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Life is a mystery

Life is a deep mystery. I feel, as Alan Watts expressed, amazed to find myself living on this little rock called Earth, orbiting around an ordinary star among billions in the galaxy, on the edge of a very ordinary galaxy in a universe of billions of such galaxies. How did I get here? Will the essence of who I am continue to exist when my body has died and decayed away? I don’t know. Religions say they have the answer to such questions, but really, all they offer is a guess, stated with much confidence, and a command that I must believe. I don’t know, and I am certain that nobody else knows. If life continues after death, there is only one way to find out, and that is to find out for yourself by dying. But, if I die and there is nothing else, then I will never know. If I die and there is something else, perhaps it is less desirable than the life I have now. There is no guarantee that the next life, if there is one, will be better than this one. If it is true that credulous belief in unproven and unprovable assertions is a prerequisite to a good afterlife, then for sure I will not be enjoying the next one. If it is true that seeking after truth, with an open and inquiring mind, applying logic and reason is the surest pathway to hell, then I am indeed hellbound.

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St. Augustine on Curiosity ***

There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity... It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.

- St. Augustine

***10/5/2013 - Note: this is probably a misquote, for the purpose of defaming St. Augustine.  I published it without any research as to its veracity, and I regret it.  He is a revered figure in Christianity and western culture, and whether we subscribe to his philosophy and views or not, everyone deserves at least to be described accurately. - James Carr.

'Cause I'm the Tax Man

What's next? Is nothing sacred in this world?

From BBC:

Sweden targets strippers for tax

Sweden's tax authorities are seeking the bare facts about webcam strippers' income, estimating that hundreds of Swedish women are dodging the law.

The search involves tax officials examining websites that feature Swedish strippers, in an effort to identify them and chase them for tax returns.

The tax loss is estimated at about 40m Swedish kronor (£3.3m) annually.

Project leader Dag Hardyson said 200 Swedish strippers had been investigated so far. He said the total could be 500.

"They are young girls, we can see from the photos. We think that perhaps they are not well informed about the rules," said Mr Hardyson, head of the tax authority's national project on internet trade.

The investigation into strippers is part of a wider tax project that includes online poker and fake trader locations.

Detective work

Mr Hardyson told BBC News that the strippers could be liable to pay ab…