Monday, March 31, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Riches isn't dead.

Last year a new favorite show of mine came and went staring Eddie "Danger" Izzard and Minnie Driver as gypsies who take over the lives of honest folk. Well, according to some sites it was canceled, but sure enough new episodes started to show up.


A happy surprise.

Monday, March 24, 2008

God should Kill Ceiling Cat

Don't you love it when things just work out.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wow, its been a while since I blogged.

Not dead just not overwhelmingly intrigued by things.

Playing too much counter-strike source.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ignorance in, ignorance out. Old comments make great fodder.

So one of my old posts got a comment a couple days back on the issue of climate change.

And on top of that the hipocrit has a global warming sticker on a Ford F-350. It's ok thought we all know Global warming is a load of shit. What ever happened to all the talk about the hole in the ozone in south America? Oh yeah that's right the Democrats couldn't find any way to make money from it!!!

We're polluting the atmosphere with heat-trapping gases... it's getting hotter; the computer models are not optimistic.

The ozone hole was around the poles and has just started to shrink after a major global effort to completely phase out CFCs 20 years ago.

The ways of counting money.

How People Count Cash? - The best bloopers are here

(via Agraphia)

Bastard Fairies: You are going to hell.

Pretty sure I posted a very similar if not the same thing. But, I've watched it too many times to let it go away... so I'll put it here and continue with the addictive song.

via Pharyngula

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ah, the comments sections well worth the fodder...

Rosanna of Juliannie's blog (which as far as I can tell is completely lifeless). Posted a comment on my copy of Jesus Loves the Little Zygotes by Frank Zindler.

Well... lets see what the crazy fairy left us!

Jesus WAS a zygote. God (Jesus) was a human embryo. He placed himself in the hands of humans whom he loved so much that even though he loved them they killed him because they would have no other king but Caesar.

A zygote is a single cell made of two gametes. Unless Jesus was a massive fertilized egg, this is funny. People would have no other king but Caesar. Caesar was an emperor and there were plenty of kings. Finally, most of the Jesus story is probably fiction.

Pontius Pilate knew Jesus was innocent and places a sign above Jesus on the cross that read "King of the Jews" but the Jews told Pilate to write "Jesus SAID 'I am the king of the Jews'" and Pilate said "I have written what I have written." Pilate knew who Jesus was, but even he valued the opinion of the people more than doing what was right.

That's not a part of the original text. And where it is, that part of the gospel makes no sense at all. Everybody is acting out of character for no apparent reason. If you were a trouble-maker you get nailed to a stick for everybody to see what happens to trouble makers. You stay on that stick until you're good and rotted. You don't get a trial, you don't get some vote to let a prisoner go, you don't get any of that. - You get nailed to a stick, and if anybody else is around they get nailed to a stick too! If nailing you to a stick could get people to see that you don't fuck with the Romans, you got nailed to a stick.

So Jesus (God) died. God knows all about death and suffering. And he established his church that we can now collect as a family and do something and work together. But as you can see we still have the free choice to say no and do bad things, further making the world a worse place than we made it with the original sin. Sin has cosmic effects, primarily death. Diseases are death at small scale: cells die first, then the whole body. But sin first kills the spirit.

Why? Why couldn't all powerful God have come to a different conclusion as to what to do given the situation? Some creation of God acted in a way God didn't approve of, even though God should of known exactly how they would have acted, and thus their children (I know not how this is fair) are cursed for their wrongdoings. God find that this is unfair and in order to fix the problem God sacrifices himself to himself in order to create a loophole in his set of rules?

As far as diseases are concerned, I wonder why humans are the only creatures who cook their food.

This is remarkably a good question in a sea of stupid. If you were to name one quality of modern life that is nearly impossible to do without: cooking! As far as adaptations go cooking food is exceedingly important. Not only is it the best way to tenderize food it also pretty much opens up every other niche on the planet to human colonization. Cooking food is the best adaptations humans have. Some speculate that cooking is primarily responsible for humans position in the animal kingdom, and I tend to agree. If you watch Survivor, the first thing you do in camp is get a fire.

And the domestic animals who we feed cooked food to die also of the diseases that we have: arthritis, cancer, immune disorders.

Those diseases are common in animals well beyond their prime. Previously humans died far sooner than we do today. If you keep an animal alive in a domesticated fashion such as dogs or humans they will start to suffer these ailments having been spared from other things. If starving is off the table, there's few other things to get you.

Why do humans have long intestines with pockets in them, our stomachs produce light acid, while carnivores like dogs have intense acid that can separate flesh from bone and they have short intestines that are smooth so the meat they eat doesn't putrefy before it's eliminated.

Because humans cook their food. Some species of carnivores (carnivoria) can eat putrid meat, as in rotten meat which would easily kill a human. This is because they are evolutionarily adapted in a way to allow them to eat the food they do eat.

As a whole, we humans don't actually go along with natural law very well.

We have been domesticated for so long that it has had a major impact on our diet and our ability to consume food. Rather than forcing our jaws to eat raw meat (don't let a chimp bite your finger), or our stomachs to extract nutrients from hard things, we typically just cook all of our food making it fairly mushy and often tasty (though 'tasty' might be evolutionary preference for cooked food). The fact is, cooking and society are evolutionary products, they are not exceptions to nature.

Happy Pi Day.

Where are you going to be when the festivities* begin at 1:59?

3-14, 1:59:26

14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37510 58209 74944 59230 78164 06286 20899 86280 34825 34211 70679

* There will be no festivities. There will be no pie.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kyle XY, levitation is hella lame... but restarting a heart!

Kyle XY is a "sci-fi" (and I use that term loosely) show which currently involves a few people who can do certain impossible things. It involves that old canard of using only 10% of your brain and somehow longer gestation in the womb means an even bigger brain so they get special abilities like levitation by changing the polarity of their electromagnetic field in order to repel the electromagnetic field of water (in case you're not sure, that's the biggest load of bullshit ever).

I suppose the show comes on ABC family so I shouldn't expect a Joss Whedon caliber show... but in the season finale the secret cabal of shadowy scientists were extremely impressed with Kyle's ability to restart somebody's heart. That's right, ability to fly is lame... but being a glorified defibrillator... WOW!

In a previous episode there was need to make whether Kyle cured somebody's cancer ambiguous because that's so much harder than lifting objects with your mind. The amazement of the task magically performed seems to correlate with how much people would want to help other people out medically rather than the actual requirements.

Boo, a cheap ABC family show, having fairly crappy writing. What's next? Is Wildfire's broken leg going to heal after all on the show Wildfire? Wonders will never cease!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Clinton Coattails?

Open Left has a fairly interesting post about predicting a 50+ shift in the house due to the +R win of Bill Foster (who is a scientist by the way) in Hastert's old seat in Illinois' 14th district. The post makes what is the dumbest non sequitur I've ever seen:

Cillizza looked for Republican-held districts with a PVI of between R+1 and R+5, which is basically a measure of districts that are slightly Republican to fairly Republican, and listed them as possible on the table. 21 of them alone were in Ohio, Michigan, and Florida, which suggests that Clinton might have some serious House coattails.

The only logical connection between the two ideas wins across the board in PVI districts of up to R+5 and Clinton is that she won in Ohio and was on the ballot in the other two states when they had their elections with the well known consequences of making their delegates not be seated. However, Ohio according to SUSA would be won by ten points by either Clinton or Obama

It's pretty well a moot point anyhow. Even if you majored in math or miracles, Clinton simply doesn't have the numbers.

Looking at early voter turnout was one of the things which made me an Obama supporter. I think driving some Republicans to the polls just to vote against Clinton isn't going to help the down ticket races. The turnout and excitement for the race certainly does equal coattails but you need to take a good look at who the massive turnout helps. I'm not exactly sure there would be that much vigor and excitement among the old women (my sister and mother included) of Clinton's core voters.

I honestly don't see any coattails specifically for Clinton. There's certainly a wellspring of votes to oppose McCain (as well as a depressing support for McCain) but I don't exactly see anywhere near the excitement in the Clinton camp.

The argument seems to be:

Bill Foster wins in a PVI +R district.
Therefore, Clinton must have coattails.
Therefore, Clinton can help win 50+ districts.

Bill Foster won in Illinois with the help of Barack Obama (he might have done it alone as he had major help from the DNCC, but I don't know how you'd measure that). This bodes well for the coming election season (clearly) however it has nothing to do with Clinton. Good omens for the coming election do not make for some kind of specific claim about one candidate over another.

Moreover, according to SUSA and various general polls, Obama is set to win a much larger victory against McCain than Clinton would, this does actually equal coattails. There's nothing like lackluster candidate suffering an overwhelming defeat to a charismatic individual to send shockwaves through the downticket races. I think the general conclusion of Clinton's lackluster general election prospects (she'd win mind you) doesn't scream coattails.

In fact, I find Clinton's argument that she's the perfect person to go toe-to-toe with McCain another reason not to support her, not because she's tacitly advocating a McCain presidency, but because there's no reason to go toe-to-toe to a guy you can ignore and defeat while extolling the reasons why you are the man for the job. Going toe-to-toe with somebody means that you're at their level. The implicit assumption is that to bring Obama to McCain's level means that he needs to step it up a bit. Rather, to do so, Obama would have to lower himself to that level just as Clinton has lowered herself. Clinton's current strategy to advocate that she's the person to oppose McCain even though every matchup suggests that she does significantly worse is strange enough. However, when you're faced with another four years of McBush who advocates keeping troops in Iraq until they are as old as he is, nobody needs to go toe-to-toe with McCain! He is is the embodiment of failure. He's going to lose. He had a hard time beating a field of humorously weak candidates before GOP bigwigs decided he was the best of the bunch.

Also, not only was Bill Foster helped in his special election, but even in 2004 when Obama was busy sailing to victory for his Senate seat, he started campaigning for a number of house races and having his volunteers help them out. In Clinton's 2006 race, she helped nobody but herself and spent massive amounts of money in an election she was never remotely close to losing.

Further, Obama's ground game is astounding, you win big with good ground game.

Coattails? Clinton? I don't think so.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Lie About Momentum

Watching this election closely has given me a new appreciation for bullshit. There's something to the fact that winning some early contests can establish you as a front runner candidate and make people in other states vote for you because you're the one who stands the chance. Basically there's no point to voting for Kucinich it he's only going get a couple percent (full disclosure, 2004 I voted for Kucinich after Dean dropped). Which a self fulfilling prophecy, in that, even if there was support out there it wouldn't be enough because you can't support a person without support.

Anyhow, what is true for the first couple contests becomes rather absurd this far out. After Super Tuesday, Barack Obama had pretty much the rest of February tailor made for his campaign, in that, he was set to crush everything on the agenda for a while. At least until Ohio and Texas which Clinton was set to do well in. She did ... eh, though only netting 4 delegates which the California certification pretty well reversed the day after (the other counts were three votes Clinton heavy, three votes Obama shy), and as a consequence, she is mathematically Hucked (a quick political allusion to Huckabee).

The insistence on narrative is a bit 'lie-y'. She underperformed Super Tuesday (Obama netted more delegates) when she needed to get a strong enough lead to block for the rest of February. Then she needed to do well in VOTR primary, which she didn't, but did "win" the states (at least the ones which mattered). Further, she'll win in PA too... but it isn't going to save her. If Florida manages to get a new election (looking doubtful) or Michigan (looking a bit better for a caucus) she'll still going net so few delegates that she'll end up losing.

The narrative is complete crap. After Edwards dropped out just before Super Tuesday, a couple days later everybody had pretty well made up there minds. I think the idea that everybody voted for Obama because he was on fire, winning 12 in a row, is about as dumb as the idea that Clinton just can't be knocked out of this thing, keeps rising from the dead, or can't be counted out. She underperformed where she needed to do really well at every turn. -- She's now lost. It makes for a crappy story. Looking at the delegates she's started off with a good number of Super Delegates from the DNC and DCL and proceeded to be whittled down to the point where there's no chance of her winning. There's your narrative. She's never won in this election, not from the first contest to this latest one. She's underperformed where in the races where she won, she's underperformed in the races where she lost.

Winning states is kind of crap too. It's a primary, they're delegates. Obama won in Georgia. Clinton won in Texas. How much did they win by? Obama netted 33 in Georgia and Clinton netted negative 5 in Texas. I honestly wish the news networks would try to report the news as it matters. Sure, "Obama wins Wyoming, TAKES MOMENTUM!" Sounds good, but winning that state is exactly as obvious as the fact that he's going to win Mississippi come Tuesday. I bet the momentum he gains from Wyoming helped him there!

The race is honestly interesting if you look at it fairly, this need to create a meta story, is unneeded. Why not report the truth rather than jerk people around? Clinton started out with the endorsements of some party bigwigs because her husband use to be president. She's done okay, but not well enough to win.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I am Legend - The ending they should have used.

They did film the obvious other ending and it is a thousand times better. Why they went with the mystical crap nonsense self-sacrifice for no reason escapes me. However, here's what it should have been.

Link to site with properly embedded video.

-- Wow, oddly stole the embed script and it worked. Shhh...

(via Bad Astronomy, via Pharyngula)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Clinton Wins! -- Should probably give up now.

After the VOTR (Vermont, Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island) primaries/caucaprimary Clinton won both large states Ohio and Texas which she needed to continue. Thus far it looks like she won a net gain of 2 delegates. This is the same difference is exactly winning New Mexico or my district (CA-43) breaking 3-1 in favor of her rather than 2-2 as any normal even district would.

Starting the night down 159 delegates (pledged total) she finishes up 157 delegates down. And a third of the way closer to the end. To put this in Texas Holdem analogy because I've decided to do that and this isn't your blog...

The season started with Obama having Pocket Deuces vs. Ace King (11:10 in favor of Obama). We'll call this the flop... no help to anybody. This is a massive help to Obama. No hand improved, but, the odds are much better and much more in his favor even after these "losses". There's only so many cards coming and she needs to hit somewhere. The odds may have started out pretty much as a coin flip but they aren't good at this point.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hitler Table Talks, real but mostly a hoax.

If you've been kicking around a while on a number of different fronts you'll run into quotes contending to show that Hitler was an atheist and hated Christianity and therefore the Holocaust not the fault of Christians who pretty well established the wellspring of antisemitic hate floating around since the middle ages.

Well, the most commonly referenced work (by commonly referenced I'm talking ad nauseum) is Hitler Table Talks. Which include such bombshells as:

* "The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse.... ...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.... Christianity the liar.... We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State."
* "The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity."
* "Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery.... .... When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let's be the only people who are immunised against the disease."

Clearly, one should have little doubt of Hitler's atheism and hatred for Christianity! And the only issue that I can raise is that it's pretty much all lies and a hoax.

I strongly recommend Richard Carriers work on the subject from the 2002 November issue of Freethought Today: On the Trail of Bogus Quotes.

Sadly, due to the brilliance of Carrier I'm hardpressed to summarize his statements better than he, so here's a few choice quotes. Though I recommend reading the original article and, if so, inclined his piece in German History Studies.

"For example, one oft-repeated quote comes from 13 December 1941: "But Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery" (Stevens and Cameron's English, again matching Genoud's French verbatim). But the original German says, "Christianity teaches 'transubstantiation,' which is the maddest thing ever concocted by a human mind in its delusions, a mockery of all that is godly." The difference in meaning here is radical, and again shows how Genoud (hence the Trevor-Roper translation) has distorted Hitler's criticism of one form of Christianity (which implies he believed there was a true Christianity) into a thoroughly anti-Christian sentiment."

The reason why the quotes appear to be a caricature of what right wing Christians might *want* Hitler to say... because that's pretty much what they are!

Stevens and Cameron are certainly guilty of some shameful incompetence, if not outright dishonesty. Nor does Trevor-Roper have much of an excuse. But the real culprit is François Genoud. David Irving tells how Genoud attempted to hoax him in the 1970s with a forgery of "Hitler's Last Testament."7 Genoud even confessed the forgery to Irving, declaring in his defense, "But it's just what Hitler would have said, isn't it?" He was evidently willing to perpetrate a hoax, thinking it permissible to fabricate the words of Hitler if it was what he believed Hitler "would have said." His motives for doctoring the Table Talk may be unfathomable. Genoud was a very strange man with a colorful history: a Swiss banker and Nazi spy who laundered money for the Third Reich, a self-professed neo-Nazi even up to his suicide in 1996 (though, stranger still, he never supported the holocaust), a voracious purchaser and profiteer of Nazi archives, and an admitted financer of terrorists

Sure, Hitler may have not been anti-Christian (although he did disagree with some dogmas and some church practices / who doesn't?) but 'it's just what Hitler would have said, isn't it?'

I am often astounding what a small amount of scratching can do to key pieces of evidence for commonly repeated Christian claims. This is probably more due to the fact that they become "key" when there aren't other sources saying the same thing and with general or common claims there should be many independent sources for the information at hand. However, it's odd to see how aptly lies are bought hook line and sinker. I suppose it's hard to avoid believing false things ever. Still, some people don't even try.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Atheist Experience, Youtube fame...


As far as YouTube goes it has the highest vote for any comments I've ever seen: +37
LOL! The christbot had a "DOES NOT COMPUTE!" error and switched into witch-hunt operation mode by default.

Send him back to the factory for repair. Hopefully he's still under warranty.

There are some absolute classic comments:
Listen to the words carefully at the beginning, there are no such words in the dictionary, I understand the words u stupid fuck, thats not what I said, I said most people would get caught up in his bullshit with his so called knowlege. Hed should be punched in his big fat head, maybe you should get one too!!! Asshole

To which an astute commenter replied:

Which words? Philosophical? Epistimology? Heuristic? I assure you, those are real words in the dictionary. And after using those terms, he realized that the caller didn't understand, and tried to simplify his language a bit. It's a complicated subject, though, and sometimes complicated words are necessary to talk about it.

Considering your version of English seems to mainly consist of highbrow terms such as "u stupid fuck" and "asshole", though... this might be a pointless conversation.

PZ Myers Fail.

PZ Myers of Pharyngula in a recent post made the point that the genome is not a computer program. He did so in response to some creationist who was beyond stupid.

From Wikipedia,
The terms computer program, software program, or just program are the instructions for a computer.[1] A computer requires programs to function, and a computer program does nothing unless its instructions are executed by a central processor.[2] Computer programs refer to either an executable program or the source code from which an executable program is derived (e.g., compiled).

Computer source code is often written by professionals known as computer programmers. Source code is written in a programming language that follows one of two main paradigms: imperative or declarative. Source code may be converted into an executable image by a compiler. Once an executable image is requested to be run, the central processor executes the program, instruction by instruction, until termination. Alternatively, computer programs may be executed immediately with the aid of an interpreter, generated by other computer programs, or may be embedded directly into hardware.

Computer programs may be categorized along functional lines: system software and application software. And many computer programs may run simultaneously on a single computer, a process known as multitasking.

PZ made the comments (in the post and comments of the post):

It's probably (analogies are always dangerous) better to think of gene products as like small autonomous agents that carry out bits of chemistry in the economy of the cell. There is no central authority, no guiding plan. Order emerges in the interactions of these agents, not by an encoded program within the strands of DNA.

Programs do that. It's not a programming paradigm you'd run into often but think of the processing done by a processor is all hard coded? There's actually a program in there telling things how to function how to carryout the little functions. There's no specific bit of code doing anything until requested it just responds to the signals within the processor.

Why else isn't DNA a program?

You can compare the genome as a data set to the data stored by a computer, and that's legit -- we know how much storage space you need to pack away the sequence. It is not in any way comparable to software.

Clearly you can compare it with the data. You can download the human genome here.

Nah, you guys who argue that a genome is a computer program aren't persuading me at all. You're missing the whole point, that the genome is incomplete and does not specify or regulate much of anything without major contributions from its environment. If there is a computation engine in the cell, it's the cytoplasm.

Computer programs are incomplete. They don't regulate much of anything without major contributions from the environment. If there's a computation engine in the computer, it's the processor.

A computer program contains the operators that work on data from the environment. The genome does not. The genome is part of the data that the cytoplasm manipulates.

No programs do not. The program contains a character or two which is interpreted by the compiler and assembled into a some assembly code (which is really just binary code in a bit more user friendly language) which is then loaded (on execution) into memory and understood by the processor (because the processor is programmed to understand such code), without that understanding the compiler and the processor are screwed. The program itself doesn't manipulate any data; it tells the system what data to change.

A genetic circuit is an excellent example of what I'm talking about! They are utterly dependent on cell signaling and signal transduction for their function. In those diagrams, all those little lines connecting the modules are the important parts -- and that connectivity illustrates patterns of interaction between genes.

And what part of "i++" is understood natively by the computer? The underlying understanding of what "++" should denote is very important as far as the execution is concerned. It depends on the datatype the variable. The expression can change a lot.

Perhaps this clarification will help reconcile me to all the computer people who object to my dismissal.

Yes, please.

We can talk about the cell as an analog to a computer program; there's an interesting literature treating development as a trajectory followed by a swarm of state machines. I can buy that.

We can talk about the processor like that too, it needs it's own internal firmware to know how to interpret the stuff it needs to interpret.

What I specifically object to here is the strange isolation of DNA as "the program," an excessively reductionist view. It isn't and can't contain a program. The information there is inadequate -- we tend to ignore all the information that is also inherited from the cytoplasm, and the fact that there is epigenetic modification of the genome in the history of a developmental lineage. That's also part of the "program," and it's just as indispensable as the nucleotide sequence.

It is only reductionist if you somehow have a reduced view of what a computer actually does. The information of a program itself is not enough to make it do anything. If we tried to to run something from a different OS or on a non X86 processor it wouldn't do anything (productive). Without the information in the processor, the OS, the BIOS... nothing is going to execute properly.

Computer programs also suffer epigenetic modification in the form of buffer overflows which are often used to hack computer systems. The data is fed into the upper part where variables are stored while executed in memory. If the array is unchecked, it can start spilling over into the other data and eventually into the program lower down. If accidental, it could easily result in a program crash as gobbledygook is being run as computer code. Whereas, if malicious, it could result in executing code with malicious intent. Some computer viruses are programed to exploit such flaws, which is sort of similar to what allows viruses to take over a cell.

Another thing to consider: DNA came last, protein/RNA/metabolic intermediates came first. The predecessors to the progenote did all of the things we characterize as the product of a program, without a genome.

The same is true for programs. Before we had the programing languages we have today we had more limited one. We had to code in assembly to make the first compilers and before that punch the stuff out in binary... and before that make it in hardware!

It's an analogy. It's not suppose to be perfect. However, it doesn't suffer from a disanalogy stark enough to warrant outright rejection. You could explain computers in the language of biology or explain biology in the language of computers.

The real clincher, if you replaced the DNA in an embryo with different DNA so long as the cytoplasm processor could still read and execute the program it would do so. You could replace a rat genome with a mouse genome and put it in a rat womb and have it give birth to a mouse. That's a program!

Sure, it may seem like a dynamically linked list (.dll file) of function calls used by programs in the OS, or a firmware code for the processor storing how to execute certain signals, or even a trigger based interpreted language. Those are still all programs.

A program is basically anything that tells something what to do when it does what it does.

Prediction for Primary on Tuesday

Obama wins Texas and Ohio. And somehow, let's suggest magic, he wins even more delegates than Clinton does. She drops out of the race after a large number of superdelegates began a rush to Obama just to put the race away and start focusing on the general.