It’s been a while *ahem* since I’ve posted anything here, but I note with pleasure the traffic stats showing that a significant number of people still read the site, normally having found it via search engine queries. So it stays. :)
However, with the increasing ubiquity of other forms of online discussion and the predictable habit of blog discussions turning into ideological pissing contests, I’ve reluctantly decided to both disable comments to and remove existing comments from this blog. It was a difficult decision, as there were some excellent discussions — both those with my worldview and those who oppose it — and you did contribute to what makes this blog’s content what it is today. (Despite the present cobwebs).
This decision was not made in a vacuum. There has been an increasing trend through what’s left of the traditional “blogosphere” (now hardly recognisable with sites like Google+, Tumblr, etc, becoming so popular and used as such) to disable comments. There are more effective ways to talk and doing so reduces the temptation to turn a given post into a YouTube-style verbal battleground.
If you want to chat, theres always Twitter: @Jumile
Finally remembered to check and fix all the images in all posts to date. I think I got them all, but please let me know if I missed any.
Next on the list is fixing the local/relative link references…
Two years flies by, doesn’t it? I’m fast approaching the two year mark of when I moved this blog to a decent hosting provider in response to experiencing the Slashdot Effect from a picture I shared while hosting on a budget hosting provider. Unfortunately the “new customer” pricing is history, and they’re asking for 4 times the price I paid for a reduced service. Not going to happen.
Rather than shop around for a better deal elsewhere, I’ve decided to move the blog back to WordPress.com. The HurtlingThroughSpace.com domain will point to the new location but – as WordPress.com does not support Feedburner – all subscribers will need to resubscribe. Apologies for this, but it’s not my choice.
In addition, I expect some links and images will be broken throughout the blog. Please bear with me while I track them down and fix. If you find any I’ve missed, please let me know.
Update: It seems that Feedburner does now work with WordPress. You can resubscribe to the Feedburner feed for this site here:
For well over 10 years I’ve been hearing about the Slashdot Effect, since the advent of Web 2.0 I’ve seen it countless times on popular social sites like Digg, Reddit, and of course Slashdot, and years working as a security consultant gave me plenty of experience with denials of service (DoS) and distributed denials of service (DDoS) attacks. The Slashdot Effect is similar in both execution and results to a DDoS in that a single, often harmless, action by a huge number of computers brings the target server to its knees.
Of course there is one huge difference between the Slashdot Effect and (D)DoS attacks: the former is what the Internet is largely all about– spreading information or something cool to as many interested people as possible. The latter is normally about malice and criminal intent.
Sometime after I posted my previous post to this blog, a kindred spirit and fellow Twitter user (from whom I originally borrowed the image, giving source attribution as always) kindly shared my post with StumbleUpon. Oh. My. FSM.
From ~03:00 UTC yesterday this blog began serving the follow page:
It lasted for most of the UK morning until I got into my day job and eventually got around to doing my customary quick check of the admin page, and was greeted with the above error myself. In retrospect, a 1GB monthly “soft” bandwidth cap wasn’t that unreasonable for a modest blog such as this, but imagine everyone’s surprise to discover that 1.7GB was served within the space of just a few hours. O_o
To put it into context, WordPress Stats shows that my previous peak viewing days were all below 500, and the daily average was much lower. Yesterday saw that ramp up almost an order of magnitude. All my pretty jagged lines showing how many visitors I’d had per day were suddenly all flatlined as the graph’s Y-axis re-scaled itself to show a mountain peak with no peers. Here’s what it looked like shortly after lunchtime yesterday:
Kinda cool, really.
So once I got my hosting provider to lift the bandwidth cap, I began taking the necessary steps to move the site to a new provider after finding one recommended by a friend that gives unlimited, well… everything: bandwidth, storage, domains, databases, mail accounts, etc, etc. What’s more, I managed to get the hosting plan for half price due to the beauty of automated signup process tracking and aggressive new customer policies…
Last night I spent the evening (not the most exciting way to spend a Friday night) setting up the new system and migrating the blog to the new provider. For those of you who tried read the blog via the website during this time, please accept my apologies for the downtime: it was unavoidable while the DNS server changes had to propagate across the Internet. If you want to blame someone — blame Paul Mockapetris (I’m such a nerd).
So it’s with delight — and not a small amount of relief — that I present to you Hurtling Through Space at its new home.
From this point forward the only negative impact this move should have is that those of you who have subscribed to posts will have lost those subscriptions (I’ll email each of those who left a valid email address to let you know, in case you miss this post). Please let me know if you find something wrong with the site — I haven’t fully tested it yet.
On the positive impact side, the address and everything remains the same, and it should be more reliable, faster and able to withstand the whimsy of Web 2.0 traffic floods.
Have at ye, ye worthless scurvy dogs! Arrrrr!
Following on with the theme of participating in blog aggregators and non-theistic blogging communities, Hurtling Through Space has now been added to The Atheist Blogroll. Those of you viewing the website can see the blogroll in my sidebar — nearly 1,000 blogs (at time of writing), all happily scrolling.
The Atheist Blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.
While reading a friend’s blog post in which he puts down some thoughts about recent events and the subsequent comments from his readers, I was struck by one comment in particular which was a comment to a comment, so to speak. Here is the relevant snippet from Mark’s comment:
Humanist and Utilitarian beliefs existed long before religion and will continue to exist long after religion has disappeared into the annals of ancient history. One does not need a fairy godmother to understand right and wrong.
It’s a perfectly logical comment, as the basic tenets of humanism are universal to the wellbeing of a group or society, and obeisance to or existence of a higher power isn’t a prerequisite (e.g. I love my parents and a god does not need to exist to enable that).
The comment that intrigued me also confused me a little. I’d rather not simply copy and paste it here as it would then be out of context, so here is the link to the comment for you to read in situ.
It appears to me that the commenter considers Humanism to be a world view devoid of morals and values, and quotes from the American Humanist Association‘s Humanist Manifesto II, written in 1973 (the most recent is the Humanist Manifesto III, written in 2003), choosing to combine parts of the 3rd Principle (Ethics) and 6th Principle (The Individual) as follows:
Happiness and the creative realization of human needs and desires, individually and in shared enjoyment, are continuous themes of humanism… individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire.
I presume the intent of this is to justify the commenter’s assertion that Humanism is devoid of morals and values, as at face value and out of context this quote may suggest that it is hedonistic and perverted, existing to encourage lascivious behaviour and baser expressions of human activities. I believe the Daily Mail are always looking for journalists…
To provide their proper context, here are these two principles in their entirety (emphasis mine):
THIRD: We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest. To deny this distorts the whole basis of life. Human life has meaning because we create and develop our futures. Happiness and the creative realization of human needs and desires, individually and in shared enjoyment, are continuous themes of humanism. We strive for the good life, here and now. The goal is to pursue life’s enrichment despite debasing forces of vulgarization, commercialization, and dehumanization.
SIXTH: In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized. While we do not approve of exploitive, denigrating forms of sexual expression, neither do we wish to prohibit, by law or social sanction, sexual behavior between consenting adults. The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered “evil.” Without countenancing mindless permissiveness or unbridled promiscuity, a civilized society should be a tolerant one. Short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire. We wish to cultivate the development of a responsible attitude toward sexuality, in which humans are not exploited as sexual objects, and in which intimacy, sensitivity, respect, and honesty in interpersonal relations are encouraged. Moral education for children and adults is an important way of developing awareness and sexual maturity.
As can be seen, when taken in context the 3rd Principle is explaining that morals, values and ethics are based upon self-evidential experience (students of American history should be familiar with the idea of self-evidence, if not the phrase itself) and free from absolutism or dogmatic interpretation. That we know without doubt that we have this life now, but anything beyond that is uncertain and unproven, so to form an ethical framework around words written by men and adhering to them unquestioningly is foolish. And the 6th Principle is explaining sexuality and the universal sexual rights of human beings, again without unquestioning adherence to a framework or dogma.
That this Manifesto has seen four versions shows that Humanism is like science — it adjusts, revises and corrects as necessary. Nothing is absolute. And that frightens the living daylights out of many believers and conservative people.
Unfortunately for them, life and the universe is uncertain, relative and without absolutes. Those responsible for tracking objects from the Kuiper Belt and beyond may tomorrow detect an object on a collision course with earth with an ETA of 2 weeks and after which it’s All Over (if it happens, we won’t get much notice), the leader of a nuclear power may lose the plot and push The Button throwing us all into a nuclear winter, or any number of end-of-the-world scenarios.
Once you understand that not only do you not matter, that your country doesn’t matter, that this planet doesn’t matter to the universe, then you will have some insight into the marvellous thing that is life. Someone once said that before he was born he was a long time dead and after he dies he’ll be a long time dead, so he makes the most of this blink of an eye in which we’re born, grow, live, grow old and die. It also shows why Humanists have such a thirst for life, and why things such as the AHA’s Humanist Manifesto are so necessary.
Whether a god or gods exist is immaterial — and there are logical refutations and arguments that can be used to illustrate why such existence is unlikely at best — as that is not the issue here. There is nothing in human existence to suggest that any of the millions of religious texts on this world weren’t either written by men seeking power or a genuine, primitive attempt to understand the wonders and horrors of the world: fire, lightning, weather systems, the joy of sex, the birth of a child, the death of a mother during childbirth, the untimely diseased death of a child, a volcano burying a city.
We’re born into a world where people with an imaginary friend’s supposed writing dictates not only the way they live their lives but they mandate the same behaviour on to everybody else. What if you’re wrong? Have you considered that possibility seriously for just 5 minutes? I mean really seriously, without falling prey to the inevitable Argument from Incredulity or Argument from Popularity within 30 seconds and snorting your derision. And then extend that and ask how it can possibly be right for your values (immaterial of whether they’re correct or not) to be forced upon others — upon entire nations.
We’re a race that have flown to the Moon, we’ve fired things we’ve made to the very edge of the known Solar System, we’ve worked out empirically the age and size of the universe as we’re able to see it today, and we’ve sequenced our own genetic code and are in the process of decoding half a billion years of post-Cambrian development
And to this day we’re going to war for the same reasons with the same Books that we did back in the Bronze Age. Now tell me again why religion is good but Humanism is bad?
There’s a new post on a friend’s blog that I think you should read. Here’s an excerpt:
New Scientist published a special edition last month all about the environment but specifically about ‘Sustainability’. It’s all very well adopting things that are ‘Green’ but that is not the same thing as ‘Sustainable’. For example using (corn based) bio-diesel is very green but it is absolutely not sustainable because it takes away crops from other markets pushing up the prices of flour, bread, meat and so on.
The rest of the blog can be found here.