January 16th, 2007

Ann Vole

Why atheists should support religion even if they don't believe it

If no one believed in supernatural beings, atheists would cease to exist.

If people did not have something to believe in, the lack of hope would kill them. Experiments with animals (rather cruel ones in my opinion) were done where animals were trapped with no hope for escape and others with the exact same physical conditions but with a hope of escape for them to work at. The ones with no hope died very quickly of what appears to be common depression but those given hope of escaping (even though it was false hope)lived much longer had stayed healthy while imprisoned. Hope is a powerful factor in our physical and mental health so even if it is a false hope, atheists should support the belief in these false hopes simply for the health benefits.

Animals use instincts to a great degree to replace learning or compensate for limited brain abilities. Humans use religion for the same purpose... to guide our decisions where simply the best option for survival does not answer the question at hand. Science is good at taking the "best for survival" answers to the highest level but it does not really tell us how to be a good person or what the moral decisions should be. Science tells us how to keep someone alive well after their brain quits working but does not tell us when it is the right thing to pull the plug and let the body die too. For us to come up with rational decisions for these kinds of questions that science cannot tell us, we have to do lots of thinking and weighing options and still in the end not have a concrete answer. Religion can free the mind to concentrate on science questions if used correctly.

Smart people can come up with the best options from a humanistic point of view (what is best for the future of society) but trying to explain those reasons to stupid people is difficult and will often be misunderstood. A simple "God says 'do not kill'" says it all in a way everyone can understand. Just to have all those stupid people doing what is best for society and humankind is a good thing even if it all made up by someone hundreds of years ago.
Ann Vole

Changed my mind about forums and such

I probably over reacted about the whole not posting in forums and not attending chats. The server that Ottercomics is on has done this same sort of thing several times before (saying permission is denied to view index pages -error 403- rather then saying files not found -error 404-) if the directory was just errased. Untitled! forums was likely just a technical error and I am back to normal. I will still try to tread gently though (lurk lurk)
Ann Vole

Helen Hill's pet pig

I mentioned the animator Helen Hill was shot and the audio clip I heard on the news sounded like they had a pet pig who was also shot. I looked it up and indeed Helen had a pet pig named Rosie but it looks like the pig may be OK. I am also fairly sure I did meet her in Calgary and discussed self-processed film and drawn on film techniques for her book "Recepies for Disaster" (on those topics)

and "She is survived also by their large pot-belly pig, Rosie."

an article about Helen with lots of references to her pig

video of her pig

More video of her pig while traveling

some pictures of her pig

And here is the second time I met her (note the Calgary stop listed)
Ann Vole

Red Backed Voles have a new name

I cite Southern Red Backed Voles as the species for Ann Vole so I have to report that they seem to have decided to change the Genus name for them. Their latin name will be Myodes gapperi instead of Clethrionomys gapperi. An older Genus name was Evotomys. I don't know why they change the names so often.

here is a list of related voles:
Myodes californicus (Western Red-backed Vole)
Myodes centralis (Tien Shan Red-backed Vole)
Myodes gapperi (Southern Red-backed Vole)
Myodes glareolus (Bank Vole)
Myodes rufocanus (Grey Red-backed Vole)
Myodes rutilus (Northern Red-backed Vole)
Myodes sikotanensis (Shikotan Vole)

PS I found a long winded explaination of why they decided to change the name: