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Love is all you need March 25, 2012

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Belief, Reason.

People laugh at me, but I don’t care: they can’t feel what I feel. It’s easy to always be cynical and dismissive — but faith is hard; love is hard. And my faith tells me that Angelina Jolie loves me.

Whenever I see her beautiful face, I can feel it. And when I close my eyes and look inward, I know it’s true. My relationship with Angie is the most meaningful thing in my life — I’m nothing without her. Though we’re apart for now, I know we’ll be together eventually, if only I have faith in her. As Angie said in Original Sin: “You cannot walk away from love.”

Some people tell me I’m out of touch with reality, that I need to face facts: Angelina lives with Brad Pitt (curse him) and is raising his children, while I’ve never even spoken to her in person. But so what? That doesn’t prove she doesn’t secretly love me. I trust Angie completely, and I’m sure she has good reasons for everything she does, even if I don’t understand her plan right now. To doubt her would be to disrespect her.

Come to think of it, the skeptics who deny my love are being extremely disrespectful (and offensive). Who are they to question my heartfelt convictions? Why do they want to take away my source of joy and comfort? Anyway, “facts” are irrelevant when it comes to feelings; “reason” has nothing to say about love and happiness. Just like Angie told us in Playing by Heart: “Talking about love is like dancing about architecture.”

By the way: the skeptics always seem to ignore the fact that my relationship with Angie has made me a better person. In all things, I try to do what Angie would want me to do — to make her proud of me. I used to smoke, but I gave it up for her. Just yesterday, I was about to take some money from a homeless guy’s cup, but then I thought of how Angie sacrificed herself in Wanted, and I didn’t do it. If that doesn’t prove Angie’s love for me is real, what could?

I don’t care if no one believes me. No one believed Angie in Changeling when she said her son was an imposter, but she followed her heart and she was right.

You’ll have to excuse me now: every day at sunset I watch both Tomb Raiders back to back, and then I write another love letter to Angie. After that I’ll probably go fight with my neighbor Billy — that deluded weirdo thinks Angelina loves him more than me!

No servants were harmed in the making of this puzzle March 24, 2012

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Computer science, Puzzles.
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Twelve hours before the Emperor’s great banquet is to begin, the Master of Spies comes forward with distressing news: there is good reason to suspect that (exactly) one of the 1024 barrels of wine in the imperial wine cellar has been poisoned. The poison believed to have been used is odorless and otherwise undetectable, but so deadly that drinking even a small amount is certain to cause death within twelve hours.

The Emperor is determined to identify the poisoned barrel before the banquet begins — but how? It occurs to him that he could have 1024 of his servants each take a sip from a different barrel, and see which one dies. However, there is much work to be done preparing for the banquet, so it would be preferable to minimize the number of drunk servants. How can the poisoned barrel be positively identified while utilizing the smallest possible number of servants? (Note that the Emperor doesn’t care how many servants end up dying, he just wants to minimize the number of servants drinking wine.)

Try to solve it yourself before reading on.


Stupidity regarded as wisdom March 13, 2012

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Belief, Reason, Religion.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a keynote speaker at the “Living the Catholic Faith Conference” in Denver last week, where he argued that his Christian faith is not irrational:

… Scalia today told a standing-room-only crowd of more than 500 Catholics to have “the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity” by society’s sophisticates…

The 75-year-old Scalia said that today one can believe in a creator and the teachings of Jesus without being the brunt of too much ridicule, but that to hold traditional Christian beliefs that Jesus is God and He physically rose from the grave is to be derided as simple-minded by those considered leading intellectuals.

Traditional Catholics, Scalia said, are seen as peasant-like in their saying the Rosary, kneeling before the Holy Eucharist and indiscriminately following the teachings of the pope.

“(Yet) the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight,” Scalia said, quoting the Bible…

In Washington, Scalia said, the pundits and media couldn’t believe in a miracle performed under their noses.

“My point is not that reason and intellect need to be laid aside,” Scalia said. “A faith without a rational basis should be laid aside as false. … What is irrational is to reject a priori the possibility of miracles in general and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in particular.”

Nice try, but Scalia demonstrates exactly why his beliefs do deserve to be “derided as simple-minded.” Non-Christian “intellectuals” don’t reject the possibility of Jesus Christ’s resurrection a priori: they reject it due to lack of sufficient evidence — just like Scalia rejects the miraculous claims of Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, etc. Stories of miracles occurring “under people’s noses” are a dime a dozen; one would expect a judge to know that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Of course, even if there were good evidence that Jesus is God and that he physically rose from the grave, it would not follow that we ought to kneel before him and follow his teachings indiscriminately. That’s not wisdom — it’s servility. Indeed, we all pay the price for Scalia’s reverential adherence to stupid Iron Age teachings which he believes to be the will of God.

So it’s good that the irrational beliefs of Scalia and his church are coming under pressure. Instead of hunkering down and insisting that folly is wisdom, I hope the faithful will have the courage to examine their beliefs critically, so that one day our public policy will not be constrained by ancient miracle stories. As a wise man once said: “A faith without a rational basis should be laid aside as false.”

(via Thoughts from Kansas)

The weak link March 5, 2012

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Belief, Superstition.

Dear friend,

Let me begin by assuring you that this letter is COMPLETELY LEGITIMATE, and everything in it is 100% TRUE. I can wholeheartedly vouch for this based on my PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. I implore you to read this letter carefully in its entirety, and follow its instructions exactly.

This letter will change your life! But whether your life changes for the better or for the worse depends on how you proceed. One man from New York ignored this letter, and six weeks later he got CANCER. A woman from Chicago couldn’t be bothered to follow all of the letter’s instructions, and subsequently lost all her life’s savings. I’m sorry to report that my very own cousin decided she “didn’t believe” this letter, and sadly she has been DIVORCED three times.

Don’t let this unique opportunity pass you by: all you have to do is follow the simple instructions in this letter, and you are GUARANTEED to receive UNLIMITED GOOD LUCK! One woman from Texas won a $50,000 lottery. A man from Los Angeles saw his tumor — declared INCURABLE by doctors — disappear. I myself found the love of my life shortly after committing to the system detailed below, and we are now happily married.

So what do you need to do? It’s easy. First and foremost: You must BELIEVE it will work. Push all negative, skeptical thoughts out of your mind. The system only works if you BELIEVE — this is the power of POSITIVE THINKING.

Second: Make a note of today’s date, and mark it prominently on all your calendars. It’s the date on which your new life began! Every year, on the anniversary of today’s date (starting today), make ten copies of this letter and send them to ten new people. This shows your commitment to spreading love and joy in the world. (Sending the letter to children is allowed and encouraged.)

Third: You must pledge to live your life from today onward as a GOOD PERSON. Do not steal, cheat, rape, etc. — doing so may disqualify you from receiving the UNLIMITED GOOD LUCK mentioned above.

Fourth: You must shun people who do not believe in the system. Their negativity could jeopardize your success! Recognize that those who oppose the system are arrogant, egotistical troublemakers. Make it clear that their offensive “opinions” are not welcome.

Fifth and finally: You must immediately send $10 (ten US dollars) to the address printed on the reverse side of this letter. This modest gesture is a symbol of your personal commitment to the system, and honors those who came before you. In most cases, no further payment will be required. Remember: any investment you make in the system will be repaid beyond your wildest dreams!

Above all, remember to always have faith in the system. If you do not immediately see all the personal benefits you had hoped for, be patient: the effects take a varying amount of time to manifest. Also, bear in mind that things which seem bad in the short run often turn out to be good in the long run. And of course, if the system is not working for you, it’s quite probable that your BELIEF is simply not strong enough — try to improve your POSITIVE THINKING.

No matter what, do not quit the system! You are an essential link in an unbroken chain, and many, many people are depending on you (as you depend on them). Together, there is nothing we cannot do. But one weak link is enough to break even the strongest chain. Don’t be the weak link!

The choice is yours, dear friend. Your future is in your hands. I hope that you will have the wisdom to recognize the amazing opportunity that has come your way, and that you will keep the chain strong. After all, what have you got to lose?