FFrF Radio: Atheist Nobel Laureates

Podcast link.
October 20, 2007Nobel Laureates & Atheism

It’s no surprise to me that a majority of Nobel Laureates are Atheists. I’m still not sure why a majority of the population isn’t.

2006 Archive episode.
October 21, 2006State/Church Entanglement Prevented and Secular Reasons Against the Death Penalty

Richard Dawkins on the Colbert Report:

“You can’t disprove the Flying Spaghetti Monster; You can’t disprove Thor with his hammer, you can’t disprove Zeus, or Poseidon. You’re an Atheist about all those gods. Everybody here is an Atheist about all those gods. Some of us just go one god further.”

Jean Gams was an interesting interview. It’s clear that the people who wanted to place a Christmas box angel in her city park saw the monument as a religious monument; but I have to say that angels have morphed over the years into fantasy creatures more than religious creatures (if they aren’t fantasy creatures, then why are the majority of the angels found in todays works of art female, while the angels in scripture are predominantly male?) I daresay if a group wanted to place a (Invisible Pink) Unicorn monument on public property, someone would have a problem with that.

I think I’ve also blogged on the subject of the Death Penalty before, which was the subject of the second interview. The social costs are beside the point for me, it’s a philosophical issue.

Complain, Complain

…But there is a way Congress can please us, and that is to pass the Read the Bills Act.

The Read the Bills Act requires each bill to be read in its entirety before a quorum in each chamber of Congress. It also requires members of Congress who vote for a bill to affirm they have read it (or heard it read) and understand it. Each bill will also be posted on the Internet for seven days before it comes to a final vote, giving time for the people to read it themselves and give Congress their feedback. We believe that if bills are exposed to the light of day, fewer bad bills will be passed.

read more | digg story

Click the “read more” link to be apprised of what your representatives have been wasting your tax dollars on this week.

Guitartown Auction Results


Cybertar sold for a respectable $5,500 last night. I’m not going to complain about that price, although the artist did. I tried to explain to her that she didn’t go for the cute factor, didn’t have a famous person’s signature on the sculpture (and wasn’t already famous herself. Yet) or incorporate a famous person in the composition (although it does say “Dell” in about 4 places) and didn’t do the cultural equivalent of scream “Keep Austin Weird” somewhere in the piece. If she had done that, a five figure price would have been guaranteed.

This observation lead to jokes concerning incorporating flashing LED’s into the body of the guitar, something that would be bound to get any geek to pull out his wallet. LED’s that spelled out “Keep Austin Weird”? Top seller

The full results of the auction can be found at the Julien’s website. A grand total of $693,000 raised for charities in and around Austin.

Trip to the Light Fantastic
Reflections of Austin
Striking Texas Gold

The big winners of the night were also the ones that I personally found most impressive; Trip to the Light Fantastic, Reflections of Austin and Striking Texas Gold. The reason they are impressive might not be apparent in the photos. All of them are 360 degree mosaics (all of the surfaces are covered) of tiny little pieces of glass or stone, all of them meticulously glued into place by hand. How they got them finished in the time allotted is a mystery to me.


Most underrated painted guitar: Fractal; it’s a picture, inside a picture, inside a picture, inside a guitar. Or maybe I just looked into opposing mirrors too much as a child.

Gibson Tree

Most underrated sculpture: Gibson Tree; This sculpture was featured on the cover of XL, and it still didn’t draw more than a 10,000 price. This was also an impressive display in the amount of time invested by the artist (the stand was molded to look like a tree trunk that the guitar had been carved out of) If any artist at the auction had reason to be disgruntled, this artist does.

Several of the guitars were donated back to the city for redisplay on the streets of Austin. While I can appreciate the charity of this action, I have to wonder who will be responsible for maintenance of the artwork once it’s back out on the street. I can’t imagine that the artists will be willing to continue maintaining the art for free; and as a libertarian, I don’t really think the gov’t should be saddled with this cost to be paid for at taxpayer expense. Maybe a private organization will step forward and offer to maintain the art, as has been done in other cities with public art displays. Only time will tell.

I left out the T-shirts. While at the auction, we stopped at a table for Wiskyclothing.com. They were selling T-shirts with a nice guitar collage on them, as well as shirts with your favorite guitar only. To quote S.C. Essai:

They are a bit pricey but then again… they are very very nicely printed. Not iron on transfer like Cafe Press. They “FEEL GOOD” is the best way I can describe them. They are printed on very comfy and durable t-shirts. I checked it out myself.
So.. what the heck.. feel like it ? Buy a shirt!

…and yes, the artists get a commission on shirt sales; so I’ll be buying at least one.

Remember all those funky 10-foot-tall guitar sculptures that were standing around town most of the year? They were part of a public arts project sponsored by – who else? – Gibson Guitar, to brighten up our cityscape for a year (and get the name of Gibson out there, natch). They were plucked from their perches a few weeks ago, so they could be auctioned off for charity, and so they were on Oct. 17. A crowd of 500 packed GSD&M’s Idea City to bid on (and watch others bid on) the 35 10-foot-tall guitars and 30 regular-sized guitars that had been transformed into works of art. Lone Star songster Ray Wylie Hubbard served as emcee, while international auctioneers Julien’s Auctions supervised the sales. They were brisk – Reflections of Austin, by Shanny Lott, and Striking Texas Gold, by Diane Sonnenberg, went for $55,000 apiece – and overall the Austin GuitarTown Auction Gala brought in $589,000. That wealth will be spread among four area charities: the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, the Austin Museum of Art, American YouthWorks, and the Austin Children’s Museum.

Austin Chronicle, GuitarTown Project: Going, going, gone!

Mars Rovers – Still exploring the red planet

I have been waiting for news that the rovers had survived the dust storms. I apparently missed it.

Mars Rovers Survive Severe Dust Storms, Ready for Next Objectives

Two months after sky-darkening dust from severe storms nearly killed NASA’s Mars exploration rovers, the solar-powered robots are awake and ready to continue their mission. Opportunity`s planned descent into the giant Victoria Crater was delayed, but now the rover is preparing to drive into the half-mile diameter crater as early as Sept. 11.

read more | digg story

Not only did they survive, but they’re mission has been extended yet again.

NASA Extends Mars Rover Mission a Fifth Time

The twin rovers landed on Mars in January 2004 on a mission originally planned to last only 90 days. That was 45 months, or nearly four years, ago. Both robots recently survived a series of global dust storms that threatened to end the mission by blocking sunlight to their solar panels.

read more | digg story

The most impressive stat in the article is the lifespan of the robots on Mars.

The twin rovers landed on Mars in January 2004 on a mission originally planned to last only 90 days. That was 45 months, or nearly four years, ago.

The Best Laid Plans: Transportation

Another CATO daily podcast episode featuring Randal O’Toole; I think I may have to buy his book. Sort of a follow-up to Zoning’s Best Laid Plans this one discusses the shell game of mass transit vs highway funding. Very informative.

The Best Laid Plans: Transportation

There’s also Debunking Portland: The City That Doesn’t Work for those Austinites curious to know what your city planning department wants to subject you to.

Why the Democrats are NOT a Viable Opposition to the Administration

Watch the three minute video, then read on.

Ralph Nader: “Things Are a Lot Worse than We Thought!” – Published on Oct 11, 2007

If they refuse to act because they believe this is true, then it is pointless to support any sitting democrat. But if you look at it from the opposite perspective, Bush is on a mission from God. Do you really think he’ll let those godless Democrats get in his way?


On Digg this video has lead to a series of observations about the meaning of Nader’s comments, and flames against Nader for ruining the election, not once but twice, by being a candidate and costing the Democrats the election (never mind that the same can be said of the Libertarian candidates as well from the Republican side of the duopoly, and that the only solution to this problem is to negate the possibility of free and fair elections in the US) and the usual mindless support for the next successor to the duopoly’s undisturbed rule of the US since Lincoln brought the Republicans to power in 1860.

Comments like this one:

“At least Obama’s staying the fuck out of Iran and has taken nuclear weapons off the table”

This is obviously his first election experience. Nothing the candidate says has any bearing on what the elected President does. Go back and review the election promises of every candidate who became President, and you’ll understand.

I realize that this is not popularly understood, but the President is one man. There are thousands of people who work at the Federal level, who were there before the President gets elected, and will be there after he leaves. They set policy, which the elected President is expected to endorse, to some degree.

All of the modern Presidents (since at least Hoover) have had the majority of their agendas set for them by the conditions of the government and the world at the time they take office. It will take a maverick to change the course even in the slightest degree. There’s only one maverick running as a candidate at the moment, and he’s a Republican.

Atheist Radio Show Goes National on Air America

Faux News reports (you decide!):

“This one-hour weekly show from Wisconsin I don’t think is going to have much of an impact, thank God,” said Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.


My response to religious objections to a one hour Saturday program from FFrF? Where’s the rapture when you need it? Cheese & Rice, but I could use a little less religion on my airwaves, let me tell you.

Air America is not on the air in Austin, Texas. The purported Liberal Island in the sea of Conservative Texas doesn’t have a radio station running Air America. What a travesty. So, here goes. I’m working my way through the podcast archives, as well as listening to the new episodes as they air.

Podcast Link.
October 13, 2007Special Guests: Ron Reagan & Emma Martens

Press coverage on Freethought Radio going national.
Announcement of the billboard campaign.

Freethinkers Almanac. Freethought of the Day. Brad Pitt on loss of faith. Audio for this bit:

New Rules – A Religious Test for Office

Emma Martens is having a problem with Boulder High School, and their form of broadcasting the pledge of allegiance over the loudspeaker system. (How about no pledge?)

Ron Reagan on his life with his father. Worth listening to. Openly atheist Ron Regan on life with his devoutly christian father, as a child. I’m having a hard time picturing this, but it’s a good interview.

2006 Archive episode.
October 14, 2006Rescinding South Dakota’s Abortion Ban

The South Dakota abortion ban discussion. I think I might have blogged on this subject before. If men were smart (and wanted to ever have sex again) they’d follow my lead and echo the line “If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one.” Leave the judgments about the proper use of a uterus to those who have them.

Luckily, the ban failed.

Mea culpa review 2019. Historically there were links to Digg.com articles in most of these blog entries. Digg ain’t what it was, so the links are going away. The Wayback Machine has been giving reset errors all day long. So, no updated link for this one.

What’s Going to Replace Gasoline?

I’ve blogged on the subject of Alternative Fuel in the past. Others are now running polls on the subject. Here’s the results of one of them:

When asked, “what will be the next best automobile alternative to petroleum?” here’s how nearly 16,000 people responded:

  • 33% chose hydrogen fuel cells
  • 21% chose biofuels
  • 21% chose electric (battery)
  • 17% chose unknown/no opinion
  • 2% chose compressed natural gas
  • 2% chose liquefied natural gas
  • 1% chose liquefied petroleum gas

As you can see, not are there a lot of possible options, but we’re pretty well divided between those options. Each alternative fuel has its pros and cons, but it unfortunately it appears that it’s the lack of definitive information that’s making it difficult for us to settle on “the next” fuel.

read more | digg story

Why bother to ask the average Joe what he thinks about it, it’s like asking him to decide whether we need to irradiate food (oh, wait, we did that. Turned out well, didn’t it?) or stem cell research needs to be pursued (ditto on that one) perhaps we should leave it up to the experts.

Aside from which, saying they are all untested is not factually precise. Biodiesel is currently in use in several areas around the world, and there are even vehicles produced now that can burn it. You can just pour straight vegetable oil into most diesel engines and they will run just fine.

Personally, my next vehicle will probably be a diesel, one that is set up to run a variety of fuels right from the manufacturer (Mercedes Benz already offers one) would be preferred.

There’s also the distinct possibility that we’ll invest in an electric car for day to day commuting. There are several places in town that either offer or retrofit vehicles themselves to run on electricity.

I’m also not counting out the introduction of compressed air technology, two versions of which were featured on Beyond Tomorrow recently. These options aren’t even mentioned in the poll.

So, which direction should we take? All of them. The only way to test which fuel is best is to subject them all to market forces and see which fuel system is successful in a open market place.

…and that means getting the government and it’s associated popularity contests completely out of the picture.

Doug Benson at Cap City Comedy Club

This is becoming a habit; a habit that makes me laugh. Can there be harm in that?

When I heard that the 6th funniest person in the world was going to be at Cap City this week, I jumped at the chance to sit in on one of his shows. All I can say is, if Last Comic Standing is accurate (tongue firmly in cheek here. See my previous post) then I better stay away from the shows featuring the top three. I might die of a heart attack.

Doug Benson was one of the finalists on LCS that I intended to see if he ever came to town (Cap City isn’t listed as an official tour location at LCS’ site) I’m glad he made the trip.

This is the part where, if I was trying to write a real review, I would try to describe the type of comedy that Doug Benson does (an herbalist with a passion for his subject of choice…?) A task that most people fail at horribly. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I don’t have to try, I can take the easy way out and just point you to his clips on Comedy Central or YouTube, and save myself the time and embarrassment of trying to describe why I find him funny.

[I will say this; I watched him wander around the stage for an hour with a mic cord tied around one leg, and a mic stand rolling around behind him, waiting for him to trip over either of them. He managed not to do that, and even climbed the angle iron stage display at one point, without killing himself; only to miss the last step coming off the stage as his set was over (bad architecture, not clumsiness) and nearly break his neck tripping over our table. First time I ever felt the need to apologize to a comic for laughing at him]

So, watch the clips. If you think that’s funny, go see him in person. I guarantee it’ll be better than the clips. Just go.

Oh, wait. There’s a clip embedded right in the post. Too cool…

Did I mention The Marijuana-Logues? Super High Me? (a preview of which is showing at Drafthouse Lake Creek at 4:20 Saturday as a part of the Austin Film Festival; yes, it starts this week!) He was hawking some other disk that I just completely spaced on. Wish I could remember the title…

(Comedy Death Ray yeah, that was it. And I need to try some McGriddles, apparently…)

iPhone Conundrums

The class-action lawsuit alleges that Apple and AT&T had illegally exerted a monopoly by telling customers their iPhone contract was two years long when in actuality the companies’ exclusivity agreement was for an indefinite, undisclosed amount of time. That means even after iPhone customers’ two-year contracts have expired, they still don’t have the option of switching to another carrier because AT&T is still Apple’s only U.S. partner.

Gizmodo – Lawsuit Accusing Apple and AT&T of an iPhone Monopoly

Intentionally breaking third party applications for their phone hardware is what is going to get Apple in trouble, in the end. It’s what got Microsoft in trouble, intentionally breaking Netscape‘s ability run on updated Windows products (something that was reversed in later releases) so that Internet Exploder, urm, Explorer, would run unchallenged on Windows systems. This was SOP at Microsoft for many years.

Yes Microsoft dominates the software market currently, but I wonder how much longer this will be true; and how is Apple ever going to gain customer loyalty when they alienate whole sections of their user base by purposefully breaking their customers phones with software updates?

First you pay 200 dollars too much for the thing, and now it doesn’t work at all. Thanks Apple. Stick with Palm or LG or Nokia next time, lusers.

…And then the other shoe drops. So much for Apple’s control over their product base.

Hackers Claim to Revive ‘Bricked’ iPhones

It’s unclear, however, how permanent any “unbrick” fix will be, or whether changes to the hacks that allow modifications will survive the next Apple iPhone update.

PC World Magazine

I still say you should have bought a Palm.

2019 – While updating the links in this one I ran across the Gizmodo article I quoted from at the top. The lawsuit was granted class action status in 2010. As far as I can tell, the lawsuit is still ongoing twelve years later.