Sunday, 30 December 2007
This match was a pretty decent performance from Blues. We started off well in the first half and looked threatening from setpieces and general play, We were prepared to attack them and Boro didn't get much of a look-in in the first half. The first goal came from a free kick at the side of the 18-yard box after a blatant foul by Arca(for which he was booked). FRom the cross, Downing ened up putting through his own net. Forssell had another good chance where he pulled a shot out of a tricky situation and then scored from a chance couple of minutes later; we went in at half-time 2-0 up.
As expected, Boro came out and did better in the second half. The defense played well as we managed to keep them at bay so they did not create too many chances. Taylor made 2 great saves, one from a long range shot, the other from a header and generally put in a good performance. In the last minute, we won--and scored--a penalty.
We deserved the win on this occasion, even if 3-0 was a bit harsh on Boro taking into account their decent second half performance.
Incase you hadn't figured it out, there was a guy dressed as Santa in the Boro end. We obliged with chants of "Santa, Santa whats the score?"
Birmingham City 1-1 Fulham, 29th December 2007
And then it all goes a bit wrong. We come out agianst Fulham uin the first half, playing exactly the same side, and we play badly. We could barely get hold of the ball and when we did we gave it away too cheaply. Unsurprisingly then, Fulham got a goal early on in the match through a corner which Bocanegra stuck in the net. Fulham aren't even any good away, usually, they haven't won away in a long time, I think over a year.
The second half was a little better and we got the equaliser due to a great pass from Muamba setting up Larsson for an admittedly slightly jammy finish. Why can't we pass like that the rest of the time? Nafti, the half time sub for Johnson, came really close with a shot from long range. We started off the second half well but as the game went on we faded and the game swung a bit more towards Fulham who had a few runs etc at goal though our defenders often intercepted or Taylor made the save. In the end the game petered out into a 1-1 draw.
We didn't deserve to win this game and if anything Fulham were the better side. We need to pass the ball better, hold on to it more, and stop lumping it up every time we get it. We really needed the 3 points from this game, because our next 3 games are Man U away, Arsenal away and Chelsea at home, which are pretty much guaranteed to be 3 straight losses.
Friday, 21 December 2007
In context: I recently downloaded the audio of the "Four Horsemen" discussion between Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris. This debate was actually set in Christopher Hitchens' house. Because Hitchens smokes, there was a lot of comments on the thread about smoking if rather off topic. There were a few people on this thread arguing that Hitch shouldn't be smoking in this video.
This was a completely over the top reaction. As I already said, this debate took place at Hitch's own house. I think the man is entitled to a quiet smoke in his own house. And the other people agreed to be there; if they didn't want to expose themselves to Hitch's smoke they could have just left.
One person on the thread even went as far to say that it should be banned, and even said that smokers should effectively be shamed and shunned until they give it up. In my opinion, people have the rights to their own bodies and thus the right to smoke cigs if they want to. I know that passive smoking happens(and you can make a good case for smoking not occurring around children) but if you're a rational adult you choose to be in the company of a smoker, especially in these days where smoking is banned in places like bars, restaurants etc.* Yes, I know one often inhales a little bit of passive smoke from walking by a smoker, but I really doubt that that little exposure is going to give you cancer. It seems many people are very "if i get exposed to the tineist bit, it's going to fuck me up!" Okay, it isn't going to do you much good, but you probably get exposed to more crap from exhaust engines than from that much fag smoke.
Complaint over for now. I'll definatly have more to say about the Four Horsemen debate as soon as I get a good piece done.
* As I've said in other blog entries, I'm British, and the smoking ban in public places came into forse on the 1st July 2007.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
From left to right:
Dead white woman corner
Destruction of Christian Values
Evils of smoking pot - even better if pot can be blamed for some horrible crime in some way
"And YOU'RE paying for it!" - the slogan of the Mail eg. "Gay Muslim Minority rapes children - and you're paying for it!"
Scare story eg Maddie McCann - basically this is any case where a innocent, cute white girl goes missing and that is constantly reported on by the media
Video Games are evil - again, best if they can be blamed for a murder
Soft on crime
Free Shit - The Mail always has some DVD free with it
Taxes are too high
Terrorists - particularly if they complain along the lines of "We let em into our country and how do they repay us?" type rant
Immigrants steal our jobs
Diana, Princess of Wales - some reason the Mail has a HUGE obsession with Diana, she's been dead 10 years, get over it.
Teens: binge drinking, ASBO teens etc, basically any "teens are evil" shtick, best if accompanied with a "Back in MY day..." rant.
Health Scare or NHS Mistake - eg. "Could eating too much fruit give you cancer" or anything like that.
Pic of good looking woman with cleavage(on the front cover) - more the domain of the Express, though the Mail does it on occasion.
Labour Are Evil
Evils of birth control and/or abortion - eg. recently there's been a "the pill allowed for teens!" sacre story
Immigrants scrounge on welfare - yes this contradicts "immigrats here to steal our jobs!!" but the Mail does both
Muslims are evil
Losing our freedoms.
Sunday, 16 December 2007
A few samples:
"Peter Jones, one of the Lancashire theme park's trustees, said the emphasis would be on multimedia rather than the costume re-enactments of famous biblical scenes favoured at Holy Land. 'It will be a halfway house for youngsters,' Jones said. 'Today all they do is binge drink. We will be able to offer them an alternative.' "
Excuse me? I'm still technically a teenager at 19 but I don't binge drink at all. And how is creationism an alternative to binge drinking? How is religion for that matter?
"The trust also says it plans to apply for government grants and European funding to help it realise its dream of turning the television studio into 'an international leader in promoting family-oriented Christian programmes'."
"Family-orientated" in this sentence being translated as patriarchal homophobic crap, most likely.
"'The church in this country is in crisis and many church leaders living in Australia, America and Canada have openly proclaimed that God has left the church in England,' the trust states on its website."
There's not much religion left in the UK? Well, brilliant! If there's not much religion why build this themepark here. If we're that EVILushynist, there obviously isn't a market for this thing.
"'Evolution has falsely become the foundation of our society and we need the television studio to advocate Genesis across this land in order to remove this falsehood, which presently is destroying the church foundation.'"
Evolution is not the foundation of society. I mean, many people couldn't really give that much of a toss about evolution and science. This makes it sound like we're all a load of evilushyn worshippers or something.
" 'Wigan council slammed the door in our faces. You mention the C [Christian] word, and people don't want to know,' Jones said."
Good on Wigan for trying to prevent these idiots from spreading their lies. It's not the "Christian" bit, it's the "we want to promote unscientific ideas as fact" that's the problem.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
"Science isn't the ultimate source of truth! Book written by ignorant goatherders is!"
Yes, science changes when new evidence is given, that's one of the strengths of science: it's not dogmatic. I am aware of some philosophical problems with science, such as the problem of induction, inductivism v falsificationism, etc. Somehow I don't think this guy is intelligent enough to be talking about this here, though.
"not through human argument" Then stop using it.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics makes sense is not an argument against evolution. Yes, as a general trend entropy increases in a closed system but earth is not a closed system, and it is perfectly possible to have a temporal temporary bucking of the second law of thermodynamics trend, so long as entropy is increasing in the universe as a whole closed system.
Is a bacterium more complex than a bicycle? Well, to get a bicycle, you must first must have a bicycle maker, which is far more complicated than a bacterium. Thus in that sense, bicycles are more complicated than bacterium.
They're not teaching creationism in school because there's no evidence for it.
"religious belief of atheism" I'll put it in a way you fundies can understand: Atheism. Is. A. Religion. In. The. Same. Way. Abstinence. Is. A. Sex. Position.
And fundies don't let their preconceptions obscure the evidence?
Okay, counterpoint. I used to believe that gender roles were determined by society and weren't inherently genetic. Then, I read about the evidence for this claim and realised that it wasn't true, because it was not backed up by science. Preconceptions don't mean the evidence can't change your preconceptions.
"exact same evidence, opposite conclusion" Well, it depends on what is meant by "opposite" in this context. And also, one person may be looking at the evidence wrongly though a completely blinkered perspective. Doesn't per se mean all conclusions from the same evidence are valid, and even if there are 2 competing theories that both fit the evidence there are ways to distinguish between them and decide which one is more likely to be true until new evidence comes in eg "Which theory is less ad hoc?"
"It's hard to be truly objective" Well, okay, that may be true, especially if one holds dogmatically to particular tenets. But that doesn't mean "anything goes". That doesn't mean no rational enquiry.
Last panel is the typical "wow, how do I convert to this wonderful fact-denying fundamentalism" so I won't be dealing with it.
In conclusion, I was not convinced by this tract that evolution is untrue. I mean, as a evolutionist, and thus a racist as described in panel 2, what made them think I'd be convinced by a darkie?
PS. If anyone knows a lot about carbon dating and other ways of measuring the age of the earth, please comment and inform me :).
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Generally, there are four reasons why one might to set up a justice system and punish criminals for their crimes:
I) Retribution: basically the concept of punishment because one deserves it.
II) Deterrence: The threat of punishment prevents crime from being committed.
III) Protection of society: prevent the criminal from reoffending by locking him/her up or using capital punishment.
IV) Reform: Prevent the criminal from reoffending by reforming his/her behaviour and reintegrating them into normal society.
Risk and Reward
I think an important bearing on how to justify the justice system is the concept of risk and benefit. Your two main options to prevent reoffense at their most basic are locking people up for life, or reforming them and reintegrating them into society(I'm leaving capital punishment out of the debate atm). The main advantage of locking people up for life is that there is no chance for them to commit the same crime again(presuming they don't escape). The main disadvantages are that it is probably more expensive and some people might actually regret their actions and want to become law abiding members of society, but are not given the opportunity. The main advantages of reform are that it can rehabilitate the criminal and they can contribute to society, and it is probably less expensive. The main disadvantage is that it is possible to fake a reformation, get out, and commit the same crime over again.
In weighing up these risks one has got to consider the damage done by the crime itself. Although reform is good thing, there is a problem if its success rate is low and/or it is difficult to tell which criminals have reformed. However, with a crime like say shoplifting, it is acceptable to attempt reform and then release the criminals even if it is difficult to tell which criminals have reformed. This is because although shoplifting is a bad thing, the damage it does to people's lives is negligible. It is a tolerable risk that they will commit the crime again.
However, for violent crimes, particularly rape, murder, torture and child abuse, I would argue that the risk is not acceptable. If there is even a tiny chance that a criminal will commit the same crime again in this instance, he or she should be kept in jail for life. This is because these kinds of crimes are devastating to human life and human happiness. This is one reason I suggest life sentences without parole for these kinds of criminals.
Crime and Psychopathy
Success of reform is vital when taking it into account as a justification. If the success of reform is always 0% or its benefits are negligible it cannot be used as a justification.
This is partly why I believe that reform cannot always be considered important. For instance, many of the most violent criminals are psychopathic. Psychopathy is a condition in which one has an in-group containing only oneself and does not care about other human beings. One trait of the psychopath is that he/she cannot feel remorse, guilt or empathy. In my humble opinion there is no point trying to reform this kind of criminal. Why? Because reform has to start with convincing the criminal that what they did was wrong. If a criminal does not believe what they have done is wrong, they will just reoffend when let out of prison. Of course, psychopaths cannot or do not feel this remorse and guilt because they only care about themselves and as far as we know, there is no way to make them feel what they cannot.
Of course, psychopaths are often highly intelligent individual who could completely and convincingly pretend to reform without any moral remorse.
These arguments add to the weight of the ones above to suggest a harsh punishment for violent criminals.
(Admittedly not all individuals who commit a violent act are psychopathic, but in these most horrifying of cases, they mostly are. Even if they aren't, they have shown themself capable of committing these horrible acts when normal people would have been restrained by guilt or empathy.)
Deterrence and Human Nature
Human nature is not always a moral or wonderful thing. There are natural feelings we all(well mostly) have, moral or not. Unfortunately, elements of that human nature involve violence. If violence is a part of human nature, we need deterrents based on this.
It may seem counter intuitive to insist on harsh deterrents based on nature. We are often used to the idea of lesser punishments based on things that "aren't our fault" so to speak. (Many people try to exonerate others by appealing to the traumas etc in their childhood or whatever, although whatever you do you can't escape determinism.) But of course in this instance it should be the opposite: if something comes naturally to us, we need a threat of harsher punishment in order to abstain from doing it.
Reform and Deterrence as Joint Justifications
Even with crimes where there is a tolerable risk of reoffense, we need a deterrent to prevent the crime from happening in the first place, as well as reform system. As far as I can think of, the best system would be based partly on both these options for dealing with petty crimes. For the first offense, a limited sentence should be brought in, alongside a reform program. The criminals that are reformed are fine; but for the criminals that reoffend there should be a escalating system of deterrence, say the prison sentence for the second offense is double of that of the first offense, etc. This will make sure, not only that many criminals are reformed, but that even for criminals we cannot reform that they will eventually reach a deterrence level high enough for them to stop committing the crime.
For example, say for most want-to-be criminals a 3 month sentence for crime Y is a large enough deterrent, so that is put into practise. However, person X is an exception who only a sentence of 1 year or higher is enough to deter them. If we attempt to reform them after the first offense and it fails, next time they commit the same offense there will be a punishment of 6 months. The criminal X is now at a level where he/she is deterred, because a further crime would put them in prison for a year which is at a high enough level to be a deterrent.
Reform and Human Nature
Ideas on reform also need to take into account human nature. We cannot expect magical changes in somebody's fundamental psychological makeup, and to hope for it is wishful thinking and dangerous nonsense(see the psychopathy thing above, for instance.) However, facets of somebody's human nature may be able to be channelled into other activities more beneficial than crime.
Here is an example based on evolutionary psychology:
Men in general, complete for status. This is observed when we see people buying the latest phones and other gadgets to keep up with the Jones'. This is because, evolutionarily, a man at the top of the status heap would get more women and thus father more children than other men. A 17-year-old may compete for status by shoplifting so he can own the latest things. It may be possible to reform this criminal by channelling the evolutionary desire into a more productive hobby like sport.
Although this is oversimplified I think it demonstrates the ideas behind what would be good reform. It is more realistic than actually changing human nature and thus more likely to be effective.
Overall, the more violent and damaging the crime is, the more protection of society becomes important, and for the most violent crimes it outweighs the benefits of potential reform. Deterrence is required to help control our human nature, and good reform will work to channel it.
NB: I did not use retribution as a reason for a few reasons. Firstly, it is not a particularly moral justification and only satisfies our base desires, rather than being productive. It is also harder to justify than the other three on philosophical determinism.
NB2 - Capital Punishment: From a purely retributionist standpoint, I would say that capital punishment isn't harsh enough. capital punishment is however, the most effective way of protecting society(if they were locked up they could still technically escape.) Many people also think that it is a powerful deterrent but I personally disagree as I believe that death is the end of all sensation(as a materialist) and many criminals are religious(eg. Paul Hill wanted to be killed so he could get to heaven--no real deterrent there.) As a deterrent it is easier to argue that capital punishment isn't harsh enough, as torture would be more effective if unethical.
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
He firstly says that religion does not have a monopoly on fanaticism, which is a fair statement; there is/has been fanaticism in the name of certain political movements, most famously Nazism and Communism. However, he then compares fanaticism in the name of religion to fanaticism in the name of atheism, which is just stupid. Why? Because I don't think there exists such a thing as fanaticism in the name of atheism.
The only thing necessary to be an atheist is a lack of belief in God. I cannot see how this belief inspires a fanatical approach. There is no other tenets, there is no dogma, there is no doctrine.
Admittedly, many atheists believe that the world would be a better place without religion. But does this belief (of a better world without religion) stem directly from atheism itself? I can kind of see how they would use the logic, however the problem is that premiss 2 cannot be derived from atheism.
(1) Atheism is true and thus religions are false.
(2) The world is better off without false beliefs.
(3)Thus the world is better off without religion.
This also does not seem to tie in with what many atheists actually believe about religion. For instance, many atheists believe the world would be a better place without religion because they have seen the damage religion can do to people's lives, either first-hand or through the news media. This does not stem from atheism, but experience.
I also doubt if every atheist would agree with premise 2, at least not in several situations. For example, a good false belief might be "this medicine will stop me feeling ill" when in fact it is a placebo.
Even if most atheists believe the world is better without religion, that is not fanatical not unless it involves things like destroying religious buildings and killing religious people.
Of course, there is a much easier way to get to fanaticism through either religion or other totalitarian authority. For example:
(1) God says I should kill gay people in the Bible(Lev. 20.13)
(2) God is an unquestionable authority.
(3) Thus I should kill gay people.
These assumptions all stem from the religious dogma --god is right, you should obey god.
Onto Hitler and Stalin. As Professor Dawkins points out in the recording, both of these men did evil in the name of political ideology rather than any religious(or non-religious) belief. But anyway, this was the bit where he really annoyed me, he called the aim of Hitler and Stalin a "utopia of secular humanism." At least that's what I think I heard on the tape, because I could barely believe that he would say something THAT stupid! Oh please, Mr. Morris, tell me where it says in secular humanism to kill gay people a la Hitler, if I knew that was in it I would never have signed up!
He talks about the evils in the name of religion as if he's going "Oh, well that's not my kind of religion" and "they got the Bible wrong because Jesus doesn't condone violence" etc. Eternal Hell anybody? Sigh. *Directs Mr. Morris to the Old Testament, while she's at it*.
[warning:rant] A few other notes on the encyclical. Mostly just one, where he says that the Pope Ratpoison IV is extending a hand to atheists to help stop fanaticism both religious and atheistic? Oh, it's extending a hand now is it Mr. Rat-needs-his-balls-put-through-a-meat-grinder-zinger is it? What happened to "Homosexuality is tendency towards moral evil"? You know me, I'm about as straight as your average San Francisco Pride parade, are you sure the Pope wants to touch me, he might get teh gay disease? Oh wait, the gay disease is the AIDS, which so many Catholics have by this point due to his doctrines he's bound to have caught it anyway. The Catholic Church trying to stop fanaticism is so fucking ironic, the Catholic Church practically is fanaticism with its holier-than-thou, ban-abortion, chain-women-to-the-kitchen-sink, if-you-say-celibate-queer-we-might-just-let-you-live attitude. [/rant]
Yes, I'm aware this started off rather intelligent and degenerated into adhoms at the Catholics, but they just tick me off so much. Possibly even more that the Baptist types, merely cos the Catholic Church has way more influence in Britain than the fundie Baptists.
In short: This Mr. Morris is an idiot, and he talks way too damn loud.
NB: get recording @ http://richarddawkins.net/article,1983,Richard-Dawkins-on-Have-Your-Say,BBC
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Start Path To Godliness!
£400 - Local Gay Bar
£2,000 - Utility Company That Panders to The Gay Community
£500 - The Shrine to Cthulhu
£900 - Satanic Record Companies(1)
£1,200 - Porn Producers
£1,000 - Alcohol Companies
Lose a Turn...But Not Your Soul!
£1,400 - Walmart
£1,500 - Hollywood Cinema(2)
£1,700 - Violent Video Games Producers
£1,800 - Librul "Christian" Churches
£1,900 - Schools that don't teach Creationism
£2,000 - The Carbon Trust
Time For Prayer(Free Space)
£2,100 - EVILushyn Supporters(3)
£2,300 - Harry Potter's Publishers(4)
£2,500 - Wizards Of The Coast Company(D&D)
£2,600 - Abortion Clinic
£2,700 - Feminist Activists HQ
£2,800 - Gay Rights Activists HQ(5)
£2,900 - The Catholic "Harlot"
£3,100 - Islam
£3,200 - The LIEberal Media
£3,600 - The A(nti) C(hristian) L(ibrul) U(nion).
£2,000 - Planned Parenthood
£4,000 - The DEMONcrat Party
NB: I got the software to do this from a make-your-own-opoly disc I got for Christmas one year.Pic Sources
(1) I scanned this pic in
(2) Pic from here NB: It's from the film "Transamerica" which fundies would no doubt consider immoral, as the two main characters are a transsexual woman and a gay prostitute.
(3) I got the picture from someone's av on richarddawkins.net Robert Maynard I believe. I thought it was pretty cool.
(4) pic from here
(5) pic from here
Sunday, 2 December 2007
The introduction to the second half was very disappointing, as we conceded twice - Robbie keane with a penalty and then with another goal. Berbatov just after this missed a chance and hit the post--if they'd have scored at that point we probably would've lost the game. Fortunatly, Cameron Jerome managed to equalise with a great shot, although the Spurs defense were poor. Robbie Keane went on to be sent off, although he didn't deserve to be, and the desision had an important effect on the game. We managed to dominate the last 10-15 minutes of play and although Forssell missed a shot after a great cross from sub Kapo, Larsson fired in an absolutely brilliant goal to win us the game.
Overall, this was a good first game for the new manager although the passing could be better and we needed to get Jerome into the game a bit more.