Monday, November 29, 2004

Where do we go next?

A few hundred years ago, a lot of us came to North America to escape the religious persecution back home in Europe. Rightly or wrongly (and there was a lot Wrong with that). In light of the current political situation, it seems like we've forgotten an important lesson.

Over on Gallup there's a story about a poll they did on religious belief in the US. It's troubling for a bunch of reasons. In this poll the Gallup organization found

  • About a third of those polled believe that the theory of evolution is sufficiently justified by "scientific evidence."

  • About a third disagree and believe that it is only one of many theories, all deserving of equal consideration.

  • About a third don't know.

Do the math.

Two-thirds of the polled people do not understand Evolution. On the one hand, this is a pretty distressing notion. On the other hand, I'd be interested to know how many of them understand Gravity. I also have to wonder, of the third that believe that Evolution is a scientifically-based theory, how many actually know what that means? How many were only 'going along' with the survey? Ironically, it's the third that say they don't know that gives me a little hope.

What is more distressing is the finding that almost half of the people polled believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago."

Who did Gallup call? Are there that many people living in the dark ages who have telephones? Lucy is a myth? Leakey's findings in Olduvai Gorge are a hoax foisted upon Man by Satan? What?

And what about the third of Americans who are, apparently, "biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word." My other blog is called Cognitive Dissonance - which is the ability to hold to two or more conflicting beliefs simultaneously - but I don't know that the level of spiritual schizophrenia outlined in the various books of the Bible can come close to mere "cognitive dissonance." And which version of the Bible do we take literally? King James? Gutenburg? Laridian? Geneva? American Standard? Concordant Literal New Testament? Which? "The one down at the Church" leaves a little to be desired in terms of an identifying citation.

Ok. I can see some overlap here. The third who are literalists must be the ones who reject Evolution. That's ok if it's the same group. It makes it much easier to accept, somehow. I'm sure it's not a hundred percent overlap, but there have to be some considerable numbers in common.

And THESE are the people who are in charge of the government?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-Christian. I'm one of those liberals who believes we all have the right to go to Hell in our own way. But just as freedom of speech doesn't include the freedom to yell "Fire" in a crowded theatre, freedom of religion doesn't include forcing me to worship your gods. And there is where the rubber is meeting the road.

The "Evangelical Christians" believe that it is their God Given Responsibility to force me -- and thousands like me -- to embrace Jesus as my savior and live life according to their interpretation of the Bible. And that's the problem.

The Big Deal with the "separation of Church and State" is that it provides -- not for freedom OF religion so much -- but for freedom FROM religion. The Evangelical Fundamentalists would take that freedom away in the name of freedom of religion.

A democracy isn't supposed to be like that -- it's not Majority Rule. It's supposed to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. It's a concept that I think most Christians understand.

And if they don't, where else can we go to escape the tyranny?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Blogshares, The Game

Once in a while I come across something cool. Most of the time it's stuff that only *I* think is cool, but lately I've been on a roll.

A couple weeks ago it was podcasting.

This week it's Blogshares ( Some of you may have noticed the tag on my blogs that I'm now "listed."

Blogshares is an interesting index of blogs that just happens to be a "game." The premise is that blogs are "stocks" and you can buy shares of the blog. The price of the shares goes up and down based on the amount of traffic in the shares. There are ancillary markets in "ideas" (measured by the numbers of "incoming" links in a particular industry. The game is pretty darn cool, but the *interesting* thing is that it serves as an index and that index is created by the players.

At the moment there are about 1200 "industries" listed in the index. Players read the blogs and vote on what industry they believe that the blog belongs to. Some industries (like Diary) are pretty broadly defined. Others (like Art History/Impressionism) are pretty narrowly constrained. The industries serve as concentrators, so that if you want to see blogs about Medieval History, you go to the Medieval History industry, pull up a list of blogs, and start wandering thru the list. The advantage to this is that these categories are assigned by "reviewers" who have, for the most part, actually looked at the blog in question and made a judgement call.

This goes back to a couple of David Wiley's long standing issues -- the scalability of tools, and self organizing systems. With the number of blogs growing on the web, getting a handle on the content and activity is a monsterous undertaking. Keyword searching doesn't help much when you're trying to locate a blog with a specific bent.

Enter Blogshares.

The game rewards the players for playing with the blogs, not as blogs per se, but as commodities to be categorized and sorted. Because very few people use good descriptive names on their blogs, accurate categorization depends on somebody actually observing the blog and making a judgement. The game itself is rather compelling, but the by-product, a searchable index of categorized blogs is an amazing asset.

Drop by and see what I mean.


Blogshares Index

This is a test of some stuff I'm doing over in Blogshares

If you haven't looked into it yet, it's darn cool

Blog Link

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This is a test of linking within blogshares.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

New Industry: Music > Reviews

--Industry Proposed: Music > Reviews

--Description: The industry will provide a place to generate ideas based on music reviews. The reviews can be of CDs, venues, concerts, or any other medium in which music can be enjoyed.

--History: The game already has Film, Book, and Restaurant Reviews. This would provide for the wealth of critical material available in music related blogs.

--Modern Non-Blog Resource:
There are large numbers of non-Blog resources from around the world.
(From Google) | the source for music reviews - the source for music reviews | Album Review. Music reviews - new albums reviewed.

1000s of Reviews for Movies, Music, Games, DVDs
Reviews, quotes, and scores from major critics for film, video/DVD, music, and videogames.

Jazz | Magazine is your complete guide to Jazz
Since 1997 JAZZREVIEW.COM has been your jazz music connection to reviews of the hottest new jazz releases and so much more.

Yahoo! Directory: Music > Reviews

BBC - Music - Reviews
Music reviews on the BBC. From blues to world, your guide to the best new releases. CD and Music Reviews CD and Music Reviews.

--Blog Examples:
We already have one blog -- delicado -- is registered with the game and is reviewing music. This would be the perfect industry for it. *Album/Music Reviews*
Just bought a new CD? Review it here! Heard something new on the radio? Talk about it.

Drowned in Sound - Albums
News, reviews, interviews and opinions on the British music scene Seattle Death/Black Metal Freaks For Seattleites devoted to the music of the inverted cross, Death and Black metal. Post upcoming shows and review new music in the scene. Hail Satan! New Music and Band Reviews
Do you want to find out about cool new music but you're too busy or out of the scene to find out? Have you heard about a band but have no idea what they sound like? Do you want to find out if a new album is good before wasting money on it?

My Profile

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Blogshares Contest #3

--Industry Proposed: Sports > Geocaching

--Description and History: Geocaching
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Geocaching is an outdoor sport that involves the use of a Global Positioning System ("GPS") receiver to find a "geocache" (or "cache") placed anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small, waterproof container containing a logbook and "treasure". Geocaching is a unique take on a traditional Easter-egg hunt in that it uses two recent technologies, the GPS and the Internet.

The sport of Geocaching was made possible by the "turning off" of the Selective Availability of the Global Positioning System on May 1, 2000. The first documented placement of a cache with GPS assistance took place on May 3, 2000 by Dave Ulmer. The location was posted on the usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav. By May 6, 2000 it had been found twice and logged once.

Geocaching is growing rapidly in popularity all over the world. As of August 21, 2004 there were 116,015 active caches in 210 countries posted on (

--Modern Non-Blog Resource: The primary source for Geocaching information in the US is Geocaching - The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site

--Blog Examples:
Geonap's Journal: A slightly out of date blog, but shows the kind of activity that's possible. Note the activity thru the summer months, altho this is not--strictly speaking--a summer sport.

GeoROCKS! Adventures in Geocaching: Another diary of geocache activities and stories.

Geocaching: Current postings demonstrating that this isn't just for summer.

The Triple-S Blog: A cute entry on the "travel bug" Morton Moo Cow -- a kind of twist on the Vacation Lawn Gnome idea.

--Link to my user page in Blogshares:


I've set this blog up so I can see what the "freebie" services have to offer. I also wanted a place to post weird crap that didn't have a lot to do with some of my other efforts, and to look at things that don't fall into the perview of my other blogspaces.

One thing I expect to do here is review some of the podcasts that I find and like, run up news of different tools that appeal to me, and perhaps some other stuffage. I'm running in so many directions at once, I'm thinking that having different blogs in different spaces might help me to track and arrange it all a bit better.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ship Pictures

Grendel in orbit. Posted by Hello
One of the silly things I do is work in VRML. This is a screen shot of a one of my freighters -- the Merchant Vessel Grendel -- in orbit.