Saturday, March 03, 2007

Department of If You Keep Making Faces, It Will Stick That Way

From the Wiki entry on Yahoo Serious:

Prior to making "Young Einstein," Yahoo Serious officially changed his name to garner publicity for the film. After the success of the movie, he attempted to change his name back to his given name, however, Australian law only allows one name change in a person's lifetime. As a result, Yahoo Serious is stuck with this name for life.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Science porn!

I had seen the photo last year, but of course PZ has *all* the salacious details!

Imaging was first done in a 1.5 Tesla Philips magnet system (Gyroscan S15) and later in a 1.5 Tesla magnet system from Siemens Vision. To increase the space in the tube, the table was removed: the internal diameter of the tube is then 50 cm. The participants were asked to lie with pelvises near the marked centre of the tube and not to move during imaging. After a preview, 10 mm thick sagittal images were taken with a half-Fourier acquisition single shot turbo SE T2 weighted pulse sequence (HASTE). The echo time was 64 ms, with a repetition time of 4.4 ms. With this fast acquisition technique, 11 slices of relatively good quality were obtained within 14 seconds.

I.. I may need a moment..

Something Said Well

There is a kernal of truth in this, and it makes at least one point I tried to make recently in a debate with a reader in my comments section:

I would suggest that it is not the philosophy of Christ's teachings that is the source of the friction, it is the institutional practices of the religion He never wished to found. One can indeed be a Christian and at the same time not be a Christian in the formal, institutionalized sense (and certainly not a "Christianist", a term I have great fondness for). One can follow the teachings of Christ in the everyday routine and still believe that there was no Resurrection. His teachings are universal. It is far more important to me that I attempt in my own fallible way to follow His (and I capitalize out of respect for others, a most Christian attitude) teachings than it is to believe in His divinity.

I truly believe, and of course I may be completely wrong, wouldn't be the first time and won't be the last, that daily interaction with others, whether they be individuals or nations, in accordance with Christ's teachings, has a more positive and reaching effect. The debate should not be science vs. religion; it should be science vs. philosophy, and in that there should be no discord. Religion as philosophy, science and rational thought can always live comfortably together. One must simply decide whether the teachings or the institutions are more important.

I agree with parts of this, i.e. while I don't believe in god or in the divinity of christ, I do think the philosophical message underpinning the stories about Jesus are generally worthwhile and quite revolutionary. It has always surprised me that his followers are quick to "yeah, yeah" the message and then tear right into rational thought.

Surprise is the wrong word. Disappoint is closer to the mark.

All that said, there was one comment in the Harris/Sullivan debate that rang true and I keep rethinking it. One of them (SH I think) said that the difference between believers and non-believers was that non-believers were more comfortable with uncertainty. This is I think mostly true, or at least embeds a true concept. I'm trying to decide if it's completely true, or if non-believers simply couch their uncertainties in the process of science while believers hedge theirs with the authority of their clerics and holy books. It would explain, for example, while religionists constantly attack folks like Darwin, Copernicus etc. without really coping to the fact that science admits its knowledge is incomplete. Religious knowledge, in this model is complete and handed down through authority or revealed by the gods. it does explain why the extremists get so worried and why their attacks are seemingly so off target (at least to non-believers). I'm comfortable not knowing how the universe and reality got started in part because I know that eventually, if the process of science goes on long enough, the answer will pop out. I may be unfortunate in that I live in a time when the answer is not known, but that's just my bad luck. I throw my little portion of science on the pile and hope it helps.

I need to think about this more, but I think it's essentially correct for a large segment of the religious population. I have to think of a way to test this.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Supreme Court Gives Gore’s Oscar to Bush

Stunning Reversal for Former Veep

Just days after former Vice President Al Gore received an Academy Award for his global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” the United States Supreme Court handed Mr. Gore a stunning reversal, stripping him of his Oscar and awarding it to President George W. Bush instead. For Mr. Gore, who basked in the adulation of his Hollywood audience Sunday night, the high court’s decision to give his Oscar to President Bush was a cruel twist of fate, to say the least. But in a 5-4 decision handed down Tuesday morning, the justices made it clear that they had taken the unprecedented step of stripping Mr. Gore of his Oscar because President Bush deserved it more. “It is true that Al Gore has done a lot of talking about global warming,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority. “But President Bush has actually helped create global warming.”

In another setback for the former vice president, a group of scientists meeting in Oslo, Norway today said that Mr. Gore was growing at an unsustainable rate. “The polar ice caps may be shrinking, but Al Gore is clearly expanding,” said Dr. Hiroshi Kyosuke of the University of Tokyo. The scientists concluded that if Mr. Gore continues to expand at his current rate, he could cause the earth to spin off its axis by 2010, sending it hurtling into the sun. “Here’s an inconvenient truth,” Dr. Kyosuke added. “Al’s got to stay away from those carbs.” Elsewhere, after foreigners received a record number of Academy Award nominations, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs proposed building a 12-foot high fence around the Kodak Theater.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If One Hand is on the Cell Phone...

Catholics taking the fun out of everything(via Slate):

North America's first cell-phone porn service surrendered to a Catholic boycott. Last month, Canada's second-biggest telecom firm, Telus, began offering downloadable nude photos and videos. A week ago, the archbishop of Vancouver urged Catholics to boycott the company; three days later, Telus gave up and said it would offer porn only through cable TV. Company's spins: 1) The porn was only soft-core. 2) We imposed an age limit. 3) We offered it as a public service, to help porn seekers avoid malware. Archbishop's spin: The spread of porn technology preys on addicts and their victims. Cynical view: Thank God we're keeping porn off 1-inch screens so people will have to keep watching it on 30-inch screens. Twist: The archbishop issued his boycott call through a podcast ($). (For a previous update on pay-per-view porn, click here. For porn HDTV, click here. For virtual-sex technology, click here. For live, on-demand sex, click here. For Human Nature's take on prosecuting cybersex, click here.)

And the Jews are into it as well

Almost Made it Past the First Sentence

before I burst out laughing at the "scare quotes"

What strikes you as being some thoughts that people would have if--in the short space of a few weeks--the universally held conviction that the Earth rotates on an "axis" daily and orbits the sun annually was exposed as an unscientific deception?

These folks are totally serious. Damn Copernicus for the money-grubbing, anti-religious corporate shill he is!

Actually, there are a few gems in here:
That bottom line is that the negative results of the Michelson-Morley interferometer experiments conducted in Europe and the U.S. in the 1880’s consistently showed no orbital motion of the Earth around the sun. No motion. Period

Moreover, by threatening the Copernican Paradigm, i.e., the very foundation--the raison d' etre--of this successful transmutation, these experiments contained the deadly potential of thwarting the rooting process of Darwinism, Marxism, Freudianism, Einsteinism, and (later) Saganism.

"Saganism" Oh Uncle Carl! How could you!

Let's see...
Scare quotes? Check!
Quotes bible passages as facts? Check!
Claims Grand Conspiracy(tm) to hide the truth? Check!
Colorful fonts and psuedo-random size changes? Check!

Geocentrism could spring from the same fertile imagination as ... Time Cube!

Edit: This was also pretty good:
As physicist Wal Thornhill (et al) agree: “Electromagnetic forces are infinitely more powerful than gravity…” (HERE, p. 4). As we know, a child can test this statement with a plain magnet or an electromagnet and a coin on the ground. Gravity holds the coin on the ground, but pass the magnet over it at some appropriate height and….

nothing happens! Coins are non-magnetic. Well, technically, the ones with silver in them are slightly paramagnetic.

I shouldn't do this, i.e. make fun of a person with sincerely held beliefs and deeply embedded emotional problems. I shouldn't but, as my friends will tell you, I am evil and it comes with the territory. And it's interesting!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Conservapedia: I Still Cant Tell!

I was drifting into the camp that Conservapedia was a parody site until I read this entry:

Some have criticized gravity, reminding us that it is only a theory, and that no scientist has ever seen a graviton or a space curve. Furthermore, experiments done by NASA prove that the Moon is receding (moving further away) from the Earth at a rate of 3.8cm per year, directly contradicting the theory that masses attract one another[1]. Indeed, astronomers can observe that all stars in the universe are moving away from one another. The considerable disagreement between scientists about the theory of gravity suggests that, like evolution, the theory will eventually be replaced with a model which acknowledges God as the source of all things, the Prime Mover, and the only real fundamental force in the universe.

The moon is, in fact, moving away from the earth, but it's entirely due to the redistribution of angular momentum in the earth-moon system due to tidal fricition. Quite provable from first principles.
This is a sad entry, it makes baby Newton cry.