Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jesus Loves Me.

Ah, godless parodies. They are great.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Asimov and the Relativity of Wrong

I love this Asimov essay so much. I've been pimping it for years. I love it so much, I love videos about the essay. When ever somebody has a misconception about science or the nature of science, I am quick to toss the essay because it's great (even back 5 years ago and such). It's a great argument and it really does address the rather strange flaw in people's understanding of the way science works.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Peter Hitchens Book

The ten commandments are a thorn in my side and hinders my plan to be the sole source of good? WTF?

How stupid is that? If I draw a picture of a horse my great great grandkids are doomed as God will visit the iniquity of my sins on to even the 4th generation, is somehow a thorn in my side? Seriously? The ten commandments are barbaric, and just because he "can say so" doesn't mean he's right in so saying.

Chris Hitches buys into a lot of insane nonsense and God just happens to not be one of them. However defending Communism (back in the day) or right wing neoconservatism today are not far from the same general failures of logic. A plague on both their houses for various reasons but largely Peter seems to be a little slow on the uptick.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do you know what "Under God" in the pledge is intended to convey?

According to the recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Newdow v. Rio Linda Unified School District, it means that we have a limited form of government. That's right, being "under God" means that our government is limited, it draws a stark contrast to those totalitarian theocracies which are not very limited forms of government. I know this doesn't make much sense, but the entire majority decision in question doesn't make a lot of sense. Apparently if you pass legislation which specifically adds two words which seem roughly religious and serving a religious purpose it's really about limited government.

Congressman Rabaut:
From the root of atheism stems the evil weed of communism and its branches of materialism and political dictatorship. Unless we are willing to affirm our belief in the existence of God and His creator-creature relation to man, we drop man himself to the significance of a grain of sand and open the floodgates to tyranny and oppression.

Congressman Bolton:
The significant import of our action today . . . is that we are officially recognizing once again this Nation’s adherence to our belief in a divine spirit, and that henceforth millions of our citizens will be acknowledging this belief every time they pledge allegiance to our flag.

 To put it bluntly, no judge familiar with the history of the Pledge could in good conscience believe, as today’s majority purports to do, that the words “under God” were inserted into the Pledge for any purpose other than an explicitly and predominantly religious one: “to recognize the power and the universality of God in our pledge of allegiance;” to “acknowledge the dependence of our people, and our Government upon the moral direction and the restraints of religion,” 100 Cong. Rec. 7590-91 (1954); and to indoctrinate schoolchildren in the belief that God exists, id. at 5915, 6919. Nor could any judge familiar with controlling Supreme Court precedent seriously deny that carrying out such an indoctrination in a public school classroom unconstitutionally forces many young children either to profess a religious belief antithetical to their personal views or to declare themselves through their silence or nonparticipation to be protesting nonbelievers, thereby subjecting themselves to hostility and ridicule.

Nope. Hogwash. According to the majority it means that we have a limited form of government. Yes, because "Under God" conveys to "Godless Communists" who are "Atheistic" and "Atheist Americans is a contradiction in terms" we are to take the fact that people who expressly said this added the words "Under God" to the pledge to convey how limited our government is.
You know, school is hard enough without being outed as an atheist by a silly recited pledge hijacked by religious fervor in the 1950s to force children to be told that their parents beliefs are wrong and that God and patriotism go hand in hand.

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
-- 9th Circuit decision in Newdow v. Elk Ridge

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Feynman, the scientific method and evolution.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before but science is an evolutionary algorithm. And I love how well Feynman's explanation of science fits into the algorithm itself.

Guess -> Compute consequences of guess -> Agrees with reality?

If it fails to agree with experiment, the guess is absolutely wrong, even if it's beautiful. That's very closely akin to the typical algorithm employed by biology:

Mutation -> Develop organism out of DNA -> Dies?

If it fails to thrive, the mutation was less fit. The fact is that without the unforgiving nature of science or the unforgiving nature of nature, things don't work at all.

B.C. or BCE, a plague on both their houses

If you're not going to correct a damned thing, then don't change it. There should be one number and it should be positive or negative. Something like "astronomical year" and replace 1B.C. with a fracking 0. The lack of a year zero is a pretty critical problem in the calendar system. We teach kids good basic math involving zeros and negative numbers and telling them that Julius Caesar was born in year -43 (AY) rather than 44 BC is a far better idea. Then if you talk about things that happened in 111 AD or rather 111AY then can properly know that there are 154 years between those two dates rather than tell them 44BC to 111 AD and have them say 155 and let some snooty bastards correct them, or just remain wrong. I know a few places that are wrong about such things. I've seen it said that there's a ten year gap between 4BC (before which Matthew (and a phrase in Luke) suggests Jesus was born, via Herod the Great) and 6AD (during which Luke suggests Jesus was born). When in reality there's a 9 year gap. I've also seen some people claim that based on Ussher's calculation the universe was created in 4004 BC and thus (this being 2010) is 6014 years old. When in reality the correct answer is that according to that the universe is only 6012 year and 5 months. Because it is not beyond October (when Ussher said it was created) and because there's no year 0.
I was going to link to an example of the problem as the site...
... used to say 10 years.
I sent them an email, and I guess they fixed it.

Now I just wish I could tell the people at Talk Origins that Galen was a Roman scientist.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

ATM error, nom nom nom $80

This ATM jammed giving me a chunk of cash, and seemed to be unable to roll out the money properly and I grabbed as much as I could but the damned thing ate $80 before I could grab it. It was rather strange to say the least and now I have to go back tomorrow to ask for my money. Hrmf.

It was kind of weird. I suppose it's also strange that gussied-up vending machines that give out money don't screw up that often. Other than once adding a zero (which I might have just pressed anyhow) and giving me $600 rather than $60 dollars, they seem to be very reliable machines... and then they strike. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Smut for Smut...

Some other groups have had fiction for fiction booths, but rarely does it get any press.

It seems like right-wing news is the only place to carry such things. The Washington sign protest wouldn't have been remotely successful if there wasn't a tizzy against it.  And those silly bus campaigns are always rather banal but good for a story or two.

It's good to see such things balloon up.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What if your wrong, south park style.

It's considerably better than the previous South Park style Richard Dawkins that was actually done by the South Park folks. And has a lot to recommend it, but the strangest thing is why do people like this? I saw this years ago as part of a Q and A in a pretty straight forward talk/reading. It sounded boiler-plate to me but it seems to have be rehashed and rehashed and is much beloved.