TWIT + Audible = irony

Am I the only one who finds it strange that TWIT rails against DRM in many of their episodes (as they should), but then they do ads for Audible, which has a terrible DRM? My parents tried using Audible to get audiobooks for their commutes, but the restrictions caused a lot of problems. I wouldn't want to pay for a book that I couldn't easily take with me when I get a new computer. Cory Doctorow's speech is still one of the best explanations for why DRM is bad. If you haven't yet, read it!

Rove quits

Proving the old adage that even rats know to abandon a sinking ship, Karl Rove stepped down from his job as advisor to President Bush. It's funny how family suddenly becomes a top priority when you're being called to testify before congress.

This quote reveals his view of congressional oversight:

When asked for his reaction to those who say he's being "run out of town," Rove responded, "That sounds like the rooster claiming to have called up the sun."

Perhaps most interesting is Rove's view of democracy as revealed by this statement:

What about those who say he's leaving to avoid Congressional scrutiny? "I know they'll say that," he says, "But I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob."

Reflect jQuery

I made my first jQuery plugin. It's called Reflect jQuery and it's based on reflection.js, but it takes advantage of jQuery rather than building in the class selector from Prototype. Check out the demo or get the plugin if you're into it. At some point this may make it's way into b2evolution.

Francois visits

Francios and DannyThis week we had a house guest from France. I became acquainted with Francois through the b2evolution project. He created the project and continues to serve as the maintainer and principal developer. We did a bit of work on a forthcoming plugin. On the way to dropping him off at the train station we ate Gates BBQ and stopped at the Apple Store to help my sister pick out a new iMac for college. I decided to get one, too. The old PPC iMac I was using had begun to show its age.

Scratch online

I mentioned Scratch a few months back. It's a really fun way for kids (and adults) to learn about programming and make little graphical apps just by dragging and dropping. They now have a program sharing website online, so when you're done with a program, you can just click the "Share" button in Scratch and it goes onto the website. You can even play the programs in your web browser I've uploaded a few here. People are doing some neat things, like this Duck Hunt remake. Emma and I downloaded it to see how it works, and we recorded our own versions of the sound effects. Emma does a good taunting laugh.


My name is Danny and I am an atheist. Three years ago I was a youth minister at a fundamentalist church. This change has been gradual, starting with the realization that youth ministry wasn't for me. I think I still believed when I left that job, but I took the opportunity to step back and come to faith again on my own terms. As time went on I found that I wasn't interested in beginning a new devotional life or getting involved in the church again.

I probably could have rode the fence indefinitely, but my wife encouraged me to put some thought into this and make up my mind. I did both. After taking a hard look, I can't find any compelling reason to believe that God exists.

The arguments for God that I latched onto before were the moral argument, the cosmological argument and the perceived reliability of the New Testament accounts of Jesus and his resurrection. Here are my thoughts on those three now.

I dealt with the moral argument in my review of The Language of God. To sum it up, I think our moral sense is an evolved trait rather than evidence of a cosmic moral lawgiver.

The cosmological argument says that the universe had a beginning, so it had to be caused by something, viz God. My main problem with this is that God is then let off of the same hook the the universe is put on. Who made God? I used to answer that question by saying that God is eternal and exists outside of space and time. But now I think that saying God is the first cause doesn't really get us anywhere.

While I used to think the New Testament was historical evidence that Jesus was supernatural, I now see it for what it is, a collection of religious documents. Religious documents and historical documents have very different goals. The NT was written to convert people, not to provide an objective account of what really happened. I hope to write in more detail about this, but here's a quick example.

Compare Mark, the earliest gospel, to John, the latest gospel. Over the 30 years between them, the stories and views about Jesus changed quite a bit. In Mark, very few people in the stories think Jesus is divine. When anyone brings it up, Jesus tells them to keep it secret. In John, Jesus goes on and on about how divine he is. One or both of the gospels has to be wrong about this basic aspect of the life of Jesus. I see this fact as it relates to the tendency for people to improve stories over time and I think that they're both wrong.

So far, I haven't found atheism to be nearly as sad and hopeless as I always thought it was. I still have meaning, love, morality and purpose in my life.

US Military

Nobody asked me, but . . .

Our military is both too large and too small. Our military is too big during peacetime and the money we use to have a large standing army, bases around the world and nuclear weapons (which would be immoral to ever use) is enormous. That money could be better spent elsewhere. Yet, when we do get into a war, as we have in Iraq, our military is too small. We're asking people in the military to do multiple 15-month tours in Iraq, and we're still not securing that country.

In the future, I think we should have a much smaller military during peacetime. Enough force to defend our own country from credible threats should be sufficient. I imagine that most of the host countries would be happy to see us close our bases. (Would you want China or Germany to have an army base next door to you.) If some unfriendly country starts to get close to our strength, we can always increase the size of our military. At the moment, no one is the world is even close to use, and the highest spenders behind us are friendly toward us.

What happens when we have to fight a war? We do what we've done almost every large-scale war in our history: draft an army. As unpopular as conscription is, it has a lot of advantages. The nation at large has to be behind a war effort for a draft to work. If a war isn't worth asking Americans to sacrifice, then we shouldn't enter it. If the American people are not convinced that a war justifies a draft, then the case for war is too weak. If a war has to be started more quickly than we can raise an army through a draft, then it's too hasty.

We need to get over the idea that we can fight a cheap, fast or easy war. If our commander in chief had to resort to conscription to start a war, there would be fewer wars.

Pownce invites

I have six Pownce invites. Email me if you want one. It's a bit like Twitter, but better. It was created by the same people that brought us Digg. It's a way to send short notes, links and files to friends.

Fun facts about John Wayne

Here are some fun facts about iconic man's man, John Wayne, taken mostly from Wikipedia:

Birth name: Marion Robert Morrison

City of birth: Winterset, Iowa

His name was changed to Marion Michael Morrison when his parents decided to name their next son Robert.

His family moved to California when he was four.

Wayne applied to the U.S. Naval Academy, but was not accepted. He instead attended the University of Southern California (USC), majoring in pre-law.

A bodysurfing injury cut his college football career short.

Without his athletic scholarship he had to drop out of school and start working in the prop department of a film studio.

A director and a studio executive came up with his stage name. Wayne wasn't present for the meeting.

After he started acting, stuntmen taught him horseback riding.

Wayne was married and divorced three times.

All three of his wives were hispanic women.

He was exempt from the WWII draft because of his age (34). Many other actors enlisted, and Wayne considered it, but continually postponed it until "after he finished one more film."

Wayne's third wife, Pilar, wrote, "He would become a 'superpatriot' for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying home."

He was a Freemason.

He smoked five packs a day until he got lung cancer and had his lung removed in 1964. He switched to tobacco and cigars after that.

Wayne actively campaigned for Richard Nixon.

In a 1971 interview, Wayne said, "I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility."

Wayne had several high-profile affairs.

Wayne was approached by Mel Brooks to play the part of The Waco Kid in the film Blazing Saddles. After reading the script he said, "I can't be in this picture, it's too dirty...but I'll be the first in line to see it."

Revolutionary and Iraq Wars in their usual sarcastic tone, had this to say about a speech Bush gave yesterday:

Bush compares Iraq to the American Revolutionary War. But in the way, obviously, that makes the exact opposite of sense. Apparently the wealthy foreign occupying power are the scrappy colonists, and the local insurgents represent Great Britain.

The Onion weighs in, too.

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