June 29, 2010

Those darned "new atheists"

This frustratingly shallow article in Slate by Ron Rosenbaum attempts to make the case for "new agnosticism" by casting atheists and theists as two sides of an arrogant, closed-minded, faith-based coin. It begins:
Let's get one thing straight: Agnosticism is not some kind of weak-tea atheism. Agnosticism is not atheism or theism. It is radical skepticism, doubt in the possibility of certainty, opposition to the unwarranted certainties that atheism and theism offer.
Well, no. That's not what those words mean. And no radical skeptic would consider for a moment the possibility that unseen, all-powerful being(s) are influencing our day-to-day lives despite the absence of a shred of evidence of it over the entire course of history. And it's not like nobody was looking.

The reason the "new atheists" as so shrill and strident about the fact that there are no gods (yes, we call conclusions reached after thorough study of overwhelming evidence "facts") is not that we hate religious people. It's not that we, as the author of this article believes, "display a credulous and childlike faith, worship a certainty as yet unsupported by evidence." In fact, every available bit of evidence points to no gods.

Before memetics, it was puzzling to see that so many people believed in something that wasn't real. But now we understand the dynamics of mind viruses and how certain ideas catch on regardless of how true they are. The god meme grew from below, out of people's desire to have a simple explanation of things they didn't understand, and from above, as priests and politicians found they could use it to control people. Which they still do. There's a reason churches are tax exempt.

No, the reason we are shouting so loud that there is no god is that we believe everything will work better if people think and act based on reality rather than on fantasy. It makes me nauseous when I see the President of the United States talk about his imaginary friend. What other ridiculous things does he believe and how do they factor into his decision making? How much did fairy stories influence Bush to get us into two wars? And we won't even talk about the beliefs of the kids who crashed five planes on Sept. 11.

The "new atheists" see the tipping point coming and we want to kill the god meme before it kills us. We have important decisions to make and I'd rather not have my elected officials making them based on chicken entrails.

As for the "new agnostic," let me offer Ron Rosenbaum a better definition: An atheist who's afraid to tell his mother. Ron, grow a pair.

June 11, 2010

$2500 Six-handed Limit Hold 'Em today

I wish all the events were six-handed. The more players at the table the more you have to fold and the more boring the game is. Six-handed events have more action and finish faster than nine- or ten-handed events. Now if we could only convince Harrah's...

The event starts at 5 p.m. and I will be tweeting my progress as quietlion.

June 1, 2010

WSOP event #5: $1500 NLHE

I strolled into this event just as level two was beginning. We started with 4500 chips (all the events start with three times the buy-in amount in tournament chips) and I began a steady climb to about 10k by the middle of level five, when I lost a series of small pots and had about 6500 when the following hand occurred:

100/200 blinds, 25 ante. Not particularly active player, actually I guy I know from gambling in the casino and who isn't a professional poker player, raises to 600 in the hijack (two to the right of the button). I call with A9h on the button and the blinds fold. The flop comes 952 with two clubs. He bets 1000 and I move in for 4900 more. He has me covered by a few hundred. He makes the call with A4 offsuit. Turn 4, river 4 and I Go Home Now.

Next event tonight at 5pm: 2-7 triple draw lowball.

More on the Washington State Supreme Court case

We had a great time down in Olympia. The State Supreme Court was just like the US one, with nine Justices firing questions at the attorneys for an hour. I think the State's case rests on the Court deciding that non-economic interests dominate the ban on Internet gambling. To do that, I think the legislators would have to have had a reasonable belief that Internet gambling could not be regulated in such a way as to make it as safe as the gambling allowed in the state, which is pretty much everything.

I can't see any reasonable way to believe that. All kinds of commerce takes place over the Internet and regulations are working fine. As Justice Johnson pointed out, his daughter could just as easily squander money buying shoes from Nordstrom.com as playing online poker. Washington could easily require gambling sites to require age and identity verification that would work better than brick-and-mortar casinos.

When I took a seat in the third row for the hearing, I accidentally took the seat of Attorney General  Rob McKenna, not realizing his notebook was leaning up against the armrest. He graciously sat next to me. After the hearing I said, "Pretty interesting case." He mulled it over. I said, "I am so sick of hearing 'crack cocaine of gambling.' " He smiled. His job is just to represent the law, but I can't think there's much political will behind keeping people from playing online poker.

If you'd like to follow the case, go here : http://templeofjustice.org/2010/rousso-v-state/