Just a Little Common Sense

For a life based on reason, ethics, literature and art.

Archive for June 2010

Female Gay Atheist Prime Ministers

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I came across two great stories today. Both are about Female Prime Ministers, namely the ones of Iceland and of Australia. Both of them are pretty much the pope’s worst nightmare come true: Women in positions of political power, who are not ashamed of their sexuality and even worse, are open apostates.

Yesterday, the Telegraph published a story about the marriage of Johanna Sigurdardottir, Prime Minister of Iceland. She married her long time partner Jonina Leosdottir on last Sunday, the day gay marriage became legal in Iceland after the legislation was unanimously passed on june 12. They had been in a civil union since 2002, which has now been formally transformed into a marriage.

The other story has been covered already, but it’s so great that I’m gonna share it again anyhow: Australia’s PM Julia Gillard openly talked about her lack of faith on a radio interview with 744 ABC Melbourne at 9 am this morning. The Interviewer asked her straight out whether she believed in god, and her reply was an unambiguous “no I don’t, John. I’m not a religious person.” She then elaborated on her upbringing in a Baptist family but said that she chose to “pursue a different path in my adult life.” The interviewer also asked her about how she was going to attract the “vital christian vote”. Her awesome reply was that she was “not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel”. She gained some points on my  authenticity-scale with that one. Her clear message was that she was concerned for Australia as a whole and was not going to suck up to a particular group in order to gain votes. I like that. You can find the interview here, the bit about religion starts at 6:30 min before the end of the segment. (it’s got a weird backwards-counting timer, hence my odd phrasing)

I think this is great news. It is an indicator that there is some change happening. Public perception is shifting, on the topic of homosexuality as well as on the topic of religion. It’s awesome to see it moving into the right direction.

Written by Phil

June 29, 2010 at 13:54

Satisfaction is the Death of Desire

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Every single time I criticize a particular thing that I think is in need of improvement, there is always someone  around trying to stifle my insufferable meliorism by telling me how I shouldn’t be so negative and how, actually, I should be happy, because “you know, things could be worse.”
Of course they mean that I should appreciate my situation in comparison to, say, and Ugandan child-prostitute. And believe me, I really do. I am fully aware of how privileged I am by being born to middle-class parents of a first world country, that my life so thoroughly lacks physical suffering that my definition of pain comes from cutting myself in the finger with a kitchen knife, that I’ve never known hunger, nor lost loved ones to anything but natural causes. I do appreciate that. But that is no argument for not  improving upon any condition that inflicts unnecessary and avoidable suffering, however little.
Actually, it’s not even an argument to accept unnecessary inconvenience.

I consider to respond one day by punching that person in the face and then saying “Don’t complain. I could have punched you twice. Really, you should be happy  I only hurt you once, and I didn’t even break your nose. Actually, be grateful I didn’t rape you. You know – things could be so much worse.”

Bottom line: Whatever can be improved without causing any detriment to anyone, ought  to be improved. If things could be better, however slightly, the default position should be working towards that goal unless there are good reasons not to do so. Always seek change for the better, and never stop. Stagnation is not something that is worth living for.

Written by Phil

June 27, 2010 at 00:22

Rantings About the State of the Movie Industry

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Dear Movie Industry

You’re doing it wrong. Actually you’re doing many things wrong. I’ll address a few of them, in no particular order. I’ll start of with the most obvious point:

  • Management of Cinemas and Movie Theatres

You keep whining about the classic Movie Theatre is dying because of DVD and the evil, evil internet piracy. I disagree. It’s dying because of bad management. You aren’t offering a very decent product – uncomfortable seats, dirty rooms, that loud fucker who won’t shut up. Here’s a list of improvements you might make, so cinema will become a pleasant experience again:

  1. Use your householder’s rights, employ bouncers.
    Cinemas are private property. If somebody misbehaves, throw him out. You’ll lose one customer, but the other 100 guests will be enormously thankful. Who knows, they may even come back for the next movie, rather than staying at home with a DVD where nobody spoils their fun by shouting, throwing popcorn or talking on the phone.
  2. Don’t whine about how DVDs are stealing your business, sell them.
    There is no law that says that you can’t act as a retail business, too. As a cinema you might actually profit from the DVD business, by providing special offers such as giving people who produce a movie ticket on purchase 20% off the DVD for that movie once it comes out. Or give the first 100 buyers a movie poster, rather than throwing them away. You have a lot of possibilities here, be creative.
  3. Provide proper food.
    Is popcorn and nachos the best you can do? Come on. Add a decent (NO FAST FOOD!) restaurant to the theatre, provide the opportunity for a romantic dinner before/after the latest romance. Actually, take a look at ALL the things people tend to do before/after visiting a cinema, and provide those services. Profit from them. Nobody ever said you need to let your customers take their business anywhere else after they finished watching the movie. Provide a bar, make them stay. Them and their money.
  4. How about cinemas for smokers?
    Being a non-smoker, I’d really hate to see that idea being realized, but smokers are an important target group. Make one cinema a dedicated smoking-zone. Sell the tickets for a higher price so you can keep the “silver screen” from becoming a yellow screen, and see the nicotine-addicted part of the audience break out in tears of thankfulness because they can enjoy a movie without having to abstain from smoking an unbearable 110 minutes.
  5. Need more suggestions?
    You have people who get paid to think about stuff like this. Tell them to be creative and don’t let poor student bloggers do their homework for them.

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Written by Phil

June 23, 2010 at 08:06

How to Make Physics Interesting

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Rhett Allain over at DotPhysics analyzed a film scene from Commando to calculate Arnold Schwarzenegger’s density, thus determining wether he really is human. (Hint: He isn’t)
This is what it looks like:

Let me look at the combo of the two men (Arnold and Sully) and look at the forces acting on this “system”. Picture time:

If I assume Arnie is holding Sully just to the point where they are both going to fall, then there would just be one force on the Arnie-Sully system from the ground. It would act on the system at the edge of the cliff. The other two forces are the gravitational force on Arnie and the gravitational force on Sully. […]

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Written by Phil

June 22, 2010 at 20:50

A Huge Step Forwards: Obama Acknowledges Gay Parents

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Words of common sense from the White House – who would’ve thought?
In his Father’s Day speech, Barack Obama acknowledged same-sex parenthood.

Fatherhood also carries enormous responsibilities. An active, committed father makes a lasting difference in the life of a child. When fathers are not present, their children and families cope with an absence government cannot fill. Across America, foster and adoptive fathers respond to this need, providing safe and loving homes for children facing hardships. Men are also making compassionate commitments outside the home by serving as mentors, tutors, or big brothers to young people in their community. Together, we can support the guiding presence of male role models in the lives of countless young people who stand to gain from it.

Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian.

(My bold.)

Finally, somebody in american politics talking sense about parenthood, and acknowledging that a parental bond is not dependant on biological kinship. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Phil

June 22, 2010 at 06:40

How I Feel About Guitar Hero and iPod-Headphones

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This vid sums it up just nicely. For those of you who are really dense: What I’m agreeing with is the guy behind the counter.

“4Y Records” created by Jonathan Ian Mathers. Gotta love it.

Guitar Hero is fine as long as you realize it’s a fuckin’ game with only five buttons. What pisses me off about it are the kids who actually think they can play guitar because they’re good at pressing those buttons, and those kids who might have grown up to become promising musicians but will never learn an instrument because they spent all their time playing Guitar Hero.
Next topic: iPod headphones. They’re a disgrace to anyone who really appreciates music. The first thing I do after buying a new mp3-player is throwing away the earplugs that come with it, and switch to my huge Bose studio-headphones that cost me two months worth of pay. I never regrettet buying them for a single second. If you want to know what people mean by “Eargasm”, get a pair of those and only listen to mp3s that you ripped from CD yourself at at least 320 kbps. You may then go and shop at 4Y Records without getting shot. That’s a good thing.

Written by Phil

June 21, 2010 at 21:06

Michael Shermer: The Pattern Behind Self-Deception

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Written by Phil

June 19, 2010 at 01:28

Friday Fun Fact #5

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Written by Phil

June 19, 2010 at 00:12

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One of the Best Humanist Blogs Around

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I’ll be very busy this weekend, so I won’t be able to spend too much time here until next monday. So for the meantime, I thought I’d throw out a recommendation for all who want to read clear, honest, humanist thoughts:

It’s a blog called Belief In People. You can also find it in my blogroll in the sidebar. It’s a great blog full of insightful musings. What I find to be particularly interesting about Shawn’s writings is that he wrote a fair bit about being an atheist parent. His musings are thought-provoking, the topics are interesting, his reasoning is clear and his writing is eloquent. It just can’t get much better. A good place to start reading is The Best of Belief in People, a selection of his best posts. Enjoy!

Protecting Children From Sexual Abuse: A Better Approach

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“Do you like children more than you ought to? There is help. http://www.do-not-become-a-culprit.de” *

I was quite stunned when I saw this TV ad for a help-line for paedophiles. I don’t know wether they actually aired it yet, as I only saw it on their homepage. In any case I hope this gets massive exposure, for this is a laudable thing. Paedophilia is a tough topic, all the more so because most people are so disgusted by the thought of it that they completely close off to rational arguments.
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