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QUOTE (Jim Kring @ May 19 2008, 02:04 PM)

I'll throw another log on the fire...

Nice work Jim - throw a log on the fire and then just walk away :)

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QUOTE (eaolson @ May 19 2008, 02:19 PM)

Quote
As Dawkins put it "If atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby." To be fair, atheism and agnosticism are fairly squishy words that can mean largely what you want them to mean. There is the strong atheism, weak atheism, etc. That's not entirely limited to a disbelief in god; you'd get a very different if you asked John Hagee if Catholics and Mormons were really Christians than if you asked a Unitarian.

I'm not a Christian, but I'm open to reevaluation after the Rapture. :rolleyes:

I'm not sure where you read about atheism being a religion in the post you replied to. I read about it being a belief and I have to agree with that. Nobody can proof there is a deity nor that there isn't, so even atheists believe in something :D

Rolf Kalbermatter

Edited by rolfk

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QUOTE (rolfk @ May 20 2008, 07:11 AM)

Exactly. The whole things revolves around the differences between Belief (which I have no problem with) and Religion and Church (Both of which I dislike).

I don't think there'll ever be a church of Atheism. Although his noodly Appendage comes kind of close..... :worship:

As to atheism being a squishy word.... What then should be understood by "Christian". I see a whole bandwidth of very different beliefs which all fall under the big old umbrella of Christianity.

Everything which remotely touches on religion is squishy. It has to be. It's the only way people can re-define it over the years and still regard it as TRUTH. If I would try to explain that to my 4-year old son, he'd look funny at me and say "Huh?". That kind of says it all for me.

QUOTE (Justin Goeres @ May 19 2008, 06:42 PM)

Religion, at its core, is a way for people to share a framework for understanding things that seem bigger than themselves, and for understanding their individual and collective place in that framework. It provides a lot of psycho-social benefits, such as a feeling of belonging and nicely-formatted answers to many questions, like "Where did I come from?" and "Why am I here?"

Very true. It's comforting aspect. But it's only comforting in a scenario where you're feeling scared of overwhelmed to begin with.

QUOTE (Justin Goeres @ May 19 2008, 06:42 PM)

;)

I've yet to come across a church which hadn't got control and retention of it's "flock" as a central theme. Perhaps there are some, but I'm unaware of them. I have some very religious members of my family who are strongly involved in a church. They're well-intending people, but when you listen in on their discussions about church administration, it's just like listening to politicians. And I don't mean that in a positive way.

QUOTE (Justin Goeres @ May 19 2008, 06:42 PM)

But the problem is that, depending on what religion you're talking about, that choice can be
explicitly not
optional. It's obvious for people who are able to look at the issue from an outside perspective, but if someone's entire world-view is informed by, "Jesus said, 'Bring me all the little children,'" and "The Bible is the Holy and Everlasting Perfect Word of God," it's hard to find a place to even
begin
the discussion.

True. Such people are, for me, lost. There are some cases (Im my family also) where people just realise that the whole lot is so absurdly improbable that it's statistically inseperable from the flying spaghetti monster. Then they start asking questions. One of the few things I find encouraging in the Bible is that Jesus spent a lot of time asking questions of the religious leaders of the time. The idea that a religion cannot be questioned if, IMO, very dangerous. OTOH, Allowing religion to be open to question kind of undermines the TRUTH aspect. This paradox may require faith to understand, but for me it's just wrong.

I very much enjoyed reading Richard Dawkings "The GOD Delusion". I felt some of his arguments were weak, but the overall tenor of his writings I found to be really interesting.

Shane

PS I am not intended to offend anyone who may have strong religious ties. I'm just giving my opinion. :2cents:

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QUOTE (crelf @ May 19 2008, 06:42 AM)

To me, belief involves having confidence or conviction in something -- most often, and especially with religion, something that can not be easily verified.

Faith is similar to belief, but it leads one to action. (e.g. If you believe the bridge is safe, you may not be willing to cross it. But if you have faith the bridge is safe, then you will cross it.)

Truth (since someone tossed that in) is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.

QUOTE (Jim Kring @ May 19 2008, 11:04 AM)

I'll throw another log on the fire...

Paul Graham just published a new essay, this month, called

This was a fascinating read. Don't have much time to comment on it, but the section on Identity did seem a bit weak. If I tell my child they are a part of my family, that is a true statement. Being a part of a group is not inherently a lie. And to assume that groups inherently believe falsehoods to distinguish themselves is a bit of a stretch.

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 20 2008, 03:21 AM)

Exactly. The whole things revolves around the differences between Belief (which I have no problem with) and Religion and Church (Both of which I dislike).

Religion and Church are just a group of people with similar beliefs. Just like Republicans and Democrats, people tend to group themselves. I don't think the phenomenon itself is bad, but certainly there are some results of this that are undesirable.

Always ask questions. People that get offended by a conflicting opinion need to reconsider their own.

David

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QUOTE (JDave @ May 21 2008, 01:12 AM)

Since I'm the one who brought Truth into things, I just want to say that I have difficulty distinguishing Belief and Faith. In your example, belief and faith in the bridge is equivalent. The only thing making you cross the bridge is whatever is on the other side. My problem with "Truth" is the sheer inability to consider flaws in the underlying theory. Coupled with the iterative nature of religions (refined over generations - The Vatican has not stated that they cannot rule out aliens somewhere who were created by God :rolleyes: ) makes it pretty much a self-conflicting argument.

QUOTE (JDave @ May 21 2008, 01:12 AM)

This was a fascinating read. Don't have much time to comment on it, but the section on Identity did seem a bit weak. If I tell my child they are a part of my family, that is a true statement. Being a part of a group is not inherently a lie. And to assume that groups inherently believe falsehoods to distinguish themselves is a bit of a stretch.

Not a stretch at all. People often blinker themselves, sometimes unconsciously, in order to increase their "comfort" factor.

QUOTE (JDave @ May 21 2008, 01:12 AM)

Religion and Church are just a group of people with similar beliefs. Just like Republicans and Democrats, people tend to group themselves. I don't think the phenomenon itself is bad, but certainly there are some results of this that are undesirable.

Uh Oh, now we have politics involved..........

Just look at how Obama and Clinton are trying to ddistance themselves from each other, yet they are both "Demorats". My point exactly. The grouping is only a very vague one. With fuzzy borders. Otherwise the parallels are really striking between church and political party.

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QUOTE (JDave @ May 20 2008, 08:12 PM)

To me, belief involves having confidence or conviction in something -- most often, and especially with religion, something that can not be easily verified. Faith is similar to belief, but it leads one to action. (e.g. If you believe the bridge is safe, you may not be willing to cross it. But if you have faith the bridge is safe, then you will cross it.) Truth (since someone tossed that in) is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.

Nicely put David.

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 21 2008, 12:57 AM)

So do I...

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 21 2008, 12:57 AM)

Not a stretch at all. People often blinker themselves, sometimes unconsciously, in order to increase their "comfort" factor.

To clarify a bit, certainly many groups believe falsehoods and sometimes even consciously. People in these groups will be willing to accept these falsehoods to stay comfortable in that group, where they may otherwise reject them. Moreover, there are probably people in ALL groups who believe falsehoods that they also falsely attribute to the group.

My point was that there is no intrinsic need to believe in falsehoods just to be a distinguishable group. Not to say that this doesn't happen, but the author states this as a necessity -

QUOTE
You can't distinguish your group by doing things that are rational, and believing things that are true. If you want to set yourself apart from other people, you have to do things that are arbitrary, and believe things that are false.

His argument, albeit too broad, does still have impact on religions. Different religions believe different things, if viewed in their entirety. That is, religions are distinguished by the unique beliefs they possess. Therefore a person from Religion A would not accept the unique beliefs of religions B, C, etc. Therefore those unique beliefs are viewed as false, so the parents in those religions are teaching false ideas to their kids. Of course the person from Religion A believes all their churches beliefs, so they are all seen as true. So that person would reject the authors argument with respect to themselves, but must accept that it is true for others.

So I do agree with some of the underlying problems that he is describing, but he summarizes it very poorly.

QUOTE ( @ May 21 2008, 12:57 AM)

Uh Oh, now we have politics involved..........

Just look at how Obama and Clinton are trying to ddistance themselves from each other, yet they are both "Demorats". My point exactly. The grouping is only a very vague one. With fuzzy borders. Otherwise the parallels are really striking between church and political party.

The dynamics of what happens in a group and between groups is a different topic. I was saying that religion and church are not inherently bad. All they do is group people of similar beliefs. Specific churches may foment or cause bad things, and certainly people in different churches will do very bad things. But specific churches also do much good, and people in many churches do very good things because they belong to their church. One may argue that the human race has move beyond the need for church and religion, and there are better alternatives to achieve similar beneficial results. And maybe that was what you were saying...

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QUOTE (JDave @ May 20 2008, 05:12 PM)

People that get offended by a conflicting opinion need to reconsider their own.

:thumbup: Well said!

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JDave,

I have to say I enjoy reading your posts.

QUOTE (JDave @ May 21 2008, 05:52 PM)

However..... I disagree on part of the sentiment of your text above. I refer to Northern Ireland where segregation of religion (Protestant and Catholic - in conjunction with some political issues) lead to many years of troubling events. If you were to ask a "normal" person on the street in Ireland or Northern Ireland what the difference actually IS between the two faiths, most would not even have been able to give a correct answer. Of course there could well have been trouble without the religious difference, but anyone familiar with the history of Ireland knows that religious segregation played a huge role in the development of the country. The usage of the phrase "unique beliefs" i find fairly misleading and not representative of the real world. It suggests that each and every member of a church has the exact same set of beliefs, something which I am unable to accept.

OTOH, I DO agree that there are some very "good" people doing very admirable work within churches. But there are also many very "good" people doing admirable work independent of churches. There are good people and bad people within and without churches. I'm not aware of any particular church claiming a monopoly on good people, although most do try to present themselves that way.

QUOTE (JDave @ May 21 2008, 05:52 PM)

I was saying that religion and church are not inherently bad.

Of course religion is not inherently bad. It seems to derive from a more or less universal need to fit our understanding of the universe and nature into something simpler. It takes many different forms in different parts of the world, but it often deals with understanding complex things on a simpler, every-day level. There is really nothing wrong with this per se. I dislike it because it veils the true complexity (and seeming randomness) of the real world. This is purely a personal dislike.

Churches, however, are a different story. An idealogical view of churches may see it as an extension of religion, but that's wrong. The reason is that the churches are run by people. People are flawed. Once you are a subject of a church, you're granting people (not a deity) power over you. Assumptions that this power will not be abused is quite naive. That being said, I suppose it's fair to add that the level of corruption (behaviour not motivated by religion or religious belief) within a church is inversely proportional to it's size. There may well be "smaller" churches which retain their theological focus.

The idea that people with other beliefs are in some way inferior or "godless" since they worship a "false" God open the door to a whole plethora of very unreligious actions.

Maybe part of my "problem" (as I'm sure many would see it :P ) is the prevalence of people simply using religion, faith or church as an excuse to do something bad. This cannot be avoided I suppose and leads to the possibility that these "bad things" are not directly provoking the actions. Maybe. Most lilkely actually. Many people take the easiest route when looking to vent off anger at something be it homosexuals, other religions, other nations, C++ programmers.......

In the end, people are people are people. Anything we implement will be flawed because we too are flawed. Religion, church, LabVIEW, politics included.

Pseudo-philosoplical rant ahead:

Our minds consistently try to reduce the universe to something the size of our every-day world. We devise incredibly complex systems in order to help us fit the explanation into a space we can imagine. This is the ultimate example of people fooling themselves on a sub-conscious level. We fool ourselves into thinking that the system we have devised is "true" simply because we can understand it and fully ignore the fact that the system isn't even real. In a way our

basis of "truth" are based on our interpretations, which again are tainted by our less than complete ability to even observe the reality. Something I find fascinating is the ability of certain Savants to see a building once and then draw an almost perfect replica hours later. In some senses, this "virtual reality" filter in their brain is working differently or not at all. For me, Religion is a direct result of this "virtual reality" filter. The necessity to reduce the complex to something we can physically imagine.

Pseudo-philosophical rant finished:

I'm done. I have to get some work done.....

Shane.

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 22 2008, 04:10 AM)

If you were to ask a "normal" person on the street in Ireland or Northern Ireland what the difference actually IS between the two faiths, most would not even have been able to give a correct answer.

I always thought that the segregation was more to do with the personified heads of those churches (the head of the catholic faith being the pope, and the head of the church of England being the reigning monarch - currently Queen Elizabeth II), so it was more to do with the Irish not wanting their religion being controlled who was thought to be their governmental oppresser, as opposed to actual religious standards in the religion. Of course, since the schism, these doctrines of the religions have become different in quite a number of areas. That said, I'm pretty ignorant on the topic.

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QUOTE (crelf @ May 22 2008, 12:47 PM)

Er, no. Ireland was occupied by england for over 800 years during which time their non-"Church of England" citizens (by far the majority) were systematically prejudiced against. It even went so far as outlawing catholic masses. People found attending catholic mass (it was most often carried out outdoors in a secluded area) lead to one of a multitude of punishments, including death. Non- "Church of England" citizens were barred from owning businesses, occupying public office and so on. All of this while the "Church of England" landlords (Lords over stolen land) reaped the benefits of Ireland's agriculture, sending all produce back to England while Irish people starved to death.

After the famine in Ireland during which up to 1.5 million people died of starvation (1.5 Million!), nationalist sentiments became ever more powerful leading up the the forcing of the grounding of the Republic of Ireland as we know it today in the 1920's. The bahaviour of the English rulers at that time bordered on the Genocidal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Potato_Famine' rel='nofollow' target="_blank">Obligitory Wikipedia Link.

To this day, many industries in Ireland (Media for one) are dominated by Protestants. Discrimination is still there, but it's no longer life-threatening.

Shane.

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 22 2008, 09:51 AM)

Ireland was occupied by england for over 800 years during which time their non-"Church of England" citizens (by far the majority) were systematically prejudiced against.

Okay - I *think* that was what I was trying to get at without being anywhere near as eloquent: English overlords (church of England) = bad, Irish citizens (catholics) = good. I'm also interested to hear the differences between the protestant church and the church of England - I always thought that the church of England was one protestant church of many, or does protestant by definition = church of England?

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 22 2008, 06:51 AM)

After the famine in Ireland during which up to 1.5 million people died of starvation (1.5 Million!), nationalist sentiments became ever more powerful leading up the the forcing of the grounding of the Republic of Ireland as we know it today in the 1920's. The bahaviour of the English rulers at that time bordered on the Genocidal.

Makes me want to go home and watch Braveheart again :angry:

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 22 2008, 01:10 AM)

Likewise. I appreciate your insights.

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 22 2008, 01:10 AM)

However..... I disagree on part of the sentiment of your text above. I refer to Northern Ireland . . .

If I understand you correctly, you are stating that doctrinal differences didn't have much of an impact whereas the abuse of church power caused serious problems.

Beliefs of the church and beliefs of the people in the church have a very fuzzy match. The "unique beliefs" I referred to were strictly beliefs of the church. Beliefs of the people are much more fluid. And as you stated, many people don't even understand the differences from one to the next.

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 22 2008, 01:10 AM)

There are some amazing people (like our TALMs) who are self-motivated to do wonderful things. Most people need some sort of encouragement. Charities are an excellent source. Churches are also a great source (but just one of many) for this inspiration to do good things.

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 22 2008, 01:10 AM)

Of course religion is not inherently bad. It seems to derive from a more or less universal need to fit our understanding of the universe and nature into something simpler. It takes many different forms in different parts of the world, but it often deals with understanding complex things on a simpler, every-day level. There is really nothing wrong with this per se. I dislike it because it veils the true complexity (and seeming randomness) of the real world. This is purely a personal dislike.

I can understand that. But doesn't science do much the same thing?

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 22 2008, 01:10 AM)

Definitely not LabVIEW. Good thing you crossed that out. :D

I absolutely agree. Churches are led by people and people mess up. Often they do so on purpose. I think the comparison we have done with politics is very apt. Church and politics are routinely abused to exercise control over people and have certainly caused immense pain and suffering to millions of people. Churches have caused more destruction and oppression than any chess club or theater group ever have. So certainly people should be much more wary of churches, just as they should be of governments. But that does not mean that churches or governments are bad. They are just abused because they are led by humans. Churches are no worse than any particular man-made group, but they do have great potential for abuse. Does that potential outweigh their potential for good? Does government's potential for abuse outweigh it's potential for good?

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 22 2008, 01:10 AM)

Pseudo-philosoplical rant ahead:

. . . In a way our basis of "truth" are based on our interpretations, which again are tainted by our less than complete ability to even observe the reality.

I knew we had some common ground.

QUOTE (JDave @ Apr 17 2008, 11:14 AM)
We all view the world a bit differently, which makes us all a bit wrong. We all change our paradigm and world view as we progress through life, hopefully fixing our incorrect perceptions. So while [others] may be wrong, remember that we are too.

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QUOTE (JDave @ May 22 2008, 05:41 PM)

There are some amazing people (like our TALMs) who are self-motivated to do wonderful things.

I sure can't argue with that! ;)

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QUOTE (JDave @ May 22 2008, 10:41 PM)

Of course it does. Anyhting which is based on observations made by people is bound by the ability to understand.

The difference with Science is that it's not "True". It's accepted theory. Any theory regarded as correct today will, in 100 years, most likely be laughed at. All Scientists (should) know this, and is the reason why science requires proof. Proof may be faulty sometimes (Again based on our limited understanding) but at least it's a factor. There is no "Faith" or "Belief" in science. Opinion yes, but not more. If the same would apply to theological discussions, I believe I'd be pretty much out of arguments.

As an scientist from tha area of instrumentation I need to point out that although instrumental measurements are not bound by our limited understanding, the purpose of the instrument is. We create instruments to measure what we THINK it should measure. Hereby, our minds are possible the weakest link. This is why it's important for scientists to have a good imagination IMO.

QUOTE (JDave @ May 22 2008, 10:41 PM)

Churches are no worse than any particular man-made group, but they do have great potential for abuse. Does that potential outweigh their potential for good? Does government's potential for abuse outweigh it's potential for good?

I don't think it's really a fair comparison. Political leaders are voted in (in most countries at least). They have the purpose to serve the people. The people have a certain amount of control. This is not true of any church I know. I think we're all pretty much agreed that there's quite a lot of corruption in politics. But we at least can keep an eye on it as (ideally) the public holds the power. Whoever makes important decisions within a church doesn't have to answer to their followers.

It's also encouraged to check to see if a politician is correct on any given issue. In most cases, the voters are presented with a choice (how big the differences between choices are is a whole different matter). Anyone can try to get voted in. This is in stark contrast to churches. The voter aspect of any democratic government is designed to reduce corruption. The organisation of a church can only be described as the opposite (Irrespective of whether the corruption is there or not).

Without meaning to offend, I don't think it's very realistic to try to compare the positive benefit to society achieved through politics (Grounding a state, building roads, setting up health care and so on) to that achieved through the church. If there have been some significant benefits to humanity which have been caused by one church or another, please inform me, maybe I'm just ignorant of the fact.

Shane.

PS, what's a TALM?

PPS, @ TobyD. Braveheart was about Scotland. Although Scots and Irish have lsimilar histories, it's a different matter.

PPPS, @crelf. Here's a link about protestantism. It differentiates clearly between different forms of Protestantism (Lutheran, Calvinistic and so on). Isn't Wikipedia great :thumbup:

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 23 2008, 03:02 AM)

I think I know what you're saying, but I don't agree with the way you're saying it. Scientific theories are exactly that - theories. Scientific proofs are indeed true: they started out as theories and were, by their very definition, prooved to be true, and that's why they're not theories anymore - they're proofs. In summary, there is a big difference between accepted theories and proofs - they are two very distinct things and should not be confused.

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 23 2008, 03:02 AM)

PS, what's a TALM?

Totally Awesome LAVA Member

QUOTE (shoneill @ May 23 2008, 03:02 AM)

rel='nofollow' target="_blank">Here's a link about protestantism
. It differentiates clearly between different forms of Protestantism (Lutheran, Calvinistic and so on). Isn't Wikipedia great :thumbup:

It sure is! OK - that confirmed what I was thinking: whilst the troubles in Ireland are often referred to being between the catholics and the protestants, saying they are/were between the catholics and the church of England is more accurate - is that right?

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QUOTE (Gary Rubin @ May 23 2008, 08:47 AM)

In scientific terms, a theory has a higher burden of proof than what most people think of when they hear the word "theory". While I agree with you that theories are not certainties, I think that most non-scientists use the word "theory" to mean "hypothesis". According to the Scientific Method, a theory lies somewhere between a hypothesis and a law.

Thanks so much for the clarification Gary - I sometimes forget that not everyone thinks like me :D

Test HypothesisIF Test = Fail   THEN		alter Hypothesis		GOTO Test Hypothesis   ELSE		Promote Hypothesis to Theory		Proove Theory			IF Proof = Fail				 THEN					  alter Hypothesis					  GOTO Test Hypothesis				  ELSE					  Promote Theory -> Law

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QUOTE (crelf @ May 23 2008, 07:10 AM)

Scientific theories are exactly that - theories. Scientific proofs are indeed true: they started out as theories and were, by their very definition, prooved to be true, and that's why they're not theories anymore - they're proofs. In summary, there is a big difference between accepted theories and proofs - they are two very distinct things and should not be confused.

I have to disagree. The only place you can ever really talk about "proof" in any sort of technical sense is mathematics and that's really applied logic, not science. Nothing in science ever reaches the point of being "proven", just supported by a great deal of evidence. Even that doesn't mean that it's invulnerable: Einstein showed Newton was wrong and someday, we're going to figure out where Einstein was wrong when we manage to explain general relativity and quantum theory.

The problem seems to be that people with ulterior motives like to claim that well-accepted, supported ideas aren't "proven" and then their crazy idea has credence.

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QUOTE (crelf @ May 23 2008, 10:45 AM)

...I sometimes forget that not everyone thinks like me :D

Not everybody is lucky enough to be a physicist ;)

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QUOTE (Gary Rubin @ May 23 2008, 10:49 AM)

Not everybody is lucky enough to be a physicist

Yeah, you poor buggers :D

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QUOTE (crelf @ May 23 2008, 11:38 AM)

Yeah, you poor buggers :D

That would be "those poor buggers".

(How do you do the secret physicist handshake via text? :ninja: )

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QUOTE (shoneill @ May 23 2008, 12:02 AM)

PPS, @ TobyD. Braveheart was about Scotland. Although Scots and Irish have lsimilar histories, it's a different matter.

:oops: Still a great movie though...and obviously it's been way too many years since I've seen it :D

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