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busy, busy, busy

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

We Have Decided Not To Die

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I have no idea what this is, but it's somewhat interesting.

2nd KU class denies status of science to design theory
Intelligent design — already the planned subject of a controversial Kansas University seminar this spring — will make its way into a second KU classroom in the fall, this time labeled as a “pseudoscience.”

In addition to intelligent design, the class Archaeological Myths and Realities will cover such topics as UFOs, crop circles, extrasensory perception and the ancient pyramids.

John Hoopes, associate professor of anthropology, said the course focused on critical thinking and taught how to differentiate science and “pseudoscience.” Intelligent design belongs in the second category, he said, because it cannot be tested and proven false.

“I think this is very important for students to be articulate about — they need to be able to define and recognize pseudoscience,” Hoopes said.

I would love to be able to take the other class that tackles ID, but something tells me this newest offering might as well be titled "Why People Believe Weird Things." It's probably one of the required readings at the very least.

Any more, today's "skeptics" are as rigidly close-minded and unaccepting of any new ideas as the IDolators are of the fact of biological evolution. They both seem to start with the view that everything that is currently unexplainable will always remain so--that we now know everything there is to know. The ID movement uses that as a starting point for their nonsense ("How did the human eye evolve?" *shrug shoulders* "GOD!!") while professional skeptics like Michael Shermer use it to label as nonsense anything that hasn't been blessed by "mainstream" science with its very own course number. Never mind that much of what is today regarded as pseudoscience will likely be testable and falsifiable as our knowledge and tools become more advanced.

Shermer and his band of merry skeptics and the IDolators are much more alike than they're not; though their motives are different (and I can certainly appreciate Shermer's motivation), both simply want to prevent the spread of certain forms of knowledge and schools of thought they find to be personally threatening. Creationists see the real world rapidly diverging from what they consider to be their revealed truth, and that scares the shit out of them; Shermer sees people reading (for example) The Holographic Universe and finding that it makes a great deal of sense, and that frightens him. The two groups may oppose each other, but they're playing for the same team.

Truth be told, the webpage for the course in the article does make it seem pretty interesting and worthwhile, but then again it was last taught six years ago. Things have changed.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical

"What Is NT?

Neurotypical syndrome is a neurobiological disorder characterized by preoccupation with social concerns, delusions of superiority, and obsession with conformity.

Neurotypical individuals often assume that their experience of the world is either the only one, or the only correct one. NTs find it difficult to be alone. NTs are often intolerant of seemingly minor differences in others. When in groups NTs are socially and behaviorally rigid, and frequently insist upon the performance of dysfunctional, destructive, and even impossible rituals as a way of maintaining group identity. NTs find it difficult to communicate directly, and have a much higher incidence of lying as compared to persons on the autistic spectrum.

NT is believed to be genetic in origin. Autopsies have shown the brain of the neurotypical is typically smaller than that of an autistic individual and may have overdeveloped areas related to social behavior."

(via Mind Hacks)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics

"It is a little known fact, that Ms Spears is an expert in semiconductor physics. Not content with just singing and acting, in the following pages, she will guide you in the fundamentals of the vital laser components that have made it possible to hear her super music in a digital format."

(via Elementropy)

The area around my apartment building is teeming with wildlife; there's even a little fox that occassionally drops by, but I always scare it away when I bolt through the door for my camera. This morning I was greeted right outside my door by a pair of woodpeckers, a type of bird I've not seen since my days residing at the Missouri State Arboretum.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Real Story of Thanksgiving

"In 1637 near present day Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared 'A Day Of Thanksgiving' because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered."

I really really want my own Solar Death Ray.

See also: How to Destroy the Earth

"Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.


The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Just because.

Enjoy the HyperSpace Polytope Slicer

"The applet provides a way of visualizing and manipulating the 6 regular convex polytopes and several non-regular convex polytopes that exist in 4-dimensional space. You can use it to create some strikingly beautiful continuously-morphing 3-dimensional kaleidoscopic effects."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I snapped some nice pictures of the sky this evening:

Monday, November 14, 2005

The latest list offering from Pitchfork Media is probably their best ever. Behold, The Worst Record Covers of All Time.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study

"Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason."

via Mind Hacks

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Web’s never-to-be-repeated revolution
Why might we not create the web today? The web became hugely popular too quickly to control. The lawyers and policymakers and copyright holders were not there at the time of its conception. What would they have said, had they been? What would a web designed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation or the Disney Corporation have looked like? It would have looked more like pay-television, or Minitel, the French computer network. Beforehand, the logic of control always makes sense. “Allow anyone to connect to the network? Anyone to decide what content to put up? That is a recipe for piracy and pornography.”

And of course it is. But it is also much, much more. The lawyers have learnt their lesson now. The regulation of technological development proceeds apace. When the next disruptive communications technology – the next worldwide web – is thought up, the lawyers and the logic of control will be much more evident. That is not a happy thought.