Archive for February, 2010

Achilles and Patroclus

by Jason Stotts

I hate when writers or directors anachronistically rewrite history to conform to their own beliefs and prejudices.  This is very apparent in the case of Achilles, who is often portrayed at being overcome by grief at the death of his cousin Patroclus, who dies at the hands of Hector. This is why Achilles challenges Hector to solitary combat and slays him. The problem is that Patroclus was, in most versions of the story, not Achilles’s cousin, but his lover.

[The gods] sent [Achilles] to the Isles of the Blest because he dared to stand by his lover Patroclus and avenge him, even after he had learned from his mother that he would die if he killed Hector, but that if he chose otherwise he’d go home and end his life as an old man.  Instead, he chose to die for Patroclus, and more than that, he did it for a man whose life was already over. (Plato, Symp 180a)

This kind of rewriting of history to remove the homoerotic and bisexual elements to conform to the twisted and misanthropic notions of the monotheists sickens me.

Mr. Deity and the Really Hard Time

by Jason Stotts

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Mr. Deity’s new video “Mr. Deity and the Really Hard Time.

I think it’s an amazingly funny video with problems stemming from both the epistemological and metaphysical problems associated with time, existence, and “creation” by a god.

The Climategate Snowball

by Jason Stotts

I hate to post so much on climategate, but it just keeps snowballing bigger and bigger.  Today, the WSJ has a new piece up called “The Continuing Climate Meltdown” and, no, it’s not going to say that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is true.  I recommend reading the entire article, but here are the highlights:

It has been a bad—make that dreadful—few weeks for what used to be called the “settled science” of global warming, and especially for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that is supposed to be its gold standard.

First it turns out that the Himalayan glaciers are not going to melt anytime soon, notwithstanding dire U.N. predictions.

The IPCC has also cited a study by British climatologist Nigel Arnell claiming that global warming could deplete water resources for as many as 4.5 billion people by the year 2085. But as our Anne Jolis reported in our European edition, the IPCC neglected to include Mr. Arnell’s corollary finding, which is that global warming could also increase water resources for as many as 6 billion people.

In Holland, there’s even a minor uproar over the report’s claim that 55% of the country is below sea level. It’s 26%.

Meanwhile, one of the scientists at the center of the climategate fiasco has called into question other issues that the climate lobby has claimed are indisputable. Phil Jones, who stepped down as head of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit amid the climate email scandal, told the BBC that the world may well have been warmer during medieval times than it is now.

This raises doubts about how much our current warming is man-made as opposed to merely another of the natural climate shifts that have taken place over the centuries. Mr. Jones also told the BBC there has been no “statistically significant” warming over the past 15 years, though he considers this to be temporary.

What makes this even funnier is that AGW alarmists are saying that the colder winters and heavy snow that the US is experiencing is perfectly consistent with AGW.  That’s interesting because even if it were true, they’d have no way to know it as they have no real evidence for AGW, except their misanthropy and hatred of progress.

California Moving Closer to Legalizing Marijuana

by Jason Stotts

Fearing that the state of California won’t pass the bill legalizing marijuana, activists staged rallies and gathered nearly 700,000 signatures, exceeding the minimally necessary 433,971 signatures required to put the issue on the ballot in November.  Given that the signatures check out, this means that the state of California will be voting on whether to legalize marijuana in November. (L.A. Times)

The initiative would make it legal for anyone 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana and grow plants in an area no larger than 25 square feet for personal use. It would also allow cities and counties to permit marijuana to be grown and sold, and to impose taxes on it.

I think this is great news and I, for one, will be voting to legalize marijuana in November.  For a full explanation of the reasons why, see my essay “On Marijuana.”

Descartes was Murdered?

by Jason Stotts

The Guardian has an article up right now called “Descartes was ‘Poisoned by Catholic Priest’” about how Descartes might have been murdered for political reasons.  Prof. Theodor Ebert of the University of Erlangen argues that there is evidence that Descartes was poisoned by arsenic, based on a letter that his doctor wrote that cited evidence inconsistent with the official claim of pneumonia.

Ebert believes that Jacques Viogué, a missionary working in Stockholm, administered the poison because he feared Descartes’s radical theological ideas would derail an expected conversion to Catholicism by the monarch of protestant Sweden. “Viogué knew of Queen Christina’s Catholic tendencies. It is very likely that he saw in Descartes an obstacle to the Queen’s conversion to the Catholic faith,” Ebert told Le Nouvel Observateur newspaper.

This is very interesting news, if it’s true, and I look forward to learning more about it.

Unfortunately, it’s just one more instance of the irrationality of faith trying to suppress ideas.  It is high time that we shed all ancient mysticism and treats myths (like that of Jesus, Muhammad, Abraham, Krishna, and all of the others) as the fictions they are.

Utah Officially Thinks Global Warming is a Scam

by Jason Stotts

The Heartland Institute has a post up about how the Utah House of Representatives has just passed a resolution that: “implies climate change science is a conspiracy, and urges the EPA to stop all carbon dioxide reduction policies and programs.  Among other things, the resolution claims there is “a well organized and ongoing effort to manipulate global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome.”

The full version of the Utah resolution is here.  The general overview they give of the bill is:

This joint resolution of the [Utah] Legislature urges the United States Environmental Protection Agency to cease its carbon dioxide reduction policies, programs, and regulations until climate data and global warming science are substantiated.

Now, you might think I’d be very happy about this, and in some ways I am.  However, I don’t think it’s the place of the legislature to get involved in scientific matters in any way.  Whether anthropogenic global warming is true or false is a scientific matter and should be worked out by scientists.  The legislature should take no action either way: they should neither support nor condemn AGW.  I think the government should get out of environmental issues as they are beyond the proper purview of government, which is the protection of the individual rights of it’s citizens.  Anything else is a perversion of the ideal of government and the Rule of Law.

Robert Sapolsky: The Uniqueness of Humans

by Jason Stotts

In response to my essay “Peter Singer Loves Animals (Too Much),” one of my readers sent me the following video that talks about the similarities and differences between humans and other animals.  Although the video doesn’t get into sexual issues, it is still very interesting and worth watching.

IPCC Sinks Lower (Climategate Update)

by Jason Stotts

The Telegraph is reporting that the IPCC report is even worse than has come to light in various ways since Climategate began.  In their piece “New Errors in IPCC Climate Change Report” they list the following new errors in the report that have come to light:

The publication of inaccurate data on the potential of wave power to produce electricity around the world, which was wrongly attributed to the website of a commercial wave-energy company.

Claims based on information in press releases and newsletters.

New examples of statements based on student dissertations, two of which were unpublished.

More claims which were based on reports produced by environmental pressure groups.

It goes on to point out that this new problems come on the heels of other Climategate issues:

Last month, the panel was forced to issue a humiliating retraction after it emerged statements about the melting of Himalayan glaciers were inaccurate.

Last weekend, this paper revealed that the panel had based claims about disappearing mountain ice on anecdotal evidence in a student’s dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.

The entire article is worth taking a look at and I applaud the Telegraph for their coverage of Climategate when many US news agencies won’t touch it.