That’s not me saying it, but “Sam’s Club customers”. This is a really interesting story. Brendan Powell Smith has been publishing funny little books containing “straightforward illustrations of Bible stories using direct quotes from scripture”. They are really entertaining books, of which you can get a sample on Brendan’s web site: http://www.bricktestament.com/index.html. There really couldn’t be any outrage about the contents, right? It is, after all, quotes from the “Good Book”. Well, apparently there can.
A few days ago, French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo was fire-bombed. The decent part of French society condemned the terrorist attack and offered its help. Even Prime Minister François Fillon, who is politically diametrically opposed to the journal, had some nice words of support.
The picture should be very clear: we have on the one side a legitimate press organization doing its job, freely expressing opinions and thoughts. On the other hand, we have despicable terrorists who are trying to silence people through violence and fear. I for one stand with the press, against the terrorists. Sounds easy, right?
Two Neanderthals need a bow and some arrows. Grrmt can build a bow in 5 hours and arrows in 4 hours. Aaaargl can build a bow in 2 hours and arrows in 3 hours. Thus, in order to build what they need, Grrmt will take 5+ 4 = 9 hours, and Aaaargl will take 2 + 3 = 5 hours. 14 hours total will be spent by the both of them.
Now what happens if our primitive friends talk to each other, specialize in what they do best, and trade? Something extraordinary. Aaaargl should have no interest doing that, as he's faster than Grrmt in everything, right? Right?
One version of the cosmological argument relies, among other assumptions, on the following:
Every contingent being has a cause.
Leaving aside the necessity of defining what we mean by "cause", and of explaining how such an inductive statement could reasonably apply to a unique object such as the universe, I want to focus in this post on the concept of contingency.
Logic is a tricky thing. Any sound argument must rely on it, but it is easy to build seemingly sound and logical arguments that are still wrong or fail to apply to the real world. Fuzzy or wrong premises, shortcuts in reasoning, as well as plain fallacies such as circular reasoning, are easy to obfuscate, and apologists are kings at this game. It's what they do: take the conclusion they want to reach, and then build the rationalization for it. A prime example of this is the age-old ontological argument for the existence of God, that I will be looking at in details in this post.
Most modern believers interpret their sacred texts as mostly metaphorical. Only the most hard-core fundamentalists maintain that Genesis for example is an accurate historical account of the origin of Humanity.
Let's start with this: marriage cannot be defined by the biological prospect of having children, because that would rule out sterile couples and menopausal women. As simple as that.
The previous post showed how magnification changes with various lengths of extension tube, using a simple inexpensive fixed focal lens. Today, I want to show how changing other factors can affect your pictures, and for this I'm going to use a much more expensive lens, a 70-200mm telephoto lens.
Macro lenses are expensive. There is a cheap alternative, though, that can transform a regular lens into a macro lens: extension tubes. Extension tubes are simply hollow tubes that you put between the lens and the body of the camera. Optically inert, they shorten the focal distance and depth of field and bump up magnification, at the price of a loss of light.
If I told you that the emergence of blogs, Twitter and Facebook have changed our societies in more profound ways than we imagine, you’d be justified in telling me that I’m being neither original nor very pertinent. There is certainly something to be said about the amplification effect those services have on self-centeredness and gossip, and how those are sometimes more powerful than the few examples we have of new media spreading freedom, truth and democracy. Still, I think we are seeing the first signs of a profound revolution, one that is remodeling society in a way that is more in tune with our evolutionary origins. One where the notion of tribe makes a comeback, but with a couple of twists.