Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What beer ads say about men.

It makes a lot of good points and does help highlight the harm that patriarchy does to men too. Also, seriously? What's wrong with beer ads they are almost all exclusively terrible.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Joss Whedon's Equality Now Speech

Some of the things I post on this blog are things that I think are awesome and want to find again in a pinch. I'm pretty much the only person here so that sounds like a great way to use my blog. That said, Joss Whedon's speech is insanely awesome.

Autotune the News still exists...


It's pretty interesting and was when they existed a good while back, it's good to find that they still do what they do.

Monday, June 21, 2010

En Passant Chess Puzzle.

What an interesting little puzzle.

White to move and moves his bishop (lower right) up and to the right for checkmate. But, black has a response of double pushing his pawn still in its starting position up two to interpose, allowing a discovered checkmate by his bishop. At which point white takes blacks double pushed pawn "en passant" or 'in passing'. Now, interestingly enough, that would mean that black never actually got out of checkmate. The reason why you can double push your pawns is to speed up the game. The en passant move is so that people cannot abuse it to avoid being attacked by the other players pawns. So really the double pressed move is suppose to be two moves with only the opportunity by the other player to capture on the very next move or rather in the middle of the move that was just made. But, it's treated like a single move. So who really wins? Can black interpose if black can't reach the needed square? Because the whites response sets back the clock so to speak? Or does black win because the interposing allows for a discovered mate? Should you be allowed to capture the king in passing?


Friday, June 18, 2010

RL moved, also burnt my computer to death.

I somehow thought it was okay to leave my computer in direct sunlight for a while. Admittedly it might have been the jiggling drive across town and the very large heat sink on my system, or that I left the black case in 100 degree F (38C) heat in direct sunlight. In any event my system refuses to turn on when I press the power button though it gets lights on the motherboard when there's power to be had, but it kind of sits there like I didn't just press the power button when I press the power button.

In any event, that's likely why I have very few blog entries in the last week or so.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stupid Clown Posse... Seriously?

Maybe they are wicked insanely smart geniuses who just pretend to be the dumbest people ever, but seriously, nobody can pretend to be that stupid without being that stupid.

You need to watch and roll your eyes at the first video before watching the SNL parody. I'm glad that most people realize how extremely stupid it is rather than me just sitting there alone and pointing out that there are scientific explanations for things.

In case you wonder. HowStuffWorks has a pretty good explanation of how magnets work.
I see miracles all around me
Stop and look around, it’s all astounding
Water, fire, air and dirt
Fucking magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fun things you might not know: Gollum's Acceptance Speech.

Gollum's acceptance speech for the 2003 MTV Best Animated Character Award won the 2004 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Dr. Horrible Commentary.

I swear I should be docked a lot of geek cred for barely finding this now. There's a musical commentary for Dr. Horrible.

There's like 14 of them and they apparently sync with the video, but I'm not sure on that last part.

Are species intelligent?

There's a somewhat interesting paper written some 20 years ago about the question of intelligence and evolution qua whether evolving species can be seen to fit the definition of intelligence (Schull 1990). Which was referenced in a paper about the real flaws in the argument from design (Sharlow 2009). Schull in his paper notes that:
It may eventually turn out that there is something about nervous systems that is uniquely suited for the mediation of intelligence (Searle 1980), but until that “something” is identified, the objection seems both vitalistic and anthropocentric. Meanwhile, my bet is that some suite of information-processing, adaptation-developing, and adaptation- implementing features will prove necessary and sufficient for the implementation of intelligence, regardless of the material which instantiates them. The extent to which that suite includes the features I have attributed to species remains to be seen.
Which does seem to explicitly exclude the idea that intelligence actually is evolution and that they are really two sides of the same coin, while in other ways arguing that we can see some deep homologies between species evolution and organism intelligence.

It all turns out to be a pretty dry read although Sharlow's paper is great and certainly does explain the real flaw in design. Which is actually the explanation I agree with. There is real design in nature, and nature is entirely sufficient to result in said design. The primary flaw is the implicit assumption that if a system is designed then it cannot be self-designed. To wit, he gives a notable example of a self-designing system: the human brain. As it is entirely possible to without external input, derive a new splendid mathematical proof or other insight due to the functioning of the brain. So the brain must, in some ways, be seen to be able to redesign itself to be more designed. That self-design is possible is the principle flaw in the argument from design. When we conclude that the designs of nature are like the designs of human ingenuity, we should rather conclude that these designs are created by the system themselves (probably through a form of evolution) rather than subjected to an infinite regress of skyhooks.

There is real design in nature. Design requires a designer. That designer is nature through the self-designing process of evolution.

Most evolutionary attacks on the argument from design suppose that because it's possible for evolution to produce results that seem like design then therefore there must not be any real design in nature. But, that really does narrow the use of design rather strongly. After all, Venter recently designed a lifeform is that life form designed? Well yes. But, he cheated and used all well evolved genes. It really is a pretty silly line and if humans invented squirrels they would be considered designed.

There's a lot of philosophical arguments kicking around but they just don't go far enough in my mind.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Intelligence, Evolution, and a thought experiement.

Intelligence n. 1: capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.

If you had a biosphere that lived on prediction where, rather than getting energy from the sun or from other organisms, the energy was gleaned by way of making accurate predictions about some unknown external world. Where there exists some way of confirming or denying these predictions (senses) and survival was predicated on accuracy of predictions. We would have, in our though experiment, a mind.

The capacity for learning new things for making a new species of predictions would be evolution. The capacity for understanding for being capable of making accurate predictions (this is largely what we mean by "understand", "I know why, how, and what it'll do in various situations") would be evolution. The aptitude for grasping things, for finding relationships, facts, meanings, and truths about the world would be, in this hypothetical biosphere, the process by which these organisms adapt to filling these new niches or better filling the niches than other species would be evolution.

* We can map the process of biological evolution on to a hypothetical world of predictions and find something that fits our given understanding of what we mean by intelligence.

* We can further understand that because of fundamental differences between this hypothetical and AI and the like, why such enterprises routinely fail miserably. It's a bit like designing squirrels by hand that could adapt to any situation. That even the best set of expert systems isn't really going to be remotely as powerful as this. And if we need something this powerful then AI in many of it's facets is an attempt to create a Creator God able to make new sets of predictions as they are needed (without really knowing predictions are needed).

*  We can also see that there are underlying evolutionary properties to the way brains grow and work. We can also see that prediction is what the brain actually does. That we constantly make predictions about the world and about what we should see next.

* This would also be able to do many of the amazing things the brain does like getting fooled by optical illusions to hallucinating away our blind spots. We don't predict there's nothing there... rather we predict what we think should be there.

If we take this thought experiment to its logical limits and to the potential complexity and usefulness of the world of nature we see around us thriving on various abstractions of sunlight. We should have little doubt that such a world, taken as a whole, should properly be seen as a mind by simply replacing light with enlightenment as the ultimate food source.

In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation.
-- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 1859, p. 449.