Dawkins And Allah: The Answer Is, “Because They Will Try To Kill You”

In a recent Al-Jazeerah interview, Richard Dawkins was asked his views on God. He argued that the god of “the Old Testament” is “hideous” and “a monster”, and reiterated his claim from The God Delusion that the God of the Torah is the most unpleasant character “in fiction”. Asked if he thought the same of the God of the Koran, Dawkins ducked the question, saying: “Well, um, the God of the Koran I don’t know so much about.”

How can it be that the world’s most fearless atheist, celebrated for his strident opinions on the Christian and Jewish Gods, could profess to know so little about the God of the Koran?

As the title says, criticism makes you an assassination target. I wonder if he’d be as fearless regarding the Jewish and Christian God if the Jews and Christians had a credible recent history of killing their critics. Via Facing uncomfortable truths | The Jewish Chronicle.

You And Your PHPNess

I get that many (but not all) women, and many (but not all) men, in the PHP community are upset by the Web & PHP Mag “Enhance Your PHPNess” shirts as an example of sexism. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t; note that the women in the photo were the magazine editor and the relationship manager, not random booth babes being exploited for their bodies instead of their minds. (Please spare me your postmodern explanations of how male privilege has been internalized by these strong independent women who are oppressed by the patriarchy; it’s not the point of this article.)

The point of this article is as follows: Denouncing it on the Internet is nice and all, but I suggest that the Web & PHP Mag folks won’t really care unless it hurts their income stream. Hell, the publicity alone must be huge for them.

If you are really committed to your position against Web & PHP on this issue, I look forward to you boycotting their website, magazine, and conferences. Don’t submit to speak for them; hell, submit with a note saying you refuse to speak there. Don’t engage any money-making venture of theirs until they issue a public apology that satisfies your sense of outrage.

If you don’t back your words with non-violent action, then all you have done is talk. Talk is nice, but I submit that it would be hypocritical of you not to act as well.

But if you back your words with actions, won’t that hurt the women who are running the company? Hm, I suppose it might at that. What’s a white knight to do? Decisions, decisions.

Makers Mark Reverses Decision to Water Down Whiskey

One week after announcing plans to dilute its whiskey, Maker’s Mark has changed course. The Kentucky bourbon company released a statement Sunday reversing its decision and apologizing for disappointing its loyal fans with the decision to reduce alcohol content to keep up with rising global demands.

“We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we’re doing what’s right, this is your brand you told us in large numbers to change our decision,” the statement from president Bill Samuels Jr. and his son and chief operating officer, Rob Samuels, said.

In light of this I am considering taking up religion again, as this could be considered “proof” (heh) of a benevolent God. Via Makers Mark Reverses Decision to Water Down Whiskey | TIME.com.

It’s Not Enough To Have Data; You Also Need A Theory. Multiple Theories Can Fit The Same Data.

You want to find empirical studies that show free trade to be harmful to free-trading nations?  No problem; you can find them.  You want to find empirical studies that show government stimulus spending to be a sure-cure for what ails a slumping economy?  There are plenty of such data-rich studies out there.  You want to find empirical studies that show that violent crimes aren’t deterred by the death penalty?  Not a problem.  You want to find empirical evidence that increased rates of handgun ownership increase citizens’ likelihood of dying of gunshot wounds?  Many such studies are available.

You can also find plenty of empirical studies showing the opposite of what is shown by all of the above studies.  And these other studies are, as a group, no less carefully done than are the studies that they contradict.  And these other studies, also, are done by scholars no less credentialed and no less objective than are those scholars who produce the contrary findings.

That’s the reality of the social sciences.  It’s not an exercise in simple observation of simple and self-defining facts, only one or two of which change at any time.

Therefore, theory is important.  Among other roles, theory directs our attention to what patterns to look for, and helps us to better understand what empirical findings warrant our suspicion more than others.  Obviously, theory should never be used as dogma to prevent our learning from careful empirical studies.  Nor, however, should well-accepted and coherent theories be tossed aside simply because a handful of people produce a few studies that are inconsistent with that theory – especially if other careful empirical studies support the theory.

So while it’s always a good instinct to ask “What do the data say?  What does history tell us about this matter?”, it’s just as scientifically naive to ridicule thoughtful discussion of theory (including discussion of pitfalls in interpreting data) by suggesting that the discussion is useless because it presents no data as it is to suggest that theory should never be subjected to empirical tests.

via Where Are My Data?!.

Facebook Gets a Multibillion-Dollar Tax Break

It’s bad for Big Business to get tax breaks, right?

It hasn’t drawn much attention, but Facebook’s first annual earnings report contains an accounting gem: a multibillion-dollar tax deduction for the cost of executive stock options and share awards.

Even though Facebook (FB) reported $1.1 billion in pre-tax profits from U.S. operations in 2012, it will probably pay zero federal and state taxes—and even receive a federal tax refund of about $429 million—according to a Feb. 14 statement from Citizens for Tax Justice.

via Facebook Gets a Multibillion-Dollar Tax Break – Businessweek.

The Verbrilli Sound – Ultrawide – Weirdest Lyrics Ever

It’s a sample, but still, this dude sounds high and hungry. And not bright. The fun starts at about 4:45.

I'd like, uh, Captain Crunch, and, some Special K,
toasted on the out and nice & on the inside,
and, uh, I would, would like some spaghetti, linguine,
sandwich, with a light bread, on the out, on the medium over
on like, some, like some candy canes
and eggs sunny side up
on, uh, on the toast
and i'd like the (aveneen?) rare,
i'd like some moo goo, gai pan, without the pan,
some pans
and i'd like, uh, i'd like some corned beef
on mustard with, with the rye and some (therma?)
i'd like a pickle with the lettuce
and (add it's all good)
I'd like an eggcream with chocolate, with vanilla in it,
and vanillas, shakes
and i'd like on the rye
i would like some scrambled eggs
and would like some muffin
limey to go
with feet

Don’t worry, the city will protect you! (Not.)

Repeat after me: the police have no legal duty to protect or defend you.

A madman kills four, NYPD manhunt follows. Two officers are in a subway cab when the madman enters the car, and they do nothing to stop him. He stabs a passenger right next to them, who in turn wrestles him down, at which point the NYPD folks finally emerge. Now he sues the city, and it of course argues that it has no legal duty to protect the citizenry.

You are you your on to defend what’s yours. Via Of Arms and the Law: Don’t worry, the city will protect you.

I Have Changed My Mind — We *Do* Need Gun Control

Gun control for the Federal government, anyway:

When financial questions arose regarding the Mountain Pure Water Company, Washington did not send a few staffers to inspect documents. Instead, last spring, some 50 armed Treasury agents breached Mountain Pure’s headquarters in Little Rock, Ark. They seized 82 boxes of records, herded employees into the cafeteria, snatched their cell phones, and refused to let them consult attorneys.

“We’re the federal government,” Mountain Pure’s comptroller, Jerry Miller, says one pistol-packing fed told him. “We can do what we want, when we want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Power-mad bureaucrats and administrators with guns from departments of the FDA, Education, Health & Human Services? By all means, restrict their access to and use of guns. Via And Your Little Dog, Too – National Review Online.

The End Is Near: Maker’s Mark To Water Down Its Bourbon

Maker’s Mark just got a little less stiff. The bourbon brand, known for its bottles sealed with red wax, told customers today that it’s reducing the amount of alcohol in the beverage in order to meet rising global demand.

The horror. The horror. Via Maker’s Mark waters down its bourbon to meet rising demand – Quartz.