A Good Example of Anti-Religious Bigotry

Cleaning out my e-mail inbox today, I noticed an online acquaintance who is what I like to call an atheist fundamentalist sent me a link to this anti-religious page. The page puts forth several claims that religion is, in fact, a negative influence, but simply demonstrate’s the author’s complete lack of understanding basic principles of logic and of statistics (assuming any of these claims are even based on real studies — and given the lack of documentation, that’s a doubtful proposition).

Reading this page I am reminded of a classic way of pointing out a statistical/logical fallacy — namely that cities that have large numbers of churches also have very high numbers of arrests for crimes such as prostitution. Of course the real variable being measured by this comparison is population. The author of the anti-religious page has also mistaken correlation for causation and committed numerous other errors as well.

Bill Gates is No Free Market Hero

A lot of libertarians used Microsoft’s antitrust trial to highlight the numerous problems with antitrust law. Personally, I’d like to see all antitrust legislation repealed (or found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court). But some libertarians went further and almost created a cult of Bill Gates in which the billionaire was some sort of hero, even though Gates had previously supported left liberal political efforts in support of gun control and racial discrimination.

Now Gates is showing his true colors in calling for the Federal Communications Commission to investigate alleged monopolistic practices by AOL with its instant messaging software. AOL prohibits people using other instant messaging clients from communicating directly with people who use AOL’s instant messaging client (which is, by far, the most popular).

Forget for the moment that the FCC simply doesn’t have the authority to do this (although it seems to think it does), not to mention that AOL’s exclusion is child’s play compared to some of the stuff that Microsoft has pulled. If I were Steve Case I’d offer to completely open AIM’s protocols in exchange for Microsoft making Windows API’s open.

The answer to AOL’s exclusionary practice is the same in this case as it was in Microsoft’s case — the market will route around such monopolistic practices. Already there are a number of different technologies and projects that will make it possible to bypass AOL’s closed system or render it irrelevant altogether. As even AOL seems to realize, the days of AIM’s exclusivity are numbered.

The FCC should stay out of the instant messaging controversy and Bill Gates should at least pretend to have a consistent position on antitrust law. And some libertarians might want to think twice about their hero worship of Gates.

Ark Trust: It's All The Media's Fault

One of the more amusing things about radical political movements, such as the animal rights movement, is just how seriously they take themselves. In a press release announcing its annual list of media “foe-paws” (who thought that up), Ark Trust’s Gretchen Weiler goes on about the supposed overwhelming influence of the media,

In our role as media watchdog, we must be ever-vigilant and speak out about negative as well as positive messages. Either from ignorance or insensitivity, these movies, television shows, magazines and newspapers communicate messages that desensitize the public toward animal suffering and are deserving of a “Foe Paw,” our end-of-year dishonor roll.

What images in the popular media “desensitize the public toward animal suffering”? Here’s a sample.

  • Unsurprisingly, 20/20’s John Stossel gets a prominent mention for a segment on that show that criticized the animal rights movement. As the Ark Trust recognizes, the last thing in the world the animal rights movement can stand is any criticism, because it is modeled on philosophical premises that the overwhelming majority of Americans reject.
  • The film, The Wonder Boys, gets a “foe paw” for its black comedy treatment of a professor who shoots a dog and puts it in the trunk of his car.
  • CBS’ “Survivor” television show obviously comes in for criticism for advancing the bizarre notion that human beings might use fish, chickens, and even rats as a food source. Oddly, Ark Trust says, “We’d rather watch “Gilligan’s Island” — but didn’t that show frequently use non-human primates for some of its more amusing episodes?
  • “The Today Show” earns a “foe paw” for “glorifying” the use of animals in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
  • All of the sports shows on TNN, ESPN, and ESPN2 earned “foe paws.”
  • Jay Leno receive Ark Trust’s enmity for a skit in which Leno put a toy puppy in a wok and said the dish was a favorite in Korea. Bad taste, perhaps, and a bit inaccurate, but obviously it hasn’t done much to desensitize Americans as there have been no reported cases of people trying to fry up dogs in the United States.

Source:

The dirty dozen doesn’t save the day. Ark Trust, Press Release, December 11, 2000.

Game Marketing Strategy that P—– Me Off

The morons at Interplay did this with Starfleet Command and they’ve decided to do it again with Starfleet Command II — the game ships with a bonus disk, but the only way to get the bonus disk is to pre-order through the Interplay site. What, the money I spent at Best Buy just isn’t good enough for them?

Normally I completely detest software piracy — people are always offering to burn game CDs for me or ask me to burn some for them, and I always politely decline. I make an exception for this sort of “not available anywhere else” nonsense.

HarryPotterIsAWizard.Com

The Register has been reporting on Warner Brothers going after people who registered domain names with the words “Harry Potter” in them — for example, their lawyers intimidated some poor chap in the UK in to handing over www.harrypotterisawizard.co.uk.

I happen to think this is nonsense. In the real world there are a number of perfectly legitimate entities that use the words “Harry Potter” without authorization from the trademark holder, such as guides to Harry Potter collectibles. If someone wanted to assemble a book compiling various essays on the Harry Potter phenomenon and called it, “Harry Potter Is A Wizard,” Warner Brothers wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

So, to make a long story short, I registered HarryPotterIsAWizard.Com — since The Register pointed out it was available — and plan on putting up a site at that address shortly to protest WB’s and other companies and individuals’ recent egregious domain name actions (such as the silly decision that gave Madonna.Com to the singer).