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28 February 2008

We're Still Stupid About Evolution

I just wanted to link to the article posted at Ars Technica about how misperceptions meet state of the art in evolution research. I know that I am still totally flabbergasted at how ignorant some people choose to be, but I am FRIGHTENED when those same ignorant people somehow end up in charge of education. All the recent flurry of activity on the dimly thought out ID farce in Florida just confirms that fear. While I admit that I may not totally understand every nuance of Evolution, I will say that this theory has the hallmarks of a good and sound theory. I just hope that people that try to intentionally delude themselves about it will also intentionally step away from their positions of power until their mental deficiencies can be addressed! That is all.

25 February 2008

Need a new name....

Blogalicious sucks... I just typed it in because the registration required it. I am very unhappy with it though. Please help me come up with a better name than that. Something that reflects me a bit better at least!

Large Hadron Collider


There is a lot of buzz about this thing, and rightfully so! I am very excited by the potential doors of understanding that this will open for us. I find it sort of funny/ironic that we are calling the Higgs particle the "god particle" considering my personal views. I do wonder how this may relate to finding the link between "mass" particles, and understanding the mechanism of gravity.

I also recall reading a paper on Brane Theory that postulated that the LHC will approach the energy levels to spontaneously create small extra dimensional spaces that could expand into their own separate universes. While the math and theories were pretty esoteric, I am not sure we'll actually hit those levels. Would be cool to be our own creators though. Would we be akin to gods then? Well, we could only hoe that any intelligence in the other universe would be smart enough to NOT develop religion! But that's just me being snarky I suppose.

Anyway, the purpose of today's blog is to give folks a bunch of links to a very interesting topic and hope you all learn something and explore the sources of information. Please, keep in mind that even though I may link to Wikipedia a lot, don't take that as the final word! Verify any information you may find there with other sources.

19 February 2008

There is no Faith in Science


That is to say, you never, ever take a leap of faith in science. All too often, I hear apologetics, and even downright fundies, say that this that or the other thing in science takes some sort of leap of faith. I HATE that! There is no such thing as a leap of faith in science. Perhaps a leap of logic, but that is an entirely different thing. I just wanted to share the Bad Astronomy Blog that talks to this more eloquently than I probably could.

Now, I'm not going to say that people of faith can't be scientists (many of them are). But don't mix the two! That is all I ask. You compromise your intellectual integrity, as well as your credibility when you do.

Another excellent discussion of the intellectual (and epistemological) integrity required in science is George H. Smith's book, Why Atheism? While I support the book as a free thinker and humanist, I think it would behoove anyone who wishes to explore the philosophical underpinnings of free thought and how any sort of religious thought is inherently intellectually dishonest.

Anyway, my thought for today. By the way, I need a better name for this blog... Anyone have any ideas?

18 February 2008

Did you know I love to cook?

Just wanted to let anyone who happens to be reading this that I updated the Recipe page with a bunch more recipes! Finally got around to adding a bunch of them from a friend of mine who gave us a bunch of "Secret Family Recipes" from her Italian Grandmother. Hope you enjoy.

14 February 2008

MORE Mouthbreathers in Education

And YET AGAIN they are up to their mouthbreathing fucktardery. This time it's at the county level.

http://www.nwfdailynews.com/article/12051

I sent the schoolboard a letter in hopes that they can grasp the meaning of a theory versus philosophy... Of course, I don't expect much out of fucktards...

Dear Bay County School Board,

I read with great dismay in the North West Florida Daily News about your first resolution for the year. While I appreciate that there are many philosophical viewpoints on the merits of evolution and reconciling that with religious beliefs, you have fallen trap to the basic misunderstanding of what a theory is, and how it applies to evolution. I have no objection to teaching ID in philosophy, literature, theology class, but it does not belong science class. Your resolution as stated is noting more than a thinly veiled attempt to do just that.

I offer this essay up for you to hopefully understand the differences between a Theory and a Hypothesis. I also he you are familiar with the "Black Swan" theory, and it's historical significance. I would hope that educated people, in charge of education, would practice the intellectual integrity to abide by science where science belongs, and philosophy, where philosophy belongs.

Lay people often misinterpret the language used by scientists. And for that reason, they sometimes draw the wrong conclusions as to what the scientific terms mean.

Three such terms that are often used interchangeably are "scientific law," "hypothesis," and "theory."

In layman’s terms, if something is said to be “just a theory,” it usually means that it is a mere guess, or is unproved. It might even lack credibility. But in scientific terms, a theory implies that something has been proven and is generally accepted as being true.

Here is what each of these terms means to a scientist:

Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact meant to explain, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and univseral, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to mathematical postulates. They don’t really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true.

Specifically, scientific laws must be simple, true, universal, and absolute. They represent the cornerstone of scientific discovery, because if a law ever did not apply, then all science based upon that law would collapse.

Some scientific laws, or laws of nature, include the law of gravity, Newton's laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics, Boyle's law of gases, the law of conservation of mass and energy, and Hook’s law of elasticity.

Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observation. It is a rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation.

Theory: A theory is more like a scientific law than a hypothesis. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. One scientist cannot create a theory; he can only create a hypothesis.

In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.

In fact, some laws, such as the law of gravity, can also be theories when taken more generally. The law of gravity is expressed as a single mathematical expression and is presumed to be true all over the universe and all through time. Without such an assumption, we can do no science based on gravity's effects. But from the law, we derived Einstein's General Theory of Relativity in which gravity plays a crucial role. The basic law is intact, but the theory expands it to include various and complex situations involving space and time.

The biggest difference between a law and a theory is that a theory is much more complex and dynamic. A law governs a single action, whereas a theory explains an entire group of related phenomena.

An analogy can be made using a slingshot and an automobile.

A scientific law is like a slingshot. A slingshot has but one moving part--the rubber band. If you put a rock in it and draw it back, the rock will fly out at a predictable speed, depending upon the distance the band is drawn back.

An automobile has many moving parts, all working in unison to perform the chore of transporting someone from one point to another point. An automobile is a complex piece of machinery. Sometimes, improvements are made to one or more component parts. A new set of spark plugs that are composed of a better alloy that can withstand heat better, for example, might replace the existing set. But the function of the automobile as a whole remains unchanged.

A theory is like the automobile. Components of it can be changed or improved upon, without changing the overall truth of the theory as a whole.

Some scientific theories include the theory of evolution, the theory of relativity, the atomic theory, and the quantum theory. All of these theories are well documented and proved beyond reasonable doubt. Yet scientists continue to tinker with the component hypotheses of each theory in an attempt to make them more elegant and concise, or to make them more all-encompassing. Theories can be tweaked, but they are seldom, if ever, entirely replaced.

A theory is developed only through the scientific method, meaning it is the final result of a series of rigorous processes. Note that a theory never becomes a law unless it was very narrow to begin with. Scientific laws must exist prior to the start of using the scientific method because, as stated earlier, laws are the foundation for all science. Here is an oversimplified example of the development of a scientific theory (which is intentionally false since we know there are black swans):

Development of a Simple Theory by the Scientific Method:

* Observation: Every swan I've ever seen is white.
* Hypothesis: All swans must be white.
* Test: A random sampling of swans from each continent where swans are indigenous produces only white swans.
* Publication: "My global research has indicated that swans are always white, wherever they are observed."
* Verification: Every swan any other scientist has ever observed in any country has always been white.
* Theory: All swans are white.

Prediction: The next swan I see will be white.

Note, however, that although the prediction is useful, the theory does not absolutely prove that the next swan I see will be white. Thus it is said to be falsifiable. If anyone ever saw a black swan, the theory would have to be tweaked or thrown out. Real scientific theories must be falsifiable. So-called "theories" based on religion, such as creationism or intelligent design are, therefore, not scientific theories. They are not falsifiable and they do not follow the scientific method.

Thank you for your time, and please keep the original intent of science as a beacon that is meant to improve mankind's understanding of the universe instead of trying to introduce your own personal philosophies as branches of science.

13 February 2008

Illegal Aliens



Okay, so there have been a couple of articles about illegal aliens in my local newspaper. As is TYPICAL of this area, most of the posters responded with incredibly hate filled and childish comments. I commented to that fact, and I think that I have been labeled an illegal aliens sympathizer by the locals. While I normally don't care what small minded people think, it did get me to thinking about the problems we DO have with illegal immigrants. And yes, I believe it is a very big problem that needs addressing!

So, what do we do? Most of the morons in NWF think we just round them up and ship them out. Little do they seem to realize THAT is precisely what we have been doing for years! It doesn't work, and to think that doing the same thing over and over again, and hope that it will work THIS time... well, that's a different blog I'm sure. The way I see it (and I'll try to outline it with bullet points):

- We need to obviously enforce existing laws. Over legislation does nothing if you aren't enforcing it.
- We need to make sure there is no incentive to come here (there's a REASON we're getting invaded after all!).
-- I think one of the main attractors is the over arching welfare system here, combined with an American attitude that many jobs are beneath us, but I'll also leave that to another blog).
- We need to (at the same time) make sure employers can with certainty verify the status of workers, and punish those that knowingly still violate the law.
- It would be great if we could help Mexico, Central America, and South America to actually entice their citizens to stay where they are (unless they wish to legally immigrate to the US).

So how do we do this? Yeah, that's where policy makers and pretty much the whole system has let us down... I wish I had ideas that were easy and popular, but sadly I doubt that you can really do something like that. Here are some suggestions though:

- Secure the border of course. Although a fence is probably not the best idea. There is also technology like the Active Denial System that could help. These aren't all the solutions, and of course foreign will dictate what we CAN do and what we are even able to do, but we gotta start somewhere.
- As for not giving folks incentives to come here, we need to really take a hard look at our Welfare system. While the illegals themselves should not qualify for anything, they can get around it by assuming someone's identity, and of course have a child here. We need to close the loophole of automatically conferring citizenship to those born on our soil. Sure, the law should still be there, but with the caveat that if you are here illegal, you forfeit that benefit, and get deported.
- As unpopular as it may be, we really need to have a national ID card for all and any services. The military uses the Common Access Card (CAC). Combine a CAC with some sort of biometric (fingerprint, retinal scan, etc.) to allow employers and all government services to truly and verifiably identify individuals attempting to use the system.
- We need to focus foreign aid to the countries that affect our borders. Help them with schools, infrastructure, industry, etc. Don't ship our jobs there of course, but get them to create their own industry (that can hopefully help us!).

So, what do we do about the approximately 20 Million illegal immigrants here already? That's not an easy one to address at all. The "amnesty" program has shown itself to be wildely unpopular (rightly so in my opinion). Although just "rounding them up and shipping them home" is even further from realistic.

- SOME of them need to be rounded up. Get the ones breaking the law (beyond being here illegally).
- How much do we spend on useless programs that don't work? Take that sum, and divided it amongst the remaining illegals and pay/bribe them to leave voluntarily (AFTER all the other measures are in place obviosly, we don't want them coming back illegally again).
- The remaining illegals will either eventually get caught up by standard law sweeps, or they will hear how things are better at home now and want to go home (okay, so I am being the eternal optimist).

Anyway, I just wanted to clear up the air a bit and post my ideas. I also feel that illegal immigrants are a PROBLEM, but that's no excuse to act like some Grand Dragon from the Klan or behave like a racist idiot. You can instead do things like work with local businesses that abide by legal hiring practices, help law enforcement out, get involved with Non-Governmental Agencies that help Central and South America, and so forth. That's just my opinion of course.

10 February 2008

Courtesy - Uncommon?

SO today I was coming back from a TDY and had to go through The Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. As I was going from Terminal B to Terminal D, I had to take that nice underground tramway thing they have there. While on-board I saw a sign that said "Please give up these seats for elderly or disabled patrons." Are we so self absorbed that we need to be reminded of this? Is common courtesy really that uncommon?

I travel a lot, so I do see how rude and inconsiderate people can be a lot as well. So here are my tips to you. Just like everyone says all the time, but for some reason people are just too stupid to actually heed the advice; GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME! The TSA folks aren't TRYING to delay you, but if you insist on carrying your make up kit with tweezers, nail clippers, scissors, etc through the screening process, you will get held up... Don't be an idiot, okay! Also, just try to be pleasant. They have a pretty shitty job as it is, and you are asshole #100 that they have had to deal with today. Try to do the unexpected, and just smile and be courteous!

Understand that things are not their fault, whether it's the ticket agent, the TSA guy, or the airline in general. If they could control the weather or maintenance for 100% operations, I think running an airline hauling your whiny ass all over creation would be the last thing they would be doing. Again, being a relaxed traveler will serve you well in this case.

Just my thoughts. And you'd be surprised at how having a relaxed attitude like that will serve you well in just about any aspect of life, especially if you are dealing with other people. Go ahead, give it a shot!

07 February 2008

Florida Fucktardery


Well folks, I'm sure you'll be glad to hear that the state that brought you hanging chads and a whole host of other rampant stupidity is at it again! Today I go to my local paper's wesite and find this dismaying article there. Of course, that made me think of the logic diagram I have on my page (Feel free to click this link to see the full size image).
Basically some brainless legislator is at it again with the whole "Evolution is a theory, so you need to call it out in 40 foot flaming letters so I can still try to sneak in my superstitions and religions" nonsense. Sometimes I wonder if the US is doomed to have one of the poorest educational systems in the civilized world for all time (and another article here).
Something else that really bothers me are the shockingly ignorant and stupid posts from the religious wingnuts out there. Is it really possible that such stupid people are allowed to own computers and even breed?
Some thoughts for you:
- Evolution does not try to explain the origin of life. That is another theory called Abiogenesis. Currently our answer there is, "We don't know." Amazing isn't it? We can say that without having to invent some sort of jewish sky zombie to explain our wn ignorance.
- If states like Florida, kansas, etc. keep insisting on being a scientific backwater, please expect people to not bother investing any high tech industry in your state. Companies that rely on actual scientific education will know your state is incapable of producing the required mental capacity to understand the sort of stuff that moves us forward as a civilization.
- Don't you think there are better things for the legislature to worry about?
I know this topic has probably been beaten to death, so I'll just stop now before I get totally depressed at the state of humanity. For the sake of our children, please teach critical thinking instead of blind obedience. That's all I ask!

I Hate the 96th Comm Squadron

Okay, nothing personal, but it seems these guys take away anything that is worthwhile on the net, and block it. Normally I suppose in a corporate/military structure, this is a good thing. However, sometimes it goes just way too far! I am in the business of procuring weapons that the Air Force uses to kill people and blow stuff up with, right? So, why would a bage be blocked by the 96th Comm Squadron because it contains material about "weapons and violence"? I kid you know, that's the "Access Denied" message I got when looking up some counter-IED technology!

Further confirms my theory that people as a mass are stupid!

05 February 2008

Fuckabee?


Okay, for some reason, people who confuse their shoe size and IQ are voting in droves and getting this fucktard more votes than he deserves! Now don't get me wrong, this isn't meant as a left versus right post. I tend to be quite centrist (fiscally conservative but socially liberal). However, Fuckabee scares the shit out of me.

An Arkansas Journalist outlines his encounters with Fuckabee. Granted, this is an opinion piece, but my gosh, that is just frightening. Another blogger has outlined 5 reasons that Fuckabee should scare the shit out of you.

For someone who seems intent on destroying the first amendment, why is he getting so much support? With a record like his, does being a bible thumper trump his incredibly questionable governorship?

Normally I would say that the whole electoral college thing is outdated, but then I see stuff like this that confirms that the average voter really IS too stupid to decide the fate of the nation. For the sake of the GOP, I hope the electorate wakes up and at least selects anyone else.

03 February 2008

IE SUCKS

Okay, so pretty much everyone knows that Internet Explorer sucks... So why do 80% of the planet insist on using it? I have this really cool background image for the main body of the text on my web page. In FireFox it's nice and transparent, and you can see the KC-135 and all the fighters around it. It looks cool. On Internet Explorer, the box where all the text is located goes pure white and blocks out the image. I tried using the "filter:alpha(opacity=60)" command, but that actually made the BODY image transparent instead of that white background. Looks like I need to keep working on that.

I do have sounds that DO load on IE, but not in FireFox. Although I consider that a minor thing though since they only appear on two pages. I know there is a easy fox for that, so it shouldn't be a problem.

02 February 2008

Woot!

Okay, I managed to do it! I got it all working. Mostly by dumb luck. Well, okay, I have been learning a bit about the sort of styles this template uses, so it wasn't totally random trial and error.

Now it's time for me to finally get to writing things here. Just a fair warning, I can be sarcastic, snarky, and sometimes a bit condescending. But don't take me too seriously, it's not like I am out to hurt or offend you. That's YOUR reaction to what I write, not the reaction I am going after. I am just sharing my views and opinions with the world. Take them for what it's worth (i.e. probably not much).

If you want those surface things about me, just pop by my Facebook or MySpace pages. And feel free to add me as a friend.

Okay, now what?


Well, seems that I managed to get it to work! No small miracle since I didn't resort to asking my brother-in-law or even tech support for my host. I still need to figure out how to customize exactly what I want. I hate the bit where it is too wide for my little iFrame. See, just a little too wide.

I guess I'll keep messing with it until I get it right. Hopefully the template options give me some idea, or perhaps I can just go through trial and error. It seems to have worked for me in the past. Anyone willing to take bets on how long this will take?

Guess Not

Well, I guess Google isn't idiot proof! I am trying to get stuff posted to my page, but all I see is the old stuff I already put there yesterday, with no change to what I have added with this site. I suppose I am fortunate that my brother-in-law is a computer genius, and he's here to help me!

I also must say that I love FireFox's spell checking add-on! Wow, I can imagine trying to read this without that!

Is Google really that good?

Okay, so I am going to try to use Google's blog software to create my blog. The big question: Will it work?

I am always nervous when I try something new. Heck, it took me a DECADE to update my web page from simple HTML to something that actually looks like I put some effort into it. The reason I am always so hesitant is because I am totally self taught on HTML. HTML hadn't been invented by the time I went to university, so I really don't have that deep an understanding of all the things you can do with it. And invariably, there will be some small thing that will totally dork up everything I have done previously!

So, is Google good enough to handle my amateur attempts at making this blog software actually integrate with the way I wrote my web page? Did I enter all the information correctly to have it import? Will the format stay the same as I originally had it? Will my previous post stay? All serious questions for me to consider!

I suppose once I get all that answered, I will start in on serious blogging. By the way, I am open to inputs and suggestions on what to blog about as well as the rest of my web page.

Is Billy Mays a Programme Barometer?


So, I was watching The History Channel the other day. There was a show about The Tunguska event, and I was interested in it. After the brief intro as to what the prevailing theory was, they cut to commercial. First Billy Mays comes on. Then these foot pad things that "suck out toxins" from your body. Then a bunch of other crap... I commented to my wife, "This is probably going to be one of those sensationalist retard shows about if this had happened over New York."

Sure enough, that's what it turned out to be... That got me wondering as to what sort of nonsense gets advertised during all the other shows that prey on low intellect and inbreeding? My suspicions are that Billy Mays may indeed be a barometer to gauge this sort of stuff on.