Sunday, August 8, 2010

Excuses! And a prologue. Or a foreword.

Rawls' balls, I cannot do this non-weekend thing like I said I could. And now I can't even do the weekend thing like I said I could! The nice thing is that I can just say "seventy-hour work week", and know that I'm justified. The rotten thing is that there's actually a seventy-hour work week justifying it. Blargh.

So it turns out that the immune system is way the Hell more complicated than I thought it was. Also, I have been arguing on the internet, and that takes time away from studying things and writing about them. Hmm... need content...

Well, Jack informed me of a book called The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel, which is exactly what it says on the tin. I want to write about that some time soon. Ebonmuse informed me of something which shall provide fuel for another 101IT entry, so I want to write about that, soon, too. And I didn't even cover clotting in my blood overview, so I'll have to squeeze that in somewhere, because it's complicated and interesting! But I haven't written anything about any of those yet. Blargh again.

OK, so I guess it's time to bust out the, uh, "big guns". As foretold in the prophecy, I am working on another book, entitled Tabula Rasa: A Novel Approach to Epistemology. Here is the prologue, though it may become a foreword, I don't know. Enjoy!
It is Friday, the fifth of May in the year 2000, the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Gregorian calendar. If not for the Leap Year, it would also be the 125th day of the year, or five cubed. Most of the world is looking forward to a pleasant spring weekend. This particular day is celebrated the world over for a wide variety of reasons that vary from place to place.

In the United States of America, the Mexican victory against overwhelming French opposition at the Battle of Puebla is celebrated, though it is confused with Mexico's Independence Day in the minds of many Americans. Citizens of Puebla observe the holiday, but it is little recognized elsewhere in Mexico. Other war holidays include Patriots' Victory Day in Ethiopia, signifying the end of Italian occupation in 1941; and Liberation Day in both Denmark and the Netherlands, commemorating local defeats of German forces in 1945. In politics, Kyrgyzstan celebrates the seventh anniversary of adopting their first constitution after breaking free of the former Soviet Union; the Council of Europe celebrates the fifty-first anniversary of its founding; Albanians honor those who died for their nation's freedom with Martyrs' Day; and King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand looks back across half a century since his coronation, just six years shy of becoming Thailand's longest-reigning monarch. Familial celebrations are peculiarly abundant: Japan and South Korea observe Children's Day, Romania observes Men's Day, Senior Citizens' Day is observed in Palau, Indian descendants in Guyana celebrate the 1838 arrival of their ancestors to work on sugar plantations, and the ninth International Midwives' Day is observed thanks to the efforts of the International Confederation of Midwives.

The feast of Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice is also held on this day, his beatification occurring in 1995 when Pope John Paul II officially recognized as a miracle the strange convalescence of one Kevin Ellison in 1976. Ellison, then nineteen, developed gangrene in his large intestine as a complication from an appendectomy. Five doctors agreed that Ellison's colon did not have enough healthy tissue to see him through the next two days, but after a priest gave a relic of Edmund Rice to the family to be placed by Ellison's bedside, there appeared quite a bit more healthy tissue in Ellison's colon, and he went on to a full recovery. Two competing explanations seem to offer themselves for our consideration: either five practicing doctors made an egregious error, or a dead man cured intestinal gangrene through the strategic placement of one of his Earthly knick-knacks. When confronted with the opportunity to believe in either serious magic or serious human error, the Pope chose to affirm a belief in magic. One cannot help but wonder whether such a mind places greater implicit trust in the powers of deities or doctors.

Other uncelebrated but nonetheless historic occurrences have also marked this day throughout history. In 1981, Bobby Sands died in prison, ending his 66-day hunger strike in a two-day coma. In 1961, Commander Alan Shepard became the first American in space, launched 115 miles into the sky during a fifteen-minute flight. In 1925, John Scopes was arrested for teaching the theory of evolution to public school children, the first of many legal absurdities wherein scientists would be forced to struggle against the forces of parental ignorance in order to have an overwhelming preponderance of evidence presented honestly to the next generation. And in 1955, when the fifth of May was in fact the 125th day of the year, Jonas Salk witnessed the 500,000th (that's a five followed by five zeroes) London vaccination against polio, less than one month after announcing his discovery. All those fives, while certainly prominent, are utterly meaningless, arising as they do from nothing more profound than the arbitrary counting conventions of our culture.

Such coincidences occur regularly throughout history - roll six dice enough times, and they'll eventually all come up six. To the ominously minded, omens abound, and every chance event and surprising occurrence is positively laden with tantalizing but illusory auspice. Yet a question remains: what's the difference? How can we know whether we are dealing with doctoral error or divine intervention, especially when doctors might jump at the opportunity to gloss over a mistake, and priests might seek to rekindle the faith of a dwindling congregation? What is the difference between the meaningless parade of fives from Dr. Salk's footnote of a trip, and the highly meaningful parade of laboratory experiments that led him down the road to one of the most remarkable medical breakthroughs of the twentieth century? It certainly seems that we should want some way of knowing whether Salk's findings were attributable to chance, a medical one-in-a-zillion freak occurrence; surely another one-in-a-zillion freak occurrence might be five doctors completely missing part of a person's colon when that's exactly what they were poking around for, never mind the odds that a man in the sky cured gangrene overnight because the feng shui was just thus and so. When we decide to question our answers, where does it end? And what do we risk by dwelling on these questions too long, or answering them too hastily?

Call it fate, call it chance, call it blind cause and effect, but today is an auspicious day. Given enough time, good bookkeeping, and the human desire to immortalize today in the memory of tomorrow, every day is bound to become auspicious. But this day is extraordinary, even as every person goes about his or her business in a perfectly ordinary way. Children play on playgrounds, adults procrastinate at work, teachers teach and preachers preach, while street corner doomsayers shout the words of long-dead prophets at passing motorists and pedestrians. The doomsayers are wrong in many important ways, of course: the world is not ending, Christ is not coming, the end is not nigh, and no repentance is necessary. The prophecies that so move them today have moved them and countless others like them to similarly foolish acts, and other prophecies have moved others still to yet more foolishness. Nevertheless, the fact remains that in one very important way, they are right: human civilization stands on the brink of collapse, as it has collapsed at other historical junctures.

Even for all that, you can't really give credit to the doomsayers for their inadvertent accuracy. After all, a broken clock is still correct for two glorious minutes of every day.

4 comments:

DM said...

http://vimeo.com/13704095


but with recent revelations about James Randi, I think he likes DICKS!


____________________

THE SECOND COMING!

THE END OF ATHEISM

FOLLOW THE WHITE RABBIT...
...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smwrw4sNCxE
____________________________________________

THE B**BQUAKE - 911

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeblvLoVJCA&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpZZ2PPBzP8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvSljPf9on4&feature=related

you are going to pay the price for this….

THE RUBBER DUCKY OF PSEUDOSCIENCE III - JAMES RANDI



http://daddytypes.com/archive/hofman_rubber_duckie.jpg

there is a lot of sh*t to flush!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg2AezJo8aQ

THE HEAD OF THE INFIDEL!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojR-XRt4rrA

Is America burning yet?

Maybe we need some more...

we use the DIVINE against the ESTABLISHMENT... you?

we do better DEMOLITIONS than you, savage...

RENOUNCE YOUR ATHEISM AND JOIN THE SOCIALIST FAITH!

let them know if the MDC continues more people will die...

the WORLD TRADE CENTER PROPHECY - THE DANCE OF DEATH

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0Hez25fFrg

FLUSH ATHEISM!

Actually it is a ROYAL FLUSH!!!

Let me show you how ATHEISTS were partially responsible for 911

These ATHEISTS NEED TO BE ON THE TERRORIST WATCH LIST!

You don’t even have SCIENCE on your side…

You’re a perfect example of when PHILOSOPHY becomes an ENEMY OF LIFE...

http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2010/06/playing-mystery-card.html

not quite samantha with her *supernatural spit*, eh?

this isn't one of your little WORD GAMES...

blasphemy is a DEATH SENTENCE

you people actually BELIEVE the BS you preach!

GOD 1 - atheists 0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQcNiD0Z3MU

Atheists,

you are ENEMIES OF GOD AND ARE GOING TO BE ANNIHILATED...

Repent and turn to God or be destroyed...

YOU HAVE NO CHOICE...

my interpretation of the STATUE FIRE... it symbolizes the SPIRITUAL DEATH of atheism...

http://www.salon.com/news/2010/06/15/us_lightning_strikes_jesus_statue

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/6/16/1276680110544/The-King-of-Kings-statue--005.jpg

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2010-06/54332292.jpg

http://friendlyatheist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/butterjesus-1.jpg

PRINCESS DI IS WEARING A NEW DRESS!

http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/speechesandarticles/a_speech_by_hrh_the_prince_of_wales_titled_islam_and_the_env_252516346.html
______________________________
http://skepticblog.org/2010/04/06/would-i-ever-pray-for-a-miracle/

Shermer, I WANT TO SEE YOU BEG FOR A MIRACLE...
___________________
we do like your music Lady Gaga, but...

The B**BQUAKE - 911

Let me show you the FATE OF TRAITORS...

http://www.loiterink.com/photos/products/182_3424_500x500.jpg

they are incapable of telling the difference between SCIENTIFIC *FACT* AND
RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL *TRUTH*... FATAL ERROR!

they also preach a *VALUE FREE SCIENCE* called *POSITIVISM* that ignores the
inequalities of wealth and power in capitalist civilization...

for a sample taste of PZ Myers' GARBAGE...

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/sunday_sacrilege_imagine_no_he.php

HIJACKING IN PROGRESS!!!

http://hawaiiwebgroup.com/maui-design/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/website-hijacking.jpg

HIJACKING IN PROGRESS!!!

how can these HEADLESS IDIOTS BET AGAINST GOD!!!
________________________________________
what happens when you LOSE Pascal's Wager...

http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/pascals-wager.htm
____________
you FIGHT PAPER MONSTERS...


THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!
****************************************************
http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

D said...

Let's see if I can fisk this in its entirety before my 'puter chokes and dies. Ready? Go!

OMFG James Randi is TEH GHEY!

Who gives a shit?

Multiple orgasms make you believe in God and Jefferson Airplane!

Only if you can't figure out that gaming the pleasure centers of your brain might not have been an issue in our ancestral lineage.

Titties is evil! I'm obsessed with poop!

No they's not; I'm sure you are.

[INCOHERENT NONSENSE AND MARGINALLY CREATIVE PUNS!]

Well, I'll give you a B for Barely Intelligible. OK, fine, B+.

Let me show you how ATHEISTS were partially responsible for 911

These ATHEISTS NEED TO BE ON THE TERRORIST WATCH LIST!


Let me show you a paranoid conspiracy nut: it's easy, all the equipment you need is mounted on the wall above your bathroom sink.

You don’t even have SCIENCE on your side…

Wrong. We do. Mainly because we limit our beliefs to science, and simply withhold our beliefs on matters beyond scientific scrutiny. Easy as pie.

You’re a perfect example of when PHILOSOPHY becomes an ENEMY OF LIFE...

Well, Camus said, "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide." So I guess if you don't solve the problem, then yeah, philosophy would be the enemy of life. So? Next!

not quite samantha with her *supernatural spit*, eh?

Meh, I skimmed the article. What's your point?

this isn't one of your little WORD GAMES...

blasphemy is a DEATH SENTENCE


Given enough booze, I can turn anything into a word game! And no, blasphemy is not a death sentence, you're just mentally deficient. Boy, this mudslinging business is fun!

you people actually BELIEVE the BS you preach!

Well, since all preaching is BS, then that's tautologically true in an entirely uninteresting way.

GOD 1 - atheists 0

Sure, but this is golf, so we're winning!

Aw, Hell. My 'puter is still running, the poor li'l trooper, but I'm bored of you. Kiss my entire ass. And get laid while you're at it. I'm gonna go enjoy my life, you go and enjoy your apoplexy, or whatever it is that causes you to type out these inane babblings.

DM said...

plush safe she thinks...

D said...

Quaking in my booties!