Q&A: Sam Harris: The Christian right, radical Islamists, and secular leftists agree: this atheist is America’s most dangerous man (MUST READ!!!!)
FP: Do yourself a favor and read this interview in whole. Excerpts:
The great canard against atheism is that atheism is responsible for the crimes of the 20th century. An overwhelming demand for evidence was not responsible for the Nazis. What was wrong with these movements was that they so resembled religion. When I debated Rick Warren, he said that the reductio ad absurdum of atheism—although obviously, he didn’t use the phrase reductio ad absurdum—is North Korea. But North Korea is a political cult. It is a hostage situation where people have been brainwashed with a political and racial ideology that has many of the features of a religion. They think Kim Il Sung was born on a mountaintop attended by the spontaneous arrival of Spring. Flowers bloomed and rainbows were everywhere. They think that our shipments of food aid that stave off starvation there are actually devotional offerings to the genius of their dear leader. It’s an information-poor situation.
Most people want to believe something that makes them feel better and most religious people actually want to believe something to make them feel so much better that death isn’t even a problem. It’s a career opportunity, if you’re a Muslim jihadist. It’s a good thing your child blew himself up. I think we just have to admit that there is nothing that’s truly rational to believe that could pay us the same kind of emotional dividends.
We do have a low-birth-rate problem in the secular world. I think that’s largely a problem by comparison with the high birth rate of the religious world and especially the developing world. I think nobody would advocate that the poorest and least economically integrated and least educated people have the most kids. The effects of religious dogmatism on the lives of women have been transparently negative; they are consigned to a livestock-like breeding cycle. So, secularism does correlate with a lack of fertility to some degree because there’s just more to do in life than have 12 kids.
There are a lot of people who have a tremendous amount of white guilt, and understandably so. They are attentive to every misstep that western governments make in their foreign policies. So, you get this crazy moral parity claim, which obviously the Israelis suffer from the most. The Israelis are confronting people who will blow themselves up to kill the maximum number of noncombatants and will even use their own children as human shields. They’ll launch their missiles from the edge of a hospital or school so that any retaliation will produce the maximum number of innocent casualties. And they do all this secure in the knowledge that their opponents are genuinely worried about killing innocent people. It’s the most cynical thing imaginable. And yet within the moral discourse of the liberal West, the Israeli side looks like it’s the most egregiously insensitive to the cost of the conflict.
Liberals imagine they’re taking religion seriously by being endlessly respectful and politically correct in the face of this insanity. Ironically, it’s the most condescending and disrespectful view of religious people—to refuse to accept their account of what they believe. Liberals don’t think anyone actually believes in Paradise. Meanwhile, embassies are burned in a dozen countries and our only response is to get up and say, “Of course we would never do anything to insult the perfectly noble religion of Islam.”
There are people who will use human shields on one side, and there are people who will be deterred by other people’s use of human shields: They’re still worried about killing the children of their enemies. Those are two very different groups of people.
So, if there is an argument for why the Quran is so good, please bring it forward. I’ve read the Quran several times and it’s not that good. In fact, it’s conspicuously bad as a moral map, and a spiritual map. You can wander blindfolded into a Barnes & Noble, and the first book you pick off the shelf will have more wisdom than the Quran. The Quran is uniquely barren of wisdom relevant to the 21st century. It’s got a few good lines about patience and generosity, and the rest is just vilification of the infidel.
Given the coalition of more than strange bedfellows gathered against him, he must be doing something right. He’s dangerous because he’s very effective in exposing bunk.
And speaking of bunk:
Alexander Görlach: No Peter's Pence
During the pontificate of John Paul II, corruption blossomed as if the reformation had never happened and the Borgias still practiced incest in the Apostolic Palace. The talk in Rome is that simple administrative tasks could be bought for 10,000 Euro. A photo op with the Pope could also be purchased if one was willing to spend lavishly. It might not be immediately obvious why someone would agree to such a deal, but a photo with the Pope can help to drive up a company’s business and improve a businessman’s reputation in Italy and other Catholic countries.
The German chancellor Konrad Adenauer once said, when asked why he hadn’t gone on a pilgrimage to Rome, that he didn’t want to lose his last spark of faith in the Vatican. Given the rumors that emanate from the Vatican today, there is really no fun in being Catholic. It appears that very little has changed since the Reformation inside the Church.
Benedict has come under fire inside the Vatican. Some speculate that the liveried whistleblower did not act in solitude but was supported by those who seek to prevent a reform of the Curia.
Are these people going to cater to the salvation of others? It looks like they have do have a good chance in hell themselves.
If the New York Times' comprehensive account of the birth of the STUXNET worm that slowed Iran's efforts to enrich uranium tells us anything, it's that the Obama administration was remarkably naive about the potential for the proliferation of the cyberweapons it was developing.
Indeed, while discussions of the new territory the US was entering apparently took place in the White House, ultimately, an aide told the Times, the administration didn't want to "develop a grand theory for a weapon whose possibilities they were still discovering."
Then, in Summer 2010, an event the administration should have anticipated occurred: The STUXNET worm got loose and started replicating outside the Iranian enrichment plant that had been its target. In the wild, on the Internet, its was exposed for everyone to see.
And that, apparently, is when opportunistic hackers started to learn from it.
As outlined by Eric Gallant at Data Center Pro, STUXNET taught hackers that the "Industrial Control Systems" used in industrial production (think high-tech factories) and data centers were vulnerable to attack.
The list of ways that STUXNET code originally developed by the US and Israel is being widely distributed, learned from and exploited goes on, and the full Data Center Pro post is worth reading if you want to understand how these attacks might eventually be carried out on the data centers on which the Internet and our financial infrastructure depends.
In general, the so-called SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) infrastructure of the US has been described as the "Achilles heel of critical infrastructure," and Richard Clarke, former White House advisor on cyber security has asserted that China is already probing the US power grid.
FP: This was exactly my instinctive reaction when I first heard of STUXNET, for it was obvious to me that the West, that is much more critically dependent on computerized systems would be very quick to deploy such software without first ensuring that its own systems are secured. This is not going to end up well.
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (CN) - "'Pretending that Facebook will have an independent board ... is like putting rouge on a corpse,'" begins the shareholder derivative action against Facebook co-creator Mark Zuckerberg and others.
Shareholder Hal Hubuschman sued Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman, and "certain members of its board of directors (the "board") and certain of its executive officers," on behalf of Facebook, Inc., in San Mateo County Court.
The shareholder derivative action requests a return of what plaintiff claims was lost by defendants' breach of fiduciary duty, waste of corporate assets and unjust enrichment, plus declaratory relief to prevent a repeat or similar situation.
Plaintiff alleges that Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel and James Breyer benefited from withholding information from the Securities and Exchange Commission Registration Statement that the company was worth less because increased use of its website through mobile devices was causing a "serious reduction in revenue growth," since "advertising was not as effective on mobile devices as it was on a traditional personal computer, therefore alienating Facebook's customer-base.
The lead plaintiff alleges that, while in possession of material, non-public information concerning Facebook's true business health: Zuckerberg sold 30.2 million shares of his stock for $1 billion; Thiel directed his companies, Founders Fund and Rivendell, to sell 16.8 million shares of Facebook stock for $633 million; and Breyer directed Accel Partners to sell 57.7 million shares of its Facebook stock for $2.1 billion in proceeds.
FP: “Wealth creation”. “Efficient markets”. If you believe that I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
One last journey into the night (MUST READ)