Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Thu Feb 19 22:55:38 2004
Mags and Blogs

Today, after work, I implemented a bit more of the preference stuff for my BLOG. Now people with accounts (hint hint) can have themes associated with their accounts, so if they want, they can have the nice black on light grey look I implemented for my BLOG. Caveat: There's still no interface for choosing themes. I plan to have an interface that uses cookies for people who don't have accounts to still be able to pick a colour scheme that best pleases their eyes. People with accounts will be able to, once it's implemented, also add custom CSS beyond their theme, and also submit their custom CSS to me to suggest it be another theme for others to enjoy. I'm not entirely certain how much good all of this is, as, as far as I can tell, I only have about 30 regular viewers right now, but still, this is a fun personal project, and I'm mainly coding it for the heck of it. If I ever wanted to, I could fairly easily tweak the software so it could support multiple BLOGs, add a few things, and make it like LiveJournal or one of those other sites. It wouldn't take too much additional work, and maybe I'll eventually do it for fun anyhow.

I just got back from a late night pancake run (wooooo!), and while there, I was reading a magazine out of the several huge piles sent to PUSH by the Secular Student Alliance. It's great that they sent them to us... there are so many to distribute, and I'm going to staple some of the group business cards to them so we can get some publicity out of them, but... the content left something to be desired. Much of it was interesting, but the philosophy was generally bad. The first article was a comparison between faith and reason as means to good understanding. Unfortunately, he overstated the case for reason, and claimed that it, by nature, must be the only tool for understanding. I'm not certain if he's ruling out intuition (which may be an inferior tool in the general case, but in certain circumstances can be far superior) accidentally, and certainly he fails to support his statement about the exclusivity of reason. A better argument would be based on the naturalistic heuristic -- reason has proven to work in coming to supported conclusions about the nature of things, and faith has not led to such advances in ways statistically superior to chance. Of course, the counterargument is that the needed heuristics to judge success in reaching good conclusions are themselves scientific, and there's a circularity. And the discussion just becomes increasingly complex thereon.... Anyhow, the author then goes on to take a jab at Pascal's Wager, but he does so clumsily. Instead of pointing out that it's insufficient to lead to certain kinds of beliefs, it pokes fun at it for being so, and also fails to understand the depth of a certain aspect of its argument. It goes on for a bit, but is similarly disappointing. There's then an article comparing emergency measures in Europe to control plagues to the control of Palestinians in Israel. It is true that the situation there with regards to their treatment is very poor, but the article fails to acknowledge that neither side is monolithic, and while the Palestinians are reduced to primitive and humiliating conditions, the measures are not being enacted for the heck of it, and the Israelis arn't (generally speaking) making life suck for the Palestinians for the joy of it. It is a very complex situation, and one-sided analyses, which fail to recognize the impasse, the deep pain of those involved, and the territorial issues involved are not helpful. There were some good articles, and then an interview with Daniel Dennett. Perhaps he's a bright guy, but his responses, particularly on "free will/determinism" and "communism as a religion", seem poorly thought out. Then there's an article attacking moral relativism which was largely a poorly thought-out straw-man line of attack. There were some good articles though, and it was worth reading.. Anyhow, bedtime.