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Comment Re:Surprise, Gnome not read for prime time. (Score 1) 4

You have just, in the same sentence, complained about OSS by characterising it as having two mutually exclusive flaws. That doesn't strike you as a little...odd?

Not only does this sort of thing happen in just open source software, or even the more general software field - but in almost every project where you have a deadline. The roadworks on my way to work will attest to that, having originally being scheduled to end in March, and still up now. The one area of software that I see make an active stand towards meeting deadlines at all costs is the game industry, which I expect are required to meet deadlines to hit certain cyclical markets. The effect these crunch periods have on their employees, and often the quality of the final product is telling, so if I were to pick a flaw, it'd be the delay every time. The Gnome team are trying something big here. 3.0 is not yet another iteration of a knock-off Windows UI. If they do a KDE 4.0 now, they'll have wasted everything, because in the eyes of the public, the failure will be of the concept as a whole, and not of an implementation that needed another several months polishing.

It'll be ready when it's ready, even if it's not as soon as I'd like.

Comment Re:Open University? (Score 1) 428

I'm going into the third year of the Open University BSc in Computing. Certainly better than my previous experience in Higher Education at a traditional B&M uni.

It's heavily focused on Java, but some of the more theoretical modules employ their own custom language to focus on the modules fundamentals instead of opening it up to the unnecessary complexity of all of Java. The default pathway in the Computing course is a tad light on theory as opposed to practice, but outside of the compulsory modules you can pick other related ones from the Technology side of the school, so I'll be picking one on Processors that's highly reviewed by past students to round out the course in that respect. The course materials are of high quality thus far, and the tutors have all been excellent so far.

I also appreciate their approach to Tutorials - as it's a distance course, there are several meetings scheduled throughout the module where a tutor and students can meet for several hours to discuss progress so far, and have any questions answered. Often the results of the tutorials are recorded and made available via podcast for those that couldn't make it. But yeah, I'd definitely recommend the OU to others.

Comment Re:Still doing that? (Score 1) 631

Exactly. And why is this? Because admitting atheism, even at the heights secularism has reached, is a death sentence to any politicians hope to get into office. If the populous are passengers, then religion may not be driving the bus anymore, but only because it has reached a higher level of management: vetting the new bus drivers for acceptability.

Comment Re:Still doing that? (Score 1) 631

Hatred? Yup? Intolerance? Yup. But importantly, not without justification. And it's the justification that makes the difference.

Mine is the knowledge that the 3 major monotheisms are all looking forward to the destruction of the world. And each of them now has the power to take that destruction into their own hands. These are facts. Someone disavowed of the notion of an afterlife in paradise will do all that they can to avoid an unnatural end to themselves and those they care for. The same cannot be universally said for the religious. Convinced of the worthlessness of this life in comparison to the next, they can be dangerous like no other to themselves and anyone in the blast radius of the weapon they get their hands on. A hypothetical atheist - not necessarily a fundamentalist one, as you put it - thinks of religion as widespread delusion. But how can they, in the face of that belief, reconcile that and it's extremely dangerous tendencies with a laissez faire approach to it? "As long as it leaves me alone, I'll leave it alone." is another dangerous policy of appeasement that will bite us in the ass one day.

Comment Re:Still doing that? (Score 1) 631

Neither Stalin nor Mao eliminated religion though. Religionists like to say it did, because they don't recognise the reflection of themselves in what these regimes replaced religion with. For them, it is enough that there was a non-belief. From the perspective of faith as a psychological trojan horse, and religion as a command centre of the resulting botnet, they were little more than beheadings of the current authority to impose another. The difference being instead of necessarily pushing a religious ideology, it pushed a social or political one instead.

The final cure to religiosity, in all its forms, is to have this fundamental weakness in our psychology addressed by the mental preparation for the inevitable attack.

Comment Re:Still doing that? (Score 1) 631

This "rebuttal" to atheism is getting tiresome. You cannot call them atheist regimes with a hope of retaining any scrap of honesty. They were anti-religious, yes, but only because they desired the power of the church for themselves. They wanted to fill that religion shaped hole in people's lives with an image of themselves and their ideology. The so-called atheist regimes of today are not an example of secular societies, but of modern re-enactment of far more primitive tribalism with modern technology at their disposal.

I won't touch the second half of your post, the childish nature of it is sickening.

Comment Re:Still doing that? (Score 3, Informative) 631

>>You do know that the notion that religious people probably shouldn't kill each other over religion... is a Christian idea, don't you? It is typically attributed to atheism, but is the result of a lot of the ostensibly religious wars we had in Europe back in the day.

Right, because the Abrahamic God wasn't a petty, vengeful little dictator who frequently ordered the destruction of races and cultures he didn't like, or who worshipped a stone altar over him. Oh, right, he was! That's some Christian message when the so-called founder of it is basically just saying, don't do as I do, do as I say, apart from when I tell you to ignore what I say and help me do as I do by doing what I now say instead. Kill the infidels over yonder hill, for they worship graven images.

The first 2 commandments are against the worshipping of other gods, in aid of which genocides were enacted. Entire cultures destroyed because they believed in a different spaghetti monster. At least in Christianity's defense, it didn't kill everyone. God did tell them to capture the virgin women and use them as sex slaves. So it's not all bad.

>>As far as I know, all of our presidents have been Christian, and we've yet to turn the rest of the world into a radioactive parking lot. Perhaps you'd like to try a better excuse? When you compare our Christian presidents with, say, Kim Jong Il (who would probably love to nuke South Korea if he could) your argument makes rather the opposite point.

And it's only been very recently that we have as a species had this power. Power in the hands of people who yes, have been religious. No doubt about that. You take what I say out of context however - I don't say that religion always leads people to err, but that it can, and when it does, the results have been horrific. Then to imagine this inevitable error when magnified by the power of modern weaponry.

And far from Kim Jong Il being a representative of a non religious ruler - he's the very definition of one gone wrong. One we should be extremely thankful that went wrong in a culture that isn't capable of destroying the rest of us in their ecstasy.

Comment Re:Dude, that was rude. (Score 3, Insightful) 631

It's a nice thought, that mutual respect would be enough to win out in the end. I used to believe that myself, and would hate it when other atheists took innocuous statements to grandstand upon. Now I support them wholeheartedly, because the frame of the debate has so radically changed. Religious people, across each of the 3 major monotheisms are all, every single one of them, either looking forward to, enabling, or otherwise taking part in a plot that involves the extinction of the human race. If they don't, they are not religious. It's as simple as that. You cannot be a Christian and say you don't at least look forward to the rapture and spending eternity an a ridiculously vaguely defined "heaven".

I used to hope that Gould's non-overlapping magisteria would apply to the world at large - believe what you want in private, but don't interfere with others. But even this doesn't hold up to the briefest of thought experiments. Imagine, for a moment, that you are a deeply religious person who also happens to exert power over your contemporaries. You could be the President, a senator, a mayor, a teacher, or even just the head of a family. Now, what faith? Doesn't matter. I will invent this faith: you could remove every nasty bit from the bible, and still be left with a faith that is eventually immoral. You don't even have to believe in hell. It's as simple as being offered the choice: Paradise for being "good", or not. Not can be living on in earth, or even the state of non-existence you were in before birth. You just have to believe that obeying the religious laws leads to untold paradise the likes of which makes earth seem a hell in comparison.

You're taught that your Holy Book is sacred. What could go wrong with that? Well, you must also then outlaw recycling - since if you follow the chain, a recycled Holy Book could end up as toilet paper. Definitely not Holy.

You're taught that jealousy is bad. Maybe it is! Maybe people should just be happy for others instead! But of course, it doesn't work out this way. Your neighbours wife is far more attractive than your own, which, as much as you might try to resist it, makes you a little jealous of him. It's impossible for humans to avoid thought crime, so the only chance for you avoiding this sin is to make sure that if your neighbours wife leaves the house, she does so, covered head to toe in a bulky, form concealing gown, with the merest of slits for vision.

Your religion compels you to ensure the well being of your neighbours, family, loved ones, etc. This seems an innocuous teaching. But in a faith where breaking religious edicts can put your eternal soul in jeopardy, then it's your responsibility to help prevent others from doing something so tragic. So you outlaw abortion. You outlaw contraception. You outlaw a heretical book - which if you find, you promptly burn.

And although these things might seem to be inconveniences to you and others at the time, as a religious person who believes in paradise and eternal damnation, you will willingly pick any temporal inconvenience in aid of an eternity in Paradise.

My eventual point in all of this is, religion is incompatible with morality and power. Morality obviously has an existence separate from religion, and is far more important than it. Power is essential in the running of society at all of its levels. But the moment you give someone with faith power, you cause in them a conflict. They abandon their faith for overall morality - not inflicting their choices on others. Or they pick their faith, and abandon morality, making edicts on behalf of others, "for their own good", whether they believe that way or not. This world has examples of both kinds of religious person. We're gambling with our lives though - all it takes is one religious person getting enough power, picking faith over morality, and using that power to enable the destruction of us all - for our own good.

Comment Re:Still doing that? (Score 5, Insightful) 631

>>Religion has, historically speaking, been the greatest force for good our planet has ever seen.

The one thing religion is good at is getting otherwise good people to do, enable those that do, and believe in, terrible acts. That's it. You don't need to be religious to be charitable, as the existence of secular aid organisations around the world will attest to. But this dick measuring contest between theist vs atheist "good works" is ridiculous and belittles that same work on both sides, so I'll avoid that as much as possible. What I will say to this though is on a different aspect of the same point. You will accept, I hope, that humanity seems naturally predisposed to the belief in a God. And I imagine you will also accept the obvious statement that for a large portion of our history, religion exerted a far greater force on our lives than it does now. So when you say that, historically speaking, religion has been the greatest force of good, you must also accept that historically speaking, religion mandated that it be the only allowable force. The difference between now and then is that now it no longer has the power to enforce that mandate. In the lifetime of human society, it is only last week that you would have to be almost suicidal to admit that you did not believe in a God, when the church of that God had power over the course of your life. It is only last week that Christians were burning the philosophies of ancient Greece in the belief that any morality before Jesus was devoid of value. Religion had a stranglehold as the only acceptable front for morality - so of course, if you look back over history and notice the good things it does, you will see some religious involvement.

Religion does however retard humanity's progress. It does not do it sufficiently that we stall or move backwards, but this is something that the modern world is changing. In history, when religiosity was a problem, it killed people. It burned books. It maybe wiped out a town or village. Started a jihad that ended in the death of a tribe or culture. Maybe even instigated the odd war, leading to the deaths of thousands. Terrible as these things no doubt were, they were not enough to halt human progress. It continued inexorably upwards - I posit, without the need for religion at all. Today, when religion makes a mistake, it can take a mere modern convenience, slam it into another and kill thousands. Imagine for a moment what would happen if religion today got its hands on a real weapon. In the last hour of human history, we gained the capability for mass destruction, the likes of which would only take one more religious mistake, to not just retard human progress - or set it back - but to wipe it out completely. You can of course say, it doesn't have to be a religious mistake that does this. You're right, it doesn't. But having another finger on the trigger is not ideal, and whereas a non religious person will not want to destroy the world - the 3 great monotheisms positively look forward to it.

>>Hitchens is a frothing moron who doesn't know the first thing about what he's talking about - his sole tactic is to sound British and snotty when talking about religion. I've watched several dozens of his debates online, especially with Dinesh D'Souza (who doesn't do an especially good job defending Christianity), and I've yet to see him put together a single cogent argument. Other than, I suppose, the fact that he'll sneer at you if you believe.

Ad homimum.

Comment Re:Still doing that? (Score 5, Informative) 631

Better to be considered an asshat by someone who is clearly delusional, than being delusional yourself - or enabling their delusions at the cost to society as a whole. Religion needs put down, hard. The best single argument for me against faith has been one posited by Hitchens in part 2 of a debate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYaQpRZJl18&feature=related (part1) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkHuvErbpd0&NR=1 (part 2). The idea that existence of this sort of god being "compelling" is more absurd than belief in astrology, reading the future in tea-leaves and various other nonsense.

Comment Re:This is what pisses me off about police (Score 1) 765

He's no doubt referencing the iPhone that police bent over backwards to help Apple recover. They seemed happy to stoop that low for a corporation, so why not a citizen?

And don't strawman this. While it makes sense to assign more resources to high value items, the issue the poster has is obviously the fact that it isn't just "less" resources; it's no resources at all being assigned.

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"Truth never comes into the world but like a bastard, to the ignominy of him that brought her birth." -- Milton