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Comment Re:Wait, what? (Score 2) 379

I used Perl-Tk for mine -- SDL wasn't around yet IIRC, nor was Gtk, and I was porting an interface I originally wrote in Tcl/Tk once I realized that Tcl was insanely out of sync with the way I think and code. In the end it worked perfectly, but it was a bit of a mess to write. Not an exercise I'm eager to repeat (and I long since learned to code in C/Gtk for the same kind of application), but I still have the source squirrelled away in case I ever need to recycle it in some way. But the amazing thing about a dancing bear isn't how gracefully it dances but that it dances at all. A >>simple Tk interface in perl was, and probably still is, a piece of cake and you have all of that string parsing power just sitting there at your beck and call.

Games, though -- wow! But then, as one of the top posters noted perl is relatively efficient as scripting languages go, sometimes within an order of magnitude of compiled code. Hard to do much better than that with any of the languages that do dynamical allocation of all variables as you use them, creating everything as complex opaque hashes behind the scene just so you can address a[34] without defining or allocating a or even assigning values or referencing a[0] to a[33] (where I'm deliberately leaving off the $ -- this remark isn't only about perl). The same thing that makes it perfect for sloppy one-offs makes it slow for everything else, but slow is relative, given computers with several billion instructions per second at your disposal. In lots of cases, the time required to write the program is vastly greater than the time required to run it, so writing in an easy and forgiving language where you can dash off working code in thirty minutes instead of a couple of days is totally worth it.


Comment Re:Wait, what? (Score 3, Interesting) 379

And C is the best to write operating systems (and a lot of other stuff) in and APL is actually pretty nifty for writing certain kinds of vector code and...

Personally, I still love Perl and use it by preference when I need a short one-off program that doesn't have to be fast, especially one that does a lot of parsing. It is a great on-the-fly translator, and is often used to facilitate data conversion of one sort or another because it is so easy to use for that purpose. I have written far more complicated stuff -- actual interactive GUI applications -- in Perl, but that's where one is probably pushing it outside of its area of primary utility and I probably won't do that again. And yeah, one of the best features of Perl is its ability to split lines and do regex processing in a syntactically compact way. Tools like awk/sed/bash are also very useful for doing simple stuff -- pattern matches and substitutions -- but sed rapidly becomes arcane to the point where one has to keep a library of sed 1 liners or examples handy to remember how to pull the third octet out of an IP address, add 24 to it, and write it back or the like. In Perl doing this takes several lines of code (if you want the result to be readable) but it is easy and robust to code and understand. I used to use awk a lot (15-20 years ago), but Perl completely superceded that. I do still use sed simply because s/aaa/bbb/g is so damn useful on the fly, more so if you chain several sed conversions and other stuff together in a pipe. But once the complexity passes a fairly low threshold, Perl is very much a tool of choice.

Of course it is not unique. Nowadays, lots of people like other similar languages e.g. python that serve more or less the same space. But arguing about which of the available languages is "best" is a fruitless exercise. Philosophically they are very different. Some people like what I would call "fascist" languages (where python is in that category IMO) with strict rules on e.g. indentation and structure. Some people like loose, free languages that don't care how you indent and use brackets instead. Some people like procedural languages. Some people like object oriented languages. Some people are agnostic and like languages that do both, each in its place. And whatever the programmer likes, there is also the task -- some tasks manipulate data or perform computations in procedural ways, some work with data objects.

Personally, I think any rumor of the demise of Perl is likely exaggerated and premature (and I'd want data to support it!) I use it all the time, and obviously I wasn't surveyed. A lot of the rise and fall of scripting languages is dictated by what schools are teaching and what people need in jobs, and these days it is dominantly java (or javascript), python (because it is easy to teach structured programming in python), php (because it enables web programming), and even "html" (which isn't really a programming language but so what). For web programming -- a major if not the major marketplace for programmers -- and even for database programming (web interface to database) this set makes sense. Perl was popular early on for writing web scripts because it worked, but it wasn't really designed for that purpose and languages that were (but were otherwise remarkably perl-like) eventually won out. So what? That wasn't what Perl was written for, and it's not what it does best.


Comment Re:I Almost Hate To Say This (Score 1) 263

Only a few quibbles. First, it doesn't explain a known issue with the models. It is a potential explanation for one of many known issues with the models that remains to be demonstrated as an explanation. Second, it may well invalidate the overall predictions in the specific sense that altering the circulation patterns enough to affect weather -- the assertion of the article -- is more than enough to alter heating and cooling efficiencies, albedo variation, cloud distribution, and more. In a highly nonlinear general circulation model, this is more than enough to alter the actual predictions for e.g. climate sensitivity.

Furthermore, if it alters the UHI data and corrections made thereof, it alters the data that goes into the models. It also alters -- and from the sound of things lowers significantly, over a widespread area -- the claimed amount of observed warming, as a function of time as urbanization itself is a time dependent trend. This actually has secondary support in the form of UAH and RSS satellite observation, which has differed from GISS and HADCRUT (especially after ongoing "adjustments") by a time dependent positive trend. Correcting for this (by effectively cooling the present relative to the past) would actually put the major temperature sets into better agreement over the last 33 years.

The waste heat production of humans is absolutely irrelevant compared to solar heating as a direct source of global warming, but it is a well-known and consistently underestimated source of local warming in the weather stations used to create land temperature estimates (as has already been shown in peer reviewed publications, if a glance at e.g. the Weather Underground local weather station maps surrounding any urban center isn't enough to convince you). This suggests that the effect is not as spatially confined as previously believed and to accomplish long range effects at all has indirect effects that exceed the local ones. This is not impossible -- I've read papers that suggest that the mere presence of the turbulent air downstream coming off of the vanes of a windmill farm cause significant mixing of the air near the surface that would otherwise be stratified over an area of tens to hundreds of square kilometers, affecting the mean nighttime temperature over all of this area.

The proper issue regarding global warming is not whether or not it has occurred or is occurring -- the world has definitely warmed on average since the LIA, with almost all of that warming occurring without the help of carbon dioxide. Nor is it whether or not increased carbon dioxide will all things being equal cause more warming -- that's simple physics, although the net warming expected from carbon dioxide alone is not particularly alarming. It is whether or not we know enough about the nonlinear feedbacks in the chaotic system to be able to build general circulation models at all with predictive value ten to a hundred years into the future. It is about the climate sensitivity.

Any negative adjustment in current temperatures simply exacerbates the already serious problem those models face -- there has been no statistically significant warming for the last 14 to 16 years, roughly half of the entire reliable RSS/UAH record. The warming visible over the entire record is at the moderate rate of 0.1C to 0.15 C per decade, in almost perfect agreement with the warming expected from CO_2 alone, with neutral feedback. Almost all of the warming occurred in a single spike of warming that is precisely correlated with the 1997-1998 "super El Nino" -- effectively flat before that, effectively flat after that. Carbon dioxide, in the meantime, has inexorably crept up.

Personally I don't think this falsifies assertions of possibly catastrophic global warming, because we don't know enough about the timescales, the chaotic dynamics, the feedbacks, neglected effects like the extended UHI effect discussed above, neglected effects from solar-driven stratospheric atmospheric chemistry, the fractional contribution of black soot and more (there have been papers on all of these recently). I think that this is a damn hard problem, and that far from being settled science, it is absurdly unknown science -- we don't have good global data even now for the 70% of the Earth's surface covered by ocean, and while ARGO will in a few decades improve this, it is decades away from having enough buoys to give us an accurate picture of temperatures and currents and heat content down to the thermocline globally. And while the satellite records for the last 33 years are good, consistent, and global, they are far too short -- they don't span even one whole cycle of the major known global decadal oscillations, oscillations that are known to significantly affect heat transport and global heating/cooling patterns and efficiencies.

In a few more decades we might understand the climate system well enough to make reliable decade-scale predictions. At the moment, every year without discernible warming post 1998 increases the divergence between the predictions made at that time and the present. This doesn't falsify global warming (which really is beyond question anyway), anthropogenic global warming (still a somewhat open issue), or high-sensitivity catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, but it certainly doesn't support the latter (catastrophic) prediction, and is gradually lowering the upper bounds of any sort of reasonable estimate of the climate sensitivity. That doesn't mean that temperature might not spike up this year or next year to rejoin the high sensitivity predictions, as well. Personally, I rather hope not. If climate sensitivity is basically neutral or even net negative as far as feedback is concerned, that is rather good news for humanity, and either one is well within the error bars of satellite observation. If one views the ocean as a rather large global thermometer (which it is) then the SLR record should also be very reassuring in that regard.


Comment Re:The key question becomes (Score 1) 163

OK, seriously, let's try doing some arithmetic. The energy cost per kilogram of lifting something into low Earth orbit is half of it's escape energy. Escape speed is roughly 11,000 meters per second, so that energy is 1/4 x 121 x 10^6, call it 30 MJ/kg. Multiply that by something like 1000 (maybe more) due to rocket inefficiencies where you have to lift the fuel to lift the fuel to lift the fuel that lifts the payload. But it doesn't matter -- lift it at 100% efficiency and you're already dead. So lifting sand into orbit to melt it is enormously stupid. One might as well melt it in solar furnaces here on Earth, except that this is silly, joule for joule you'd be far better off collecting a megajoule of solar energy and converting it into a hundred kilojoules of electrical power. Even cheap low efficiency solar can manage that, and the return is at least twice that of silicon nanoparticle energy. Indeed, you'd be far better off taking the silicon you purified and turning it into solar cells -- those are already close to break even with at least some sources of energy in some locations, and a kilogram of silicon used that way can generate at least tens of watts (probably order of 100) for at least 20,000 seconds of an 86,400 second day. That's order of two megajoules a day, for a projected lifetime of 20 years. And note well, that is still not an economic win without exception in all locations when its amortized cost is compared to the value of commercial coal or nuclear or natural gas generated power, and it is only available when the sun shines, because kilowatt-hours of commercial electric cost anywhere from 6 to 16 cents in most locations, and at 6 cents it takes effectively forever to recover the cost of $1/watt solar cells. At 16 cents it breaks even to wins a bit with a seven to ten year amortization, and hence is a not unattractive investment. At 10 cents it is marginal (call it 5 watt-hours a day, 200 days to get a kw-hour and thereby earn 10 cents, 2000 days to break even on the solar cell itself, 4000 days to break even on installation, inversion, and the cost of the money. That's eleven years before you start to turn a profit, more if you install a battery to store the energy instead of resell surplus back to the grid. 16 cents drops it to under seven years, which starts to look attractive.

Saddest of all, in seven to ten years, solar cells will very likely go down to 50 cents a watt or even less, at which point they'll become attractive at 10 cents a kW-hour, a no-brainer where electricity is more expensive, and still it won't be a suitable solution for powering civilization, not without a serious storage and transportation technology to back it up. Otherwise it is at best a load leveller for conventional plants.

As I said, I can't really see any good reason to invest in silicon nanoparticle generated hydrogen gas powering fuel cells to make electricity except -- perhaps -- for exotic "one off" problems like a military application or a space application with nonlinear constraints or benefits. And even for the military, if they think this is a winning solution I think they're out of their minds. Somewhere in there common sense has to come into play.


Comment Re:The key question becomes (Score 2) 163

Because Obama hasn't given me a call yet to make me the offer, I suppose. I'm not sure I accept it if he did -- it has to be a thankless job these days and I'm enough of a climate skeptic to think that energy resources need to have net positive present cost-benefit before implementing them on a broad scale. Until then research and even prototyping is lovely and worthwhile, but no large scale implementation at a loss until it results in something at least cost-competitive with existing fully developed resources.


Comment Re:The key question becomes (Score 5, Informative) 163

Where does silicon come from? Silicon dioxide, a.k.a. "sand". How tightly is it bound? Very, very, very tightly. Indeed, a whopping 910.86 kJ/mole. So it requires at LEAST this much energy to turn sand into silicon and oxygen, except that one cannot electrolyze or reduce it until it is molten, so add to this enough energy to melt sand, after raising its temperature to some 1500 C. Then, one has to engineer "nanoparticles" out of the purified silicon metal. At a guess -- only a guess, of course -- this involves heating the silicon to the vaporization point and either vapor depositing it on a suitable substrate and scraping off the nanoparticles or spraying silicon vapor into a suitable medium that causes it to condense out small particles and then filtering or otherwise separating out the 'nano' particles from those that are merely small. Sounds like more energy to me.

At the end of the day, you can get at most the 250 or so kJ/mole back from the hydrogen gas produced after the silicon nanoparticles steal the hydrogen back from water. I think it would be an absolute miracle if it this is as much as 10% of the energy invested in making the nanoparticles, and the energy costs are probably at most half of the total manufacturing costs. Down to 5%. Multiply by roughly 50% again (efficiency of fuel cell).

This "Fermi estimate" of the probable economic efficiency is on the order of 2.5%, then, compared to the cost of just buying electricity or any other form of concentrated energy. Even if I'm too aggressive in my pessimism, 10% is a pretty safe upper bound. I'm not seeing this as a game changer. Gasoline or other hydrocarbons are still the gold standard for readily available energy density at ballpark 35 MJ/liter, and don't require investing 20 times the energy eventually recovered in their preparation.


Comment Re:Rare Earths (Score 2) 100

There is a major difference between talk and prototyping. We built small scale prototypes of liquid thorium salt reactors forty or fifty years ago, but politics shut down the development when money was requested to go the next step and build a prototype to scale. We could pick up where we left off in less than a year if money were committed not to paper research that delays the project indefinitely but to prototyping and practical engineering, actually building one or more of the damn things and tinkering as we go to solve engineering problems in situ, not in theoretical analysis.

We could revive the last working thorium design in at most a year or two -- it didn't take that long to build the first time. We could be working on scaling it up in parallel, so that we had a working scale model in four or five years tops. We could be building working full scale LFTR power plants by 2020, and could solve both the "carbon problem" and the world's energy poverty problem by 2030 to 2040 and coast to world peace and abundance by 2050. The cost through the working scale model is on the order of a few billion dollars, tops. We used to spend that much in Iraq every week.

Or we could continue to dick around investing billions into wind power that requires the rare earth magnets that come from processing Thorium rich salts somewhere and that don't generate power when the wind doesn't blow, which is most of the time. We could continue to drop billions down the rat-hole of defending "free" access to major oil deposits under the guise of defending national security or promoting personal and religious freedoms for people living half a world away. We can make bankers and corporate interests rich with complex 'carbon trading' schemes that so far have had zero effect on global CO_2 levels at enormous annualized costs, costs so great that they probably single handedly caused the European banking crisis (or could have ameliorated it in any event). We spend more money on long-shot always a decade away fusion energy than we do on LFTR, and burned more federal money on solar cells in one failed company than it would cost to get started on LFTR.

There is a singular lack of urgency in thorium based energy research and investment. Too many people make too much money within the status quo.


Comment Re:the USA has it too (Score 2) 100

Hell yes! Sapphires too. Even gold mines (one of the largest gold mines in the world prior to the California gold rush is a few miles from where I'm sitting). But you do have to watch out if you want to mine any of this stuff, or you'll catch hell.

North Carolina has Uranium as well, but there is so strong a NIMBY movement that any politician that suggested that we mine it and achieve energy independence in the state would find himself going to hell in a handbasket. Thorium too -- in the form of Monzanite Sands, which are -- surprise -- around 24% lanthanum, about 17% neodymium, and full of other useful stuff as well. The minute somebody realizes that national "rare earth shortages" are complete bullshit caused almost entirely by our reluctance to treat Thorium as a potentially useful nuclear fuel instead of as a pollutant, there will be hell to pay, but in the long run North Carolina has more than enough heaven in it to compensate.

Personally, sitting as I am a mere fifteen or twenty miles from Shearon-Harris (a pressurized water nuclear plant with one of the largest nuclear waste cooling pool facilities in the world) I'd be thrilled if our state took a hell of a risk and directly invested in the promotion of rare earth mining with the deliberate extraction of the associated Thorium and in the further investment in Thorium based nuclear reactors that produce "no" nuclear waste in comparison with Uranium Oxide, but between NIMBY and corporate interests that currently make shit-piles of money providing UO fuel or coal based energy, it will be a cold day in Half Hell, NC before that happens.


Comment Re:"continue to search for and find other deposits (Score 1) 100

Now, finding rare earth deposits with almost no thorium in them is a real feat, and getting the US government to find ways to store thorium would a world-class miracle.

No, a world class miracle would be getting the U. S. government to fund the development of an LFTR that would provide the world with essentially unlimited cheap electricity, provide us with ample supples of rare earth elements and other exotic but useful isotopes as a side effect, generate almost no nuclear waste (LFTR consumes nearly all of the meso-scale "waste" like plutonium and turns it into energy), in a process that cannot melt down (the reaction just stops) in a reactor vessel that is not pressurized, using fuel that does not have to be hand assembled and delivered only by the company that made your reactor originally, at a small fraction of the cost of solid Uranium Oxide fuel, using reactions that make it relatively difficult to build bombs undetected, while eliminating world (energy) poverty without the use of carbon (whether or not you happen to think CO_2 is a problem, carbon fuels release more radioactivity than all the nuclear plants on earth combined times 100, soot, a variety of known carcinogens, teratogenic mercury, and acid precursors).

But no, we have to protect General Electric and Westinghouse and our ability to scavenge plutonium from expended and enormously expensive fuel. Big oil or coal is happy to invest all sorts of chump change in solar and wind projects because they know that they are not viable without subsidy and the subsidy is always enough to make them break even or win a bit economically without threatening their main profit stream. Thorium would disrupt the entire energy delivery system and drop the cost of energy in all forms dramatically, at the expense of huge recurring profits for some huge players that make equally huge contributions to the entire political establishment. So while storing thorium would make enormous sense, we will neither store it nor invest in using it until the need to do so exceeds the price of votes in Washington. Which, sadly, will be around a decade after the Chinese perfect the technology and market it to the entire world, including us, while maintaining a virtual monopoly on the heavier rare earths (as noted, almost always found with Thorium as a "pollutant"). Hell, even fusion might happen first, and that is an uphill battle all the way.

It's actually an excellent bellwether of the Green movement. At the moment, it is perfectly happy to condemn two billion plus of the world's population to continue to live in energy poverty so profound that they burn dung to cook on, wash clothes (if at all) by hand, and use oil lamps (if anything) to light the night while pushing enormous sums into technologies (like wind) that are visibly a major fail and will remain so into the indefinite future. They trumpet the dangers of CO_2 and catastrophic global warming in the distant future while perpetuating the ongoing real time catastrophe that affects over a third of the earth's population right now, while playing into the hands of the very agents that provide the carbon based power they demonize as the alternatives they push are not technologically or economically feasible (yet).

The one existing technology that "could" permit the continuation of civilization and reduction of global poverty while reducing CO_2 production at a feasible cost is nuclear (which is not a single technology but a many technologies, some of them the subject of research and development). Thorium based reactors are in a sense proven technology -- they were built back in the 60s and 70s and successfully run long enough to verify that they are indeed almost certainly a safe, meltdown-proof nuclear technology with far lower risks and far greater benefits in every category from cost to waste to nuclear proliferation -- but they do require four or five years of intensive research to complete an engineering cycle to scale. The day the Greens recognize this and take their foot off of the backs of the world's poorest people, the day the US government wakes up to the idea that Thorium could actually provide the energy needed to run a global civilization on a millennial time scale at an acceptable cost and without producing CO_2 as a side effect, that's the day I'll believe that CO_2 is something other than a complex scam by people who hate civilization -- except when it benefits them personally. You don't see many Greens washing their clothes by hand on river rocks, going to bed when the sun goes down, and cooking their food on dried dung.


Comment Re:Doomsday clock (Score 1) 301

And how pitiful it is that this prediction is by people that should know better. I'm a physicist and better than average at predicting social and political events (I predicted the fall of the Soviet Union and reunification of Germany several years before they occurred, much to the surprise and amusement of my colleagues when they actually happened, for example) and yet I know better than to make long term predictions of doom in highly nonlinear, nearly unpredictable systems with enormous feedbacks acting against catastrophes of all sorts. And then there are Black Swan events, where the catastrophe that occurs isn't the one you expected.

It's all the more pointless given that the world has never been safer, healthier, wealthier, or freer. Not that we are "there yet", but it is far more plausible to assert that our risk of some sort of global disaster is decreasing, not increasing or remaining constant. The end of the cold war all by itself should have moved the damn clock back by a few hours if it where anything other than a complex political statement.


Comment Re:I dunno... (Score 1) 776

Yeah, like that, assuming you have the ? operator.

Fun but dumb. This is the sort of thing I assign as one of the first few programming assignments in any language I'm teaching a student (usually in an independent study, since I generally teach physics and not programming except to select students). I'm about to teach a student matlab (not my first choice, but a decent thing to choose to be first for a total programming novice) and I'll be sure to include this right after I have them do the "count to 100" exercise that is just the loop itself.


Comment Re:I dunno... (Score 1, Informative) 776

Inelegant. You really only need three conditionals and no else. Fewer lines of code (including the terminating LF).

for i in 1 to 100 loop

      if mod(i,3) == 0 then print 'fizz';
      if mod(i,5) == 0 then print 'buzz';
      if(mod(i,3) || mod(i,5)) print i;
      print '\n';

end loop

Comment Re:Survey with "Jedi" option available (Score 1) 262

What a taunting "invitation". You say "come over to my house and watch the game" then leave the door locked, the knocker gone and the doorbell disconnected because you're sure your invitee won't show.

Piffle. How can you lock the door on God? You have inflated Jesus in your mind into some sort of arrogant bastard, to help reduce the cognitive dissonance caused by the unsolvable problem of theodicy: case you haven't worked through it. None of the proposed "solutions" are at all logical or appealing, and they are infinitely less appealing with the hell meme, which makes God infinitely unjust for punishing a finite offense committed by a flawed character for an eternity.

No, I'm merely assuming for the sake of the argument that you are correct, that Jesus is real, but I'm insisting on applying the exact same rules I used to determine the reality of everything else to verify that. You have a vague feeling in your mind and say "Aha, Jesus!" I insist on rather more. My mind is certainly capable of generating a feeling of Jesus, or Ganesh, or Buddha, or The Great Spirit watching over me, because my mind is complex, far more than just my interior dialogue or current focus of attention. So is yours. As I'm married, I'm perfectly aware that my mind is capable of synthesizing entire fantasies and substituting them for a memory of reality (if you are married, I'm sure your wife or husband has successfully demonstrated this to you as well). When I teach, I often say one thing but my hand writes something else at the board. Who wrote that? Jesus? Satan? Or is my brain just more complex than what's going on in my verbal centers and sometimes confused, sometimes feeding garbage from one part into the sensory channels of another?

Also, why do I even need to ask? Why does anyone? If you believe that the contents of the Bible are factually correct -- God knows how you possibly could, given the vast collection of internal contradictions and contradictions with simple known facts, but if -- then you agree that Jesus revealed himself to certain people "in person". Saul/Paul was my example, but according to SPaul "hundreds of others, some of whom are now asleep" (dead). Spaul wasn't inviting Jesus at all; nor was he taunting. He simply thought that Jesus was yet another false messiah and that Jews that thought otherwise were blasphemers, which is not, actually, an unreasonable proposition given the straight up beliefs of Judaism at that time. In persecuting them, he was simply following the rules laid down in the Old Testament for dealing with blasphemy and idolatry.

One has to assume that SPaul would have gone to hell had Jesus not intervened, completely uninvited, personally. One has to assume that nearly everybody on Earth will end up in hell if Jesus doesn't intervene, uninvited, personally since it is still the case that 2 out of 3 people living are not even nominally Christian (and one has to assume, as you seem to agree, that many of those that claim to be Christian on a sheet are not, although that's a No True Scotsman logical fallacy for anyone to assert about anyone else). So here I am, surely no worse thatn SPaul on the road to Damascus. As I've pointed out, probably better -- I hardly ever persecute anybody but undergraduates who are flunking my course. My disbelief in Jesus is utterly reasonable and completely honest disbelief, just as your belief is completely unreasonable as you've never actually seen Jesus, touched Jesus, or had any of the usual sensory experiences associated with things that are actually objectively real (forgive me for speaking for you here, but you know this is true -- you've never shared a glass of wine with Jesus in the real world and chatted about theodicy to see how God explains the solution to the problem).

I believe -- mostly -- in the laptop I'm typing this reply into because I'm physically touching it and the sensory experience is the sort I've learned to associate with "things that very probably really exist", while I don't believe in Yetis so very much because I've never seen one, nor are there any of the sorts of things that I've learned to interpret as reliable reports of their existence. It's not that there might not be an animal that corresponds to the myth/legend of the Yeti; it's that nobody has managed to catch one and study it and do the sorts of things that definitively prove its existence. I'm sure that if they do exist in the wilds of Tibet, and somebody who lives there has seen one up close and personally, they'd be inclined to believe in them at lot more than I do, but because humans are so often mistaken even about what they see, even they would be well advised to avoid egregious conclusions about just what it is that they are seeing, which could range from a genetically deformed ordinary human to a new species of primate.

As I've said before, I believe because God has revealed himself to me.

Really? What did God look like? Did God explain hell, or why he lets all sorts of awful things happen to people when he could easily prevent it? Or do you mean that you have a feeling of communion with God, a mental sensation with absolutely nothing in the external world that corresponded to it? If so, how in the world do you know that you experienced God "revealing himself to you" as opposed to a rush of oxytocin released in a positive feedback loop? God has to be more than a mental high that might or might not be self-induced. Let me know when God communicates actual objective information or any sort of evidence to you that can be objectively checked.

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone acted as Jesus taught. No more war, no more poverty, no more hate.

Jesus taught that the world was about to end, and that he was going to come back within the lifetime of his immediate followers to establish the Kingdom of God. The Bible states this quite unambiguously in several places. Later, when it was clear that this was not going to happen, the Bible itself was rewritten to soften this prophecy so that it can never be falsified, no matter how long one waits. Jesus preached things like selling all of one's wealth and giving it away to the poor, which sounds very compassionate but is appallingly bad economics, economics that would in no time at all lead to world poverty the likes of which the world has only seen back in the Dark Ages in Europe, when in fact everybody was a Christian -- or else. So your "no more poverty" assertion is simply false if one literally follows the teachings of Jesus.

Of course he taught that way. He himself -- if he really ever existed at all and isn't an amalgam of the many apocalyptic preachers who, like John the Baptist, wandered Judea at the time -- expected the apocalypse any day now, so there was no point in holding on to wealth or even a means of making a living. Look to the lilies of the field, right? Riiiiight. Sure path to starvation.

Naturally, you're going to pick out and interpret other parts of the Bible or what he said to justify continuing to hold a job and not selling all of your personal possessions and giving them all to the poor and walking out your front door, leaving your family and life behind and devoting everything for the rest of your life to Jesus, but the clear fact of the matter is that this is precisely what he said you, and everybody else, should do. Not a pretty picture, actually, because God really doesn't take care of the lilies in the field, and he doesn't take care of humans or visibly interfere in human affairs or the mechanical operation of the world in any way that we can detect, looking very hard.

Now, imagine what the world would be like if everybody acted as the Buddha taught. No more war, no more hate, and -- for real -- no more poverty, because Buddha only insisted that people not make a living at things that hurt others, not that they don't make a living at all. Buddha is, word for word, concept for concept, far wiser and more compassionate than Jesus up front, where it matters, in the explicitly stated major precepts of Buddhism, where with Jesus you have to puzzle over cursing figs that are unproductive out of season or understand why Jesus is deliberately preaching in parables to deceive the people he wants to send to hell.

And Buddha wasn't perfectly correct, either. What in the world is wrong with using your mere common sense and living a "good life" not to get into heaven or avoid hell after you die, not because "God wants you to", but because it makes sense to do so, because it minimizes the hell we all must endure in this real world, because it minimizes your own suffering and the suffering of others while maximizing at the same time your comfort, security, and happiness? I manage it just fine, and stopped believing in Jesus some 40 years ago, and stopped believing in a personal god decades ago. My wife is a physician, an enormously compassionate individual. She manages it. Being "good" or being "bad" has nothing to do with belief, and absolutely nothing to do with Jesus unless you carefully cherrypick the verses from the NT you want to use to make Jesus good in accord with your own intuition of the good.

Finally, whether or not life would be great if everybody were a Christian doesn't affect in any way whether or not Christianity is true. You really need to separate the two in your mind, as they are entirely separate questions. You also need to acknowledge that it is just barely possible that basing your life decisions upon false information, whether or not that false information is a deliberate lie or merely a mistake, might lead you to perform acts that you yourself would consider to be bad acts if you were in the possession of the true facts.


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