Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Idea of the Day: BMI no, actuary table yes

BMI is plagued with issues like being completely stupid and not giving a very accurate portrayal of health. Whereas actuary tables give a pretty good metric of how healthy you probably are.

Rather than apply some retarded formula that doesn't actually have much in the way of useful information. What is my chance of death at this weight vs. my chance at death 30 pounds lighter? Nobody could argue the information is worthless, nobody could argue that the statistics are useless, and nobody could have little nuanced claims like BMI doesn't reflect the massive changes in health for losing even a little weight. Poof.

Admittedly you can't give them in units like 1.3% chance of death vs 1.2% chance of death here. You'd need to invent a different standard of give them a number which isn't their chance of death but looks a bit better.

I recommend:
((Chance of Death) - (Optimal Chance of Death at that height/age)) * 1000

So if you're at 0 or around 0 your fatness isn't going to make you die faster. If you want a better reading feed in more data. We have statistics for chance of death considering muscle mass et al.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mountians have roots. Float like icebergs.

Most mountains float in the ground like icebergs.

Honestly, that's what geology is down to. Picture solids like really really slow fluids.

James Randi on Counterfeit Detector Pens

Worth a watch. The pens detect starch so treated paper will turn black whereas any untreated paper won't. Unless they use white printer paper it's going to be obvious.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Atheists in the Military

Apparently they exist, and are treated like crap.*

Don't you hate it when you come across something like atheists in the military and think... Oh, I'll blog about that... but the actual article is so boring that you have nothing to say.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Idea of the Day: nuclear bullets

Making a nuclear bomb is rather easy all you need is to bring some uranium to critical mass by smashing together some sub-critical uranium. Shooting the two into each other and pressurizing a center by TNT explosions are two good methods (in fact they were used for the 1945 bombs dropped on Japan). So with the higher grade uranium you can cause a nuclear explosion by dropping two pieces together. Well, if you managed to get some very high grade nuclear material at just below a critical mass you could plate it with lead and use them as bullets. Smashing it into something hard could cause it to go supercritical. It would be plausible to make bullets which cause nuclear explosions.

You can't get far enough away to not be vaporized.
You can't get any uranium that high grade (at the very least you shouldn't be able to, and we should probably spend a lot of time making sure).
I'm probably wrong.

I've also come to realize that the force needed to launch the bullet initially should also perhaps make it go critical and detonate inside the gun. It would require a soft acceleration, much like one could accomplish via gravity and simple dropping out of an airplane. Although, railgun-like launches would also be feasible.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If God is Dead, Who Gets His House.

New York Magazine has a pretty good article on atheism and atheist churches, a pretty good read.

Update: Classic comment.

Theology teaches us that the purest "proof" of God exists in our relationships to one another, specifically in the form of communities, and, ideally, the world-community as a whole. The idea that atheists are somehow "independent" is of course silly. We, the species, depend upon one another in every single aspect of our lives. It's what makes us different from the animals. If, as seems to be the case, we are animals who build churches and worship a common good - call it what you will - why so much resistance to the idea that love is the universal standard, and that the greatest, universal love is God? Call me crazy (and they will) but it seems to me the atheists want to have their cake and eat it too - they want all the good stuff of religion - morality, meaningfulness, etc - without having to name or examine the standard by which they determine anything to be "good." But, as a theist, I'm obviously stupider than they, and so will keep my sheep-like mouth shut.

So silly. Atheism is not a philosophy or a paradigm or a worldview: it is the absence of belief. Good luck with forming a "movement" out of that.

ADUDE: Your examples of the "good stuff of religion": morality, meaningfulness, etc make me laugh. Religidiots take their cues from God Allsmitey, whether they're burning witches, rousting out Jews, or flying airplanes into buildings. Some morality!

Also your promise to keep your ovine mouth shut -- AFTER you've blathered your hooey -- suggests a Christian-level of stoopidity.

Religidiots take their cues from God Allsmitey! That line alone made it all worth my time, so stolen!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Victory For Clinton! Now she REALLY needs to give up.

Honestly, ain't no math says she can do it. Up maybe 10 delegates isn't digging her out of the hole. No more big prizes left and she's up shit creek without a paddle.

Update: Clinton about 9% netting about 10 delegates. That makes her win shift the count such that Obama has 1490 pledged to Clinton's 1337 with 231 to 255 supers. So, Obama 1721 and Clinton 1592... 129 delegate hole. With 716 left 129 is 18%, of the remaining delegates she needs 60%. 43% are super delegates. If that breaks roughly even makes her need about 80%+ of the vote in the remaining elections of which most she is certain to lose. With realistic counts on the voting she'd need about 90% of the supers who probably wouldn't upset the pledged count.

My only objection to the God Delusion.

One part of the God Delusion asks that we be amazed that somewhere in our body is an atom of Oliver Cromwell's bathwater. Another part asks us to be amazed that there is not an atom of our being that was in us when we were a kid is in us today.

I call shenanigans. I don't have something of me from when I was a kid, but I have some of Oliver Cromwell? My ass. Some of my water could have been expelled gone around the planet and be in me again today.

There's a lot of atoms in me, a lot, clearly the latter statement is flawed or the former. If the laws of statistics gives me an atom of Oliver Cromwell it gives me an atom of me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

National Drug Testing Day

On the 20th I pointed out the acclaim of 420 which actually holds a pretty strong following in drug culture. I don't do drugs, I don't drink, et al. However, I firmly believe that Marijuana should be legal and strongly support Barney Frank's bill in congress to that end (legal 3oz, legal 1oz transfer not for profit). I think a number of people are quick to lump marijuana into an all-drugs libertarian argument and I feel that that is a mistake. I think there are some arguments which are exceedingly strong in favor of legalizing harmless drugs whereas harmful drugs have significantly weaker arguments. I think that marijuana should be perfectly legal whereas other drugs should result in treatment.

God doesn't exist! Everything is permitted.

As society decays into a mass of people doing immoral things due to the lack of divine guidance all things will become legal.

As single folks are not going to be able to trump the immoral behavior of other single people, we should form bands in order so that we are the mightiest group.

Now, it stands to reason that there will be other large bands of people and going to war with them would be costly for ourselves and themselves so we should best avoid each other. As hostile actions from my group will cause the other group to respond in kind, hostile actions must be kept to a minimum.

Further, as I don't want to be killed and other people won't want to be killed we should probably avoid the murdering of people. This will also allow for the threat of murder to be more successful. Pirates, for example, would let you go if you surrendered so this sort of kindness without laws has historical parallels.

There's little point in stealing a lot of stuff if I cannot be secure in keeping it. Why steal something that somebody else is going to steal again. At the very least within the group stealing and murder must be abolished. Further, other groups are not to be attacked and merging with other groups or treaties with other groups should be established and maintained.

Without God we'll descend into chaos... and necessarily form the exact same structures we formed before.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy 420!

I'm astounded that so many people celebrate Hitler's birthday. Mostly amongst the youth. Something foul is afoot.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Barack Obama... he's bigger than Jesus.

We know from bare statistics and clear proclamations that John Lennon (and the Beatles) were bigger than Jesus. Now, we're starting to get evidence that Barack Obama is bigger than Lennon. We can tell this because Julia Sweeney replaced her "Imagine No Religion" bumper sticker with a Barack Obama sticker, as she noted on her blog on April 15th.

Clearly by the transitive property if John Lennon > Jesus and Barack Obama > John Lennon therefore Barack Obama > Jesus.

In other news, Julia Sweeney has a blog... and it's remarkably good.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Faith is better than shitting yourself.

One day I walked to the store and on the way back I was struck with diarrhea and shit my pants. Not too much you can do about that. However, while in the bathroom cleaning up for a long period of time, my sister came by and suggested that I should 'finish masturbating' and get out of the bathroom. I was briefly stunned but realized the stigma of being accused of masturbation was rather minimal compared to the truth so I decided to not contradict the error; that's a lot like the truth behind faith.

When people claim to have faith they are often lying. They have reasons to believe what they believe, they simply realize that those reasons are horrifically bad and it is far better to claim that it boils down to faith. At a certain point, claiming to have faith is far better than exposing the real reasons you believe something. So what lies below the faith threshold? What are those reasons embarrassing enough to warrant everything "boiling down to faith":

* Belief because you were raised to believe.
* Belief because your family or community believes and you want to avoid being shunned.
* Belief because you're afraid of your own mortality.
* Belief because you confuse universal emotions with divine providence.
* Belief because it is more socially acceptable.
* Belief because you're afraid of hell.

When the reasons you *actually* hold that belief are far worse than the exalted "virtue" of faith it seems amazingly reasonable to opt for the excuse. Unlike the former reasons, which are shot down with amazing ease, nobody can really raise an objection to "faith". Well, other than pointing out that it's an epistemological crock of shit that is acceptable for no other context and should be grounds for being committed. Rather, that would be the case if faith weren't simply a sham which just so happens to have more credibility than reality.

Given the choice between submitting the true reasons you believe something ridiculous and having the underpinnings of that beliefs you want to hold knocked out from under you with trivial ease, exposing that a core part of your world view is built up as a house of cards, or claiming to possess the exalted socially accepted virtue of faith. It isn't surprising people opt for the latter. Faith is a silly concept and, in reality, is just mental masturbation but it is far better than the reality: you're shitting yourself.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Herding Cats!

Lasers. I'm just saying, people say "that's like herding cats". Anybody played with a laser and a cat? You can make that cat go anywhere. They chase that sucker anywhere.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Curing Autism?

I watched the Comedy Central 2008 Night of Too Many Stars benefit for autism education and was repeatedly confused as a number of people commented about "curing autism". This repeatedly struck me as odd. First, I don't think you can cure autism it's a developmental condition. Second, I don't know if it is a good idea. I understand those on the far side of the spectrum are often times closed off from the world but it seems an odd desire that people be open to the world. I don't see too much reason to demand this interaction with the world of people. There seems to be a remarkable desire among neurotypicals to share things. Capital of Spain. First three digits of pi. Favorite movie. Just saying these things makes me eagerly jump in with the answer. What if people lacked that motivation? They'd seem pretty closed off, what if they never forced these interactions or honed these skills (or picked them up like they are second nature)? I don't think Autism is wrong or really needs curing. Seems like they probably think differently and I'm not sure we're correct equating different with wrong.

Ps. Vaccines don't cause autism... if you picked this up somewhere forget it. It's beyond idiotic. *pokes nutters with stick*

Update: Some have commented that my comments about not fixing autism are due in part to my own anti-social tendencies. I am however, in no way autistic, I'm a loser. There's a rather massive difference. I highly recommend this piece on Wired about the subject.

Monday, April 14, 2008


For those of you who don't read Pharyngula, I found this all by myself. For those who do, yeah, he borrowed it from me retroactively. For those who don't believe that, yeah I stole it.

Best License Plate Ever

Honestly, I don't need to see all the other license plates to know this is the best. It is unable to be improved upon by anybody/anything.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Just to recap.

Stress makes you hate atheists and think their philosophy is dangerous.
Tired makes you fantasize about sniper fire.
Drunk makes you hate those f*cking jews!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Monique Davis apologizes stress caused her anti-atheist bigotry

Well if booze makes Gibson hate Jews, why not?

I'm sure stress can make you lash out at people... but honestly Shermer was there to talk about how the Illinois government can't give a million dollars to a church to build a church.

Atheism and Bad Statistics

You know, it's wrong when any group makes crap up... or at the very least smudges the numbers.

Okay, the numbers are actually there but there are strong objections on two points, prisons and marriage.

The prison statistic is a self-declared note. Atheists make up 8-16% of US population and only 0.209% of the prison population. Well, those stats aren't completely wrong. In fact, a 2006 Harris poll could be read to clock atheist at 27% of the population. If 73% of the population believes in God, then the remaining 27% don't and are thusly atheist (even if only 11% say they don't believe in God). Now, this is how the study screws up, and how many studies screw up. Taking a look at the recent Pew study. We see that those unaffiliated people claiming atheism was 1.6% with agnosticism at 2.4% and nothing in particular at 12.1%. Largely almost everybody in that unaffiliated grouping is an atheist, in the true meaning of the word... however, about 10% of atheists actually admit to atheism. There is a massive gap between declared atheists and atheists. One of the side effects of being simply a lack of belief is that a person can be an atheist even if they don't know what it is or want to be one.

Now look at the prison stats again and consider for a moment that parole boards like religion, your fellow inmates are largely religious, religions provide protections in prison, and atheists are the most hated minority in the US. Now, take into account that many atheists are better educated and your average criminal is more poorly educated. Further, consider that blacks make up a larger percent of the prison population than the general population (and crime rate) and that blacks are largely more religious. On top of this, realize the entire fucking thing is asking you to assume that correlation implies causality! Maybe atheists are just better criminals and don't get caught? There are too many problems with this stat to give it a second thought. I would be very interested in a real set of statistics on this point. In the mean time, this stat should be disregarded with prejudice.

Marriage is another stat I wish people would stop tossing around. That stat is fully explained by the age of atheists. It turns out that the 18-24 range of population is quite atheistic. Looking at the statistics over time they aren't getting any more religious.

As the atheist population ages they don't seem to be finding religion (in fact, no religion is one of the largest religious groups and has some of the best retention of any of the groups). The 18 year old atheists of today will be the 25 year old atheists of 7 years from now (while padding the numbers as previous believers who fall away). This provides a rather bottom heavy group of atheists. So, when you ask a bunch of people their religion and whether or not they are divorced you find that the atheists haven't been divorced nearly as much as the other religious groups... because they haven't been married as long or lived as much. They are a bunch of kids! Adjusting for such seems to make that stat go away. Further, consider the increased educational attainment and income. Not to say it isn't true, just that the statistics don't seem bear this out.

It turns out that people who care to learn what is and isn't true do better in life in a plethora of ways and end up finding out that religion is bunk. Pretty much all the stats flow from this. There's nothing about atheism that makes people more moral (or less moral).

If I had to venture a guess, I daresay that there something about good moral people and the truth.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Amazingly Good Al Gore Ted Talk

"Junkies find veins in their toes when the ones in their arms and their legs collapse."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Science in Fifteen Words

Global Warming: We are polluting the atmosphere with heat trapping gases according to statistics and basic science.

Evolution: Sometimes screw-ups help. Evolution preserves anything that helps an organism compete with its species brethren.

Big Bang: Galaxies are flinging apart have been for 12 billion years, multiple independent lines of evidence.

Ghosts: If there is no reason to suppose something exists then it isn't supposed to exist.

Souls: If there is no reason to suppose something exists then it isn't supposed to exist.

Gods: If there is no reason to suppose something exists then it isn't supposed to exist.

Aliens: 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 is a big number. Space is too big to come here to molest cows.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm scared enough, you can steal my booty.

You are a pirate!

Rep. Monique Davis (D), ignorant, bitch.

Monique Davis of the Illinois General Assembly.

Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy -- it’s tragic -- when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school. I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know? I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous--

Lincoln was quite likely an atheist and born in Kentucky. Further, why fight for prayer in school... forced prayer to God for all people. Voluntary prayer still and always legal.

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Guns? Nutty Christians?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Atheism isn't a philosophy it's a statement of the obvious. Atheism is the noises reasonable people in the presence of unreasonable religious beliefs.

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court---

Gimme a zinger.

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

Destroying? Oy. She's as stupid as she is stupid.

Monday, April 7, 2008

In practice and theory...

In theory there is no difference between practice and theory, in practice there is.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Silly judgment against Phelps going forward

A while back the father of a soldier, who died in Iraq, sued and won a judgment against the Phelps family for picketing their funeral. Now a judge has issued a lien on their church and law offices.

This should not only be reversed the Snyders should probably be hit with a lot of lawyer fees (which the Phelps all being lawyers are going to make a lot on). You can't sue somebody for doing something perfectly legal on public property. Not only legal but protected by the first amendment as the most protected form of free speech.

Sure, the Phelps are horrible little trolls but that doesn't make them wrong. They are perfectly within their rights and their actions are absolutely legal. Suing them because you later saw some picket signs on the news is beyond silly.

(via Pandagon)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Comments about global warming.

The argument that because no other single theory hat explains the recent global temperature increase has found widespread accpetance in the scientific community means that anthropogenic global warming is true does not appear to follow scientific logical deduction to me.

The actual note isn't that no other single theory has found acceptance rather it's saying that there is global warming brought on by polluting the atmosphere with heat trapping gases which fully explains the warming being experienced, whereas no other alternative theories exist. The point isn't that other theories don't work therefore let's default to this. Rather greenhouse pollution explains the global warming and nothing else provides so much as a plausible mechanism.

All this appears to mean is that the mechanisms for global and regional climate change are poorly understood by our current science. Without arbitrary assumptions and deletions of significant but poorly understood factors of the climate, AGW does not come close to matching the data we do have.

To the contrary, the data fits amazingly well and if there's any shortcomings it's in predicting the secondary amplification effects. Our direst guesses have thus far been naive in underestimating the effects.

Scients are equally impaired in explaining past global climate changes other than the apparent general consensus that they were natural instead of anthropogenic. It appears that science just doesn't understand enough to be really sure what has caused any global climate changes either now or in the past.

Nothing about ignorance somewhere demands ignorance anywhere. By physics we know that CO2 is going to trap heat, we are releasing a massive amount crushing the previous records and putting it well above 300ppm. This should trap a large amount of heat. The entire planet is getting warmer. -- We have a simple easy to understand mechanism which fully explains what we are seeing and we have no other scientifically accepted theory which comes close. So, what should we conclude? One fully explains what we are seeing and nothing else does. Sure, there could be a something else, but doesn't that mean we're wrong on the basic physics part of greenhouse effect?

Previous heating events were way WAY slower. They were on the order of thousands of years rather than a decade, a decade we just happened to put massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Also, it's not like this science is newly minted, it's been well understood for decades.

A 1958 film on the question. 6 billion tons of Carbon Dioxide! -- I wish.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Skeptical Inquirer Conclusion on Global Warming

I know, it seems pretty random but it's such a great ending to a good piece they had a bit back that I feel I need to reference point. Also, I've been slacking on my blogging.

No scientist to date has made a strong case (i.e., one supported by a large number of his colleagues who publish in the refereed journals) for any observation(s) or mechanism(s) that can explain the current rapid global-warming trend by invoking natural causes. Arguments for solar forcing, for forcing by internal modes of the climate system (natural processes that operate within the Earth system itself), and for the urban heat-island effect, have either failed to offer hard evidence or have been completely discredited. Nor do Earth's long-duration, quasi-periodic, dynamical motions explain the current rapid temperature rise.
In contrast, global warming forced by a growing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, is based on sound science that refers to a mechanism that is well understood and universally accepted by the scientific community. Models that incorporate this and many other known processes support this conclusion, and the models themselves, while still in need of improvement, are becoming increasingly reliable for making global predictions.
The probability is extremely high that human-generated greenhouse gases, with carbon dioxide as the major offender are the primary cause of well-documented global warming and climate change today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Aunt's Old Orphanage

Oddly enough my Aunt's orphanage is still around (she died in 2003). Apparently saving kids through Jesus. *sigh*

Looking at the stats of religion, as quick as the west loses adherents the gains still look positive because if you tell bored starving folks to accept Jesus they apparently do and you can inflate your numbers a bit more.