What's providing better promise at this point is that me and an old Norwegian friend from 'way the hell back have reunited as a debate team, just like the good ole days when there was such a thing as a PBS Discussions board. He's Gnostic, I'm an atheist, but despite differences, we click like well-oiled machinery in the debate arena.
There's a new no-holds-barred Facebook Group where it's atheists vs. Christians, and recently a Muslim chimed in to show where the Quran agrees with the science that atheists usually swear by, and once again I find myself in the odd position of defending the Muslim against atheists who, for some inexplicable reason, still believe the tommyrot taught by Christians as "truth"...and I've had to call 'em on atheist belief in Christian tenet. It's not the first time; I've had run-ins with "atheist Jews" on Rational Responders because my basic question to atheists of this ilk is this: how can you be an atheist if you believe what a religion teaches as a fact? In my book, you can't.
And there's a lot of rot taught by religions about Islam that simply isn't true, and yet believed by a good number of atheists as if it's fact. Again, I point out that my ability to sort out the fact from the fiction is the fact that I'm a time traveler and recognize a bogus account of book history when compared to history of record.
A good example is the Christian claim that it was Arab Muslims that destroyed the Alexandria Library because they preferred faith over science. Not true, and it's on record that a great deal of what was in the Alexandria Library was translated into Arabic--before the Christians destroyed the Library because Christians preferred faith over science. It's also history of record that Europe was all but decimated by various plagues as the Califate Empire, putting the sciences to use, flourished. It saved Christianity from itself with science and the proof of that on record is the fact that Europe adopted the Arabic number system while relegating Roman numerals to simple enumerations and titling. The most important aspect of the Arabic number system which caused a scientific boom in the Renaissance was the concept and usage of the zero. There is no zero in the Roman system, and thus the Roman system does not lend itself to scientific pursuits at all. It was plenty good for construction, but scientific testing of theory to execute scientific development and discovery? Forget it.
The Arab Muslims had Arabic translations of ancient Greek medical knowledge and Europe did not. Arab Muslims developed scientific abstract thinking and methods via al gebra while Europeans were still stuck on rudimentary basic Euclidean geometry. Muslim Arabs knew that the ratio between the radius and the circumference of a circle was slightly greater than 3 while Europe was still stuck on the notion of the "perfect circle" where the perfection lie in an exact 3:1 ratio of circumference to radius. Arab Muslims had all the gold, which is why gold became as prized a "rare metal" as it was, and it's not because Arab Muslims had any actual gold mines. It was because Arab Muslims were traders, first and foremost, and in pre-Islamic times got it by trading with Africa, like for instance the Ghana Empire. When Arab Muslims introduced the concept of al chemy to Europe, Europeans readily traded with those infernal Saracens regardless. It's where Europe's insatiable appetite for gold comes from. It's via Arab trade with China that Europe's Dutch glommed onto Delft Blue porcelain. In China, that would be Mohammedan Blue, and both names refer to cobalt, at one time found only in Arab held/Arab influenced territories. Therefore any European who could convince any ruling class that they'd learned something from Muslims whether or not they actually did, gained favor from the ruling class in question. It's all quite elementary, my dear Watson.
Exploring this avenue in history a bit further: the above may seem to be simple observations leading to a "D'OH!" moment to someone not seeing something that simple before, but the reason isn't the presumed intelligence level of the person looking at this history--it is entirely due to temporal altitude. This kind of stuff can't be observed from ground level where one is inundated with the weeds of local-only detail, so it's actually not surprising if that's where the observer was when he didn't see the pattern. Said another way, one can get lost in a maze carved out from a cornfield on the ground, but the map through looks pretty simple from an aerial view...a less detailed overview. You can view from directly overhead, but you can also gain an overview of value at an angle--useful for looking at run-ups from beginning to the actual event, and useful for looking at the impact of an event, after the event happened.
I still think I could have done a better job of debating Dinesh D'Souza than Chris Hitchens did.
Yeah, me & Rasmus Gjesdal disagree on a number of things, but DAMN he's an awesome debate partner, and it's all good. Ras was the brightest spot of 2013 when he was returning from a vacation and dropped by to visit me on the way back...and in the process generated a lively religion debate in the Hastings book store which brought in a couple of locals too, and a good time was had by all. Luvz ya, Ras! And yes, his wife Glenda knows. ^_^
Already? Well, as of 6pm Central, it struck midnight across the globe in terms of UTC. I rang that in with both WWV and the BBC...which, now that I think about it, gives them license enough to lay claim to timelordism mainly because they lorded over Greenwich until we went to atomic timekeeping for the planet.
Here's another New Year's tradition: Capitol Steps: Politics Takes a Holiday (on the radio)
Capitol Steps (launches mp3 player)
I managed to get a vid of the reception of Brazil's Radio Nacional Brasilia announcing its local midnight. I thought if I left the dust layer on the radio's face that I wouldn't have much problem with reflections obscuring the readout, but I was somewhat wrong about that. You can even see the logo on my camera, dang it. That, and the type of radio, and I'm not proud of that radio when I've got two Drakes on the bench (I think that the power supply electrolytics are dried up on one of 'em, and they're both in need of alignment and me in need of enough time in one spot to mess with 'em. GAWD I miss Gilfer Electronics). I'm ashamed to admit that I use a Radio Shack DX-390, which is a Sangean under the skin, so nobody tell Keith Perron I said that about Sangeans. Please. Reception wasn't the best, either. Anyhoo, here goes...
MIDNIGHT UPDATE: Some time ago I found a number of Leo van der Walts on Facebook and took a stab at figuring this one guy was THE Leo formerly of the Radio RSA DX program. I tried asking if he was, but he never confirmed or denied it. He posts mainly in Afrikaans, but this moment, he took the time to wish me a Happy Birthday in English. That, people, made my year. WOOT!
...UPDATE 2: Got another wonderful surprise later in the day, and the only way this is believable is to post a screenshot...
LATE PM UPDATE:
This is the banner image chosen for the page of the group me & Ras teamed up in, and as of this pm, it's very descriptive since the group has now turned into a clusterfork. Seriously considering sitting this 'un out...but then...somebody just made a statement perfect for one of my infernal questions. The statement was about how atheists will never get to heaven, and my question was WHICH heaven--one, two, or three?
Believe me, it had the calming effect of evoking a counter demand to explain WTF I was talking about...and I answered with St. Paul's observation that there are at least three heavens...didn't he read his Bible? I already know where this is going, as my next question about his Bible will be, "Which version of Bible is that?"
Questions are wonderful things.
................welllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll..........ahem...........okay...................they *can be* wonderful things..........
Granted, it's not for the person with a weak stomach. For the record, I've been a moderator as well as a sysop for a number of "free speech" debate boards as well as a moderator over an intra-Muslim debate on Islam. I wasn't born yesterday and along the way I did manage to learn a thing or two here n there.
When thing stay civil, as they did with an impromptu discussion of religion that cropped up between me and my Obamacare navigator, it was rather rewarding as she had a bigger interest in understanding what's at the root of atheism rather than preaching absolutes in my face praying for a miracle conversion. When both parties agree that the goal of a discussion is to get at the truth of something, it turns out to be an exchange of ideas or an exploration of perspective and is quite rewarding for both parties involved. Such was the case with the navigator. No conversions occurred, but a greater mutual understanding did--which made the whole thing worthwhile.
MINI-UPDATE on the Facebook Group: it doesn't fall into the rewarding category so with all due respect to my ol' buddy Ras, I'm gonna bail out. The main essential point of the new direction in this new year is to put maximum distance between me and senseless, baseless squabbling, and this doesn't cut it--it's exactly the crap I'm itching to put far into the rear view mirror. I have no stomach for this. I don't even want to have a stomach for it. Enough.
Ah--time for the Vienna Philharmonic's annual New Year's fete via PBS Great Performances program. Nice music to take refuge to after the battles of the Bible...and Julie Andrews later announces that it marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War. And wouldn'tcha know it--Julie then took us through a quick tour of the Austrian office of one Sigmund Freud. Damn.
#Prosil2014 "Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind...."
Guy Lombardo now gets to trump Guy Lombardo with the following favorite, and that's a better note to close the day on...
Note to self.....
LOLz-- A 'nuther note to seff...