges against them were dismissed, due to insufficient

On August 13, 2008, the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB)
substantiated charges against Sergeant Steven Talvy for use of force
against Michael Warren.

WHAT: Press Conference

WHEN: Thursday, September 18, 2008, at 10:00 AM

WHERE: Steps of City Hall
  • Current Music
    Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Random Musings I posted to a discussion on Naturalist Philosophy

I'm currently reading the (Christian) Bible (following the One Year Bible curriculum--it's the only way I would ever finish it) and I'm also reading a bit of Jung here and there (currently working through his Answer to Job) and trying to put myself in the mind of someone who really believes this stuff. I gave up on Christianity when I was about 10, so it's hard for me to relate in that way. But I only abandoned supernaturalism a couple years ago, so in that sense, the mythical world view is not so distant from me. For my entire adult life, I looked at religion using the lens of Eliade, Jung and Campbell, so far as I was able to understand them, anyway. And all of them distinguish a sort of sacred/psychological/mythic reality from a profane/historical/literal reality. And while they take pains to emphasize that the one should not be confused for the other (i.e. none of them would say that the historical Jesus was literally born of a physical virgin) at the same time the believed that the sacred-psycho-mythic reality was the more important. As for Jung, he was a clinician of the mind, so he was motivated by very practical concerns of what would bring a state of mental health to the patient. From that angle, he may well have had a point. Understanding the subtleties of evolution may not help much with troubling dreams of angry parental figures. Contemplating the psychology of Yahweh might.

The problem, as I see it, is when supernaturalists try to drag the rest of the world into their dream (or nightmare, as the case may be). It's all fine and good to live in a world of salvation and rapture, but when that effects your policy decisions on foreign policy and environmental concerns, then we have a real problem. The mythical reality is personal, but the material world, no matter how profane, is the ground reality in which we all must live and get along. And to force your myth on others is narcissistic at best, paranoid-schizophrenic at worst.

I was about to say that I don't think most people are at the level of sophistication to understand this dichotomy, but on second thought, I think most do get it on some level, even if not consciously. The New Atheists seem to think that the literal interpretation (conflating the psychological with the historical) is the only coherent one and that the people who maintain both world views are entertaining a cognitive dissonance that must eventually break down. But I think the opposite might be the case. The literal interpretation seems to be the psychologically unstable one. People who believe in a young Earth are in the minority and the only way to maintain such a view requires the kind of logical acrobatics normally seen in conspiracy theorists. For the people who maintain both views, a belief in an interventionist God as well as a belief in the validity of science, reality is much more coherent because experience typically fits into one or the other. It is only the professional priest or the professional scientist that must bring one world view to the fore and either suppress, deny, or some how account for the other. So most priests don't spend too much time thinking about science, and most scientists don't spend too much time thinking about religion. Those that do either become rabid atheists or naturalist pantheists. Of course, I'm oversimplifying here. I'm generating this as I write it, so I'm probably making all kinds of horrible generalizations.