Archive for March 15th, 2007|Daily archive page

Not Secular Humanist = Depression?

OK. I admit it. I think online quizzes are a bit of meme silliness. (Obsequious grovel to Richard Dawkins)

This one was kind of cool. The Belief-O-Matic™ over at BeliefNet. (And if you are wondering what I was doing there. I was reading this ‘conversation‘ between Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan trying to answer the question “Is Religion ‘Built Upon Lies’?”)

Anyway before ‘I show you mine,’ I would like to share the warning label even though suing after the fact and after the life is a real bitch. (Where do you find the lawyers? What? Oh yeah. Right. I forgot.)

Warning: Belief-O-Matic™ assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul.

And my beliefs are most closely aligned with…

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (99%)
3. Secular Humanism (97%)
4. Neo-Pagan (96%)
5. Taoism (89%)
6. Nontheist (82%)
7. Theravada Buddhism (79%)
8. Orthodox Quaker (77%)
9. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (76%)
10. New Age (73%)
11. Mahayana Buddhism (70%)
12. Sikhism (70%)
13. Bah�’� Faith (68%)
14. Jainism (63%)
15. Reform Judaism (60%)
16. Scientology (54%)
17. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (50%)
18. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (50%)
19. Hinduism (48%)
20. New Thought (48%)
21. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (43%)
22. Seventh Day Adventist (43%)
23. Eastern Orthodox (36%)
24. Islam (36%)
25. Orthodox Judaism (36%)
26. Roman Catholic (36%)
27. Jehovah’s Witness (10%)

I hang my head in same. I am not a pure secular humanist.

Oh for shame. For shame.

Credulity Circles

The 56th Sceptics Circle is up at Scientia Natura.


A Jihadist Toy Story

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles better known as drones are becoming pervasive on modern battlefields.

Until fairly recently, this kind of technology was only available to the military due to the high investment costs.

Chris Anderson doesn’t feel it should stay that way. His report, posted at Noah Shachtman’s blog Danger Room, points the way out of the military laboratories and into toy stores and children’s bedrooms. He presents his latest UAV construction with a remote controlled aircraft that flies using the computational intelligence supplied by a Lego Mindstorms NXT.

I took this first step this eve, throwing together the world’s first Lego autopilot.

HiTechnic is releasing a gyro sensor for the Lego Mindstorms NXT — which I haven’t received yet. So I’ve got a light sensor standing in for it in the picture, but the mechanicals are pretty much in place. Cool fact of the day: According to Google, this is the first time the phrase “Lego autopilot” has ever been used. I own this space!

This autopilot only controls the rudder, keeping the plane flying level when engaged and returning to the launch area. While the autopilot is disengaged, the servo arm controls the rudder under manual radio control as usual. But when you engage the autopilot (a third servo presses the “start” button on the NXT controller brick), the NXT servo drives the gear assembly above to move the entire R/C servo back and forth, while the R/C servo arm remains stationary. The effect is the same as if the R/C arm was moving, but the rudder is under Mindstorm control, not R/C control.

This is both really cool in a geeky way, it is also more then a little worrying.

How will the Bush administration react to this kind of news? Do we need to wonder and worry whether our teenage boys (and girls) are under FBI observation because they have ordered possible jihadist toys? Oh help me great God of conservative thought. WWDRD. What would Donald Rumsfeld Do?!

Great, Lego Drones. What’s next, armed robots in Israel? Oh, yeah. *sigh*

Heads Up – Discovery Institute Distortions

Casey Luskin, attack typist at the Discovery Institute, has yet another fair and balanced snit about an anti-intelligent design op-ed by Dave Thomas.

The op-ed is about current efforts in New Mexico to finally pass legislation that will last long enough to be brought before the Supreme Court. (Dover failed in this sense.) Thomas points out rather strange wording in the bill and the fallacy behind it.

The carefully crafted “academic freedom” measures made no specific mention of intelligent design. But it was clearly the driving purpose behind these, which would have permitted and encouraged teachers to present so-called weaknesses of evolution science in biology classes.

The measures would have also have given students the “right and freedom to reach their own conclusions about biological origins.”

We don’t encourage students to “reach their own conclusions” on how to add fractions. Why should we suddenly do so with the biosciences? [my emphasis]

PZ Meyers, professor, lover of squid and spritely starting of his 5th decade of existence, has pointed out just how foolish Luskin’s attacks on this op-ed really are.This is well worth the read for all those who were under the impression that the Discovery Institute is an honorable group.

(Hat Tip: Phil Plait/Bad Astronomy)