Tag Archives: Wikipedia

Two WordPress Plugins: UpdraftPlus and WP Dashboard Notes

There are two WordPress plugins of late that I wanted to note:

UpdraftPlus – Automated WordPress backups. You can save it locally or some place online. The paid version obviously has many more options. I backup my entire directory on a once a month schedule, and I set it to sideload* the zip file to my Google Drive. By default, it’s backed up to…your WordPress install. This didn’t make sense to me, if something happened to your install, or your hosting account. I host my blog and other sites at Bluehost, so having a backup not dependent on either my WordPress install or my hosting account was my goal. There’s a bit of configuration you would have to do with Google’s API offerings, if you’re saving to Drive, but the plugin support page walks you through that.

WP Dashboard Notes – Add a free form text area, among other similar things, to your WordPress dashboard (see screenshot). I wanted to have something like this to store quick post ideas or links. The UX of WordPress’ post isn’t really structured for this, since drafts can get lost in the list, or filtered out too easily. There was another plugin like this that I tried, that was only a plain text widget for the dashboard, but it conked out immediately with my version of WordPress (4.4).

*sideload – as opposed to uploading or downloading. It’s crossways, between two applications and servers. It’s usage is a little different, according to Wikipedia.

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About Time and Travel – Pale Blue Scratch Email Newsletter #6

“I let my past go too fast
No time to pause
If I could slow it all down
Like some captain whose ship runs aground
I can wait until the tide comes around”

-Rush, “Time Stands Still”

Though in Pale Blue Scratch there isn’t any time-travel—or is there?—the idea of a machine that allows for traveling time is the catalyst for much of what happens in the story.

There’s plenty of media out there that deal with actual time travel and the different avenues of possibility. From books to films and…video games. Everyone can easily rattle off 2 or 3 titles easily that use time travel as a major plot point.

As a matter of coincidence, the past week celebrated the 20th anniversary of one of my favorite video games of all time, Chrono Trigger. You can read all about it on its Wikipedia page, but for those of you who are unacquainted and are currently Wiki-averse or in a tl;dr mood, Chrono Trigger can easily place in the top 10 video games of all time in a lot of people’s lists, and this is due in no small part to the story, which involves heavy use of time travel.

Why am I mentioning a decades-old game in this email? Well. mild gaming enthusiast that I am, in honor of its 20th anniversary I put a reference to Chrono Trigger in Pale Blue Scratch. It’s not obscure but it’s easily passed over if one isn’t looking for it. No decoder ring or calculators are needed, but basic knowledge of the game and a keen eye will help.

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“How Do You Know Your Religion Is the Correct One?”

It’s a common question but there’s a lot of philosophical assumptions behind it, much like the loaded question logicians have pointed out. One has to take a step back to really address it properly. Julie Borowski, who isn’t much of a skeptic from what I can see, asked this on her personal Facebook page. I answered but I made sure to really think it through:

Personal, revelatory, non-falsifiable, a priori, properly basic knowledge of metaphysical truths.

A more accurate question could be, posed to a non-fallibillistic atheist: how could one know if all religions are completely false?

Concerning the first sentence, if you’re interested, look some of those terms up if they are unclear. Wikipedia is okay for a start but also try Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

To make it simpler: statements about religious truths—not just religious belief—can only be known as true to the individual person making the statement.

I asked that last question because religious belief allows for degrees of truth in considering other ones; Islam overlaps with Christianity, which overlaps with Hinduism, which overlaps with Buddhism, which overlaps with Zoroastrianism. If you consider one religion as the true one, then it’s reasonable and even logically mandatory to say every other religious belief system has a degree of truth in it, some greater than others. Pick any form of theism, put in front of you, shine a light on it, and you’ll see the shadow of all the other ones you rejected being cast onto it.

The “proof” is that an overwhelming number of people in the world have had a sense of the supernatural. If we’re talking materialist reasoning here, the burden of proof is on the non-fallibillistic (gnostic) atheist to demonstrate how all of them are completely mistaken.

EDIT: An addendum to this post is here.

EDIT 2: Closed comments on this post since so many spammy comments are breaking through.

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Addendum To Evolution Debate Post

See previous Nye/Ham post.

Thinking on evolution different belief systems, I recall deciding (very tentatively) on “biblical evolution,” which is the theory of the existence of old earth and both micro- and macroevolution, but that humans were in some form (rimshot) directly created by God. In other words, it’s God-guided evolution, or standard-issue evolution with God thrown in, but instead of a primate becoming hominized into modern humans, humans were was especially created, or “creationized.” Wikipedia labels it as a misleading and ambiguous term “biblical evolution.”

But I’m not a theologian nor a biologist and evolutionary theory is not something on which I expend a lot of mental energies. This is just an idea that appealed to some part of me.

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Thomism.org’s Proofs Against Theism



A Facebook friend linked to these recently. Most of them are satirical strawman proofs; no need to take them seriously, but some do point out actual weak arguments. There’s too many good ones to point out, but check out one of the Carl Sagan Dragon arguments, number 90:

(1) God is like an invisible, incoporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire in my garage.
(2) You can’t disprove that such a creature exists.
(3) However, claims that cannot be tested and are immune to disproof are “veridically worthless.”
(4) That’s just a convoluted way of me trying to tell you not believe in God for absolutely no reason because we can’t come up with any reasons to justify our position in any way.
(5) Therefore, God does not exist.

One is reminded of Russell’s teapot and the Flying Spaghetti Monster with this argument—both of which are also somewhere on that list.

The fatality is hidden in first premise. Dragons and fire are things sensually perceived. That is, someone must have had perception of the dragon and fire yet is ascribing physical properties to an incorporeal thing. This is something that the Bible does with God only by way of analogy or by actual physical manifestations (pillars of fire and smoke, Jesus, the burning bush, etc). There’s no possible way to receive sensual data unless the thing is corporeal; there’s a reason why someone claimed a fire-breathing dragon is in the garage*. What is it?

One good reason is if the dragon were perceived, say, at one point in time, but before the dragon disappeared it claimed to actually always be there yet not perceptible**. Well, then you have sensual evidence via memory of the dragon—though the evidence is not “transferrable.” The other person would have to take his word for it.

* Unless the person is crazy, lying, mistaken, or being kind of dick about things. But those are different arguments to make. This proof is one questioning empirical evidence, not the mental state of the person making the claim.

** The point could be raised that the dragon is lying or mistaken about actually being there without being perceived. Again, that is another argument to make and depends on whether the person is already open to the supernatural or not. Although the fantastic notion of a dragon appearing in your garage and communicating meaningfully to one person is good grounds for questioning a non-spiritual worldview in itself.

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Peter Ruckman Really Is Crazy

If you get this wrong, guess where you end up after you die?

If you get this wrong, guess where you end up after you die?

The guy who started the self-parodying and extensive av1611.org, the website that documents Ruckman’s dislike for just about everything you can think of, for the flimsiest of reasons. But he also seems to have inside info about aliens and the American government* as well. It’s comforting, in a way, when someone is demonstrably crazy all around.

From Wikipedia:

He believes in Unidentified Flying Objects and aliens, specifically blue aliens with blue blood, black aliens with green blood, and gray aliens with clear blood. Ruckman believes the Central Intelligence Agency has implanted brain transmitters in children, old people, and African-Americans and that the agency operates underground alien breeding facilities.

* The American government sucks, for sure, but no politician, or even a group of them, is smart or organized enough to engineer such a ridiculous operation.

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Hmm: Russell’s Teapot

Russell's hair and Russell's pipe.

Russell’s hair and Russell’s pipe.

I came across Russell’s teapot the other day, and I thought I had unearthed the source of the “evidence or GTFO” argumentation. But it seems that Russell only throw his skeptic torch on a strawman:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.

Eh. I just don’t understand why he would even bother addressing that kind of “argument” seriously. No philosopher or theologian in academia would get a paper past its initial publishing stages if they ever included an “x is true until it’s proven false”. So I don’t think he’s responding to a peer.

Maybe he was responding to some lay sentiment floating around, but why would he do that? That’s like a topographer correcting a child who thinks his school is “like a hundred” miles away. Just stick it with the argument from ignorance inoculation and call it a day (note that Russell’s photo and teapot reference are at the top of that wikipedia page).

Regardless, the criticism from Eric Reitan mentioned on that wikipedia page comes close to what I’ve mentioned before about the overreach of skeptics who want material data for propositions that cannot be addressed by the scientific method.

Photo by aldoaldoz.

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A List of Things I May Be Doing Tonight Instead of Voting

Why not?

My shadow won’t be darkening the voting booth tonight for a number of reasons*, both practical** and moral, but the biggest reason is pure statistics. I’m not a member of the electoral college so as far as the presidential ballot goes, the chance that the college ties and things go to the popular vote to decide are almost nil.

I can respect libertarians that vote for a Gary Johnson, writes in a Ron Paul, themselves, Cthulhu, their comatose third cousin or dead childhood dog. I know of some that vote Libertarian Party to basically build up its legitmacy, but eh…me linking to Johnson’s campaign site or to a LP-friendly organization like the Mises Institute or linking to a free PDF copy of Henry Hazlitt’s Economics In One Lesson (pdf) probably does the same amount of damage in a fraction of the time—I’m not a member of the LP and I’ve little interest in really supporting it.

But this post is less about the crimes of politics and more about doing what I enjoy in life, one of which is not being herded willingly into a large room to press buttons for cash and prizes. So, in true Austrian economic fashion, as the final arbiter and most competent allocator of my resources (mostly time), coupled with the fact that voting produces little to no satisfaction for me, here’s a serious list of things I may do with my extra hour or so of time that yields the most satisfaction for me. Enjoy!:

  1. Roughhouse with my 14 month old son.
  2. Read with my 7 year old daughter.
  3. Watch The Walking Dead with my wife.
  4. Read non-Wikipedia resources about the fascinating subject of cargo cults.
  5. Write another chapter in my book which will never get done, then
  6. lurk NaNoWriMo’s forums for partial manuscripts and laugh at all the goober writers that scatter adverbs like appleseeds.
  7. Fondly recall what is perhaps my most alpha male move, four years ago, when I elected myself to public office with one vote and then didn’t accept the position.
  8. Pray for Christians worldwide, whatever their political beliefs, to realize the state is the worst solution to implement God’s plan for the world.
  9. Make and enjoy a nice cup of coffee, courtesy of Nicholas Coffee (even though they are into fair trade scamery), then workout until I can’t feel my fingertips.
  10. Check my blog to see if this posted. I use WordPress, which, unlike government programs, is free, very reliable/effective, and no coercion was involved.
  11. Enjoy the nice fall weather by sneaking in a solid raking sesh. Similarly I can
  12. bike past the school where I would be voting, on my way home from the bus stop. Just because.

Cthulhu lawn sign photo by ThinkBaker.

* I’ve heard every reason to vote under the sun, and some reasons over it, and you’re not smart enough to come up with something new. But by all means, please convince me otherwise.

** Pay special attention on that page to the South Africa example.

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