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Comment: Correct figures? (Score 2) 866 866

I wouldn't be sure that the numbers are correct.

Here in the UK 59% of the population claimed to be Christian in the 2011 census. However attendance at churches of all varieties runs to about 6% of the population. So what happened to the other 53%, are they really Christian or merely putting themselves down as Christian because it sounds better?

One thing that has been reported in the past is that while 40% of the population of the States reports that they attend services each week. However when actual counts are taken the figure is only about 20%

Conclusion? The 77% might be overselling the number of people who are actually Christian compared to being cultural Christians.

Comment: Re:Old Joke (Score 1) 105 105

Microsoft teams up with a vacuum cleaner company, to finally produce a product that doesn't suck

Given my experience of Miele and their products this could be a godsend. A device that contacts "Customer Experience" directly when it breaks down yet again without me having to wait 20 minutes listening to "music" and advertisements because "all their operatives are busy" (though my call is valuable to them).

Comment: Re:US-centric Slashdot misses much of the point: (Score 1) 649 649

This came out of a row in Britain over an investigation into schools in Birmingham. Unlike the US situation, what brought this about was a charge that Muslims were trying to take over schools in Birmingham and alter the lessons to support Islamic Ideals.

Yes, this is largely a damage limitation exercise in order to look as though Gove is actually in charge of things. In actuality he is the worst secretary of education for a very long time.

Comment: Re:Doesn't solve anything, pure politics (Score 1) 649 649

Politicians interjecting themselves into what subjects teachers are allowed to introduce in the classroom and how such subjects must be discussed does _nothing_ to produce an educated population.

The syllabus in the UK is largely developed by subject specialists, not politicians. Having said that Michael Gove, the current secretary of state for education has attempted to put his imprimatur on one or two subjects, particularly English. He has essentially removed any books from the syllabus not written in Britain (Of Mice and Men has been removed for example), his interference has been treated with derision by those with some knowledge of the subject.

The other thing he is famous (infamous?) for is distributing a signed copy of the King James bible to every school in England and Wales. Not for nothing is his nickname Pob.

Comment: Poor summary (Score 1) 1010 1010

There are (at least) three positions a person can hold regarding God's existence:

1. "I believe that God exists" (aka religion) 2. "I believe that God does not exist" (aka atheism)

This is extremely restrictive in that it frames things in terms of a single god and only in belief. The more common atheist position is:

2b. I lack belief in the existence of gods.

While your 1. hides the existence of the asymmetry between theism and atheism, every theist I have ever come across believes in a single god or particular pantheon of gods and either lacks belief in the existence of other gods, actively disbelieves in them or thinks they are a misattribution of the god(s) that he worships.

3. "I hold no beliefs concerning either the existence or the non-existence of God" (aka agnosticism)

Is a misunderstanding of what agnosticism is. Theism and a-theism (not the privative alpha) are about belief, gnosticism and a-gnosticism are about knowledge. It is perfectly possible to lack belief in god(s), i.e. be an atheist while at the same time not being certain that god(s) do not exist, i.e. agnostic.

Comment: The department is run by the archetypal politician (Score 1) 113 113

The DWP is run by a politician, Ian Duncan Smith, to whom the aphorism "How can you tell a politician is lying? His mouth moves" applies in spades. He is also not very bright as well as being incompetent. The government of which he is a member is one of the most ideological we have had in decades and cares little about actual evidence for the policies.

Comment: Re:Join the Open Rights Group (Score 2) 310 310

Actually, Claire Perry is pretty much a laughing stock even inside her own party.

As are several others including the minister for Health (who believes in homoeopathy) and the minister for work and pensions (who faked his own CV) and the minister for local government (who looks as though he has eaten his way through the output of a pie factory). But all of the ministers in this government simply ignore any evidence which runs counter to their ideology.

Comment: Re:Simple formula (Score 3, Informative) 349 349

Government department + software project = total failure. .

I would love to know how cheaply this same project could be done. Probably by one person. Probably a $10,000 project with the final project size 100 times smaller, run 100 times faster, 100 times more accurate. [That is what I achieved after a payroll application they tried to force on our dept. was discarded and we rolled our own.]

Not a real biggie, just a replacement for Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, Housing Benefit for the whole of the UK population. I mean how hard can it be? Given your obvious talents I am sure you could knock something together using a few Excel macros by next Tuesday.

One of the things about this is that it is being driven by an ideologue who doesn't give a toss about evidence, not quite the person who thinks all government sponsored software development but pretty close.

Comment: Re:Even in death, she is divisive (Score 1) 539 539

As an outsider, it isn't fair for me to comment on her domestic policy. For the US, the 80's seemed decadent for the upwardly mobile segment of the population while the middle class waited for the benefits to trickle down as their economic security was threatened or eliminated. I'm assume the UK experience was similar with the upwardly mobile taking advantage of the deregulated markets and the middle class feeling the pressure from the lack of job security or outright job loss.

My wife's relatives come from the Barnsley area of West Yorkshire, mine from around Castleford in the same county. Thatcher's policies were a disaster for these and many other areas of the country outside of the London metropolitan region. They were directly responsible for the increase in unemployment from around 1.5 million to 3.5 million and the loss of jobs for a generation.

Look at the reports in the press and the broadcast media, notice how few come from the North of England, Wales or Scotland.

Comment: Re:New boss, same as the old boss. (Score 1) 915 915

There were replies to this above. JPII was actually quite progressive, as far as Popes go. Judging his progressiveness based solely on the way the church has handled homosexuality or contraception is quite a narrow view. Consider that popes before JPII didn't venture outside the Vatican very often, didn't address the faithful in their own language and didn't so openly help bring about the fall of the most dangerous and destructive evil empire in history (USSR: 30M+ intentionally starved citizens + countless political murders hell-bent on eliminating the thinking classes).

You can actually provide a causal warrant to show that he openly helped bring down the USSR? Impressive.

The guy had more important things on his mind, like saving the friggin' world, where he had some ground-breaking achievements. You want to judge JPII? You must be out of your mind.

Again, I presume you can justify this. Its an assertion I have seen a number of times, but I have never seen anything that would count as justification. As for "judging" him, this is the wrong word. "Criticising" would be better.

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." -- Ford Prefect, _Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy_

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