From the creator of Video Skepdude

Introducing Skepfeeds…saying goodbye to Skepdude and Video Skepdude

I would like to introduce Skepfeeds, a new blog I have started here at WordPress, which will replace both Skepdude and Video Skepdude.

The idea behind Skepfeeds is simple. I realized that, although quite satisfying to myself, I wasn’t saying anything on Skepdude that someone else had not said better somewhere else. I mean what do I have to say on the antivaccinationists that Steven Novella hasn’t already said? Or what do I have to say on the whole Evolution vs. Creationism/ID that PZ Meyers hasn’t already said? Honestly, not much.

As such I figured that my time may be better spent in creating a feed which will collect and present in one place all of the best skeptical minded blog entries from around the web. Now, I understand that one person cannot possibly do that, so when I say “from around the web” I mean that portion of the web that I look at, blogs such as Pharyngula, Skepchick, Neurologica, Rationally Speaking, Denialism etc etc etc. I don’t really have time to put in the links here but you can Google each one and you’ll find them.

So far I have received permission by 4 blogs to re-post entries, Skepchick, Stuff God Hates, Rationally Speaking and Muslims Against Sharia. I started 2 days ago, so I hope that within a short time I will be able to get more permissions so that Skepfeeds can start to become what I really envision.

This does not mean that Skepdude will not chime in with an entry here and there, or that Skepdude will stop posting interesting videos. I will however be scaling down my writing. I don’t hold any illusions about my writing style and expertise, and given the quality of work of the bloggers that have already granted me permission to re-post their work, I do not intend to cheapen the quality of Skepfeeds by posting too much of my amateurish stuff. This is not about my ego and I hope this project actually works the way I intend it and grows quickly.

So thank you very much to all of you who have been comming here and reading my humble ramblings. I appreciate all your comments, and please do udpate your RSS feeds to point to Skepfeeds. Skepdude lives on, he just has a different job description now.


July 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Killer denied parole on death bed

As reported at the International Herald Tribune:

Susan Atkins was a leading character in one of the most horrific chapters in California history.

On Tuesday, the former follower of Charles Manson sought to end her story on her own terms: by being allowed to go home. The state parole board denied that request.

Atkins, convicted in the slayings of the actress Sharon Tate and others in 1969, is dying of brain cancer and asked that she be granted compassionate release from prison.

Her husband, James Whitehouse, argued that she was so debilitated that she could not even sit up in bed. “She literally can’t snap her fingers,” he said. “She can put sentences together three or four times a day, but that’s the extent of it.”

As reported at the LA Times:

Now ill with brain cancer, with one leg amputated and the other paralyzed, Atkins has only months to live, doctors have said.

Ok, so let’s take a look at what we have here. I found this case very interesting and challenging. How do you properly balance our innate instinct of revenge with our other innate instinct of compassion? How should these feelings play, if at all, in the state’s decisions and actions? Those are the questions that I keep pondering without being able to find a satisfactory answer either way.

On the one hand we have a frail old woman, ravaged by cancer, one leg amputated who has very little time left to live. She’s not asking for forgiveness for what she’s done, all she’s asking is that these horrible circumstance be taken into account and she be granted a little bit of leniency. Are we as a society at a point in our development where feelings of revenge overpower feelings of compassion and leniency? It looks like the answer to that question is an emphatic yes, and that saddens me.

The state should not be in the business of revenge. That is one of the main reasons why I oppose the death penalty. Either way, the state is supposed to be an unbiased, impartial third party. The way I see it, imprisonment should be viewed not as punishment, but as removal of violent individuals from society in order to prevent them from committing other crimes. From this point of view it is hard to see how an argument about this lady “not deserving” to be let go makes any sense. Such argument is fueled by our feelings of revenge, and while it is acceptable at a personal level, it cannot be acceptable when the state is involved. Alas, the state is made up of individuals who bring in their own prejudices. There is really no way to escape that.

Pam Turner, a cousin of Sharon Tate, recalled the pregnant actress’ return to the United States, and dreaming of helping her with her baby.

Then she spoke about wanting to die after finding out that Tate and her unborn son had been stabbed to death.

“I was a child, but I was so sick with grief that I wished I too could die,” Turner said, sobbing. She described how Tate’s mother, her aunt, “howled like a wounded animal.”

And she recalled how her late aunt had been overcome with emotion when Turner became pregnant herself.

“She once put her hands on my pregnant belly and just cried,” she said. “She didn’t have to say what she was crying for. I knew. She was looking right through me and seeing Sharon and what could have been.”

The pain and grief are undeniable. But how does denying this sick, dying person parole lessen the pain in any way possible? Is it going to undo what happened? Are those feelings that this lady felt years ago going to vanish, erased from her memory? I am sure this lady will feel a little better after parole was denied, but the State itself is not supposed to have feelings. But if that was the case, then the prisoner couldn’t make the case for clemency either, now could she? I told you I had mixed feelings about this.

So on the one hand, I think that, given the circumstances mercy is warranted. I think every human being has some dignity by virtue of being human, regardless of their crimes. That is why I oppose the death penalty and that is why I think that under these circumstances, it hurts no one to grant this women parole.

On the other hand though we must worry about the precedent this would set. Does that make it acceptable for anyone on their death bed to ask for mercy? What if it is not such a clear cut case? What if instead of impending death within a few months, you have a longer period of time? Where do you draw the line?

However, besides the practical issue, I see another bigger issue. That of the whole idea of the life sentence. The point of the life sentence is that the person end their life in prison. Lifting the life sentence for a dying person, defeats the purpose of having it at all. Dying is a painful, horrible process cancer or not. If we make an exception for her, why not for a really old and frail person? If that was the case then we should do away with the life sentence altogether, and I don’t like that idea.

Confused yet? Good because i am myself. I don’t have a clear answer to this question, but if I had my shoulders to the wall, like the members of the panel did, I most likely would have voted to grant her parole. People it is better to be compassionate and forgiving than vengeful. I know I sound like a televangelist, but hey I’m not asking for you money!

July 17, 2008 Posted by | Human Rights, Morality | | 5 Comments

Here Be Dragons follow up

I finished viewing “Here Be Dragons” by Brian Dunning and it is excellent. I have posted the video at my Video Blog. Go see it…NOW! It is a commandment!

July 17, 2008 Posted by | Critical Thinking | , , , | Leave a comment

Here be dragons

Brian Dunning, of the fabulous podcast Skeptoid, has produced a 40 min video which is titled “Here be Dragons“. It is an introductory course on skepticism, and while I haven’t had time to watch the whole think yet, I trust Brian’s abilities unconditionally (even though he’s always reminding his readers to question everything he says, that’s just how awesome this guy is) to plug it here in my humble blog. Go see it.

And speaking of Skeptoid you must check out episode #105 When People Talk Backwards. It is deliciously awesome.

July 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Idiot sues church over injury

Now, generally I tend to like people that sue the church, because most of the time they have a good reason for doing so, but I can’t help but side with the church in their fight against this idiot.

A man said he was so consumed by the spirit of God that he fell and hit his head while at a Knoxville church.

Now he wants Lakewind Church to pay $2.5 million for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering he said he’s endured from his injuries.

The Sevier County man said he was asking God to have “a real experience” while praying at church.

He said he has fallen from the force of the spirit before but has always been caught by someone.

It looks like the “spirit of God” is to blame, not the church, so I wonder why he’s not suing God. After all did he not go voluntarily into the church seeking to experience exactly what he did? So what is he accusing the church of, doing their job too well? I mean he asked God for a “real experience” himself. What’s more real than falling on your empty nugget and being reminded of just how stupid you’d been acting? Dismissed!

July 15, 2008 Posted by | Religion | , | Leave a comment