Miracles or science?

Let us assume that miracles can give people with paraplegia the power to walk again. People are granted miracles at God’s whim. To us, who don’t understand God’s will, these miracles are arbitrary.

Well, now science can give people with paraplegia the power to walk again. But this power isn’t granted arbitrarily. It could potentially be granted to anybody who responds to the therapy.

So, which do you prefer? Mankind having no discrimination over who walks again or mankind being able to help anyone who can walk again?



Defending privacy

To argue that ‘if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide’ is to assume that government always does good. For if government has a right to pry and a capacity to do what is wrong it will use its power of surveillance and its monopoly on violence to control the efforts of those citizens fighting for what is right. Therefore, to willingly forgo privacy is to believe it impossible that government could ever use its power for an ignoble cause, or not to care that it is possible.

Countering the Craft International Boston Marathon bombing theory

There’s a theory buzzing around the Interwebs claiming that ex-US Military employees from Craft International are really behind the Boston Marathon bombings.

Such theories can be found here, for example.

This theory draws on three images for evidence: one taken prior to the bombings and the other two taken after.

In the ‘before’ image, a military-looking man can be seen wearing a black backpack with a small, white square patch on the top handle. In one of the ‘after’ images, the same man is said to be fleeing the scene without a backpack.

Here are these two images as popularly presented on the Interwebs:

Boston imaged cropped

Boston image

Where did his backpack go? This is where the third image comes in. Here it is:

The backpack

The backpack

Notice the white square?

Case closed.



What the persons who wish to implicate this poor chap in the Boston Marathon bombings don’t tell you is that the image of him supposedly ‘fleeing’ the scene has been cropped. Here’s the original:

Boston imaged full

Boston image, full

As you can see in the full image, this photo was taken well after the bombings. Emergency staff are out in force, tending to those few people who still require medical attention. It looks more like he’s assisting emergency staff, not fleeing the scene.

‘Okay, so he’s not fleeing the scene,’ I hear you say, ‘So what? He could still be the culprit. He could have planted the backpack bomb and then stuck around. Right?’

Wrong again.

Here’s why. There exists footage (see below), recorded by Fatma Tanis, that shows our poor chap in the crowd with his backpack on his back just after the first bomb detonates and just before the second bomb detonates. There is so little time between him appearing in frame and the second detonation that it is nigh on impossible that he could have set down the second bomb and fled to a safe distance before it detonated.

A two-minute video presenting the theory, the evidence for it (stated succinctly by DAHBOO77), and the counter-evidence in the footage captured by Tanis.

‘Our silent majority’ Geelong Advertiser article

My article and I get a wee spanking on 94.7 The Pulse

I have an opinion piece about the October 10 Geelong mayoral forum in today’s Geelong Advertiser (p. 16). In it I claim that

Of the 13 impromptu audience questions [at the mayoral forum], I believe six were obviously asked by advocates or people who were there to direct ‘Dorothy Dixer‘ questions at a particular candidate.

Here’s my evidence for that claim:

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Meryl Dorey and the AVN pick the rotten cherries

On 5 October, Deakin University Lecturer in Philosophy Dr Patrick Stokes published an article over at The Conversation headed ‘No, you’re not entitled to your opinion’. Stokes discussed an episode of Media Watch in which the show’s host, Jonathan Holmes, criticised a WIN News story about a measles outbreak in South-West Sydney.

The WIN News story focused on vaccination, presenting two opposing views on the issue. The first view was that of of a medical doctor, who recommended that children be vaccinated. The other view belonged to Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) spokesperson Meryl Dorey, who claimed that ‘All vaccinations in the medical literature have been linked with the possibility of causing autism, not just the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine’ and that children should not be vaccinated.

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Lying by Sam Harris

Lying by Sam Harris (2011)


Sam Harris has made his short eBook Lying (2011) available to download for free. Make the most of this opportunity and read it. It will only take you an hour or so. For those of you who cannot spare an hour, here’s a five-minute review and five-minute criticism. To the review.

In good philosophical fashion, Harris opens his essay with a definition of lying: ‘To lie is to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication’ (p. 4).

The expectation that others have about a particular piece of communication is important, Harris contends. When, for example, someone greets us in the street with a ‘Hi, how are you?’ an acceptable response is ‘Well!’, even when we aren’t well. Although such a response may be deceptive, Harris argues that it’s not a lie because both parties understand that the communication is intended as a greeting. By responding with ‘Well!’ you’re not intentionally misleading your interlocutor. They don’t expect an honest reply.

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Candidate preferences for Geelong Mayor election

Late on Monday 1 October, the Victorian Electoral Commission released candidate preferences for the coming Geelong Mayor election.

Here’s each candidate’s nomination of preferences, in numerical order.

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The trial of King Charles I

Section of An Eyewitness Representation of the Execution of King Charles I (1600-49) of England, 1649 by John WeesopBelow you will find the transcript of the trial of King Charles I as it appears in Howell, TB (ed.) 1816, A complete collection of state trials and proceedings for high treason and other crimes and misdemeanors from the earliest period to the year 1783, vol. IV (of XXI), TC Hansard, London, pp. 990-1018.

The permanent address for the entry: http://thelydianmode.com/?p=2510

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It’s better to live on your knees than to die on your feet: Thomas Hobbes on the dangers of political idealism

This is a discussion piece on seventeenth-century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ criticism of domestic political idealism, using contemporary Australian politics as a point of reference. As a discussion piece it lacks academic rigour. So, what the hell. Let’s get it started with a factually incorrect abstract.


In the December 1982 edition of Rolling Stone, Thomas Hobbes published a scathing review of Midnight Oil’s ‘10-to-1’ album. Midnight Oil, Hobbes claimed, were corrupting Australian youth with such politically incendiary tracks as ‘Short Memory’ and ‘US Forces’. But it was the lyrics to ‘The Power and the Passion’ with which Hobbes took particular issue, writing:

We hear that “It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees”. How foolish! What vainglory! Who penned such rot? Was it Hirst, Moginie or Garrett? Have The Oils taken leave of their senses? Anybody who has lived through the English Civil War and who can ratiocinate knows that the opposite is true. Standing up for political ideals can only lead to political subversion, civil unrest and, ultimately, civil war. And with civil war comes a return to the State of Nature — a state in which all persons, upright, kowtowed and procumbent, face the constant threat of death; a state in which, as I have argued elsewhere (see my Leviathan (Bohn, 1651)), life for all is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. All things considered, therefore, it’s better to live on one’s knees than to die on one’s feet.

In this entry I’ll give a few working examples of political idealism and political realism before moving onto Hobbes’ criticism of the former and his argument that domestic peace and commodious living require us to forfeit our political ideals lest they undermine the sovereign’s authority.

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