The Null Device


BBC News has some excerpts from Richard Dawkins' new book, "The God Delusion":

When I interviewed for television the Reverend Michael Bray, a prominent American anti-abortion activist, I asked him why evangelical Christians were so obsessed with private sexual inclinations such as homosexuality, which didn't interfere with anybody else's life. His reply invoked something like self-defence. Innocent citizens are at risk of becoming collateral damage when God chooses to strike a town with a natural disaster because it houses sinners. In 2005, the fine city of New Orleans was catastrophically flooded in the aftermath of a hurricane, Katrina. The Reverend Pat Robertson, one of America's best-known televangelists and a former presidential candidate, was reported as blaming the hurricane on a lesbian comedian who happened to live in New Orleans.* You'd think an omnipotent God would adopt a slightly more targeted approach to zapping sinners: a judicious heart attack, perhaps, rather than the wholesale destruction of an entire city just because it happened to be the domicile of one lesbian comedian.

atheism books religion richard dawkins 1

A survey by Yahoo claims that, thanks to the wonders of multitasking, people are cramming 43 hours of activity into a single day:

"While using the Internet, people are also doing two or three other things, often watching TV or talking on the phone," said Mike Hess, global director of research at OMD, part of Omnicom Group.
As the amount of distractions, from an always-on BlackBerry-driven work ethic to a myriad types of media and communication, increases, one legacy activity incompatible with multitasking—sleep—is getting squeezed. Not surprisingly, this has spawned a US$20 billion sleep industry helping those racing on the treadmill of competitive consumerism trade some of their disposable income for a few of the winks they've been missing out on. This can take the form of luxury sleeping pods in busy cities (where US$14 will buy you a lunchtime nap) to US$20,000 luxury beds guaranteed to give the best sleep experience possible.

(via Techdirt, The Age) multitasking sleep society the fast life 1

An international manhunt is under way for a Polish man who expressed his disapproval of the government by means of flatulence after being asked what he thought of the president:

Hubert Hoffman, 45, was charged with "contempt for the office of the head of state" for his actions after he was stopped by police in a routine check at a Warsaw railway station.
He complained that under President Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother Jaroslaw, the country was returning to a Communist style dictatorship.
When told to show more respect for the country's rulers, he farted loudly and was promptly arrested.
When you get beyond the gross-out-Hollywood-comedy elements of this story, it starts looking rather disturbing. The implication is that, in Poland, the police are routinely stopping people, asking them what they think of the president, and arresting those who give the wrong answer. Given that the EU is bringing pressure to bear on Turkey to scrap its laws against "insulting Turkishness" before even thinking about being admitted to the EU, one of its own member states behaving in this fashion beggars belief.

Incidentally, if an Australian was stopped by Australian Federal Police outside SouthernCross Station, asked what he thought of the Prime Minister, and replied in this fashion, could he be charged with sedition? And if so, would he be?

(via jwz) authoritarianism poland 0

Today is the Day Against DRM, a global event planned to raise awareness of the threat which digital rights management and technologically-mandated copyright maximalism pose to culture. This page lists numerous protests and activities, from putting a badge on your website to sticker distribution runs, protests against things from severe paracopyright laws to craptacular DRM-"enhanced" products like the Microsoft Zune, and numerous meetups with other copyfighters. In France, they're turning themselves in to the police for decrypting DVDs, whereas in Coffs Harbour, Australia, they're having the Shackled Banana Award.

activism copyfight drm 0

Visionary author Robert Anton Wilson, who wrote psychedelic classics such as Illuminatus! and has enlightened and inspired a generation, is not doing too well:

Sadly, we have to report that wizard-author-intelligence increase agent is in trouble with his life, home and his finances. Robert is dying at his home from post polio syndrome. He has enough money for next months rent and after that, will be unable to pay. He cannot walk, has a hard time talking and swallowing, is extremely frail and needs full time care that is being provided by several friends-fans-volunteers and family. We appeal to you to help financially for the next few months to let him die at his home in peace.
But right now, Bob is a human being in a rather painful fleshsuit, who needs our help. I refuse for the history books to say he died alone and destitute, for I want future generations to know we appreciated Robert Anton Wilson while he was alive.
Those wanting to give something back to him can do so by PayPal or a US bank cheque:
All monies will go directly to Robert and can be sent to his PayPal address You can also send a check to RAW c/o Futique Trust, P.O. Box 3561, Santa Cruz, Ca 95063. Link

(via Boing Boing) robert anton wilson 0

The latest happening in glacial, æthereal Iceland: turning out the lights, sitting in the dark and looking at the night sky:

Authorities in the capital Reykjavik will turn off street lights on Thursday evening and people are also being encouraged to sit in their houses in the dark, writer Andri Snaer Magnason said on Wednesday. While the lights are out, an astronomer will describe the night sky over national radio.
The UK is looking at doing something similar, assuming corporate sponsors and marketing tie-ins can be found.

(via Boing Boing) iceland 0