The GOD Delusion

The GOD Delusion“The GOD Delusion” by Richard Dawkins is a superb, if lengthy, look at religion from a rational point of view. By “rational” I mean to say unemotional. One of the things I really like about Dawkins is his ability to express his very well thought out point of view in a cogent and focused fashion.
He takes traditional viewpoints that are often considered as “givens” and explores their biblical roots. Often showing that the contemporary interpretations / assumptions are nearly diametrically the opposite of the expressed meanings in “the good book” or at least completely missing the point that was originally being made.
He further explores our seemingly basic need for something like religion and highlights the divisiveness of the institutions that capitalize upon that need. I’m personally pretty sure that people cannot exist without something like religion. Many people are not nearly so rational as I think Dawkins would hope. But disabusing folks of some of the more destructive aspects of formalized religion is one aspect of the book that I completely agree with and is an agenda that I hope is moved forward by its readers.

If you make it more efficient, people will use more of it

It’s just human nature. It’s not a bad thing, but it *is* something that we really need to wrap our heads around.

When we make predictions regarding the consumption or saving of resources, they always seem to be straight-line, single factor predictions. Yet time and again we see that, when you make things more efficient people will find new and innovative uses for them that will ultimately either wash out the savings or end up consuming greater quantities thereof.

In a book that I read back in October of 2006, “The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy by Peter Huber & Mark Miles they argue this theory quite convincingly.

It was with some amusement then, that I read this article in “” (Hybrid Drivers More Ticket- and Accident-Prone) where, in establishing the context for the article they point out that recreational (read “discretionary”) driving by hybrid owners is about 25% greater than by non-hybrid owners.

I’m not sure if this would be because folks who drive more tend to buy hybrids or if it’s that folks who drive hybrids tend to rationalize extra driving due to their reduced per-mile fuel consumption. The reality is probably a combination of those factors plus others that I haven’t even considered.

The reality is that human psychology is not easily predictable and you can pretty much guarantee that you *can’t* guarantee what effects changes in policy or technology will have when you have people involved in the mix. And any artificial influences (legislation) had better be crafted in such a way as to be able to accommodate that reality and respond flexibly when the unintended consequences do eventually manifest.

Holy water ban to halt swine flu

It’s too bad they don’t have some kind of, I dunno, supernatural power available to them that could help them resist…

Holy water ban to halt swine flu

Say… does anybody understand why it’s OK to skip drinking the blood o’ Christ now? If you subscribe to transubstantiation shouldn’t the wine be… well… sterile?
And if it’s OK now.. why not all the time? These shortcuts could really save money in the long run.

Hey! I won! contest

The day after my birthday I was listening to one of my podcasts when I heard my name mentioned as one of the winners of their most recent contest. It turns out I won Cameradojo’s third prize of a Lensbaby Composer! This is a very well regarded lens in photographic circles, it lets you do some pretty cool things in-camera. Most notably being able to have a spot (apparently ANY spot) in your image crisply focused while keeping the rest of the image in a pleasing blur.

I knew immediately that this was something well beyond my abilities to take advantage of. So I shot a quick note to the guy who runs the Cameradojo podcast (Kerry Garrison) to see if the fellow who won the fifth prize, a Think Tank Backpack (just click the “Backpacks” image), would be willing to make a like-for-like swap. I presume Think Tank Photo would be offering their least expensive offering so I figured I was trading a $270 cool lens for a $140 utilitarian backpack, something I would have much more use in my situation. Maybe a bad deal by some folks’ reckoning but it’s more important to me to have stuff I’ll use than to have stuff ’cause it’s valuable.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Kerry did go that extra mile and contacted the other winner on my behalf and, no surprising, he agreed to the swap.

So now I’m waiting for the new backpack to arrive! I’m looking forward to having something made to protect my camera instead of my current system of using a normal backpack and padding things rather haphazardly with various cloths.

Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon“Altered Carbon” by “Richard K. Morgan” is part of his Takeshi Kovacs series. I read the sequel to this book “Woken Furies” late last year. “Altered Carbon” had the main character, Takeshi Kovacs, noticeably less developed and much more of a psychopath in this earlier work.
The novels are entirely from Kovacs’ point of view so you need to be able to identify with the character on at least *some* level, something I was utterly unable to do with this book.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Morgan’s writing style, but I will be giving the remaining book in this series a miss and looking to see if his next offering is more to my taste.

Jumper Griffin’s Story

Jumper Griffin's StoryNot nearly as enthralling as the original “Jumper“, “Jumper Griffin’s Story” by Steven Gould was just “OK”. It was an enjoyable read but the story always remained at a superficial level for me. The book had indicated that it was driven by the movie. There was not much the book had to offer besides IMHO “same old same old”. I think there is a lot more that can be done with the “Jumper” universe. This book failed to explore any of that potential.