Signing digital documents : technology transitions that don’t make sense

Posted on January 21st, 2008 — permalink

My wife had knee surgery today.  (All went well.  She’s now in recovery.)  As we were in admission, we went through various things with the hospital worker.  At some points along the line, my wife had to sign some documents.  One was permission to treat and to tell our insurance about it.  Another was notification of having received a “Patient’s Rights” document.  Another was some Medicare form or another.

Rather than doing everything on paper, the signatures were all kept in documents on the computer.  And, here’s how they were done : there was one of those little “signature” widgets that you may have seen in stores where you can swipe your credit card, only here there was just the screen for the signature.   The woman, facing us and looking at her monitor (which we could not see), would ask my wife to sign something, and say, “OK, you’re signing now to say that you received this document,” or some such.

If you sit back and think about this, none of this makes any sense at all.



What is a fundamentalist atheist?

Posted on January 5th, 2008 — permalink

You think by now I’d have learned enough not to interact anywhere near PZ Myers, but, well, there’s something in a comment thread there that so pithily describes why I think the angry atheists are full of it that I can’t resist. When you use the term “fundamentalist atheist”, lots of those to whom the term applies get all upset and write out pedantic responses about why the term makes no more sense than does the term “Darwinist” or “gravitist.” Which I think is a bit sad, because of course we don’t mean the term literally, any more than there is any “gate” involved in the term “Plamegate.” It’s a reference.

So when PZ links to an ignorant article about why feminism and religion are incompatable– an article written by somebody who has clearly never listened to any of the legions of feminist (say) Christians out there talk about the subject, an article that’s nearly Godwinesque in it’s childish simplicity– it’s no surprise that some of the fundamentalist atheists come out of the woodwork for a “me too”. Generally, ignorant blog comments should be ignored, but one of them sums up so many of the tactics that I see the most angry of atheists use to argue why Religion Is Bad that I can’t resist quoting it. The comment by Kcanadensis:

Religious texts are “The Word”. I find it revolting when the religious cherry-pick from their holy text and claim that only parts of it are meant to be taken seriously. It’s all or none, IMO.

My thoughts on the matter I also posted to that comment thread:

But, then again, this crowd [i.e. the anti-religion atheists] is nearly as fond of quoting the Bible to say what “Christians absolutely must believe” as are fundamental Biblical literalists.

Ah, well, so much for an unspoken 2008 resolution to ignore the religion-hating atheists as any net troll rightfully should be ignored.


What I changed my mind about : academia, socialized medicine

Posted on January 5th, 2008 — permalink

This post at cosmicvariance refers to a question at the Edge world question center: “what have you changed your mind about?” It’s interesting reading, and I recommend it.

Although I’m not quite a luminary up there with those quoted in Sean’s post, I’m going to give two answers.