Monday, December 31, 2007

Dance Monkeys Dance.

I think I never bothered to post this. Sorry for the oversight. I'll dig up a copy of all our base soon too.

Town gets phone prefix changed....

Town finally succeeded in getting their phone prefix changed from 666.

Can I get one?

Poetry: Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes. But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow I'll sit at the table When company comes Nobody'll dare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen" Then.

Besides, they'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed,--

I, too, am America.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Will cook for brains.

I have had a passing interest in human evolution ever since I became human (don't ask). Well, it seems as though the link between cooking and brain size has become less speculative. Not that it was that bad anyhow, it's simply a bit more obvious.

There seems to be a rather massive shift in human evolution about 1.8 million years. Certainly adaptations for running, taller, less muscle bound, secondary adaptations. Probably all kicked off from fire.

Fire allows cooking. Cooking gives more calories from typically inedible food. Less muscles are needed. Running with improved calories and bipedalism becomes improved strategy for scavenging and for running down prey (you could chase an animal until it can't run marathon style). Hairlessness evolves as to improve sweating ability and regulate heat better for running and existence in the savanna, downside of freezing at night countered by shelter and fire. Humans then are quite efficient. Able to hunt successfully and have a much more broad range of possible foods and do not require large digestive tracts or half a face of muscles to chew (don't let a chimp bite your finger). This extra time, allows humans to sit around the camp fire solving sodukos and jumbles, until their brains got big.

Okay, needs a bit better picture for that last step. Having the resources to do well in many climates why an absolutely massive brain? No other improvement rendered any greater survival rates? Socialization significantly advantageous? Prediction of resources? Necessity to replicate the acts of making tools and fire? Need for complex language to help describe the processes required? Our brains do largely differ in our mirror neuron systems so we are more able to replicate and learn by seeing the acts of others. Needed success in a new arms race between groups, required intelligence to accelerate the evolution of tools and strategies?

Or, if one is to believe the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis, all this research is just poppycock and the truth has something vague to do with water.

Don't push, really, it takes forever and you can't stop.

Put The Big Red Button on your site

Lacking content, must steal interesting content from Scientia Natura

Ah, content...

Christmas went well. No complaints. Didn't get a watch. Must now kill family, buy watch, or fix the watch I have. Got stuff I wanted and didn't know I wanted. Playing around some more on getting less shiny.

Argued a couple times on "In God We Trust" being unconstitutional. Lost once, won twice.

I think I could have won a debate that the Bible was infallible (not not infallible). But, all the typical Christian voters were probably pushed away when I made a comment about how stupid anybody would be for believing any lick of this argument. *sigh*. I won a few arguments against a crazy person.

Fun. Still alive. Cold (for some reason Southern Cali is chilly / I know the rest of the States are frozen but nippy isn't typical).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas presents.

I got:

A nice jacket.
A 4 gig thumb drive.
Keychain flashlight.
The Quotable Atheist.
Lava lamp.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Xmas.

And remember, keep the Christ out of Xmas. Geez, it's Xmas enough of your religion crap! Crickey!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Morality and IP

David Pogue recently lamented the moral divide of digital rights between the generations. Noticing that his shades of gray style debate goes plunk when it applies to the younger generation. For outright movie download instead of paying for it he managed to get only 2 out of 500 students to say that that is wrong.

Cry me a river!

The laws and morality in people's heads does not include corporations. They aren't people and people do not think of them as people. So, it seems as though information should always be free... but if you want to make a penny on it you can't unless you own the property rights. Seriously, rather than asking them about if they think downloading copyrighted material is acceptable, toss in a question about selling downloaded media and see the objections flow. The only rights to sell the material is reserved for the artists.

As these youngsters age, the media industry is in for a painful shock. In the morality of youth, they are worthless, they are over-glorified dvd-burners. The argument that artists and the makers of entertainment will crumble and die is silly. All the money to be made off such media belongs to the artists and nobody has a right to make money from the artists material without the artists say so. This right completely respected and somebody should figure out a way to make the art pay.

This is actually largely a greater view of artist rights than the current legal rights. Money is only to be made by the owners and so long as no money is changing hands, information is free. This is hardly the nightmare imagined. This is beyond the nightmare imagined by the companies who take the media and sell the media as it stands.

This is certainly no where close to where the law is set up. However, if applied universally it would protect the rights of the artists and completely wreck the media companies whose job is largely to charge 15 dollars for something any teenager can make for 10 cents.

As the law stands, it isn't allowed, but in the moral sense the prohibition against sharing is non-existent (within current youth morality) whereas the prohibition against making money off somebody else's work without the owner getting a fair share is iron-clad. The logic goes something along the lines of, I would not pay for this so I won't pay for this. Either way, they aren't getting my money. If there's any money to be given it doesn't go to "they" it goes to the artists.

Faceless corporations are seen as non-moral agents. Sharing is not viewed as wrong. Profit is viewed as evil, if benefiting non-artist entities. Some people advocate the destruction of the media industries, an end to the MPAA and RIAA, as a sort of freedom movement for the artists. These are the faceless corporations taking money from the artists and from the people. They are the epitome of immoral. They do not let the information be free, they do not share, and they do not give all the money made to the artists.

Unless people realize that the younger generation doesn't consist of immoral information thieves who want to steal albums, movies, and media, but rather have an entirely different moral zeitgeist which differs from the law in critical ways, they are going to fail to properly adapt. I understand that they have the law on their side and have been doing well for a long time. However, as far as the main cash-cow of information distribution... I'm sorry but the next generation is going to start downsizing your industry and outsourcing it all over the world to people who work for free.

If you can find a way to deliver media to people without the corporations and the profits going to the artists. Like Itunes without any bother with DRM and the money going right to the artists. You'd have the core of the market for the next generation. When information is free, selling it isn't much of an industry. However, there's certainly a silver lining... if you rock people will gladly give you money so long as some corporation doesn't take a cut. -- Not sure how you can make money off this new world... unless you're an artist, and really... that ain't bad.

Atheist Experience: Best Video Ever

Why don't you die if the sun goes down?

Will Smith: Good actor, and right about Hitler... for the most part

Will Smith commented that "Hitler was a good person" and is probably going to take some flake for it. Though, from the actual comments he didn't actually say that.

He says, "Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'Let me do the most evil thing I can do today'.

"I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming."

Well, yeah, though he was twisted and wanted to kill the Christ-killers and antisemitic hate was pretty much ready and willing for authority to come by and control it, having been left over from the dark ages (when the church controlled everything and everybody believed in God). There was a lot of hate floating around. I don't actually think, and nor does anybody else, that Hitler was trying to do evil.

Hitler wasn't good, but he probably thought he was.

Spoon benders.

What's so sad, is it's exactly like that.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holy crap. Dr. Corbett is a riot.

Seriously, where was this guy when I was in school. I loved my teachers, but this is over the top good. I'm reading through the complaint and am stunned over and over again by how witty and on the ball this guy is.

"Dr. Corbett: If you're poor, and you live in the inner city, um, chances are actually greater that one parent will be at home, and that you will be living in an apartment. You guys, most of you, have parents, two parents, who work. And if you want to smoke a joint, you can walk out into the backyard, sit down by the swimming pool, and smoke it. You do not have to worry about some copy driving by and busting you. In the inner city, you can't smoke with your mom in the apartment, so you go down to the street corner. There is no place to hide. They get busted all the time there. Here, you know, the dealers - I'm sure there are people in here who know people who will sell pot. That's one of the ironies of teaching here and one of the ironies of our own judicial system is that - every year I ask my class this question, and every year I know what the answer is. I say, if - I'm not going to do this. Let's get that straight. If I made this offer - I am not making this offer. If I made this offer, and the offer is: The first person who leaves this room for lunch, who comes back with either alcohol or marijunana will get an 'A' for the year. What would I have? Alcohol or pot?

The Class: Pot.

Dr. Corbett: So the illegal substance is more available to you than the legal substance. Anyway, um, you know, we've had several presidential commissions look into our judicial system, penal system, and they've all concluded the same thing: It simply doesn't work. And the systems in other nations do work. Sweden, for example, the longest you can spend in prison for a crime - machine-gunned a kindergarten class - the longest you can spend in prison is 10 years.

Unknown Student: Oh, what?

Dr. Corbett: Why are you outraged by taht? They have the lowest crime rate in the industrialized world. Where would you rather live if you're worried about crime? Here or there... There, obviously."

Jesus Glasses.

The context on the Jesus Glasses comment of Dr. Corbett:

"How do you get the peasants to oppose something that is in their best interests? Religion. You have to have something that is irrational to counter that rational approach... [W]hen you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth."

I think taking it out of context to make it seem like "you" and "your" means Christians in the class is disingenuous. In fact, it clearly means, you serfs of the middle-ages.

I Am Legend-arily bad.

{{Spoiler Warning}}

I hate to say it but there's so much potential there. You even see the original ending there, ready made for the movie. However, pow, God did it. Really, had the reasoning for the survivalist colony been "I heard on the radio from somewhere else" or "I have actual information from the mainland and you've been cut off from everything for years" sure. It was attributed to God. And I daresay 90% of the world population dropping dead, 9% going zombie, and 1% surviving to be eaten by the zombies is a good argument for the non-existence of an all-powerful benevolent god. Certainly, atheism is called for, but a mountain town... not really.

Also, if you have three years and know exactly what you're fighting. You might want to have a better defended base of operations.

The original ending to the film was that he was the monster. The people were still alive and kind of messed up, but he was the monster going about and killing them. He kidnapped a woman. The same man who tried to save her by running a bit out in the sun was the same who set the trap with the manikin, and who lead the attack on his house at the end. Really, he was trying to save the woman the doctor took. He was just going around murdering people willy-nilly... and it was really he who was the monster. Zing. That would have been the right ending, and a good one at that... but no... atheist doctor can't even believe in a mountain town. If you can't believe in God you can't believe in anything. Also, a number of his defenses were actually good enough. You're telling me a vault in the basement isn't enough? And what the hell good were those lights? He used them a lot for being completely ineffective.

It was 98% of a great movie. I hope they offer alternate endings on the DVD.

Irony: Jefferson Nickel / In God We Trust

Has anybody noticed that Jefferson (the origin of separation of church and state) is kindof frowning facing the "In God We Trust"? I think it's odd. A US president on a government coin next to a religious motto. Apparently putting "United States of America" on one side of the coin and "In God We Trust" on the other side qualifies as separation of church and state these days.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Teacher teaches AP history, comes off criticial of religion.

Go figure. Teaching AP European history involves being critical of religion. Sure European history heavily involves the church in so far as they ran the place since the fall of the Roman Empire, but do you have to teach them so well? What next are US history teachers going to say that the US *wasn't* founded as a Christian nation.

"How do you get the peasants to oppose something that is in their best interest? Religion."

How little things change. The point to learning history is to avoid repeating it. Perhaps in the larger sense as well as in the narrower sense. I do enjoy some of the student's comments. Mostly because they are AP students and off in college now for the former ones. One Good Move has a copy of BillO's show interviewing the kid who apparently jumped straight to lawyers as step one, even though the LA Times article quotes Chad's (the kid) sister as saying they exhausted their options. The lawyer makes a comment about a former student who is now a "intolerant Christian-Hating know-it-all" due to Corbett's (teacher) teaching. He must be good.

Definition: Ceremonial Deism

Ceremonial Deism - A legal term meaning that "Under God" in the pledge and "In God We Trust" on our money are ceremonial deism. *waves arms* LEGAL!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Taking something out of context.

Yes, the Bible does condemn homosexuality, see...

Lev. 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

-- You're taking that out of context.


-- Yes, you took that quote out of context.

Um, the rule before it is if you have sex with your sons wife you get murdered. The rule after it says if you marry a woman and her mother you get put to death. It's a list of laws. It stands alone.

-- So there was more? You took it out of context.

I quoted it.

-- Yes, but the quote appears in a specific part of the text and you didn't copy the entire text.


Theology Non-Rule #19, Taking things out of context is knockdown argument against pretty much any quote in or out of context. One needs never justify the accusation or show how quoting all relevant text and citing the place taken somehow loses context information.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Where you can shove ceremonial deism.

It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, and read:

A letter from Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, to Secretary Chase in 1861. The following letter is a copy of sent which was the direct cause of adding "In God We Trust" to our currency. I only bring this up because the arguments in favor of the coinage are going to be pretty clearly along the lines of "ceremonial deism" which is to say just little God comments that we do, ceremonially... like stamp and engrave on our money.

Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.

One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.

We need to put God on our money to save us from the ignominy of heathenism. We wouldn't want the future generations to believe us to be heathens, would you? What about the future heathens who like to be heathens? Jackass.

Shorter: Damon Linker

Shorter Damon Linker,

Liberal Atheists are illiberal, and though they may not be closet totalitarians they hate you and want to lock you up for opposing them.

Mike Huckabee, the rubes are taking over the Republican Party.

How odd. The idea to bring the religious into the Republican party was a pretty easy one. If you want a ready group of voters who don't need evidence and are pretty much a ready made pot of buying whatever bullshit you offer, the religious right are a pretty obvious group. So don't use big words, give them a few kick backs, and pay lip service to God, and here and there change your foreign policy to fit with their end times mythos. However, the Republican party is in such complete disarray that they rubes are the most powerful group.

That's right, Huckabee is actually soring. He doesn't dress like a women, believe the native Americans are a lost tribe of Israelites, hug the person whose campaign accused of fathering a black baby, or get laughed off stage... Mike Huckabee, he's actually as crazy as he claims.

The point of the Republican Party is to have a party which, gives lots of money to the rich and keeps the troughs filled... they have to con a few rubes to do it, but the rubes are suppose to stay rubes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Saudi King pardons rape victim.

Apparently a rape victim in Saudi Arabia is actually getting pardoned. Basically a man and women were abducted and raped (taken from separate places) and stuffed into a car. The seven rapists were given sentences up to 9 whole years in prison. The woman was sentenced to 90 lashes and jail time for the crime of being in the car with somebody who wasn't close family. She was later given another 200 lashes to her sentence for appealing the decision.

Well, now she's being pardoned. So you see, religions really can learn to grow and change. After that teddy bear naming pardon the only real complaint people can muster is that THOSE AREN'T REAL CRIMES IN THE FIRST PLACE, YOU IGNORANT FUCKS WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM?! Which, obviously is a cultural difference rather than a religious one, for example our culture wants people punished for violating arcane rules in the Bible. Whereas in their culture it's customary to punish people for violating arcane rules in the Koran. So don't anybody go blaming religion.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A quote worth quoting.

In the 9th Circuit decision in Newdow v. Elk Ridge a line stuck out that I think bears repeating:

To recite the pledge is not to describe the United States; instead it is to swear allegiance to the values for which the flag stands: unity, indivisibility, liberty, justice and -- since 1954 -- monotheism

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The year was 1954, the place Washington D.C.

It was a different time, it was a simpler time. In 1954, in an act including the line: "the inclusion of God in our pledge therefore would further acknowledge the dependence of our people and our Government upon the moral directions of the Creator." (Not a Creator, the Creator). The United States put forth a policy of forcing school children to declare, on a daily basis, that there, not only, exists one single monotheistic deity but that the location of said deity is generally upwards. And as they raised the flag playing "Onward Christian Soldier" they never once fathomed that their actions would be misconstrued as religious.

In other news, on the December 4th 2007, Dr. Rev. Michael Newdow finished oral arguments in the 9th circuit court for both the case against "under God" and the case against "In God We Trust". Prometheus Retold has a good couple links to his original case, including an MP3 of the arguments themselves. So the decision should be sometime in a few months and it should perhaps make the news at least the decision to knock down the "In God We Trust" on account of being new whereas the previous Elk Grove Cave already knocked down the "Under God" phrase and probably won't cause as much of an uproar... though we can always hope.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Still more fun with debate.

I can't argue with entertaining. So the votes on my Queen debate oddly have me doing pretty good. Whereas the the argument on Once Saved Always Saved is that much worse. I'm actually close to lose. It's pathetic, he didn't even have an argument. *sigh*

Still. It's a bit like that.

My latest is on Iraq. Apparently I'm a flaming liberal!

Considering the interests of the Iraqi people, the U.S. and Allied troops, and the honor and integrity of this great nation, we must stay in Iraq until the job is done.

We may never know if Saddam Hussein actually had W.M.D.'s in Iraq. Reports do show that he had acquired W.M.D.'s and may have filtered them through other countries over the past 20 years. Regardless, Saddam and his government were responsible for the murders of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens. There were ordered executions of political opponents and advocates of free speech.

I firmly believe that if we pull out of Iraq right now we will lose the integrity and honor that American servicemen and women are fighting for this very hour. We cannot leave the Iraqi's with false hopes. We must defeat the enemy on their ground or we will have to fight that war on our turf, amongst our neighborhoods, and with our children watching it with their own eyes.

To which I responded:
What job? Which job are we doing? Fighting both sides of a civil war? Establishing democracy in a region barely governable by tyrants? Stealing the oil? Getting rid of the WMDs? Attacking them there so they won't swim the Atlantic and attack us here? To replace a dictator who opposed the terrorist with terrorists and funding operations for terrorists?

Most of your arguments are sunk cost arguments. They are the flawed logic that leads people to wrongly refuse to cut their losses. The logic which makes people bet their bottom dollar on bad cards, or support a losing effort simply because we have lost by supporting it. The costs and losses, failures and successes, in the past, are irrelevant to the choice to stay. The question you should be asking yourself isn't how much we've lost for so little and what we can do to make it mean something. You should be asking yourself if, we know today what we know today... would you put the troops on the ground? If Iraq is as war-torn and messed up as today, do we put boots on the ground knowing what we know? There are no weapons of mass destruction, no Saddam, no greetings as liberators. Do you invade a gutted country with little hope for anything? I say the answer is no. Now, the sunk cost fallacy says that each time you weigh the decision, what you've "invested" is irrelevant. The millions of displaced and murdered Iraqis, the couple trillion dollars this war has cost, the thousands of American Soldiers lives, and the international loss of faith are irrelevant, not to mention the bogus reasons for waging the war. The question is, would you put boots on the ground today? If the answer is no, then we shouldn't have boots on the ground. Just as you shouldn't invest another billion dollars in a project which has produced nothing and doesn't show signs of producing something. Just as you shouldn't keep calling to the river with a hand you invested too much with on the flop. You don't throw good resources after bad.

You cut your losses with the situation you have today.

As you brought up some of these pointless notes allow me to address them:

* The only reports showing Saddam Hussein had some W.M.D.s were the once receipts of those weapons we gave them during the Iran-Iraq war. After that point the good intelligence suggested that he wasn't developing them, and it took a considerable amount of cherry picking to invent a story that he had them or was even developing them. We had weapons inspectors on the grounds before Iraq's infrastructure was destroyed. If we actually wanted to look for these phantom weapons that would have been the time to do it. We had the world community ready to pressure the hell of Iraq. We had that threat contained. If that was the intent, deciding to go to war anyway was beyond stupid.

We cannot justify staying in Iraq today because the president mislead the American people. What happened then is a treason, but has nothing to do with the question at hand. Is it worth it to stay, when we look at what we can gain or lose in the future? We know how much we are losing in this war, and we know what we won't lose if we leave.

* As for the question of "IF" he had weapons. The Duelfer couldn't have been any more clear, there were no weapons of mass destructions in Iraq. Just as Iran has, as we learned recently, shut down its program as well. The entire line of debate concerning the completely botched job selling the American people this war doesn't matter. Yes, it was horrible. Yes, it was wrong. No, it doesn't matter.

We cannot justify staying in Iraq today because the president mislead the American people. Presenting phantom "reports" which suggest he magicked away his reportedly massive stockpiles doesn't matter at all. To put this in perspective, imagine if Saddam had massive stockpiles, we found them and we removed them all during the war and we are now in a situation where Iraq is exactly like it is, and we managed to stop a massive threat. This would perhaps justify the invasion in 2003, but it would not justify a continued presence in 2007. Again, that's the sunk cost fallacy. What are we going to gain if we stay there? What are we going to lose?

* As for the claim that the war is justified because Saddam is a bad man, that is also a sunk cost. It doesn't matter. We aren't fighting Saddam anymore, we are watching as millions of Iraqis are murdered and displaced. While we try to secure a small area in order for the Iraqi government to sit around and do nothing.

Sure, Saddam was bad. There are a lot of bad men in the world. However, it doesn't justify staying. It cannot justify staying. If we were still fighting Saddam, that might have been a point to argue. Though, we could have done that with a sniper bullet rather than a full ground war. But we aren't still fighting Saddam.

* The claim that pulling out of Iraq will dishonor the integrity of the troops is laughable. They do what we ask of them, even if we just set them in the middle of a civil war and give them nothing to do. Just as bringing them home will be easily followed.

They have done nothing wrong. They have not been dishonored nor have had their integrity questioned. The Administration is dishonored. The Administration is without integrity. The reason the sunk cost fallacy is so powerful is because of pride. People hate to realize that they lost a lot and gained nothing (less than nothing in this case). Losing a lot more in order to pretend a chance exists that those losses are not in vain is dishonorable and shows an extreme lack of integrity. Declare victory and bring the troops home. They did everything we asked of them, and though those who asked were incompetent it should not, and would not, make the troops look bad.

* The majority of the "enemy" only exists on their turf. We are talking about people who have some stolen Iraqi weapons from depots we left unguarded with perhaps an old Iraqi soldier from Saddam's disbanded army. These aren't the kinds of people who can fly across the Atlantic very easily.

I will however grant you that, of all of your arguments, this is the one and only argument which isn't sunk cost. It is the only argument which doesn't say... we screwed up so bad we must stay. We screwed up so bad that we might as well stay. We screwed up so bad that we will look bad if we don't stay. We gained a small bit for the massive losses and those things justify our staying. We are actually discussing future downside here. We are looking at a consequence of leaving with regard to future events. This weak nothing of a pathetic argument is the only shred of anything which even remotely qualifies as a reason to stay. How sad is that? The only 'real' argument you have is that if we don't have easily available American troops to be murdered by cowardly roadside bombs some poor Iraqi is going to travel five thousand miles to stick out like a sore thumb and try to kill some American here. How about we spend one tiny fraction of what we spent on the Iraq war to make sure people can't do that rather than putting troops in harms way as fodder! If the Iraqis don't have some local Americans to kill they will have to come to our turf where they have no upper hand. That isn't an impressive argument. Moreso when one considers the facts that our boots on the ground in Iraq are breeding more terror. Terrorism numbers have been skyrocketing as a result of our actions. And in the future, looking at the numbers we will have more terror if we stay than if we go.

We will save 8 billion dollars a month, thousands upon thousands of American lives, and prevent terror by leaving. If we stay, we will lose billions, respect, lives, and continue to make Iraq a hotbed of terror.

We should cut our losses. Take our victories, declare victory, come home, throw a parade for the troops and focus our efforts on security. I don't care if doing so will dishonor the Administration for making really bad choices.

Which I daresay is pretty good... which could mean anything.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Once Saved Always Saved / Queen

So checking out the About Agnosticism/Atheism forum (which I frequent) somebody noted that there's a site called I registered up and decided to debate: My first debate was that if you are Once Saved Always Saved as an element of Christian doctrine. I argued point #2 of Five Point Calvinism, that you are elected by God to be saved. And thus you are not saved until your dead and saved. Thus, as salvation is forever and you can only get it once. I win. Well I should win, my debating skill was pretty clearly superior as were my arguments.

It was kind of funny. At the end he said I was an atheist and shouldn't be allowed to argue or something. Classic.

I then accepted a debate that Queen was not easily the most popular and influential band in the history of the post-Beatle era. I tried. But it's like arguing that 2+2=5. After I finished my arguments, I voted for the Pro side.

Occam's Razor proves God.

Theology Non-Rule #78: Occam's Razor is purely a length operation. If a good explanation of evolution or the Big Bang takes more letters than "God Did It" then those things are false by Occam's Razor.

You don't fulfill the criteria of Occam's razor if you explain nothing and create more questions rather than fewer. God as an explanation, provides negative explanatory power. You trade a mystery for a mystery wrapped in bullshit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Treaty of Tripoli: A Christian nation

Some people note that the Treaty of Tripoli says that the US is in no way a Christian nation. This statement drafted under Washington and ratified under Adams is pretty clear cut. But, do they bother to note that the US later went to Tripoli and killed them all? Hasn't anybody come to realize that the a lying treaty and subsequent military attack ARE very Christian things to do?

Definition: Judeo-Christian

Judeo-Christian: Christian (however give it whatever legacy or gravitas is due to Judaism).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Romney finally remystified his speech.

In a historic speech meant to parallel JFKs speech that he wouldn't be influenced by the pope. Romney dropped a few things which struck the ears of people a little oddly, including lines about how we need a country of faithheads in order to be free. Because, highly religious countries like Saudi Arabia are a model to look up to. Some reporters apparently asked him question:

Unsatisfied, another reporter pounced. "Do you think an atheist or non-believer or non-spiritual person can't therefore be a free person?" he asked.

"Of course not," Romney responded. "That's not what I said."

"But you said 'freedom requires religion'?"

"I'm talking about the nation," Romney snapped.

See, atheists just are free people... they aren't bound up and constrained in what people refer to as 'the nation'. Freely outside the government of the people?

Lawrence O'Donnell on Mormonism... right with bad arguments.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of Mormonism. I am a fan of Mormons though, having never met one I didn't like. Same goes for Wiccans, they all seem pretty nice... though outside of fundamentalism it's hard to find unlikable people. In any event, Lawrence O'Donnell goes on an interesting rant about Mormonism, he has, for the most part, facts on his side. He's right Mormonism is a racist pro-slavery religion founded by a criminal in the most absurd manner. However, there are a couple problems with attacking the religion. First, you aren't establishing they are wrong. Second, Tu Quoque.

The fact that Mormonism is inherently racist, or was until push came to shove and the Church leaders suddenly got a new vision, is not a logical mark against it. Did Mr. O'Donnell consider the possibility that blacks actually did have their skin color changed to reflect their evil nature prior to the creation of Earth, just as the Lamanites had their skin color adjusted to match their wickedness? It is an ad hominem as stated: that has nothing to do with how truth or falseness of a religion. However, the Book of Mormon contends that it was written in 600 BC (it says that, this book is being written 600 years before Christ, it calls it a prediction) and at that time, there wasn't any racism. In fact, racism wasn't invented until the 17th century. Moreover, it was very common place in the time and place that Joseph Smith lived. Racism can and does contribute to an argument of anachronism. If a religion was formed in 600BC Israel it should not be racist. If a religion was formed in the 1800s America it should be.

Secondly, as Pat Robertson notes (I have before been impressed with his commentary, he's a blowhard when it comes to religion, but with commentary he's sometimes on the mark) that Christianity brought slavery to America. Slavery is permitted in the Bible. It specifically says in Leviticus 25:44-46:

Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever.

And the holiest of holies the Ten Commandments drops the nice little line at number ten (Exodus 20:17):
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Listing off slaves as another bit of property.

The dumbest line was "I am not comfortable dissing an entire religion. We are a pluralistic nation." -- Who cares what you are comfortable with! I'm comfortable with dissing all religions. Pluralism is just a silly way to say that there are many many one and only one Gods.

A rather devastating non-argument against Mormonism gets matched up with a crowd which notes that Christianity sucks too (Pat Robertson) and a we should just declare and embargo on discussing any religions in specific language.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Stupid Starcraft/Brood War.

For some reason when I'm feeling retro and play Starcraft/Brood War, I must host the game or else I lag to hell and back. It's stupid. I've tried everything I can to not lag and I have a bachelors degree in this crap (Computer Science)... but can I fix some decade old game? No. It lags when I join. It goes fine when I host. And few people join my game. *sigh*

I guess I'll play some Doom II online (you can actually do that, it does require Zdoom (Doom ported to Quake engine), with Zdaemon though, and I won't actually be doing that).


The Offical God FAQ

The Official God FAQ.

For a small site, it's remarkably complete.

The Four Fs of Human Motivation.

Watching Beyond Belief 2, there's more than a few really really well done lines and more than a few really well made points and quotes of such. One favorite so far is in regard to the human evolutionary motivations for certain actions.

The Four Fs: Fleeing, Feeding, Fighting, and Reproduction.

Sherri Shepherd: Nothing predates Christianity.

Lets see:
Christianity started ~2000 years ago. The universe is ~14,000,000,000 years old so lets say about 14 billion years predated Christianity. That's only, 99.999999% of the history of the universe. So, lets just call it close enough.

Whoopi's comment: "Not on paper." is actually great. I had to chuckle at that one.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Family Tree: God driven Evolution.

So simple.

Prediction: Christian Gay Rights Movement

In the future, Christians will be arguing that Christianity was responsible for the success of the Gay Rights Movement (after it's successful).

In the past, it was common to find bigotry against gays for their sexual orientation and many people derided it as a "choice". However, some good and pious Christians stood up to this bigotry, and through a lot of struggle and hard work secured the rights of homosexuals. You see, without Christian love and tolerance, and the Christian understanding that all people are created equal in God's eyes this injustice would still exist today! Just as Christianity stood up against the supporters of slavery during the abolitionist movement and launched the civil rights movement, Christians are, through their faith in God and the expectations of the Almighty, compelled to fight injustice. - Faith head circa 2030.

Theology Non-Rule #9: Whenever there is a group of secular people supporting a cause and a few secular minded Christians in opposition to the more religious Bible believing Christians, if the secular group is shown to be correct this is a Christian victory for morality. This shows Christianity is just, tolerant, and the source of all morality.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Daniel Dennett: Impolite books.

Daniel Dennett on why the mainstream atheism books are impolite,

"There is no polite way to say 'With all due respect, sir, have you considered the possibility that you have blighted your whole life with fantasy and are polluting the minds of defenseless children with dangerous nonsense.'" - Daniel Dennett

Beyond Belief 2.0! Videos Out

Beyond Belief 1.0 was fantastic. Now, the Beyond Belief 2.0 videos are out.

Monday, December 3, 2007

British Teacher Pardoned for Teddy Bear.

A teacher in Sudan was sentenced to 15 days in prison (a slap on the wrist compared to the typical sentence) for having her class name a teddy bear and accepting the name Muhammad (the students favorite name). Well she was thankfully pardoned and deported back home. Though, in the yahoo rundown of the story taken from AP I kind of missed a point. See if you catch it:

A British teacher jailed for letting her students name a teddy bear Muhammad as part of writing project headed home Monday after being pardoned — ending a case that set off an international outcry and angered many moderate Muslims.

Hard-line Muslim clerics here denounced Gibbons, saying she intentionally aimed to insult Islam. A day after her Thursday trial, several thousand Sudanese massed in central Khartoum to demand that Gibbons be executed. Many of the demonstrators carried swords and clubs.

There was apparently an angered "moderate Muslim group" but the angry folks seem to be those out protesting demanding she be murdered for allowing a teddy bear be name Muhammad. Is that what qualifies for moderate? Is the scale somehow weighted so that where moderate would be between 'let her go it shouldn't even be a crime', 'let her go it was an honest mistake', and 'fifteen days is a slap on the wrist' in what we typically think of moderate. Whereas in a different group moderate counts as: 'Fifteen days! She insulted Islam!', 'She should be put to death!', and 'She should be beheaded!' -- So the protesters demanding she be killed are actually moderates?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas Massacre Day.

We have won. It's hard to tell, and most people can't tell but the War on Christmas has succeeded and it was a total massacre. Our success is historic!

I propose that we commemorate our victory by mocking those we have achieved victory against. We should celebrate Christ-Massacre day, Christmas for short, by buying trees and decorating them (in direct violation of Jeremiah 10:1-4) buying each other presents as rewards in our victory, and finally by setting up an elaborate God mocking system with an unevidenced person doing amazing things, much like the Flying Spaghetti Monster but with some bizarre explanation for how the presents we gave to each other got there. In much the same way as people use to help people out and have credit promptly given to God for what you just did for the other person like two seconds ago as that person watched.

Doctor: "Well after 14 hours in surgery and 4 pints of blood, I and my well trained staff of nurses and aids managed to remove the tumor in your wife and with a couple drugs researched and discovered by a number of scientists she should make a full recovery."
Man: "Thank God!"

Something mocking that, like saving spending two months worth of pay in order to buy a large number of gifts for people and then giving credit to North-Pole-Man. That needs a bit of work with the name, right now it's northern-hemispherist and the north pole is just a bunch of water now due to global warming. We'll have all the kinks out by what would have been Christmas before the defeat and will now be Christmas in commemoration of our victory!

Republican Primary Parody Attack Ad.


Epistemology poem.

When faith's a virtue and doubt's a vice.
No reason or proof could ever suffice.
No common ground for reasoned debate.
Ghosts and Gods are the immutable fate.
Points ignored and arguments ducked.
Theists are epistemologically fucked.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Brain damaged boy, with false premises, and belief death doesn't matter is competent to make choices resulting in his death.

Go figure. Even with the belief that after you die you will live forever and ever in bliss and paradise rather than you will just be dead you are still fully appraised of your consequences? Will wonders never cease! (via Pharyngula)

Wii Communism!

There will not be enough Wiis in stores to meet demand for Christmas. They failed to build up any reserve over the summer (when sales typically drop) and at current can only meet demand for about half of what they need (even prior to the Christmas ramp up). This leads to a rarity in the market, but the price point is observed, why? They are honestly selling on eBay for 330 bucks whereas they sell in the store for 250 bucks.

The reality is the stores should price the Wiis at fair market value which is ~340 dollars, and keep ramping the price point up until they can't sell their product out completely and have none for the rest of the month. Why is it better to have an impossible to get product, long communist-style bread lines, and underground markets selling the product for closer to what it's worth (due to rarity)?

Don't get me wrong, I am all for universal health care, prisons (sans the pot smokers / different place for other drug addicts), cops, firemen, roads, electric, water, and pretty much any resource everybody needs. Because, if those things aren't owned by the people they will end up owning the people. However, a Wii? That's the last thing we need some stores setting up market regulation on. Really, the stores are being socialist with a game console, which though kicks some major ass, is a dirt obvious luxury.

Why are the stores giving a handout to slimy bastards who go in to a store and buy out their supplies of Wiis to resell them on eBay? Why? Wouldn't it be better to sell them for what they are worth and make it possible to get them? Sure, it might price poor people out of the market, however, they are poor... they can spend the money on something other than a video game system. Honestly, if I had gotten a Wii before Christmas last year, I would have been tempted to pack it up and resell it for the 500 bucks it was worth back then.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My second trollish response! WOOHOO!

I'm on a roll. I usually have to steal trolls from other sites and the dregs of the internet: obscure forums, creationist wikis, the Washington Post, or hidden in various nooks and crannies (filled with kooks and ninnies of course). But for the second time, I've managed to get a negative post on my blog. It brings tears to my eyes (not really).

Anonymous writes (in reply to my blog about Giuliani's debate response where he he accepts the bible to be figurative):

Yeah yeah yeah, like the frigging Democrats will do anything differently.

Different than equivocating about religion to suppose large amounts of the Bible are false without bothering to admit that it's all filled with lies? I didn't say the Democrats would do anything different, in fact, in this respect the Democrats do worse. They seem much less sincere with regards to religion, the reason they are getting my vote.

The leading candidates have already said they aren't getting out of Iraq.

True, they teeter about removing the last 5% after having removed all the major troops really early on. Frankly, yes I find that to be pathetic. However, I don't find the idea of a working surge or there forever to be at all amusing.

Thats why I believe the end is near, delivered by the nukes developed by atheistic scientists (Dawkins tells us most scientists are atheists.)

That doesn't follow. Simply because somebody says most scientists are atheists doesn't mean that most scientists are atheists, nor does it mean that the particular scientists involved in the Manhattan Project were atheists. That said, Dawkins is right as one can tell by surveys concerning religious faith within the NAS and Royal Society as well as general surveys to working scientists. Noting that the majority of top scientists 90% or so, are atheists doesn't preclude the idea that the Manhattan Project was staffed with atheists. That said, it was staffed pretty much with atheists, at least in this country. Due to lack of sharing and other secrets acts the atomic bomb has been reinvented a number of times.

The God Damn atheists are going to destroy the world.

How? With atomic bombs? By making atomic bombs and giving them to religionists? Because we have no morality? -- I guess I won't know. But, I can speak for myself. I I were running the country, I wouldn't use an atomic bomb even if atomic bombs were in route to destroy the country I was running. I would certainly claim I would, simply because the threat of retaliation is required for MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) to function, but even soon to be vaporized I wouldn't give the order due to moral restrictions against vaporizing folks. Secondly, why the hell would any atheist want to destroy the world? Really, this is the only life we get and it is precious.

I will die cursing them.

It's probably more likely that you won't. However you will die and be gone and that's it. Though the idea that not accepting the proposition that "God exists" is enough to warrant your curses. Personally I despise aSanta Clausists, they are neither Jolly and all they love is coal.

Davies Followup.

I know the point to shorters is to make a quick point that underlies the problem with something and move on. However, there is a neat little side note from the article below.

In science, a healthy skepticism is a professional necessity, whereas in religion, having belief without evidence is regarded as a virtue.

The problem with this neat separation into “non-overlapping magisteria,” as Stephen Jay Gould described science and religion, is that science has its own faith-based belief system.

The real difference there isn't that they are NOMA (Not Opposing Metaphysical Asininity) but rather they highlight the difference in the religious and non-religious epistemology. A different epistemology doesn't give you different insights into the world, it gives you a different criteria for truth. And the criteria from truth within religious epistemology has nothing to do with truth it has to do with believing things because somebody say so. Whereas scientific epistemology has to do with checking concepts against reality, stress-testing theories in nature and letting the chips fall where they may.

The article is wrong by equivocating faith with the belief that typical regularities in nature will remain regular. The real is the argument is a tu quoque, basically it's saying sure, we're faith-based and wrong but let me fiddle with the definition a bit and say you're faith-based too... so a plague on both your houses.

Which system do you believe is most conducive to accepting false beliefs?
Science: a healthy skepticism is a professional necessity.
Religion: having belief without evidence is regarded as a virtue.

Shorter Paul Davies.

Shorter Paul Davies:
I don't understand the difference between trusting something won't suddenly do what it has never done and belief in the magically absurd without evidence or plausible justification.

Not literally true in every respect.

Giuliani: I believe it, but I do not believe it necessarily literally true in every respect. I think there are parts of the Bible that are interpretive. I think there are parts of the Bible that are allegorical. I think there are parts of the Bible that are, um, meant to be interpreted in a modern context. So, yes, I believe it. I think it's the greatest book ever written.

Ah, the biblical equivocation of metaphor.

Metaphors are figurative language and as such aren't considered true or false. Declaring the Bible to be metaphorical allows one to assert the truth of the book without defending it. Subsequently slipping back to the definition of true in the sense of reality after the calls to defend the Bible subside.

One gets to call the Bible true, without saying something crazy like the Bible is a crazy and nobody sane would believe that stuff. Or that sure you believe in Jesus but you don't believe in Adam and Eve, even though from the text it would appear Jesus believed in Adam and Eve and (according to original sin) Jesus died in order to clear the sin, because (according to Trinity) Jesus was unable to just forgive the grudge he was holding against all mankind without a little Sadomasochism. That's what we want in our first-century wish granting zombie Jews (who when properly telepathically give enough passion for issues will pull us into the sky and make us live in eternal bliss), we need one with bad problem solving skills! However, to say that the story of Adam and Eve is a metaphor just adds insult (some insults are true) to injury.

Jesus apparently, according to the story, is exactly like Christian martyrs*, in that, he died for a lie.

*not to suggest that there were many of these.

First Camp Quest.... Now Atheist Sunday School...

Camp Quest was bad enough now there are some atheist Sunday school classes in Palo Alto. They are coming for your their own children and teaching them vile evil magics like critical thinking! -- You know, you'd think if atheism were completely untenable there would be some kind of move against critical thinking, that there would be a push against taking the evidence to their logical conclusions, against reflection and analysis. Somehow I think it's telling that those things are not present in atheism and somehow overwhelmingly present in religions. It's almost as though one could not upon careful consideration of the evidence come to the religious positions expounded by religionists.

The best things to teach children if you want them to grow up to be good little atheists: Critical thinking and comparative religions.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why I don't think Evolution is at work with physical laws.

One tell-tale sign of evolution is the "wow that's brilliant" impression some evolved things have on us humans. Butterfly wings actually color based on small photonic crystals on the scales... wow that's brilliant.

The laws of physics? Gravity tugs spacetime, things keep moving, complexity breaks down, things tend to take the easy path, matter is high level energy, and they work together in pretty neat ways. There are interesting things to be sure. It is hard to look at a nebula the size a trillion suns and not be impressed, or ponder the idea that distance between galaxies is increasing but not moving away, or that when you consider the really really tiny things they kind of fuzz around... but there are no butterfly wings in space. Nothing that makes you say, "wow that's brilliant", planets traveling in ellipses how... quaint. It's huge and amazing! None of which suggests it's bootstrapping the successes of the past in order to fight against the slow breakdown of everything. Rather it just seems the universe has a lot of stuff to breakdown.

A clever reader might notice that I suggested what opponents to ID have suggested isn't the case, namely that you can see design in things. Though, not design but rather evolution, though I tend to lump them together. We can certainly tell when things are beyond the realm of just happening that way, and in the realm of complexity fighting tooth and nail against the 2nd law of thermodynamics (everything breaks down) whether it's our designs or the designs of nature, we have a great ability to spot such things (for evolutionary reasons I believe). The end results are the same, nothing in physics from particle physics to cosmology seems to trigger the part of my brain which says... that... that is a fantastic design.

The universe is not designed nor evolved. It just happened. I'll take it, no sense looking a gift horse in it's well-evolved mouth, but everything in physics seems to point toward the more simple with more complex interrelationships than we previous thought. I wouldn't be surprised to find out our universe consists of just one thing and it's opposite and everything we see or seem is but a novel interaction of varying degrees of this. In evolved systems it's always more roundabout, physical, complex, interesting, makeshift, macgyvered, and quirky than we previous thought and there are more and more exceptions to every rule. They are, in a very primal sense, two radically different beasts. One science is about things interacting in specific ways to the same effect, the other is about bootstrapping replicators having a field day either being the critter with the slightest edge, to edge out the competition, or edged out (edged even slightly if not out will be a moot point several generations later) for not happening on that next step forward.

Comment on Study.

One favorite blog of mine, which I should probably add to the blog roll and remove Eight Hour Lunch for not posting in a gazillion years. Is Yann Klimentidis' blog, who, though he lacks the ability to make science understanding and fun (much of science is already like that but it helps to make it relevant) makes up for it by putting out a lot more peer reviewed papers etc.

Well a recent peer reviewed study on the population genetics of Native Americans supports the standard "evidence-filled" claims that the Native Americans cam

My response:
Please remove that scientific peer reviewed study. It fails to conform to Mormon theology. You are obviously a racist bigot who hates people of faith judging by how that genetic analysis of individuals most closely provides evidence for the theory that Native Americans traveled across the land bridge of the Bering Strait from Siberia rather than the Mormon view that they took a boat from Israel when God flooded the world.

You are entitled to your opinion, but you shouldn't be go around undermining other people's world views just because the evidence doesn't support it.


Not that it's an entertaining problem, but disproving Mormonism is like shooting fish in a barrel. Frankly, in the 1800s make such predictions about the history of Native Americans and Native American culture, had they been right Mormonism would probably be pretty undeniable right now, because they were out there. That said, they were very very wrong. Again we have an attempt at falsifiabillity and again we have religion proving itself false.

Oh, and the study itself is pretty good. Confirms what we already knew or at the very least already suspected. Native Americans came across from Siberia and spread south.

Why do people laugh at creationists?

A worthwhile set of videos. Some of the responses are just snarky. I understand that creationists are just silly. One of the last about the water above sky and how it's nearly impossible to prop it up there is kind of odd. Frankly it seems that in geosync orbit you could have a bunch of water pretty easily floating there without needing to drop to earth. Though still, way too much water. Though that would be totally awesome to have. A bubble around a planet in geosync. The water above the sky refers to the Biblical firmament. Hovind (who made the claim) is right, according to the Bible the world is flat and there is water in the sky which leaks out when it rains (probably also explains the color of the sky). It is a rather silly claim, but only like 50% of Americans believe this crap so it's pretty much moot.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Quote of the Day: Stephen Colbert

From I am American and So Can You:
And set some rules. Don't worry if the rule makes sense, the important thing is that it's a rule. Arbitrary rules teach kids discipline, if every rule made sense they wouldn't be learning respect for authority, they'd be learning logic.

-- Stephen Colbert.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Definition: Preacher

A preacher is a person who only works on sabbath, telling you to follow bizarre and arcane rules like, 'anybody who works on the sabbath should be stoned to death'.

79th Edition of Carnival of the Godless!

Latest CotG at Sexy Secularist!

Abiogenesis has a shoe to drop.

I'm always scoffing at IDiots and nutter creationists who think God poofed the universe into existence having themselves poofed God into existence for this specific purpose.

However, such experiences have given me the ability to spot arguments waiting to be made. A lot of the research into abiogenesis actually involves clay. It turns out to be a fantastic material for early abiotic evolving molecules. There's a shoe here just waiting to be dropped. Genesis says that God made man out of clay... abiogenesis suggest that life was formed out of clay. It's going to be one crappy crappy argument... but it's going to be made many many times.

Okay, back to figuring out how to bring about Stalinism. As an atheist, that's obviously where I'm going with all this 'question your preconceived notions', and 'ask for evidence for things before believing them' stuff. Because rational thinking is sure to bring about soviet state dogma. I just wish the religious hadn't figure this out so adeptly.

I am not a liar!

This post has zero one comments.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Irreducible complexity and computer code.

One of my hobbies is evolutionary algorithms. I try to run them on a few different things, for example solving for the Pythagorean theorem is my latest quest. I basically hand "organisms" two numbers and ask for the result. The organism which comes closest to approximating what the hypotenuse would be if those numbers were sides of a right triangle wins. The organisms take the code, try something and live or die based on their results. Due to rounding errors it works much better if you use smaller numbers such as below 100.

However, I have made them play poker by handing them all the information about the current hand and asking for an action, and they bust out and die and the better players are copied, mutated and put into the empty seat.

One of my earlier bots was simply a linear program. It was a bit slow so I tried some nice intelligent designing on the programming and coded the following.

Take value of starter one.
Add value of starter two.
Compare value to 15, fold if less, call if equal, raise if greater.

It would run for a few hours and the resulting code (after it took over the gene pool) was:

Take value of starter one.
Destroy information of what starter two is.
Compare value to 8, fold if less, call if equal, raise if greater.

Well, I had forgotten that I told the starters to sort, so the higher card was first followed by the lower card. This had the result of making considering only the lower card a viable strategy (one could make sure both starters were good rather than calling with A4 and other fairly rag hands). I was constantly pissed at the bot, I couldn't understand why it destroyed the information of what one of the two cards was. It literally blinded itself to this very important information. How the hell is that evolutionarily beneficial? Seriously, gouging out one of your eyes as an adaptation?

I was describing the problem to my brother and realized why it did what it did. It was irreducibly complex!

Each line in the original program is required for any functionality. If one doesn't consider the information of the first card, comparing the total to 15 results in a bot which always folds (highest card is 13, ace). Not considering the information of the second card has the same result; it can't make the minimal requirements. Adjusting the comparison number down any, made the player play too loosely and was driven extinct.

The bot used scaffolding to avoid this problem and get to the better program.

Take value of starter one.
Overwrite value of starter two with 7.
Add value of starter two.
Compare value to 15, fold if less, call if equal, raise if greater.

From this point it can simply adjust the values without dying off, getting low enough to drop the consideration of starter two without resulting in a lethal mutation. Freeing up the overwrite value to be whatever it wants to be.

The result is a program which gouges out its own eye to escape my poor programming. Leaving the destruction as a vestige (as no modification to the program actually needed consider the information) so it qualifies as junk code. It served no purpose, and hurt the future prospects of the organism, and seemed like the worst bit of code it could evolve. I stopped the program and started the damned thing over several times to nudge that bit of code away and tried to guide the evolutionary process... it failed every time. I was really getting upset with it. Herding cats is one thing, try herding genes. A vestige of reducing an irreducibly complex program, and I blessed them unaware!

Orgel's second law: Evolution is cleverer than you are.

Internet Regained!

After a month and a half, I have proper internet access again. Hell yes. Things are good, birds are chirping, frogs are croaking, the Japanese are producing the stem cell breakthroughs we should have produced, the sky is blue!

Life is good!

... life was good before, but now life is good AND I have internet.

Romulus and Remus' cave found. Proves entire story is exactly accurate.

Yeah, it turns out the founders of Rome actually existed, were actually suckled by a wolf, were actually gods, the proof: Romulus and Remus' cave was found!

Some scholars, such as Andrea Carandini believe in the historicity of Romulus. Why others doubt the historicity of characters with amazing deeds attributed to them with absolutely no shred of evidence that it's true, escapes me. I always thought the assumption was that such an individual existed be it Robin Hood, Jesus Christ, or even King Arthur himself.

As Plutarch notes:

Suddenly the sky was darkened, a thick cloud of storm and rain settled on the earth; the common people fled in affright, and were dispersed; and in this whirlwind Romulus disappeared, his body being never found either living or dead. A foul suspicion presently attached to the patricians, and rumors were current among the people as if that they, weary of kingly government, and exasperated of late by the imperious deportment of Romulus toward them, had plotted against his life and made him away, so that they might assume the authority and government into their own hands. This suspicion they sought to turn aside by decreeing divine honors to Romulus, as to one not dead, but translated to a higher condition. And Proculus, a man of note, took oath that he saw Romulus caught up into heaven in his arms and vestments, and heard him, as he ascended, cry out that they should hereafter style him by the name of Quirinus.

Romulus ascended bodily into heaven as the God Quirinus, joining Jupiter and Mars as part of the trinity Archaic Triad.

All of this is absolutely true. We know because they found the cave.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Argument from Desire.

The Argument from Desire, propounded by C.S. Lewis and others is a profoundly important argument for the existence of God. Now, see if you can detect a logical flaw.

If everybody wants something, it exists.
Everybody wants God to exist.
Therefore, God exists.

It seems about as coherent as Lunatic, Liar, or Lord.

Jesus was either a Lunatic, Liar, or Lord.
Jesus is Lord.
God exists.

Yeah! I just got my first creationist. I feel so special.

So, my blog finally hit paydirt. I received my first creationist comment.

In my post Well I'm stumped. Evolution must be a lie. I managed to hook a creationist.

I took a comment from Shalini's Scientia Natura: Evolution and Rationality (a blog worth a visit to be sure) about how, if we evolved from monkeys why are there still monkeys (an argument so stupid even Answer in Genesis rolls its eyes). AiG discourages its use for the reason I encourage it: it's fish in a barrel.

She, unlike myself, has plenty of interesting comments as fodder. Until now:

Ronald L. Cote writes:
Tatarize, As a biologist with 20 years experience in applied science, I can assure you that evolution is , not only a lie but one of the greatest deceits in our history.

*DING* *DING* *DING* - We have a winner!

Not only is he a creationist, he pretends to be a biologist... with 20 years of experience in applied science. This could mean anything as far as creationist go. Mr. Cote could be a 15 year old boy, he could be a chemistry teacher, he could be a dentist. One of the few things he certainly is not is a biologist. If he actually were a biologist, that credential alone would make him pretty much a posterboy for creationism in general.

Being in computer science, I find it hard to conceive that the order and precision and sheer awesomeness doesn’t cause you pause that this couldn’t possibly be the result of random chance over time.

Well certainly there's a notable difference between:

for (int i = 0; i < 100; ) if (rand() % 10 != 0) exit(1);


for (int i = 0; i < 100; ) if (rand() % 10 == 0) i++;

You see, the first is going to move on to the next line once in googol tries! Literally, 1 in 10^100 However, do the limits of the seed number (starter input for a pseudorandom number / the input can only produce random numbers of the same number of bits as the seed number and the seed number doesn't have a googol's worth of bits) it is likely that it is impossible. What are the odds of the second one moving on to the next line? 1 in 1! It will only take a bit of time. There is nothing unlikely about evolution, in fact, the core of evolution is that it makes odds and chances moot and simply takes a while.

Being in computer science, and moreover considering my experience in evolutionary algorithms, I am less surprised than most that engineering projects can be accomplished by a blind, mindless process, knowing absolutely nothing about the world, and solving unfathomable complexity. One of the interesting properties of evolution is that complexity cannot phase it. Considering no variables it can manage to find a result which could only be found by considering thousands of variables. Failure, is not an option and only the best approximation of success will survive.

To me the most convincing aspect of evolution is not that monkeys still exist, but that , after unearthing countless millions of fossils to the point that museums are giving them away and that even ebay has 3,000 for sale, there still does not exist a comprehensive and true “fossil record”, that could, would and should give us an incontrovertible and foolproof record of species and how they changed getting from point A to their present form. Of course, no such thing exists but should if the hypothesis was sound.

Um. The fossil record is actually really good for most organisms. I'm not even sure what the is suppose to mean. You want all the fossils leading from man to our chimp ancestor? There's a pretty good set. We can trace a number of species pretty much step by step until they meet their common ancestor. For biological evolution the fossil record is fantastic evidence for evolution. The argument here seems to be that even though there are tons upon tons of fossils there aren't enough to satisfy his definition of "comprehensive"?

Additionally, the process of evolution is ,from all accounts ongoing. If so, why are we not able to observe plants and animals in varying stages of transitioning from something to something else.

Usually the generations are pretty small, but you can still see the effects. Humans have pretty good records for our changes in gene frequency, but the better results are the ones with the shorter population times. For example, over the 20 years this fellow claims to be a biologist (*eye roll*) we have seen TB transform from a serious infection to a multi-resistant and even extreme-drug resistant strains. You cannot fight TB with typical antibiotics. It has long since evolved resistances to those. In fact, there are some strains of TB which if you have them the government is right to lock you up and physically stop you from going about your day. As was the case of the lawyer who was diagnosed with TB and still flew to Italy and back. Luckily he turned out to have MDRTB rather than XRTB, and nobody caught it from him.

Also, I daresay the best and most effective way to finally wipe out malaria is to genetically alter a gene in mosquitoes making them immune. The immune mosquitoes by all accounts would be evolutionarily better off than others. The gene frequency of the malaria immunity would skyrocket and without altering the mosquitoes as a whole. We save millions of lives with evolution.

Surely, where there are millions of animals being physically observed , as in Africa, something must be in the process of change that would be evident. Again no such thing occurs.

You know in those nature videos when you see the lion kill the slow wilderbeast? Well, assuming there's any genetic aspect to make that one guy slower than the rest, guess what you just saw?

Asking us to observe evolution in megafauna is like asking us to observe atoms in a glass of water. You can do it, but you aren't going to see what you'd expect (the water would require some large molecules and brownian motion).

Instead, evolutionists feed the masses with cockamamy, inconsequential trivia usually clouded in carefully couched terms as “possible” explanations for proof of evolution.

Um. Mountains of evidence for evolution, aren't cockamamy hunches. Scientists are careful with their words, unlike creationists who proudly proclaim "God did it!" without reservation or a basic understanding about what they are discussing.

The whole theory is collapsing because it is a myth. If it were true, the weight of the evidence would be so overwhelming that there would be no cause for controversy!

There isn't any controversy. There's a couple idiots who think it contradicts their God. It does contradict their God. But, that doesn't actually make it false. Considering the great evidence for evolution and the complete and utter lack of evidence for their God... so much worse for their God. A mindless, powerful, amazing process made all life on this planet. Your God doesn't even have dominion over fungus. Not really sure what that God thing was suppose to do anyhow. We have everything covered, and where we don't we're at least trying.

As you state, a large measure of faith is essential to be a believer.

I was being sarcastic. The idea that a person has 'faith' in science just as one has faith in religion is absurd. The only things science requires is that ideas can be proven false, and new ideas (whether false or not) can be crafted. If we use our old ideas as the building blocks for new ideas, science will proceed along its path inevitably and unavoidably explaining as much as we can know about the universe. Whether some things are unknowable by science is unknowable, because we cannot know if we have the perfect solution; we only know that this solution is better than our previous solution. However, the comparison between a leap of belief taken to avoid a greater leap of non-belief, to the monumental leap of accepting the infinitely ridiculous, with no evidence, on a parent's order, is patently dishonest, grossly ignorant, or, perhaps, forgivably naïve.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Obscure question of the day.

Why would one "Move 'Zig'"?

Awe! That's so cute... he actually thinks that's science!

Look! They are playing scientists like the big mean people who paid attention in school. It's so cute, and vaguely reminds me a cargo cult. They do all the things they think scientists do, in order to be taken seriously, but are completely wrong.

There were some tribes during WWII especially in the New Guinea area. Who believed that the westerners commanded Cargo to come out of the sky. They went out of their way to create everything perfectly to receive cargo down to the fake earphones, if the westerners did it, they replicated it. Cargo seems like a very useful thing to get, and certainly worth the effort.

Overwhelming Evidence (below) the great conspiracy, propping up a valid theory making it impossible for ID to gain a foothold (regardless that it's just sooooo obvious). Are preventing the world changing break through which is as follows:

“Dark energy, that drives the expansion of the universe, is one of the deepest and most exciting puzzles in modern science. We posit that dark energy is the field manifestation of the parent seed of the universe, just as the cosmic vacuum’s zero-point energy. They all originate from the cosmic seed’s biophoton emissions, which blackbody radiation provides a holographic biofield for the generation of the physical universe. Based on the fact that the biophotonic radiation emitted by DNA is coherent, we predict that the cosmic seed's biophotonic field or "dark energy" is equally coherent.”

You see, dark energy is the field manifestation of the parent seed of the universe and they all originate from the coherent biophotonic radiation emitted by DNA within the holographic biofield. Duh! Isn't that so cute? I mean look at all of those big science sounding words. We should expect that cargo any minute. Everything is perfect, the runway, the traffic tower, even down to the headphones and English sounding words being said into them. We saw those great visitors come and do all this and get cargo... we are perfecting it ourselves! Any moment the great cargo will come for our efforts. Few could do a better job sounding like those scientists who get all the accolades than this: "Blackbody radiation provides a holographic biofield for the generation of the physical universe!" It has background radiation from the big bang, a word stole from Star Trek, a word for life-field and also life-light, and a grand claim to explain the entire universe! That cargo is due any minute now!

“The elusive Higgs boson – so vital to the Standard Model of particle physics that it is dubbed “the God particle” – is identical with the genotype of the phenotype universe, and each human genome is its reproduction. Based on this identification we posit that mass-giving is life-giving because the elementary particles that come into contact with the cosmic seed's biofield or quantum vacuum receive their mass and property as a result of that interaction. “

The Higgs boson... so vital.... genotype, phenotype (scientists use those words)! The Higgs Boson is like the DNA of the universe and establishes the biofield and mass. So "mass-giving is life-giving" because of interactions with quantum vacuum and the cosmic seed's biofield (which as above we know to be come out of the cosmic parent seed's biofield established in the holographic biofield by the biophotonic radiation!


People say that unless you're science your ideas won't be accepted. Well, they have certainly taken their ideas and gone through the motions. They get kind of sad concerning this peer-reviewed thing. They keep trying to go through those motions too, but the mean people who review papers constantly, reject them. BUT IT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THE OTHER THINGS THAT GET ACCEPTED!

Just as Cargo cults miss the point of the actions and go through the motions of the actions, the ID proponents do the same. It isn't that sounding like science makes your ideas accepted, it is that actually doing science provides you with acceptable ideas. One could patter-on incoherently about coherent biophotonic radiation within the holographic biofield (giving even postmodernists a run for their money), or one can take a good look at the world and try to figure out how it actually works. As quizzlestick (the author of the article in question) notes:

If Kazmer were still laboring under the shackles of materialism would any of this have been possible? Of course not – these are the kinds of discoveries that can only come about when we first reject the rigid dogma of the philosophy behind atheism and Darwinism's only life-support.

He's right. When you are forced to conform your ideas about reality to the realm of reality it's like working with all but two of your hands tied behind your back. Only when you reject reality do such things come to light. The reason ID isn't accepted is because people restrict their ideas about reality to reality. What the hell is reality to dictate to us what is and isn't real! Allowing reality to dictate our lives rather than us to dictate reality is the real core difference between atheists and theists.

Update: I looked at the comments some more and the other work of this great almost breakthrough and you know what the "parent seed of the universe" is? This great Intelligent Design science breakthrough starting point? CHRIST! That's right Jesus Christ is the parent seed of the universe. No! ID isn't religious!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why no peer-reviewed papers from ID?

According to a post on Overwhelming Evidence,

Those of us who have spent hard years grappling with the finer points of Intelligent Design know that nothing could be further from the truth: There is no group I know who work harder to attempt to explain these difficult scientific topics than ourselves. We engage with all levels of society, and our findings are plainly true to anybody with an open mind. More importantly we are on the verge of some of the most important scientific discoveries in the entire history of science which could yield benefits to the whole of mankind were it not for a conspiracy of Darwinists who will stop at nothing to preserve the reputation of their absurd science.

Grappling with a plainly true theory? When ever somebody asks that you have an open mind, they are asking that you become credulous and invariably have a closed mind themselves.


Core Problem: Religious Epistemology

In the July/August issue of Skeptical Inquirer, Richard Carrier makes the point that the core issue concerning religion and atheism is that of religious epistemology.

The problem is religious epistemology. As long as we have that we will always have fallacious and ridiculous beliefs like creationism, biblical literalism, false beliefs about atheism, and so on. - Richard Carrier, Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 31, Issue 4, Page 66, July/August 2007

I must agree in the strongest terms. We tend to notice religion only when it does something stupid like oppose stem-cell research or evolution. We notice it when it gains political clout or when it uses said political clout to impede on our rights or to line their pockets with our tax dollars. However, these are all simply outgrowths of dogma and the reason why the religious believe dogma to be valid: faith.

If not for the belief that reality doesn't reflect what is real and actual, or that evidence is unneeded or that propositions are actually stronger without evidence, it would be impossible to prop up such endeavors. One cannot believe the universe is 6000 years old without faith, nor can one believe in 72 virgins in paradise after crashing a plane.

The problem with religions is they want different rules. They want to declare rather than determine. They want to announce rather than analyze. They want to believe rather than justify. Faith allows people to believe things which may be comforting. This isn't an argument for faith, simply a statement of its purpose. Faith has nothing to do with truth, because truth has nothing to do with comfort.

Preferring the lie, to an unwelcome truth, is the mark of a coward.

Welcome every truth.

Inventions to change the world.

Printable solar panels via Nanosolar. Nothing fancy nothing amazing, just pushed the technology to be easy and cheap to manufacture. They can manage to print it out for about $.3 a watt. Which is pretty much cheap enough to use as wall paper.

NuVinci CVT (continuous variable transmission) is a nifty little design to change gears without set gear levels. They are currently using the design for bikes. My brother would use it for a unicycle (a gear shift on one of those would be like magic). And it probably is going to have some great applications in wind turbines allowing them to maintain their power output without spinning so fast as to burn out or going so slow as to generate no power.

It doesn't exactly change everything, but it does make a number of things considerably better, smaller, and some things previously non-economical become economical. I think a car with a continuous transmission would be pretty awesome... and I bet it wouldn't blow out as quickly.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Garcia is now the 8th most popular surname.

NYT article (requires Bugmenot) on the census results (via Pandagon) finds that Hispanic last names are ranked 8th (Garcia) and 9th (Rodrigues) as far as last names go that's pretty good. In other news, my surname ranks in the 500s... a very similar last name ranks in the mid 100s. *sigh*

I don't even know what's depressing about that.

1. Smith (881 occurrences per 100K people)
2. Johnson (688)
3. Williams (569)
4. Brown (512)
5. Jones (505)
6. Miller (418)
7. Davis (398)
8. Garcia (318)
9. Rodrigues (298)
10. Wilson (290)

Shorter Dinesh Dsouza

Shorter Dinesh Dsouza,

Atheists are fallaciously using reality to determine what is and isn't real.

Sure, but what will you replace it with?

Theology Non-Rule #24: Things need to be replaced when they are removed.

You can't stop doing heroin! What would you replace it with? People need heroin! It gives them comfort!

Admittedly, I don't have anything to replace that with.

Well I'm stumped. Evolution must be a lie.

One of the many knowledgeable replies to NOVA Judgment Day was as follows:

If evolution were true and man "evolved" from apes, why do we have apes and monkeys co-existing with man? Why have the apes not all turned into humans?

Well I'm stumped. That seems to be such a strong argument that I can't refute it. I'll continue to believe in evolution on faith because this argument has clearly destroyed any reasonable basis I could have had for evolution.

If you're a creationist or an intelligent design proponent or perhaps even an cdesign proponentsists, you should use this argument as often and as loudly as possible.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My complaint about Judgment Day.

The PBS Nova report on the Dover trial was quite well done and reportedly captured the entire affair really well. The defense was pathetic and the science prevailed regardless of how conservative the judge was. It was just a complete wash out.

One part annoyed me though. There were several teachers and people who opposed ID and as a consequence received some of that Christian tolerance (death threats, insults, attacks of every kind), they pointed out in several parts of the report that this was so very uncalled for because they were Christians and active in the church. The impression I got is that if they were atheists the threats, attacks and insults would have been called for. It is not okay to send death threats to Christians when they oppose Creationism dressed up in drag. And though, denying the antecedent doesn't make for a valid argument, it certainly does give the impression that attacking atheists is okay.

If (Christian) then death threats are not called for.

If one adds the premise:
If (~Christian) then death threats are *STILL* not called for.

Then one doesn't even have an argument. It boils down to "death threats are not called for" and pointing out that they are Christian.

It's okay, though, it doesn't sit well with me.

God grants Georgia prayers, then attacks some kids for giggle.

God granted the prayers of the Georgia governor by producing one inch of rain which will do nearly nothing for the extreme drought experienced by the region. I question why a state with access to ocean water and strong evidence of climate change isn't investing a lot of money in desalinization plants and rather is resorting to begging mythological characters.

Certainly this is evidence of God, in the same sense that if you believed elves caused it to rain, every time it rains you would see evidence of elves.

Also in the same news story in Tennessee, it turns out that storms knocked out a Baptist church sending glass into children's faces and them to the hospital to have secular doctors patch them up.

*Update: In case anybody was slightly impressed, note, the rain was forecast by scientists prior to the event of praying for rain (again). A cynic would note that he prayed for rain previously and this second call for rain came seemingly out of the blue, but just after the prediction of some rain was forecast, and that he just saw the forecast and quickly arranged a prayer for it in order to give credit to God... at least a cynic would say that.