Friday, August 29, 2008

Danielle Quayle?

There has been a fairly constant implication that if you pulled somebody off the street they would, without fail, be better than Bush and Cheney have been. Apparently John McCain is testing that theory by yanking somebody off the street. After making sure she opposes abortion in all cases (including rape and incest) and is the right gender to attempt to peel away the McCain supporters who already support McCain but previously nominally supported Hillary.

I guess we should give it a few days and before this completely dwindles to a joke.

Wow. I'm the best debater ever.

Not really, but I'm apparently marginally good. I mentioned some of my exploits and funbits here and there. Apparently they just updated the software to include a ranking system.

Hm. Ranking system.

Member Debates Won Lost Tied Win Ratio Percentile
92 69 19 4 75.00% 99.95%
83 50 25 8 60.24% 99.85%
55 40 10 5 72.73% 99.79%
75 39 31 5 52.00% 99.74%
55 37 13 5 67.27% 99.69%

I'm number 1!

On theology and skepticism.

In response to the suggestion that theology is a progression like that of science.

Evaluation of data and understanding of how we should review that data is a critical step to insure that we have as many true beliefs as possible and as few false beliefs as possible. That's where the idea of rationality, science, and skepticism come in and why I took so much offense to your silly suggestion that theology is as legitimate of a progression as those enjoyed by science. It is the epistemological foundation to a rational worldview that makes anything in our human experience able to advance at all. It is this progression towards truth by excluding the more wrong, an intellectual honesty and accepting what we might not want simply because it is reasonable to believe that it is true.

That makes skepticism and science accurate. No amount of theology is every going to build the internet, the computer, powergrids or spacestations because it doesn't go anywhere. It is, what creationists accuse of evolution, a powerless bit of random waffling in no particular direction. Within science and skepticism much like in real evolution our ideas are tested and refined within the reality of the universe rather than the hobgoblins of imaginary physics.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama's acceptance smackdown.

Wow, of the top ten speeches I've run into Obama has about three of them.

Elevator group think.

I ain't a joiner.

(Via Of Two Minds)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton gives a knock out speech...

...except for that one part:

That is our duty, to build that bright future, and to teach our children that in America there is no chasm too deep, no barrier too great – and no ceiling too high – for all who work hard, never back down, always keep going, have faith in God, in our country, and in each other.

There's no ceiling to high for those who have faith in God? Does that imply that there are ceilings for those who don't?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NIBIRU 2012 A.D. The End? - No.

I don't pay much attention to idiots but apparently sometimes it's too funny not to. Did you know that the planet Nibiru is set to destroy the Earth in 2012? Now you may ask, what's Nibiru? And why 2012? Nibiru is a mysterous planet X which may be a red giant from 100+ light years away (slated to travel suddenly at Tachyon speeds to get to us in the next 4 years) or a somehow undetectable planet on a far out orbit. But, Tatarize, you ask "isn't the definition of planet such that anything crossing the orbit of another planet shouldn't really qualify?" - Yes. But, we aren't dealing with reasonable facts here... we're dealing with bizarre conspiracy theories assembled out of effectively nothing.

Oh, and 2012 because that's when the Mayan calendar ends. Why should you believe the Mayan calendar has any bearing on reality? You shouldn't, also you should note that the Mayan calendar doesn't end in 2012 it starts another cycle. It's like saying the world will end in the year 999 because they never got around to using the fourth digit yet. is going to roll over to oh the humanity! Clearly we're going to be hit bit an undetectable bit of space junk of the gravity of it floating by will cause chaos!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Genius of Darwin Part 3

Argument from Oranges

Oranges are not first cousins to anything but other oranges (as much as the term applies) but they are certainly cousins to our pets as well as ourselves. Almost as good as the argument from bananas.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama Picks Biden

Now I've got to whitewash everything bad I said about him. Which isn't much other than gimme some great liberal. Biden is an okay choice and certainly better than Bayh and Kaine pretty easily. He's also got crazy foreign policy experience and was the only reasonable person on Iraq early on (crack that bitch in three and run away).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Obama for Faith Based Initiatives?

I'm in favor of completely tearing down the faith based initiatives... and so is Obama. We're going to expand this program and enforce a couple rules. For example, "Can only use taxpayer dollars on secular programs and initiatives", and "cannot discriminate".

- Cannot use federal funds to proselytize or provide religious sectarian instruction.
- Cannot discriminate against nonmembers in providing services. They must remain open to all and cannot practice religious discrimination against the populations they serve.
- Must comply with federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Religious organizations that receive federal dollars cannot discriminate with respect to hiring for government-funded social service programs.
- Can only use taxpayer dollars on secular programs and initiatives.
- Must prove their efficacy and be judged based on program effectiveness.

Changing a blank check to religions groups into a check for secular services rendered, that's what we had before. I'm sure it sounds better to evangelicals to say we're expanding it when really he's putting it back to what it was before.

Still makes me feel dirty. Spares him from shooting himself in foot. You can't come out and say you're supporting secular government community help and are ripping faith-based initiatives to shreds. *eh* Still makes me feel dirty.

Evolve: Sex


Doesn't work well on my system, not sure why.

Minutia of the Day: Black-eyed Susan girl.

The most famous political ad of all time is the Daisy Girl ad put out by Johnson in 1964. The ad was actually titled "Peace, Little Girl" as the name Daisy Girl probably wouldn't have occurred to the makers of the ad because the flower in question is actually a Black-eyed Susan. At least according to Birgitte Olsen the woman (then girl) in the ad.

OLSEN: I don't remember that. To me it was a big field with daisies, you know? Actually, I remember it not being daisies, but Lazy Susans (Editor's Note: We assume that Ms. Olsen meant to say "Black Eyed Susans"), you know—the yellow with the...

CONELRAD: But everyone called it the Daisy ad.

OLSEN: Yea. I always wondered about that later because I remembered distinctly what kind of flower it was (laughs).

You can actually also count the pedals if you ignore the girl counting, I counted 11.

Also, her sister (Annette) was Susan Spotless. Every litter bit hurts.

So now in political discussions about the ad, you can have something so obscure to mention that you clearly have analyzed every little bit of minutia about the ad... you must be brilliant. Now all you need are friends who bring up 60s political ads.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My life's plan.

1) Learn everything.
2) ???
3) Profit.


Religions can hurt you if it's in their religion to do so, Texas Court Says

Apparently a woman who was repeatedly attacked by her congregation who swore she was possessed by demons and performed an exorcism on her, injuring her repeatedly and causing her post traumatic stress disorder gets a pass because saying they are wrong causes too much entanglement with religion.

Laura Schubert testified in 2002 that she was cut and bruised and later experienced hallucinations after the church members' actions in 1996, when she was 17. Schubert said she was pinned to the floor for hours and received carpet burns during the exorcism, the Austin American-Statesman reported. She also said the incident led her to mutilate herself and attempt suicide. She eventually sought psychiatric help.

I'm sorry, but religions don't get different laws. They get the exact same laws everybody else has to play by. The government can't go out of their way to dick with religions or give them a helping hand. They can however protect the citizenry from having their underaged daughters pinned to the floor as they shout to be let go. Applying this same kind of logic we should say that 9/11 was tragic but perfectly legal. You have a first amendment right to steal an airplane and fly it into a building killing thousands because you feel it is a central tenet of your faith that everybody should be ready to lay down their lives in the name of Islam. The supreme court had better reverse this nonsense because holy crap that is retarded. Sorry our faith says we get to violate underaged girls! Oh, okay.

Beware the Jews, they might just go into a town and kill all the men and children and keep the virgins for themselves. Preventing them from doing this sort of genocidal raid laid out in the OT repeatedly would needlessly entangle religion and government. -- Are you kidding me?

They get the same laws as everybody else, that's kidnapping and assault on a minor!

John McCain Was In Cone Of Silence.

If you've never seen Get Smart then you'd know the Cone of Silence is a common joke where the cone doesn't do anything. It leaks soundwaves like a sieve. So in the Saddleback church forum where the candidates discussed their love of pixies. The point of cone of silence is to allow everybody to hear em.

There's some pretty strong and fun suggestions that McCain had a heads up on the questions. Which is a great talking point if you want to gloss over the fact that he was in a very pro-McCain situation and not want to focus on the subjects of the debate. Which to Obama was just to state repeatedly that he was Christian.

We prefer catastrophe.

We face an energy crisis. We need to deal with it or we'll face catastrophe! Oh.. that sounds nice.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Carl Sagan: The Awe of Religion and the Smallness of Gods

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed"? Instead they say, "No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way." - Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot.

In case you're stupid and think McCain is the lesser of two evils

Friday, August 15, 2008

Germination of Oil Age

Plant sprouting like all processes of work requires energy. The energy comes stored in the seed which has a bit of fat (oil) which helps the seed to grow to the surface at which point it starts photosynthesizing light which allows it to grow into a large mature plant.

This is a great metaphor for the oil age. We exploited energy from coal, oil, natural gas, which was simply trapped under ground and created initially by photosynthesis millions of years ago. Whereas at some point that bit of cheap no-work-to-get energy goes away and we really need to start making our own.

-- Great metaphor, crappy point, worse post.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Evolve: Jaws

Part 2.
Part 3.
Part 4.
Part 5.
Part 6.

Evolve: Eyes

Part 2.
Part 3.
Part 4.
Part 5.

Should link up on the Youtube side of things.

Tachyon Neutrinos

As everybody knows tachyons is a general term for particles which travel faster than the speed of light. Whereas neutrinos are elementary particles, lack an electric charge, are able to pass through ordinary matter almost undisturbed and are thus extremely difficult to detect. About 50 trillion passed through your body in the last second.

I wish to propose what may seem to be an astounding theory. I believe that there is only one neutrino in the entire universe and it just goes really really fast.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How Archaeology Killed The Bible

In case you wanted to know most of the acceptable claims of the Bible are notably false.

The Genius of Darwin Part 2

Best Damned Race Ever

Just one of those things from the Olympics worth watching a few times.

Men's Relay Swimming.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm not convinced: Neandertals still might have interbred

The nail in the coffin of theory that Neandertals interbred with modern humans is typically the mitochondrial DNA which typically shows that Neandertals broke off of the human family tree prior to modern humans. We typically use 100,000 years as a demarcation for human, although in reality our ancestors have always been the same species as far as you go back even if that species is a type of fish or worm. Deciding when during an evolution to say this is a new species is an arbitrary point. Anyhow it seems on pretty good authority that Neandertals last shared a common ancestor with humans 660,000 years ago, so they certainly aren't an ancestor but a near cousin (in the same sense that the tree out my window is a distant cousin). Mitochondrial DNA (as you well know because you're smart (if not you will be)) is passed from mother to child along a material line all the way back to the mitochondrial eve (scientists need to stop calling shit Adam or Eve they make for really bad names).

Now this seems pretty clear that no genetic material was passed around between the neandertal population and the human population when the human population left Africa for Europe, right? Well, I'm not convinced. Neandertals were strong, really strong, Arnold Schwarzenegger Mr. Universe strong and this holds true for the women as well. In order to get our mitochondrial DNA to show signs of Neandertal interbreeding we need to posit that a man had sex with a fairly ugly brow face woman capable of breaking him in half and that from that union somehow the kid got taken care of from the human side (even though mommy would raise him) and that from that there is a *direct* maternal line going back at least 15,000 years and these one of these individuals wasn't picked up by a small sampling of the human population.

1) Neandertal men + human women = much more likely.
2) Sample size might be too small to find mRNA traces within human population.
3) The traces might have just been lost.

I don't mean this to sound like special pleading by any extent, rather I just don't find mitochondrial DNA to be a nail in the coffin. We really might have had plenty of interbreding with the local population and bear no signs within our mitochondrial DNA.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Genius Of Darwin

I really love these little programs Dawkins puts out. Program 1 of 3. (Others out in due time).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Suddenly Phil Plait > P.Z. Myers.

Phil Plait is the new president of the JREF.

Plait has always been really close but still sub-PZ for a large part, so much for that.