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Go to: The faith trap

Greyed's Avatar Jump to comment 71 by Greyed

I think most people are missing the point of the column. The anecdote up front wasn't the point, it was there to provide contrast for the later parts. So please, click on the link and read the whole article.

As for that article it was asked, "What other career, apart from that of clergyman, can be so catastrophically ruined by a change of opinion, brought about by reading, say, or conversation?"

Soldier, spy, politician just to name a few.

A soldier to turns pacifist is probably going lose their job, the respect of their peers and depending on the circumstances, their life. The same for a spy for they are just two sides of the same coin.

A politician could lose their seat if they stray too far from the political leanings that got them elected in the first place. This too has the risk of losing respect of peers, friends and family.

So it isn't a particular quality of religious service, but it is certainly a integral quality of that service.

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 05:42:00 UTC | #450742

Go to: Three articles on Australian government funding for religion but zero for atheists

Greyed's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Greyed

Actually, it is a fair statement. Why is the default position that funding should be obtained? Why not, instead, ask why the religious conference gets any at all? It is a much more fair position. Government creates no revenue of its own. It taxes people and redistributes at a whim.

I, personally, find any such redistribution to a religious event abhorrent. Similarly I'm sure I could find quite a few religious people who wound find funding an Atheist event equally abhorrent.

Having either side get money means someone is funding something they do not agree with. Having neither side get money means we're not funding that with which we do not agree. To me having both sides self-fund is far more equitable to all parties involved.

Tue, 01 Dec 2009 16:37:00 UTC | #418938

Go to: Evolution's third replicator: Genes, memes, and now what?

Greyed's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by Greyed

@41. Comment #401968 by Crapsquire on August 3, 2009 at 3:21 am

"It seems to me that eventually a virus (or something equivalent) will be released into cyberspace that instead of fucking up your computer will give it an advantage (as we all know the vast majority of genetic mutations are neutral or deleterious -- very few are advantageous) in terms of information storage, sorting, retrieval or something of that sort."

Most of this would need to be in the base OS or is often sold as separate, non-replicating software. About the only 'good' virus type that I can think of, and one I wish the AV industry would just start using, would be for inoculation. A great many people are just too ignorant and/or lazy to protect their machines. They don't keep up with patches. They don't keep up with the latest AV updates, etc. So, fine, use the same holes the malicious coders are using to infiltrate these machines to close problem! If the machine has a security flaw that allows some admin level access to zombie a machine, zombie it to get the freakin' fix from the net and patch itself! Then have it propagate from there to other machines with a self-terminate after x number of days or

"In time I can imagine a gradual improvement in this virus/code because it serves our needs and we happily (or ignorantly) allow it to replicate. I suspect that electronic replication, like all other replication, does not entail true fidelity."

No, but it is extremely difficult to break fidelity since software and hardware all perform checks to ensure the data is not altered. In a standard network transmission the data probably goes through at least 6-7 redundant quality checks to ensure a perfect copy.

The real problem with trying to map biological mutation and evolution onto programs is that almost all possible mutations are deleterious. IE, in the biological sphere many more mutations are neutral; several factors more. The few mutations in a program which would be neutral are also inconsequential. IE, changing letters in a string that is displayed to the user is not deleterious but it also can never lead to a beneficial mutation of the actual working code.

"But even if this were not so, even if we devised ways of thwarting each and every tiny error of replication in the transfer of information, people would pick up the slack by toying with variations that could promulgate even faster than the original (or the daughters of the original)."

This, however, is falling to the wayside. Remember executable code is not human-readable. Twiddling with the executable directly, while a common occurrence (copyright protection cracks do just that), it not something that people engage in on a day-to-day basis on any old random code. It is far easier to program a clone from scratch and fiddle with that code than to modify the executable code at the machine level of an existing program.

Of course that all goes back to what I wrote in comment #8 about how Open Source, by giving everyone access to the code, also allowed an increased rate of changes in the code. That is where the fiddling will, and indeed does, occur. Machine-to-machine fiddling without human intervention is a long, long way off (if at all). Lisp not withstanding. ;)

Mon, 03 Aug 2009 05:27:00 UTC | #384514

Go to: Evolution's third replicator: Genes, memes, and now what?

Greyed's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Greyed

This really isn't new. This has been fodder of science fiction for decades now. It also looks to be written by someone who is not too keen on computers and the distinction between data and code. Viruses can query Google, that's copying from machine to machine! Gasp, horror! Yet what is coming out of the great and all powerful Google is data, not code. It isn't something that can run. Heck, if it were that simple everyone would be master programmers by now. Yet I still have to answer the most trivial of computer questions decades after I learned the basic processes involved.

No, a much more interesting angle is looking at Open Source and how its unfettering of code from restrictive licenses, has brought something akin to natural selection to programs. Look at the concept of the GPL and the code it gets attached to. How code, once opened, can go through the mutate (programmers alter the code), replicate (copying across the net is virtually cost free) and selection (good code thrives, bad code dies) and the general quality has skyrocketed.

Of course such an angle is hardly a doomsday prediction and thus not worth mentioning in the press.

Sat, 01 Aug 2009 14:49:00 UTC | #384023

Go to: Pastor Urges His Flock to Bring Guns to Church

Greyed's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by Greyed

Why is this even here? Especially under the heading of "wingnut news"? Implication being that standing up for individual rights and freedoms, including the one to defend oneself, is crazy and something Atheists at large just don't do.

Newsflash to the wingnut people who pick these stories, stick to Atheism. It's the one common denominator. You're less likely to commit idiotic faux pas like this one. Just because someone agrees there is no god doesn't mean they agree on any of *your* other nutjob ideas. Want to push stories like this? Do what I did, create your own blog and publish from that pulpit instead of create one from this site. Thanks!

Fri, 26 Jun 2009 20:10:00 UTC | #374129

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