Demonizing the Point of View of a Delicate Snowflake

Photo credit: ImageLink / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Rod Dreher, who fears gay equality at a visceral level, is very upset about a lesbian couple in Canada who demanded a refund on their purchase from a jeweler when they discovered that said jeweler was displaying anti-gay signage in their shop. The jewelers acquiesced, and it’s all just too much for Dreher. It’s the end of all things. You understand, of course, that this is not about getting equal treatment. The lesbian couple received that. This is about demonizing a point of view, and driving t … [Read more...]

Let’s Build Our Own Gods and Hope They Like Us: Reservations about Transhumanism

"My fellow Americans..."

Transhumanist philosopher Zoltan Istvan is “running for president.” No, he’s not a supervillain, but good-god-DAMN that’s a good supervillain name. Seriously, he’s not a crank, and he knows he won’t win. And I respect the transhumanist movement even if I’m not all the way on board. Here’s part of his platform: I’ve only focused on one thing through it all—the same thing I’ve focused on with all my work for much of the last decade: I don’t want to die. He’s already speaking my language! Tell me … [Read more...]

One Man’s Blogspam is Another Man’s Engaging Content

"Ugh, flagged as blogspam again. This is bullshit."Photo credit: Mike Licht, / Foter / CC BY

The truth is, folks, I don't maintain a blog purely for the joy of doing so. I do love to write, but one doesn't blog unless one wishes not just to write, but to be read. Even on a somewhat high-profile platform like Patheos, even coming with the cred of being the mouthpiece of a major secularist organization, and of having been the substitute-Friendly-Atheist a few times, this little blog simply isn't making much of a dent in terms of readership.I'd like very much for that to change. There … [Read more...]

Beautiful, Beautiful Alienation: Walkmen, Phones, and (Not) Watches

Photo credit: Viewminder / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I was relatively late to the whole Walkman thing. It wasn't until I was in high school that I got ahold of my own portable cassette player, partly because I didn't discover a love of contemporary music until I was 12 or so, and partly because I never thought to ask for one. (I had pretty much exhausted my enthusiasm for my Weird Al tapes, they being pretty much the only thing I ever listened to.) I don't remember how I finally got one (a spare of my dad's? a gift from grandma?), but when I did … [Read more...]

We Didn’t Find Any Type 3s Because There Aren’t Any: Imagining Galactic Civilizations

Photo credit: longan drink / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Where all the galactic empires at???This is actually not a ridiculous question. Lee Billings, an excellent science writer who specializes in the search-for-aliens beat, had a piece in Scientific American last month in which he speaks to Pennsylvania State University’s Jason Wright, an astronomer who did a novel kind of search. Rather than listen for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations, a la SETI, his team instead took the temperature of about 100,000 galaxies to look for e … [Read more...]

The Mouse in the Machine: Scientists Make a Virtual Mouse Brain


In Switzerland, they've got themselves a virtual mouse (like, a rodent that exists in a computer, not like a peripheral that controls a cursor), complete with a software reconstruction of a mouse brain. Remember how mere hours ago I was writing about how New Zealand's new law declaring animals to be sentient was tied, in my mind, to what we might have to consider in terms of artificial intelligence, or put another way, software-based animals? Well, it's all here.Reuters reports: Scientists … [Read more...]

Animals Declared “Sentient” in New Zealand: Hard Questions Sure to Follow

Now who's sentient?Photo credit: quinn.anya / Foter / CC BY-SA

New Zealand has passed an amendment to its animal welfare law stating that animals are “sentient beings,” and the amendment seems to strengthen some measures that define how or in what situation an animal can be used for various purposes, such as medical experimentation. That’s good!Though it’s not clear from the bill itself (as far as I can tell) what it means by “sentient.” No language in the wording of the bill spells it out, nor does it specify which animals possess sentience. The little … [Read more...]

The Digital Wins Over Digits: Our Tech Becomes More Valuable Than Our Bodies

Photo credit: Todd Jones Photography / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Because I'm morbid, weird, and a pessimist-fatalist, I often find myself thinking about which sense I'd rather lose if I had to: my hearing or my sight. During the time I thought I might make it as a singer-songwriter (that worked out), I obviously leaned toward keeping my hearing. Today, as the father of adorable children and compulsive Internet-user, I think I'd choose to keep my sight. Plus, if I were deaf, I would not need to hear my children whine about their dinner, which really places a … [Read more...]

Photo Management on the Mac Just Sucks

Photo credit: blentley / Foter / CC BY-NC

There are no good photo management solutions for the Mac anymore. Yeah, I said it! At least, I've seen none that satisfy the few but crucial needs that are specific to me. And it’s my blog, so I don’t see what else could possibly matter.Here’s what we’ve got now. Apple has recently released the first version of its new Photos app for Mac, and it’s not working for me. First, it’s been developed with the assumption that you own at least one iOS device, and its syncing-through-iCloud feature is … [Read more...]

Exiled from the Everything Store, Ctd.

Much to my surprise, folks have been far more interested in my banishment from Amazon than I expected, and my post has generated enough discussion and debate that I thought I ought to clear up a few small points that I didn’t directly address, if for no other reason than some folks are making assumptions about this and that. Whatever, it’s not a big deal, but it can’t hurt to clear up some things.I did not intend to imply at all that I thought Amazon was in the wrong for closing my account. T … [Read more...]