I get to high-five a baby today!

Because I got vaccinated against the flu yesterday!I also get to high-five the elderly, pregnant women, and people who are immunocompromised.  In fairness, I can't spot the last category by eye, so maybe I can look up the prevalence statistics and high-five the appropriate proportion of passersby.These are all categories of people who are at higher risk from the flu and may not be able to be inoculated themselves.  They depend on herd immunity, enough people like me and my fellow i … [Read more...]

Warfare “as obscene as cancer”

During the debate over the proper response to Syria's use of chemical weapons, I kept waiting for articles to quote Wilfred Owen's poem "Dulce Et Decorum Est" and, eventually, I decided to write one myself.  I'm over at The Huffington Post today talking about why we find chemical weapons uniquely horrifying, and whether more types of warfare should provoke that same kind of visceral revulsion. Death by IED or drone has perhaps not yet found its poet. How do we weigh the suffering of a victim … [Read more...]

Atheist Round Winners [Turing 2013]

You may want to keep this year’s answer key and list of entries in the atheist round handy while you read the results.Atheists earned their reputations as skeptics in this round, as their scores were much lower than the Christians gave in their round.  By the crudest metric -- percent of entries with more than a 50% pass (Very Likely Atheist + Likely Atheist) -- only six entries out of eleven hit the mark among the atheists.  For the Christians, only three entries didn't hit this benchmark.   … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (9/28/13)

--- 1 --- Sometimes it's really hard to remember quite how far in the future we live.  Or how much fun it is to take advantage of our ability to ethically take advantage of our hardwired capacity to recognize patterns and intuit things about our surroundings.  Nothing in the video is CGI, it's just your brain applying the rules it knows to art designed to exploit it.  Wheee!--- 2 --- And for a much older kind of art, that's still fun to pick apart to see how it's done, comes this The Way … [Read more...]

Happy Petrov Day!

Today is the 30th anniversary of Petrov Day.  What's Petrov day, you ask?  Well, as described on LessWrong: The story begins on September 1st, 1983, when Soviet jet interceptors shot down a Korean Air Lines civilian airliner after the aircraft crossed into Soviet airspace and then, for reasons still unknown, failed to respond to radio hails. 269 passengers and crew died, including US Congressman Lawrence McDonald. Ronald Reagan called it “barbarism”, “inhuman brutality”, “a crime against humanit … [Read more...]

What ornate vestments you have, Father! All the better to…

Because my computer has shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible, the Atheist round results from the Turing Test will probably run Friday or Saturday, once I've got a replacement.Over at Fare Forward, I've taken a crack at reviewing Gary Wills's book Why Priests? A Failed Tradition and, if you want a very quick glimpse of how I felt about it, here's how the review kicks off: The first priest that Garry Wills takes aim at isn’t a man in a cle … [Read more...]

Christian Round Winners [Turing 2013]

You may want to keep this year's answer key and list of entries in the Christian round handy while you read the results.The top three scorers (as measured by the percent of  Christians rating the entry "Very Likely Christian") were all genuine Christians.  Beth (entry 6) was most likely to be judged very likely Christian (77% of judges).  Following her were Gilbert (entry 9 - 58%) and Brendan Hodge (entry 11 - 43%).But the next three entrants were all atheists.  Chana Messinger (entry 4) … [Read more...]