Thursday, December 31, 2009

My entire childhood was a lie. What other mysteries of the universe did I miss.

My goodness.








It's true! You really can put up a fight. You really can fight the power. It's not inevitable, it's quite evitable. Perhaps Ray Kurtzweil isn't insane when he says we should live long enough to live forever. My entire view of the world has changed. Reality bends to my will. There is no spoon.

F.

Faith doesn't answer questions.

Very true. Faith is the only option concerning things beyond our current grasp. :)

Very false. Science is the only option concerning things beyond our current grasp.

Make no mistake about this point. Things that have previously been beyond our grasp but are now within our grasp have, without fail or exception, been grasped by science. Every single thing we previously didn't understand and now do understand have come into the folds of our understanding through science.

Never once in the history of the world, in the entirety of things known and unknown, has faith every solved any problem or answered any question great or small sans evidence.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fractals, trees, and palms --- oh my!


Fractals are a great and important insight that is often the way real life maps into mathematics. We owe Mandelbrot deeply for his insight into this realm of mathematics. They really are a fascinating subject and the intersection with natural and self-similar design structure within evolved solutions to real problem are quite important and impressive.







Much of my love for fractals in nature is sort of tweaked by the bits of nature that doesn't use it. Palm trees aren't fractal. The fronds aren't fractal and neither is the trunk. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but there's no part of the tree that looks anything like the entire tree or any other part. I know nature does what works, and palm trees are a very successful species and fractals work in some cases but are not necessary by any stretch. Watching the trees riding in a car, and viewing the self similarities of branch to tree to forest was a somewhat enjoyable way of passing the time. Then I looked at a palm tree and was stopped dead in my tracks. That's not a damned fractal! So annoying.

Monday, December 28, 2009

When life gives you lemons...

"... make lemonade."

Somebody doesn't know the recipe for lemonade. It's equal parts lemon juice and sugar, water to taste. The saying also requires that life gives you sugar in equal proportion to how many lemons you've been given. In which case, it's simply being pessimistic. "When life gives you sugar, make lemonade." Somehow that doesn't sound as deep and symbolic. It sounds like one of many uses for sugar. The reverse claim that life has given you lemons and you mysteriously pull equal amounts of sugar from thin air, is supposed to be somehow deep?

When life gives you lemons, make lemon meringue pie!
When life gives you lemons, make lemon peel candy!
When life gives you lemons, use them as a garnish for alcoholic beverages.

And since we're pulling magical allegorically good ingredients out of thin air, why not just ignore the premise.

When life gives you lemons, eat sugar.
When life gives you lemons, make yourself a sandwich.
When life gives you lemons, listen to people tell you stupid things that they haven't spent very long paying any attention to or they would realize that the premise of being "given lemons" and the obvious sweet flavor and recipe of lemonade requires a magical step of phantasmagorical sugar.


When life gives you lemons... learn to juggle.

It's certainly something you can do with just lemons, I know, I learned to juggle with lemons. And it's certainly something people who have been given proverbial lemons learn to do well.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Nice. Carnival of the Godless 131...

CotG 131: (it mentions me): http://gaytheists.org/?p=821 -- The A in "gay" is fabulous for emphasis (the link seems like a theist site otherwise). For my rather clever work: A modicum of thought. A parable of cards. A look at pascals wager, logic, epistemology, and accepting what you want to be true over what is actually true.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Somebody from the internet actually kinda pissed me off.

That's rare. Usually I look the various people I converse with a sort of distant amusement. I can crush their arguments with absolute ease and wax poetically about fairly obscure notions that necessarily reveal their rather critical mistakes. But, I'm always cool and calm. But, this one actually pissed me off.

In a long exchange involving several points, I noted that minds are sloppy and therefore can make mistakes and often do. He advocated that perhaps that means evolution is false. I pointed out how scientific theories that explain a great amount of evidence are a bit better than guesses and because of the scientific method are of a different quality. The next topic we had discussed was a claim he made that the Discovery Channel was now claiming that the new scientific evidence said the Earth was 7-8 billion years old. I pointed out that the Earth is certainly 4.5 billion years old and that perhaps he misheard and they were talking about the galactic core and did he have a reference for this claim. Then, I was given this chestnut:

Someone else told me the Discovery Channel said that, so I’ll concede that one. Sorry.

That pisses me off. ARG! You... ARG!

I replied:

FFS. Seriously, how much less false crap would you accept as true if you didn't accept second and third hand anecdotal evidence about silly things? I daresay you might not suggest that groggy figments of your imagination and second hand innuendo trumps 150 years of well verified scientific data confirmed by fossil, genetic, morphological, developmental, paleontological, and embryological evidence by a massive collection of some of the worlds greatest scientists if you had a modicum of intellectual honesty or personal reflection. And as a secondary (but personally relevant) effect, I wouldn't want to flay all the skin, tendons, and muscles off my hands right now for their inability to reach through the monitor and punch you.

Witnesses to the Creation.

I guess perhaps the Onion hasn't lost all of it's ability to entertain.

Members of the earth's earliest known civilization, the Sumerians, looked on in shock and confusion some 6,000 years ago as God, the Lord Almighty, created Heaven and Earth.

...

Richard Carrier on Jesus











Thursday, December 17, 2009

Some crackpot sent me a book. Pro-evo'ly.

Yeah, free book from a crackpot. A dead crackpot at that. Tomotom Stifung apparently wants to enlighten me on "pro-evo" thinking and help me to adjust my life towards the cosmic evolution of universe.

http://www.amazon.com/Pro-Evolution-Guideline-Age-Joy/dp/3952251909

He's apparently atheistic and all newagey and denies actual biological evolution because it's "against all odds". This cosmic evolution cannot be the chance evolution of biology, because if it were, then everywhere in the universe would have different laws and forms. However, since everywhere seems to have similar universal laws of physics as Earth, it must be the case that there is universal evolution to the universe. I mean, if biological evolution were possible, then mathematics constants like phi (the golden ratio) wouldn't be the same everywhere.

From this he supposes there are ways to act in favor of this universal force and against this universal force. And acting against it is evil and in favor of it will cause joy. Then he lays out a mediocre worldview couching his agnosticism in terms of pro-evo and his opposition to abortion except to control population, protect the life of the mother. Or that the point of parenting is to raise kids to act in a pro-evo fashion. Or to law, only pro-evo things are the standard for law and its interpretation. Or women, who should in the future be treated equally and should act in a pro-evo manner and support men when they act in a pro-evo manner.

He also gives a great commandment "Steadfastly think and act pro-evo: establish pro-evo goals, tasks and modes of behavior for all areas and in every situation of life - and energetically realize them."

All in all, this book is the the intellectual equivalent of "buy low and sell high, because that's what the universe wants." It might sound good in places but it's entirely pointless and other than defining "pro-evo" as that which furthers your own evolution. We can see what these things are by judging the absolute moral standard. Things are pro-evo and in tune with the other forms if they are "right, good, sensible, and valuable." As if what is right or good or sensible or of value aren't entirely dependent on your sense of rightness, goodness, sensibility, or values. "Do what's right, the universe wants you to, and it will make you happy." So in the future we'll stop dying and AI will come around to save humanity, and it doesn't matter about God so long as you keep doing what is pro-evo.

This great "advice" is absolutely pointless as it is dependent on itself. It's akin to saying "buy low, sell high". Sure, if you did buy low and sell high, you'd make a lot of money. But how can you really figure out what is low and what is high? You can't tell at the time whether this point is the low point or if this point is the high point. You may buy the stock before the floor fell out or sell at the point before the stock skyrockets. You don't know. And without a valid method to actually derive morality this little book is a bunch of pointless nonsense wrapped in the bitter patina of evolution denial, misunderstanding, and new aged nonsense.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ayn Rand was a total crackpot.

In case anybody didn't know that...

http://www.slate.com/?id=2233966

In her 70s Rand found herself dying of lung cancer, after insisting that her followers smoke because it symbolized "man's victory over fire" and the studies showing it caused lung cancer were Communist propaganda. By then she had driven almost everyone away.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

You can't prove that! You have no evidence.

Church burned, paster has good words for arsenists: I hope God kills them.



He almost had it too. I love the good news is that people took the gifts home to wrap. That makes everything better. Lol.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Robert Ingersoll: The damp and dropping dungeons.

I keep using this quote and I keep having to look it up over and over again. Ingersoll is so brilliant that I'm often forced to quote and genuflect from afar. But, for the sake of convenience I check my blog for things that I want to look up. Even if nobody reads the blog, I still use it as a quick reference guide to all the awesomeness I've encountered.

Is it nothing to free the mind? Is it nothing to civilize mankind? Is it nothing to fill the world with light, with discovery, with science? Is it nothing to dignify man and exalt the intellect? Is it nothing to grope your way into the dreary prisons, the damp and dropping dungeons, the dark and silent cells of superstition, where the souls of men are chained to floors of stone; to greet them like a ray of light, like the song of a bird, the murmur of a stream; to see the dull eyes open and grow slowly bright; to feel yourself grasped by the shrunken and unused hands, and hear yourself thanked by a strange and hollow voice?
Is it nothing to conduct these souls gradually into the blessed light of day -- to let them see again the happy fields, the sweet, green earth, and hear the everlasting music of the waves? Is it nothing to make men wipe the dust from their swollen knees, the tears from their blanched and furrowed cheeks? Is it a small thing to reave the heavens of an insatiate monster and write upon the eternal dome, glittering with stars, the grand word -- FREEDOM?

Robert Ingersoll, Thomas Paine, http://www.thomaspaine.org/bio/ingersoll1870.html

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Damn spammers. Brief hopes that somebody loves me...

... dashed by enlarged penises and weight loss creams.

The Evolution of Candy.

In one more vain attempt to get people to understand evolution:

Imagine you have a bowl of candy and every day one a few pieces of candy from the bowl duplicate. Now if people ate candy out of this bowl and after a while what would happen? Well, interestingly it depends on the candy people prefer, if you really like skittles but you hate granola bars, then you'll eat the skittles and avoid the granola bar. As a consequence of this "predation" the skittles would be less likely to be that candy to duplicate as there would be fewer skittles in the bowl. Also the granola bars would be eaten far less often and as a consequence of nobody really liking them would become the dominate "population" in the candy bowl. If you ate the best candy, you'd end up with a population overwhelmingly made up of the least editable candy. If you "culled the herd" and ate only the worst candy in order to make sure the population of candy would all be of very good tasting candy, you'd be engaging in artificial selection. This is how we have giant cows and sheep with lots of fluffy wool. We have only allowed the best individuals to breed and the most wanted individuals to propagate and allowed the least desirable animals to die off without "duplicating" (reproduction).

Now, imagine if rather than a pure duplication you have a imperfect duplication only slightly though. You might end up with a slightly larger or smaller candy bar, you might end up with more nuts or fewer nuts, you might have a larger bag of skittles or smaller bag. You might have more green skittles than blue skittles. And these subtle mutations could occur every once in a while. Even if the most common one was a bit of a wonky candy bar or a messed up M&M. Then what would happen if you ate the ones you liked?

Not only would you end up with your least favorite candy you might end up with the smallest candy that looked ugly or reminded you puke or if you were inclined to eat many because they were small, you might end up with the candy getting large in order to sate your appetite with one sacrifice rather than enduring the death of several individuals. If you were to breed the candy for your liking. You could end up with bags filled with a single giant bright green skittle to the point that they don't even look much like skittles anymore. You could bread a second population of millions of tiny red skittles over the course of a long period of time. And while bags of tiny red skittles and giant green could seem like completely different candy, they would have descended from a common ancestor.

At what point are such things evolving? Make no mistake, this hypothetical candy bowl is evolving. Is it when you "naturally select" the candy? Is it when they duplicate? It's the entire process. In humans there are more subtle ways of changing and differences and rather than you eating candy we are faced with the prospect of the uncaring reality of organisms in the struggle for existence dying of disease, famine, and being devoured. But, like the candy, whatever is best suited towards survival is the most likely to survive and pass it's genes off to the next generation.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hm, we might be in trouble...

The Earth would fall down to the earth if it was on earth.
Mars doesn't have life but it would be possible, so why haven't we found it.
Chris Angel uses jin (genie) to help make his magic.
... this is about where I stopped watching. It was too disruptive to my denialism about God.






Sunday, December 6, 2009

A modicum of thought. A parable of cards.

Imagine you are a member of a group of about ten people and everybody is given a card which is placed on their head so that they can see the card. These cards are going to have at most one black card and all the rest of the cards are white. The object of the game is to find the black card. When you do, you will be given a trillion dollars. If you choose the wrong card, you're out one dollar. If it's your card, you need to wait until the attending people return.

Now, everybody is been given their card. The big reveal! Everybody sits looking around the room, at everybody else's cards. You notice that everybody else's card is white. So then your card must be the black card! What luck! You barely give up anything if you guess wrong and if you guess right you get a trillion dollars. And you can rule out everybody else's card so, aren't you that much more likely to be correct? I mean they can't rule out the card on their head but you can! Why aren't they choosing your black card then? Shouldn't it be obvious that you're is the correct card? Shouldn't they have chosen by now? Isn't the fact nobody is choosing your card evidence that your card isn't the correct card? Why should it be your card, I mean it's not like you chose it, it was chosen for you. You ponder these doubts for a while, shoving them down each time they rear their head. It's a trillion dollars after all!

Isn't there at least a one in a trillion shot chance that everybody else at the table is blind and can't see a black card plain as day? Then aren't you losing nothing by choosing your own card. I mean, if you chose correctly you get a trillion dollars and if you choose wrongly, you'll have to clock out five minutes later when you go to work next Sunday. I mean, you've got everything to gain and nothing to lose.

One person at the table starts shouting: "None of the cards are black. You would have chosen by now. If somebody had the right card, everybody else would have thrown their cards to the ground by now. We've been sitting at this table for millennium!"

"What a blind moron!", you think to yourself. He doesn't see your card is clearly black.

Another person at the table chimes in, "You're wrong sir, my card is clearly black. I know that it must be the black card because all of your cards are white."

You can see his card is white, but you've liked what he's said to this presumptuous rabblerouser.

"Here-Here!" another man shouts.

"You can't see the black card unless you have the black card!" shouts a third man.

A Hah! That's clearly the case. That explains everything! That's why these people can't see your card is black! You can taste that money now. You didn't hear that as a rule, but it would explain the situation perfectly. I mean, what's the purpose of all of this if none of the cards are black? Wouldn't it be terrible if nobody got the trillion dollars!

Why is this brash, rude, arrogant man doing attacking you. You don't have to take this, you're a flipping trillionaire. Mentally you already have this money spent. This jackass wants to steal your constellation of castles, your bevy of beauties, your silo of gems. This wicked, evil, know-it-all wants to remove from the mouths of the hungry the charitable donations you'll make, he wants people to suffer the diseases you'd cure with that funding, he wants you poor and miserable. He wants to take away your hope. He want's to deprive you of your purpose.

Why is he maligning you in such a terrible way? Why doesn't he see that your card is the correct one and just collect the money? Does he hate your card or the money? Did somebody hurt him? Doesn't he know you can't see the card unless you have the card? What a deluded fool! These other men, though, they have white cards are ripping into this fool for being such a deluded brute who knows nothing of the secret rules of the game... good on them! They maybe wrong and will probably end up without any money if they don't choose your card soon, but they at least know how to put such an intolerant know-it-all in his place.

"Why would you get a trillion dollars for picking a card?", the inept blowhard asks quizzically? "What evidence do we have that there's any money at all!" "Where's the evidence? I mean we're in a pretty run down building, is this the kind of place people have when they trillion dollars laying around?"

"Shut-up", a young woman shouts! "Clearly they saved a lot of money in order to have the trillion dollars to give us, they love us that much."

"Yeah!", the rest agree.

The arrogant man, finally gives up, he throws his white card to the ground and leaves to room to go home and spend time with his family. What a fool, he was a few feet from a trillion dollars. The fool says in his heart, there's no black card. What an idiot!

When you finally get to see your card, what color do you think it'll be? Should you choose your card? I mean it is a trillion dollars after all!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Firefly Redemption



I had managed to play the first section with the shiny firefly-speak, but then due to sluggishness it wanted to buffer, so I paused it and went to check something in another room so it could buffer. When I got back, my sister was in my room staring very very intently at the screen. And to be fair, it made me feel a bit giddy to watch it, and embarrassed by the geekiness of the whole thing. It would be like the difference between watching a scifi epic like Avatar or watching it in costume (I'm uncommitted about Avatar, it might suck and just have some good hype). Giddy over a movie = geeky. Giddy over a b made for fans non-profit movie = geeky while in costume.