Amazon reports for the first time ever they sold more ebooks on one day than real books. Here is the article. My wife is an ebook (only) author and reported her largest single day sales on Christmas day, and December has been her best month ever as well. All those Kindles bought for this season are being seen in ebook sales.
Geez, this site has turned into a singin', dancin' extravaganza, ain't it?
The changes come so fast, I can't even keep up trying to keep the display normal on my system!
(IE; the way I want it to look... simple, no stupid frills))
So, I'm just droppin' it for awhile. I'll probably check back in a couple of months just to see if it's still here.
-deletes bookmark- Ciao!
I just completed the first phase of what will be a two-phase redesign of the website I use for my creative activities - music, writing, art and photography. I'm taking the site a lot more seriously than I used to, as I'm working hard at making a career change from software engineering to music. My site is:
My work so far focusses primarily on improving brand-name recognition of my stage name: Michael David Crawford. I include my middle name to avoid confusion with a famous actor who is also named Michael Crawford. Just in the last three months, analysis of my log files tells me that people are starting to find my site by entering my stage name into search engines. I want to encourage that.
It's a lot better than it was, but could still be improved. I'll do the second phase of the redesign after your critique. I also emailed all my friends and family about it, and will be asking for comments at Kuro5hin, where I'm a prominent member, as well as at Webforumz.
The site will be at a new domain when I roll out the second phase: michaeldavidcrawford.com. I'll put a redirect at the old domain so old links work, and (hopefully) so I can preserve my search engine position. My current domain is named after my first piano album, Geometric Visions, but I hope to have many albums someday.
All but four of the sixty-eight pages are XHTML 1.0 Strict. Two are transitional, because of a Google search form and a web ring navigation pane. Two of the pages are XHTML+RDFa; I had to do some hacking to get the RDFa pages to validate while still working in Internet Explorer. (The RDFa is used for Creative Commons license metadata - I've been placing a lot of my work under CC licenses.)
I'd like advice as to how I could best place an AdSense for Search form on every page - but I won't actually do so until Google revises their markup so it's valid. I've had some conversations with AdSense support about it; I think it will happen but probably not soon.
There are just two tables on the whole site: the alternating left-right index on my homepage is a two-column table, as well as the web ring navigation pane on my telescope making page. I realize I could implement the homepage index as a bunch of divs, but the current implementation seems to make more sense to me, as well as being more reliable for older browsers.
I'll be making my site fully accessible, as well as improving SEO in phase two. I have some experience with SEO but I'm by no means an expert. All the pages that I've worked to optimize so far have meta description tags, but most others don't.
My music pages will be reorganized, with my main music page being replaced with a bio, some photographs, and links to all the other music pages. My album Geometric Visions will be placed in a subdirectory (music/geometric-visions). Each of my new albums will have their own page. I'll also place my sheet music on its own page.
There's not much content on the drawing, painting and photography pages yet, but I'm finding that the few images I do have are getting a lot of referrals from image search engines. I'll be adding a lot of photos in the coming weeks. I won't be able to add my other drawings and paintings until I can get them out of storage on the opposite coast, which won't be for a long time.
I have a print-specific stylesheet. It hides the navigation, and makes links look like regular text. On most of the pages that use it, it adds a header to hardcopies explaining where the original can be found online. Try a Print Preview of this page for an example.
I didn't think of it until just now, but the printing code for phase two will keep my logo on hardcopies, while hiding the rest of the header. The print logo will have a white background - the screen logo has a gray background to match the body color; I don't use transparency because it's a PNG, and old Explorer versions don't render PNG transparency correctly.
The navigation in phase two will be implemented as Server-Side Includes; the current navigation was pasted into every single page. Having five websites, I've done site-wide navigation changes the hard way so many times that I finally decided to get help on how to do it the easy way.
Well that beats the subject completely to death . Thanks for your help!
It's how I'm able to earn half my income through advertising published in articles I wrote for my website, whose traffic I built to over a hundred thousand hits of month over a period of seven years. As I write this, my resume and homepage are Google's #1 and #2 hits for software consultant.
I didn't resort to anything underhanded to build my site. Instead I built traffic and search rank by writing articles such as my programming tips.
I never intended to make any money directly from my website though; instead, I published the articles as a way to attract potential clients. Sometimes someone who came to read one would follow up with a sales inquiry. It's worked very well for me: I stayed working throughout the downturn, and these days I have to turn away clients.
CheeseburgerBrown called my article "The Way of the White Hat SEO".
Many tell me that my article is the only material they've found that helps them understand what schizoaffective disorder is really like. Most of the web pages about it, and most books, consist only of terse clinical descriptions.
More than a few have told me that they thought no one else experienced what they did. My article helped them to understand that they are not alone. They told me that my article gave them hope.
But my article is not helping as many as it could. My web server logs tell me that about 2000 people access one or another of its pages each month. I estimate that only about 300 of them read the entire article. That's not very many, considering that there are about two million schizophrenics, two million manic depressives, and a million schizoaffectives in the US alone, and far more worldwide.
You can help me to help the mentally ill by linking to my article from your website, weblog, or from message boards. It would also help to email the link to anyone you think might enjoy or benefit from my article.
Not only would some follow your link, but your link would help my article rank higher in the search engines. My log files tell me that most who read my article find it in the search engines, by searching for "schizoaffective disorder", or one of the symptoms: "depression", "mania", "paranoia", "hallucinations" or "dissociation".
My article ranks well for some keywords but not for others. It's google's #7 hit for "schizoaffective disorder", but only #77 for "paranoia". The #1 hit for paranoia is the CDDA Paranoia Homepage, an open source application for extracting audio data from CDs, which has nothing to do with this symptom of mental illness.
You should know that I am committed never to run advertising in the article. I do have ads on some of my other pages. My psychiatrists suggested that I should offer advertising exposure to the manufacturers of psychiatric drugs, but I think that would be wrong. Many of those who read my article are impressionable and vulnerable. Their ability to think critically is often impaired. It would be inappropriate to advertise to them from an article I wrote to help them.
Thanks for your help.
Precisely why I've always held that religion is a form of mass-hysteria, a kind of shared delusion.
On the other hand... maybe atheism and materialism are forms of mass delusion.
Many people insist that their god talks to them. On the other hand, I and a lot of other people have never heard or seen this god talk to me or anyone else; ergo, these god-hearing people are mentally ill by their very own standards.
With all due respect, your logic is flawed. My friend Nancy has talked to me. My friend Nancy has not talked to you or a lot of other people. So everyone who has heard Nancy is mentally ill?
Christianity is just as dangerous to the health of bystanders as a maniac is to those around him. Think the Crusades, the Inquisition, the puritanical Witch Burnings, etc.
On the other hand, consider atheistic states like the U.S.S.R., China, North Korea, Cuba, etc, etc.
Sweet! Very insightful. If I had any mod points, they'd be all yours. Except... then I wouldn't be able to reply... so.. um... nevermind...
The reason I ask this question is that if God's moral code is arbitrary, it makes sense to ask why we should follow it, other than fear of punishment. If God's moral code is necessary, then it seems as though humans could eventually arive at it through enough thought and experience...
Your question is very similar to one used by Socrates to befuddle poor Euthyphro. To paraphrase you (and Socrates) the question is, what's the cause/effect relationship between God and goodness. Does God will something because it's good or is it good merely because God wills it?
- The Good -> God's Will
- God's Will -> The Good
Option one leaves God subject to some higher power, which would defy his omnipotence. In this case, God would need to have the Ten Commandments hanging on his wall to refer too.
Option two makes God arbitrary and capable of issuing abhorrent commands, and making those commands "good." Which makes him indistinguishable from a tyrant.
Where I believe Socrates to be in error (if I may be so bold... he would consider it a service to be questioned) is his implicit assumption that The Good and God's will are different and related as a cause and effect. My answer (well, it's been around long before me, but I adopt it
- The Good == God's Will
God cannot do the logically impossible. And it is logically impossible for God to do the ungodly. So God cannot issue evil commands because he IS good. God's commands are good because they are always in accord with his own nature.
I don't even ask the question 'is there a god?' because I'm not in the least interested in the answer.
How very odd. If there is a God, he created you. He gave you a mind and a will. And he sustains your existence this very moment. It seems to me that this question should at least arouse your interest...
The big questions in my life revolve around _how_ to live my life, so that the world my young son inherits is a little better for my efforts than the one I came into, not who to live it for.
What exactly do you mean by "better?" Better implies that there is some "good" that you would like to world to move closer too. And a "bad" that you would like it to move away from. A Christian would say that there is a "good" defined by God's nature from which we can say whether the world is getting "better" or "worse." Without that set point of reference, there's no way to make the kind of judgements you're attempting.
Thanks for your response.
Imagining the first and only instance of soemthing is far more complex than simply imagining an additional instance of something we've seen a zillion times before (a person with a watch).
Fair enough. Then suppose instead of a watch you find a machine of unknown purpose, but with well defined orderly systems. Pressurized liquid travels through tubes, little ports open and close, etc. You're not sure what it is, but everything about it seems to have a purpose. I still don't think that you're going to believe that it washed up that way, even though you've never seen anything like it before. Whenever we see order and purpose we immediately assume design. Unless, for some strange reason, we're talking about ourselves.
But that counter is built upon the false premise that all suffering by innocents is caused by other people, and as my examples above show, clearly this is not the case.
Clearly there is a difference between moral evil and natural evil. However I believe that you are assuming a full understanding of events that you really don't possess. First of all, you seem to consider death to be a great natural evil. That is far from certain. If Christians are correct, it would actually be great good. But I do agree that natural evils exist, so I won't belabor that point.
Another understanding that we lack is the sum total of the effects of natural evils. A friend of mine had a young child that was running a dangerously high fever. When they went to the hospital, the staff rushed the child into a room, removed her clothing and plunged her into a tub of ice water. Naturally, the girl did not understand at all and starting screaming "mommy! mommy! no!" She was in a panic and felt completely betrayed. But she didn't, and couldn't, understand the seriousness of her situation or what this was happening to her. All she could see was the "evil" that was being done to her, not that she was being helped.
As an aside... my friend, who is a Christian, said that for the first time she really understood this concept. And also gained some small understanding of how God must be affected by watching his children suffer. And how he must be affected by having to allow it to happen or even cause it to happen.
Anyway, it is in this manner that the existence of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God is not contradictory with natural evil. We could only make the claim of contradiction if we had full understanding, which we do not. Indeed, even with limited understanding, we can often see the good that comes out of evil. Someone loses a job and then starts a new life and is much happier. Someone has a heart attack, and then starts to appreciate his family. Someone has an unexpected death in the family, and old feuds are forgotten.
There are times when it is difficult to see how good does come from some evils. But this should come as no surprise, since we know we do not have perfect understanding. But the point is to demonstrate how God's nature does not logically conflict with the existence of natural evils.
Thanks for the post. Your conversation is thought provoking.
That is so wrong I don't know where to begin.
I'm sure you'll think of something...
There is MUCH MUCH MUCH more evidence for the existence of aliens, such as a single eyewitness account (actually, more than one, but one for aliens is more than the zero for God).
Actually, I've found plenty of people who claim to have seen or talked to God. It usually goes like this. "God spoke to me and he want you to do <SOMETHING>." Naturally this sort of nonsense gives Christianity a bad name. But guilt by association is still unjust. There are wackjobs in every group. I recognize that this wasn't your main point, but to extend your analogy. To judge all Christians by the weirdos would be like judging all astronomers by the weirdo "scientists" that appear on Art Bell. To address your main point. There are people who claim eyewitness accounts of God or the supernatural. Who can judge the validity of their claims without investigation... but likely they're about as reliable as the claims of people who see aliens.
The only reason you think it is reasonable is because you already believe, so it's not a stretch for you. You probably deny the existence of aliens, although I consider it a foregone conclusion. My beliefs have infinitely more evidence, but you'd call me a crackpot, and yourself a good person because you believe in faeries, while I believe in green/grey monsters.
Even though I have trouble convincing people of this... reason really did precede my faith. But I suppose I bear some responsibility for that, since I come on so strong. But, hey, this is
If anything, both of us are nuts.
A distinct possibility! Reminds me of the guy in the Hitchhiker's Guide who wanted to find the person who ran the universe... because he wasn't doing a very good job.
You can't wrap your mind around infinite complexity or infinite anything for that matter, so you call the infiniteness "God." You may be right, you may be crazy. I don't know.
I agree that we're working with very limited tools. Even if we understood this little planet perfectly, which we don't by a long shot, it's still less than a microscopic speck in the grand scheme. One reaction to that would be to become a skeptic and believe that we can know nothing worth knowing. I tried that, but it's got a logical flaw. How can we say that we know that we can't know anything? If that's true, than we know at least one thing. And if we know that, maybe there are other things that we can know. The other possibility is that knowing that you can't know anything is subject to it's own rule of being worthless knowledge. In that case it's self defeating by it's own definition. My conclusion (well, actually Thomas Aquinas' conclusion) is that we can know things. We've at least got to know that we exist and we perceive things. And from that foundation, limited tho it may be, we can begin to build.
If God is infallible, how could he create humans that are imperfect?
I would argue that he could only create humans that are imperfect. Suppose that you're God, sitting there all absolutely perfect, and you decide you want to create some free creatures. Part of your perfection is that you exist necessarily, you are eternal. And you are the only thing that exists necessarily... in fact you ARE existence. What really exists is you in timeless perfection. It is logically impossible for you to create a perfect being (yes, God cannot do the logically impossible). For to create a perfect being, it would have to exist necessarily (be eternal too), since to exist necessarily is more perfect than to exist contingently. So the best possible thing you could do is to create an imperfect being. At least imperfect in the sense of being contingent. But there's other limitations as well. If the being is created free, then it has the ability to make choices. Suppose it chooses to do things that conflict with reality (you). Suppose it decides to go off an kill some of it's fellow imperfect beings. Could you stop them? Sure! You could remove their freedom or remove them entirely. Either option effectively destroys them. But some of the beings are really trying. Some of them really are searching and trying to conform to reality. Is it better to wipe them all out, or to allow both to continue? However, the situation is more complex, of course, since the groups don't fall so neatly into place. We all, at various times, display traits of both groups. So the real option is whether to destroy everyone. But if that were the best course, you never would have created them to begin with. The sum total of good done is greater than the evil. I know this is really long, but I hope it gives you some flavor of how a perfect God can (must) create imperfect creatures.
You see a device created by man because you know what it is. If anything, a dog sees a shiny rock that has little insects or something in it.
I agree with what you say, but I don't think it's on point. In this case the limitation is with the dog. He's incapable of understanding the order that does exist in the watch. I'm certain that there are things in the universe which we are as incapable of understanding as the dog is the watch. Not to mention our ability to understand God. The only one who would understand all order perfectly would be God himself. But that's not what I'm talking about. We still recognize order at whatever level we are at. We can understand the order of the watch, and we can recognize the greater order of our bodily systems. The dog can understand order at whatever level he is capable. Perhaps that is only, "when the bell rings, I get food." But the existence of order itself is evidence of intelligence, regardless of the level at which we understand it.
ONLY if you are a Christian. If you do not already subscribe to your strict beliefs, God can be a friggin can of soup.
People can, and have, made gods out of all sorts of things. The Christian definition of God implies something truly supernatural. Not just "magical" but something totally above nature. The Christian concept isn't that God is the "coolest thing in creation" but that he is ultimately what exists. Everything else is mostly smoke and mirrors (or mostly space with a scattering of atoms). Any other definition of God really doesn't get to the heart of the matter of existence... because you'll always have an endless "cause and effect" chain hanging in mid air. Ultimately, something causeless needs to exist. And it is the definition of that thing that is of interest... to me anyway...
Please don't take this as an insult, but you seem to have thought too much about a topic that is unthinkable...
No insult at all. I wouldn't be on this site if I was too thin skinned. Part of why I do this is to test my conclusions. It's the closest I can find to talking to a modern age Socrates. I need people to show me what I haven't yet considered. You've contributed to that and I'm grateful.
I hadn't considered that I had thought "too much" about it. Although I would agree that "thinking too much" is possible. C.S. Lewis has a story about a man who declined to go to heaven because he would've missed a seminar about heaven.
Despite my "gung ho" Christian appearance, my faith is actually quite weak. If it were stronger, I would be less interested in shoring it up with philosophy, theology and logic. But I do strongly believe that we can know things that are worth knowing. If for no other reason (although there are better reasons) than to be consistent with how I actually conduct myself. I don't step out in front of a car, because I believe it better to not be hit by the car than to be hit by it. That implies that all sorts of things! That I exist. That the car exists. That we exist in some sort of relation to each other, that some things are "better" than others, etc. From that humble foundation, we really can know things worth knowing.
Keep in mind that much of the world disagrees with your assertions of fact.
Bring 'em on!
This has been a lot of fun! I'm sure you have plenty to say about this post. Conversations like this tend to grown exponentially.
Seeing as you're a born again Christian, I'm fully aware that no amount of evidence can convince you that your religion is based on lies.
If you insist on believing something which cannot be demonstrated, and frankly isn't logical, then that's your right...
even though mine is based on logic, and yours is based on faith...
You think there's a God, even though no evidence exists to support that claim.
You know... you actually have given me some insight. The assumptions you make about me are staggeringly inaccurate. And yet you are in active correspondence with me. Amazing. If you can be so wrong about someone you're actually conversing with, no wonder you're so wrong when dealing with 2000 year old writings.
But I can see that you want to end the conversation, so I'll try to end on a positive note.
I'm glad to learn that we both consider ourselves to be students of logic. You're such a bright guy, I'm sure you've noticed that many people think they know something about logic, but really don't. I was talking to someone just the other day. He kept talking about how he only believed in logic. So I asked him to define modus ponens and modus tollens for me. Can you believe that he couldn't do it! Imagine! There he was going on and on about logic, when he didn't even know the basics. Amazing! Needless to say he didn't know what a categorical syllogism or an analytic proposition was either. Wow. I sure am glad you're not that way. I'm sure you know all about that without even having to look it up. You wouldn't be talking about logic so much unless you really knew your stuff.
Of course, there's no way for me to know either way. Now that you have the terms you could just look them up and I wouldn't know the difference.
But you would... wouldn't you...
Thanks for the reply!
Those societies that behave as though there is a moral law, outperform (an an evolutionary sense) those who do not; i.e. a society that promotes the wwell-being of its fellow-members must increase in numbers more than one that doesn't.
An excellent point. I fully agree that we do possess various instincts that promotes our own survival as well as the survival of our community (herd). And that this instinct is probably purely natural.
However, I would argue that there is more at work here. For example, suppose that you look outside your window late at night and see a young woman being attacked. Immediately you'll be affected by at least two natural instincts. You'll have an instinct to protect the herd by intervening and helping the woman. But there is also danger involved. You'll likely feel fear at the possibility of being injured or killed if you intervene. So there's a herd instinct to help and a self-preservation instinct to not get involved.
But there's also a third thing in play. You know that you ought to help the woman. It's the right thing to do. There's something inside us that tells us which instinct should be encouraged and which should be suppressed. It judges the two instincts and assigns a moral priority. If you don't help the woman, you'll feel shame. And other people will view you with disgust.
If the moral law is nothing but instinct, and only those instincts are in your mind, then the stronger of the two instincts must win out. But very often the prompting of the moral law encourages us to choose the weaker of the two instincts. For example, you may want to be safe much more than you want to help a woman you don't even know. But at times like this the moral law is most visible, encouraging us to "wake up" or strengthen our herd instinct and suppress our survival instinct. The thing that is doing this encouraging cannot itself be the herd instinct. The herd instinct can't say "I'm asleep, wake me up!" It has to be something else, something that is not an instinct and is above instinct. And this thing I argue to be the supernatural moral law.
What could be better, I ask you?
Should I go crash that party they are having for me in my honor, or should I stay dead and be a ghost, haunting the Internet?
Who am I really? Am I really Andy Kaufman, or does Andy Kaufman even exist anymore? Everything about me is not real, there is no real me. That is the ultimate punchline. Better off if I stay dead to the rest of the world.
Thanks for the response.
Christianity is a sham from beginning to end. Jesus was at best a "Vegas Act"... a hoax, a showman, a "magician". He was fully aware of the Jewish prophecies and used it to it's fullest effect.
I'm afraid that's the bias you're bringing to the text. You assume that there is nothing supernatural going on, so you only have natural explanations for the events. If that is the case, than the most likely explanation is that Jesus was intentionally trying to fulfill the prophecies as you describe. However, if you are open minded enough to allow for the supernatural, it allows for the explanation that he actually did fulfill them and that the prophecies are real.
If you'll forgive me an observation, I think this is the fundamental area where we disagree. You seem to latch onto one or two passages in the Bible and then start building elaborate theoretical constructs on what "really happened" from a very naturalistic, skeptical point of reference. I would also observe that you seem to have completely disregarded any possibility of the divine guiding the events in question. So, our disagreement really isn't about these passages. It's about the existence of God and his relationship with history. His existence has been adequately proven to me, and it hasn't to you. Therefore we look at things from entirely different points of view. And we're not going to make any progress because of that vastly perspective.
Basically, you've been fed a lie, and in order to cover it up, and to perpetuate it, everything said and written is twisted and misinterpreted in order to serve that lie.
I would like to give this advice back to you. I accepted Christianity through reason and argument. It took about a year of near full time study, before I really dared accept that Christianity may be true. The lie that you've been fed is that materialism is all that's true or "provable" and that Christianity is illogical and for simpletons. I've been on both sides of the argument, and I can tell you for an absolute fact that this is a lie. I still have atheistic friends. The smartest among them have a deep respect for Christianity due to it's contributions to philosophy, literature, poetics and as the foundation for western culture. I don't mean this as a personal insult, but I'll be honest. Your obvious destain for Christianity leads me to believe that you really haven't studied it fairly.