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… don’t let Mike Huckabee be the next US president.

In case you’re not following the US primaries, Huckabee wants “to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards”. (Although later he seems to have changed his mind again.)

I really love most of the comments on this site concerning this plans. To quote a few:

“What a nutjob. Will he next call for an amendment to outlaw buddhism, judaism, atheism, etc?  Will his entire cabinet be pulled from pulpits across the country?  Even worse, will he pack the courts with even more incompetent jurist/Jesus-freaks? Haven’t we had enough of this road, having the leader of the free world believing he was given the job by God, not by the people that voted for him?  Get a grip, folks.  Keep your religion out of our government.  That’s how it was designed, for the protection of both church and state.”

” What’s wrong with having religious zealots run a government?  Seems to be working well in Iran.” [My favorite :-)]

” I’m a Republican, and a conservative one at that, but this line of discussion scares me a LOT.
I fail to understand this intolerant streak in religions generally, and in the fundamentalist ones in particular, that seem to require everyone to think their way or they aren’t safe to practice their own beliefs.  Maybe someone can explain that to me, but to date no one has even tried very hard.
If this truly reflects his thinking, and is not just a case of playing to the house, then I have my doubts about Gov. Huckabee’s qualifications to be President, or any other office under our Constitution.
Absent some clarification (one that makes real sense and isn’t spin), this conservative, Republican, constitutionalist will not be voting for the Gentleman from Arkansas in November, or at any other time.”

“As an Evangelical who has studied the Bible and theology, it begs the question: if you are going to amend the Constitution on those things because of the bible, why not foreign policy as well? I mean, the Bible does make it clear to love those who hate you and bless those who persecute you. So by biblical standards we should not have invaded other countries in response to 9/11. Those who live by the sword die by it. Mr. Huckabee, at least be consistent.”

” I’m a Christian – and I have NO intention of voting for Mike Huckabee!
God wouldn’t want me to – for many reasons.”

No, not because there are certain doctrines in Islam (that I’m aware of) that appeal to me a lot more than doctrines in other religions, but because I think it would be an adequate way to show solidarity. [On a related note: The conductor Daniel Barenboim took on the citizenship of Palestine as a sign of solidarity about a year ago, but this only became public very recently.]

Why solidarity? Because I feel sickened and personally insulted by recent statements made by the Austrian politician Susanne Winter. In a public speech she said that the prophet Muhammed would according to the juridical system of our time be a “child molester“, as he married a 6-year old girl when he was 50. Later, in an interview, she added that “there is widespread abuse of children among Muslim men“.

It’s tempting to try to argue back at the same level along the lines that most statistics show (I guess) that the the number of alleged cases of child abuses committed by Catholic priests is (when normalized by the number of people present in a country) significantly higher than for Muslim men, but then you’re at a level of “debate” where you might as well argue that Christ was a bastard, as his father was not his wife’s husband or that Buddha should have paid alimonies, as he left his wife and daughter behind to find enlightenment.

Can somebody please explain to me, how politicians like Susanne Winter can claim to “uphold Christian values”? [Btw: it’s always great fun, when a politician names the 10 commandments as one of the Christian values … but then fails to recite more than 6/7.]

So far I’ve always selected “none” on any form asking me for my religion. The next time I’ll put “Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindi” (and maybe more, depending on the space provided). Somehow scary to think that there are probably more forms which can accommodate multiple nationalities, than there are forms which can accommodate multiple religions.

(If you don’t know this quote.)

Who should a defense talk be given for?

For the reviewers of your thesis (who have read the thesis in detail anyways)?

For the chair of the committee (you usually does not read your thesis in advance)?

For your colleagues (who will at least share some common background knowledge with you)?

Or for your family (you might share the last name with you but probably not a lot of knowledge about your research subject)?

Ultimately, it depends on your own goals and also on the committee members. Still, if somebody asked me for advice on this topic now I’d tell him (from my own experience) that the talk should not be “too accessible” (as was the case for me). At least in the last 10 minutes or so just loose the rest of the crowd, throw in some proofs, go into depth, show off a bit.

In the end, this issue is probably not too crucial though as the grade of your thesis (… in Germany you get a grade for your thesis …) is hardly ever affected by the presentation you give (at least in the domain of computer science). So I’m still glad that I got positive feedback from friends and colleagues outside the domain of information retrieval, even if the “shallowness” of the presentation then motivated the referees to ask some questions which were not directly related to the main contributions of the dissertation. So at least the defense really deserved the name of (self-) defense at the end.

No, yesterday was not already Halloween, but when I saw so many people already in costume in the city centre I simply
couldn’t resist the temptation and hold back the desire to throw myself into costume and put on some make-up.

So, luckily, I was well prepared when some kids rang on my door at about 8pm. They where supposed to be devils and vampires
and I assume that, in the usual trick-or-treat fashion, they were supposed to scare me. So it was with great joy that I opened the door in my costume to scare them certainly more than they scared me.  🙂

Still, I didn’t manage to scare them away completely and when the moment of surprise had passed one of them still remembered to ask (in a weak voice) for some candy which I gave to them. I’m pretty sure that they won’t forget this particular door on their trick-or-treating trip.  🙂

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