Religion, Technical, Technology

Amazon’s “Message from God”

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2007/04/05/amazons-message-from-god/

So, the Amazon Associates program just opened up a really interesting beta program to the public called “Context Links.” Dave Taylor has a pretty good explanation, but the short of it is you stick a little bit of JavaScript in the bottom of your web site, and that will contact Amazon.com, check their search engine / crawler service, the Amazon.com product catalog, and then select various “key words” in your web site and link them to Amazon.com products. If a user purchases something after clicking on one of those links, as I mentioned earlier, the web site author gets a modest commission.

Just for fun, I thought I would give it a try. If you notice any links with a dashed line underneath, that is the Context Links in action. The first thing I noticed is that Adblock Plus will block the context links from appearing. That is probably just as well, but I wonder if there might be a point to writing say, a WordPress plugin to do the processing on the server. I also can not help but wonder if Amazon would look to create context-links specific to a customer’s tastes, so they would prefer to do the highlighting on the client-side.

Anyway, it is kind of fun to see what choices the algorithm makes for context links. Some seem pretty reasonable, and some are sort of randomly unenlightened. It does okay by linking San Francisco to a Frommer’s Guidebook, but then it links Walnut Creek to an obscure book about Amish Pioneers. That is all somewhat amusing, but today I took a look at the fundamentalist vitriol posted as comments to my mirror of the Muhammad cartoons, and I could not contain a smile at the bizarre: (more…)

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Religion, Testimonials

Indian Spinning Wheel

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2007/02/08/indian-spinning-wheel/

I was reading through 13 Photographs that Changed the World which is a fascinating and wonderful read, like visiting a great museum exhibit from my computer chair, and I got to Gandhi and His Spinning Wheel and I was thinking “that iconic spinning wheel looks like the heart of the Indian flag.”


I researched a bit, and learned that the wheel at the center of the flag is the Ashoka Chakra the ancient Indian “Wheel of Life and Cosmic Order” . . . huh, the spinning wheel association seemed so poignant. But then when I read the Wikipedia page for the Ashoka Chakra, I learn:

The most visible use of the Ashoka Chakra today is at the center of the National flag of Republic of India (adopted on 22 July 1947), where it is rendered in a Navy-blue color on a White background, by replacing the symbol of Charkha (Spinning wheel) of the pre-independence versions of the flag.

One of Gandhi’s causes was to champion “home spun” cloth in favor of imported machined textiles, thus the iconic value of the spinning wheel as an instrument of independence.

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News and Reaction, Politics, Religion

Holocaust Cartoon Contest

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2006/02/13/holocaust-cartoon-contest/

As seen in the BBC:

In response to the row, popular Hamshahri newspaper in Iran launches a contest for cartoons of the Holocaust

And I was thinking, “this is about the only time that launching a cartoon contest about the Holocaust would be even remotely the right answer.” After all, it is always the Jews who pay the price for European anti-semitism. (That is a joke, you see, since “semitic” applies to all Middle Eastern cultures, even though it usually means “Jew.”)

But I wonder if the Muslim world will get it, when Jews across the world somehow fail to attack Iranian embassies or trample each other in the rush to condemn Iran and burn flags. Has the Iranian government closed the offending newspaper?

And, it is not like Iran needs an excuse to make anti-Jewish cartoons. The Egyptian Sandmonkey does a good job of explaining, from a Muslim point of view, why this business is ridiculous.

On the other hand, in a display of solidarity with ignorant Muslims, there are reports from Denmark that some ignorant Danes have defaced some Muslim graves. Let the healing begin!

Also, I really wish the Lego company would offer this Danish product for sale. Soon! But I suppose I’ll content myself with some butter cookies . . .

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About Me, Religion

My Last Word on the Cartoons

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2006/02/07/cartoons-last-word/

(Well, hopefully last word . . .)

There’s some good discussion taking place over on Flickr. I like to think I’ve summed up my thoughts as well as I am going to, at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannyman/94765982/?#comment25268804:

I really value the discussion here. I think the correct answer is “Yes, these cartoons are offensive to a fair number of people, and it is rude to publish them.”

The reason I am violating this ethic is because I feel that there is a serious problem in the Muslim response. People are overreacting, hysterical … it points to a real problem with many followers of Islam.

I am an Atheist. My religious beliefs call for respect for everyone, but I know that we often fall short of these ideals. Among the greatest disrespect you can give to someone is to claim that their words are worthy of death. Death threats? No, words that bring about death threats must be repeated. The speech that brings about death threats needs to be louder than the death threats.

If Muslims–and many do–complain about these cartoons in a polite fashion, that’s all the more reason to withdraw the cartoons, apologise, and leave this issue behind us. Unfortunately, the radicals are getting all the press, and I for one am completely sick of it. Let us publish these cartoons far and wide until they would have to kill everyone! Let their hysteria grow ever louder, until the majority of people, who do have at least a basic intelligence, ask themselves “wait, we’re going to war … over cartoons?”

The cure for darkness is light. If the wackos want to scream and yell, I’ll scream and yell back. I think that ultimately, this helps illuminate the pettiness of religious zealots that have enslaved the lives of so many Muslims.

It may have started as an issue as to whether it is proper to publish a cartoon. Some of these cartoons, yes, they should not have been published. But now it is an issue as to whether Muslim faith is stronger than an offensive cartoon in a remote, non-Muslim country, or whether Islam is just a bunch of screaming, hysterical cry-babies who issue fatwas, threaten beheadings, and use the sligtest excuse to resort to violence, because that is not religious faith. It is evil, and evil has no place in my world.

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Politics, Religion

More Offensive Cartoons

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2006/02/07/more-offensive-cartoons/

I was once asked by an Algerian, “why does George Bush hate Arab people?”

I did my best to explain . . . George Bush doesn’t hate Arab people, but after 9/11, he sees militarism as a way to gain support from the American people.

Of course, any perceived insult to Islam is a tool to control Muslim people. Muslims are now killing each other over cartoons published in a Danish newspaper. The BBC reports:

Demonstrators shouted “death to Denmark” and “death to France”. They called for the expulsion of diplomats and soldiers, who were sent by both countries as part of international efforts in the US-led “war on terror”.

“They want to test our feelings,” protester Mawli Abdul Qahar Abu Israra told the BBC.

“They want to know whether Muslims are extremists or not. Death to them and to their newspapers,” he said.

On NPR this morning, “Morning Edition” explained it something like this:

“Muslims attacked Danish embassies to protest a Danish cartoon depicting Muslims as violent people.”

But . . . what really annoys me, is that Muslims will protest cartoons that, maybe they haven’t even seen–they are not even easy to find in the Western media–which is why I posted them here . . . they are doing what they are programmed, so easily manipulated to do, by their governments, and by their media. Where are the protests when their own media routinely publish cartoons of this moral caliber? (more…)


Politics, Religion

Publish Those Cartoons!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2006/02/04/publish-those-cartoons/

The West’s current struggle with a murderous global Sunni Muslim insurgency and the threat of a nuclear-armed theocracy in Iran makes it clear that it’s no longer possible to overlook the culture of intolerance, hatred and xenophobia that permeates the Islamic world. The hard work of rooting those things out will have to be done by honest Muslim leaders and intellectuals willing to retrace their tradition’s steps and do the intellectual heavy lifting that participation in the modern world requires. They won’t be helped, however, if Western governments continue to pander to Islamic sensitivity while looking away from violent Islamic intolerance. They won’t be helped by European diplomats and officials who continue to ignore the officially sanctioned hate regularly directed at Jews by the Mideast’s government-controlled media, while commiserating with Muslims offended by a few cartoons in the West’s free news media.

Tim Rutten
“Drawn Into a Religious Conflict”
L. A. Times, February 4, 2006

As seen on the streets of London, by virgorama, who has generously shared via the Creative Commons License:

This is why those cartoons need to be published. British Muslims, calling for blood, threatening terrorism. (more…)

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Excerpts, Politics, Religion

Screw Off, Fanatics!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2006/02/03/danish-mohammed-cartoons/

You know . . . there are a lot of ignorant religious fanatics in this world. Our country has its share, but Islam . . . well, the mullahs and their Western allies have been doing what they can to maintain power and obtain cheap oil by keeping their people ignorant.


And, in the Western cultures . . . we spend our time writing a lot of silly things, and drawing silly things, and we have a hard time getting anyone to take us seriously.


So, when some Danish paper publishes a set of dumb cartoons, and contends with death threats, and now a bunch of fools threatening to boycott Danish products, well, I feel like I want to do some small thing. (more…)


Religion, Testimonials

Utah’s Memorial Crosses

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2005/12/20/utahs-memorial-crosses/

The January 6, 2006 issue of _The Week_ reports that:

“Atheists are suing the Utah Highway Patrol to remove roadside crosses erected to honor fallen officers. At issue are 14 12-foot-high crosses, each bearing the name of an officer killed in the line of duty. All the fallen officers were Christian, and their families are unanimously opposed to the crosses’ removal.”


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Good Reads, Politics, Religion


Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2005/11/14/pro-life/

“Ramatou Issoufou is lucky to be alive,” said Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. I recently witnessed the 37-year-old Nigerian woman and her baby son survive a treacherous childbirth, after Issoufou nearly slipped into a coma from eclampsia, a complication of pregnancy that kills 50,000 women a year in the developing world. The maternity hospital where the birth took place was filthy, bug-ridden, and poorly equipped, and her husband had to pay $42 for an emergency surgical kit supplied by the U.N. Population Fund. Thanks to that effort, “two more lives” were saved. But last month, President Bush cut off U.S. contributions to the fund, due to pressure from Christian conservatives. They don’t like the U.N. agency because it promotes contraception. They also object to the fact that the Population Fund operates in China, which has an appalling policy of forced sterilizations and abortions. But the Population Fund has been pressuring China to end the coercion, and besides, “the solution isn’t to let African women die.”

Every year, more than 500,000 women die worldwide during pregnancy and childbirth. Through both contraception and medical supplies, the Population Fund is making a dent in that appalling statistic, but each day, hundreds of women perish because it can’t do more. “Call me naive, but I think if Mr. Bush came here and saw women dying as a consequence of his confused policy, he would relent.” Surely, letting women die isn’t what America stands for.

Nicholas Kristof
The New York Times
The Week, November 4, 2005

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Religion, Technology


Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2005/10/21/smashmyipodcom/

A couple weeks back I was walking behind some grammar school kids, and as we passed the Apple Store, one of them started going on at length about how much various iPods cost for various features, and which, in his opinion, was the best buy, and the girl he was talking to pointed out that they were somewhat cheaper at Target.

And I had this cranky old man moment.

Like . . . grammar school kids should not be expert consumers.


God Bless Canadians.

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Intelligently Designing Teeth

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2005/10/12/intelligently-designing-teeth/

<dogmeat-> i think if intelligent design were true, we’d have self-cleaning teeth
<saul> we do =)
<saul> it’s just not perfect
<saul> also, some people claim that our dental problems are made much worse by consuming simple sugars and processed foods
<SmooveB> plus, most long term dental problems occur after what would have been a normal lifespan.
<saul> concur
<dannyman> AND (more…)

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Letters to The Man, Politics, Religion

Jesus McChrist Writes Back

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2005/09/16/pledge-of-allegiance-under-god/

Well, they haven’t updated their website yet but the AFA are advocating that Congress pass a bill that reads:

S.1046 – The Pledge Protection Act of 2005 – reads as follows: ‘No court created by Act of Congress shall have any jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court shall have no appellate jurisdiction, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, the Pledge of Allegiance, as defined in section 4 of title 4, or its recitation.’

Now, while I can appreciate concern that some might have about “activist judges” this “activist legislative pre-judgement” or whatever you’d call it, uhmmm. Well, Jesus McChrist wrote them back: (more…)

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Letters to The Man, Politics, Religion

Kinky Friedman: “Under God?”

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2005/08/12/kinky-friedman-under-god/

So, I wrote the Kinky campaign: (more…)


Religion, Sundry

Recent Premonitions

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2005/08/03/recent-premonitions/

I’m not superstitious.

A while back, a server crashed, and shortly before the page hit my sidekick, I dreamt that a server had crashed.

I just took a call from a guy who says I won a free lunch. (more…)

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The Engrish Bible

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2005/08/02/engrish-bible/

Ever try to read the Bible? It can take a lot of effort. The original version was in Biblical Hebrew, and had no vowels. Later scholars “interpreted” this source material, filling in the vowels. This was in turn translated into Latin, which informs much of our English translation of the Good Book.

I was thinking, just for fun, to run the Book of Genesis through Babelfish to Japanese and back again. Just to see if the “Engrish Bible” might be at all entertaining. “I barely understood the Japanese translation in Japan,” said Yayoi. I think the English is hard to follow.

Without further ado, the Book of Genesis, as translated into Engrish. Just remember, if you think this version is messed up, the version you are used to has been translated twice, and originally had no vowels! (more…)

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