Breeched Wales Bloviating in the Hot Sun

Location: Long Island, New York, United States

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

The house has finally fallen on novelist Susan Sontag. Her feet were found sticking out from under the edge of the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Building in Munchkinland. Here's some of her writing:

"The munchkins are the cancer of human history," she wrote in a 1967 essay in Partisan Review. "It is munchkins and munchkins alone —munchkin ideologies and inventions — which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself."

Considering her remarks, some found it ironic that she met her demise under a Cancer Center Building. More...
An outspoken admirer of commuwitchist revolutionaries, including the bad warlock of the east, Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh, and the bad warlock of the west, Cuba's Fidel Castro, Mrs. Sontag was a fierce opponent of Emerald City foreign policy. She angered many Emerald City Citizens in 2001 when, less than two weeks after the terrorist hijackings of September 11, she wrote an article in the sky using black smoke that suggested the Emerald City deserved to be attacked.

Don't believe me, read her obit.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Quantum Darwinism

I have often heard fundamentalists falsely state that "Evolution" wasn't real science like say, a hard science like physics. Not being scientifically literate they are not aware that Darwinian thinking is actually expanding into other areas of science. Historically, Darwinian style solutions to science problems started in economics with Malthus. Although Malthus was wrong about the relationship of human population to productivity, a refined Darwinism did migrate back from biology into economics via Hayek. Darwinism is now moving into the thoughts of physicists as we shall see below.

These theories even apply to the very subject that is rebelling against them, religion. Being social institutions themselves religions do evolve and are amenable to the methods of Hayek.

On the cutting edge of quantum physics, things aren't looking up for those who were hoping that one day Darwin would be discredited. There are cosmological hypotheses that use a form of natural selection to explain how our universe arose. Now a group of scientists have come up with quantum darwinism.

A team of US physicists has proved a theorem that explains how our objective, common reality emerges from the subtle and sensitive quantum world.

Now don't misunderstand, the theorm they proved was mathematical. After all scientist don't prove scientific theories, they disprove them. However, scientific theories must pass the hurdle of being non-contradictory and having a mathematically proven theorem at the heart of a scientific theory guarantees consistency.

It's starting to look to me like the creator of not only the universe and life as we know it but also our day to day existence is a process and not a personal god. The process, natural selection, is quite powerful and awe inspiring. Too bad some people are too blinded by faith to consider the possibility.

If you wish to name this process (or creator), God, it is certainly not the god of Christianity. Neither is it the god of Einstein. He was foolish enough to assign the attribute of "not playing dice" to his formulation of god. The evidence so far is to the contrary. The only creative "higher power" that has been discovered by science is natural selection and it depends intimately on chance.

Deism says it is rationality and reason that leads to God. Is the process of natural selection the God of deism? The process natural selection is itself is essentially one of trial and error and thus is a creative force worthy of the name Creator. But does a process operating at different levels count as one "diety". Natural selection operating on universes, quantum mechanics, species, and cultural institutions are certainly alike in kind but not in identity. This seems instead to lead to a multiplicity of gods and not one. So is deism wrong in assuming the final result of the inquiry would lead to a single entity.

If you are wary of thinking of a process as entity consider the fact that the human body itself is a process more than a static entity. The materials of which the body is make is constantly being replaced. An eddy in a river is a entity that exists despite a constant replacement of the particles of which it is made. The eddy itself may dig a deeper channel for itself in the bed of the river thus changing as it grows older. We are more like and river eddy than we care to believe. Perhaps our god should be too.

Perhaps instead of fighting Darwinism, religion should embrace it.

Free Marketing for Global Warming

The idiots over at CNN apparently have no science editor. They have a silly alarmist article connecting the recent tsunami damage to global warming. Perhaps if they had spent the money on warning systems instead of politically driven climatology more lives would be saved.

Perhaps Waco Was Predictable Given Reno's Background

Interesting article with stuff about Janet Renos past via Transterrestrial Musings. I wasn't aware of this stuff. Seems she was heavily involved in one of those dubious childcare molestation cases. You know, the kind where they coach the children with dolls and prey on the ignorance of the jury. No wonder the Clintons picked her, she's right up their alley.

Monday, December 27, 2004

How is evolutionary theory falsifiable?

I saw the question "I've been asking people all day how Darwinism is falsifiable and no one seems to have an answer." posted on another blog so I decided to answer it. here is my response:

Most people don't take their schooling seriously so they never get to the point where they would be able to both correct you and answer your question.

Evolution is a fact that has been established by geologists, palentologists, and the like.

The Theory of Natural Selection was at one time a hypothesis that was produced to explain how (the fact of) evolution occured. There are other hypotheses create to explain evolution such as lamarkianism, mutationism and saltationism that have been falsified.

In science a hypothesis is an educated guess at how something works that is falsifiable. Hypotheses that are mature in the sense that all attempts to falsify them have failed are called theories.

Darwin's theory of natural selection is falsifiable at many levels. It made predictions about the nature by which genetics should work in order for natural selection to operate. No one knew genetics at the time but Darwins theory required genetics to operate a certain way for natural selection to be the proper explanation of the fact of evolution.

As an example, natural selection requires that heritability not act like the mixing of paints, instead it requires particulate heritability. Further it requires some source of changes to the heritable material.

Darwin's theory would have been falsified for instance if it was found that Lamarcks theories were instead correct. If for instance we were able to stretch the necks of horses over a period of several generations and then the offspring were born naturally with longer necks then natural selection would not be able to explain that.

Deduction from Darwin's theories makes other predictions. For instance, since man is an animal like any other one would expect that he had evolved by natural selection also. So it would be expected that there should be intermediate forms between man and his ancestors in the fossil record. At the time of Darwin no such fossils had been found or were even thought to be looked for. Natural selection predicted that if we look for them we would probably find them. Well guess what, that prediction worked out on the side of natural selection.

Biologists also can make empircal predictions of what would be more advantagous characteristics under certain circumstances. They can then test populations under such circumstances to see if natural selection acts to change the frequency of genes in the predicted direction.

Natural selection deductively predicts that the evolution that is observed in the fossil record should have a certain structure. It should have a certain nesting characteristic that looks like a bush going back in time. This also has proven to be true. If you found a human fossil that was two billion years old that would pretty much put a nail in the coffin of the theory of natural selection.

One can deduce from natural selection that the current species on the planet should be able to also be organized into classifications that nest in a certain way, and their genetics must match. If we found that human DNA matched a fishes DNA more than a chimps then that would not be explanable under Darwin's theory.

There are many other areas in which Darwin's theory will deduce facts that can be tested to disprove the theory. The theory has passed all tests thrown at it so far. Not only is it falsifiable but it is as well tested as the best scientific theories of any discipline.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Maple Macker

I've created a drink for the holiday seasons

Maple Macker


1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
1 Cup Vanilla Ice Cream
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 Cup Amaretto or less


Pour the maple syrup in a pyrex measuring cup and place in the microwave till it boils in approximately one minute. Fill loosely with ice cream to the two cup mark. Place back in the microwave for another minute. Stir the ice cream into the maple syrup. Keep heating in the microwave until very warm. Stir in the vanilla and the amaretto. Pour into glasses. Place a dollop of ice cream or whip cream on top. Serve warm.

Everyone who has tried it so far has loved it and it's not out of politeness since I didn't tell them that it was my invention till afterwards.

I got the idea for this because I used to live next to a farmer who would make maple syrup. One day he invited me into the boiling shack for a taste of fresh hot maple syrup. It was exquisite. Since that time I would sometimes heat a shot of maple syrup to repeat the experience. Last New Years I decided to try to convert it into a drink. At first it was warmed syrup and amaretto but one time I got it too hot and decided to cool it off with ice cream. The rest is history.

Nonsense Upon Stilts

The title of this post is a derogatory remark made by Bentham about the concept of natural rights. However, I don't think his criticisms is valid since he never actually "got it" in the first place.

There is a great article on natural law and natural rights titled "The Imperative of Natural Rights in Today's World" by Randy E. Barnett that is a must read for those who think natural rights is bunk. Download it from this link.

I believe that these ideas are quite compatible with the naturalistic viewpoint. Some atheists reject natural law because they hold the false belief that it is founded on the existence of a supreme being of some sort. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nor is natural rights properly understood in absolutist terms.

Adopt Pinky the Cat

Please adopt Pinky the adorable cat.

Warning: do not watch with a full bladder

Toys for Atheists

Some presents that are good for atheists:

Celebrity atheist Charlie Chaplin as a rubber ducky.

Floating arm trebuchet kit useful for knocking down those mental walls that Theists build around themselves.

Glow powder, the closest we come to believing in pixie dust.

A Pseudoscope. Useful in visually exposing pseudosciences like Creationism or Intelligent Design which are science turned inside out.

A large NdFeB disc to help counteract our magnetic personalities.

Parsec cube reminds us of our true significance in the universe.

A klein bottle the only bottle large enough to store our thoughts in. Perhaps, for some marxist types, a klein mug to drown them in.

A water rocket for our soaring aspirations.

Wooden centipede. Our ideas have legs, despite attempts to stamp them out.

Wolverine in a movie or his skull for our tenacious pursue of the truth.

Putt put boats just because they're cool.

Inappropriate gifts:

Please no Plush facehuggers they remind us too much of the sad grip religion has on some.

Never a Santa and baby Jesus the juxtaposition of the two may make us die laughing.

UPDATE: Also please no Krampus cards for christmas. We don't believe in him either.

Frenchman Admits That Terrorists In Iraq Are Not "Insurgents"

Here's what the recently released French captive had to say about the "insurgents"

Mr Malbrunot said his captors were driven more by Islamic holy war than Iraqi nationalism.

Seems to me this is exacltly the type of people we should be fighting, Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. Much better to be fighting them on Iraqi soil then here in the U.S.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Kentucky Fried Creature

If there ever was what one could call an independent fast food connoisseur it would have to be me. I frequently have to defend fast food chains against malicious francophile prejudice. After all I am not expecting hollandaise sauce and fresh vegetables when I am paying five bucks for my meal.

I am also heard cursing those damn vegan vegetarians for ruining the fries at McDonalds during the great lard-vegetable oil wars of twenty years back. However, french fries with beef flavoring and deep fried in animal fat was one of the crowning achievements of mankind.

Few people except me have Morgan Spurlock on their enemies list. I know from personal experience that "Supersize Me" the movie ranked with Farenheit 9/11 as one of the years most deceptive films. Most people would say "Of course, if you eat nothing but McDonalds for a whole month you are going to get fat and have health problems." My claims go further than that. It's just bunk to blame it on the food.

I worked at McDonalds when I was around sixteen and ate an average of two meals a day there. I sort of remember that there was some sort of discount for employees, perhaps one meal was free. In any case I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner there for a good five or six days out of the week each summer and weekends in the winter. I experienced no health problems.

Then again I wasn't overeating the stuff on purpose and refraining from exercise. I used to ride my bike three miles one way to work then back and didn't stuff myself till I bloated. That's the problem with Spurlocks experiment. He modified too many variables at once to be able to pin the blame specifically on McDonalds.

I admire consistency even in mediocrity. This way I know what I am getting. I expect the tomato on my fast food burger to be sort of pink and tasteless. I throw it out anyway as I am not looking for health food when I pull up to the drive in window.

At each fast food place I have my favorites and know what to stay away from. McDonalds Chicken McNuggets are to be avoided like the plague. I think everything but the bones goes into them. If you must have nuggets then go to Wendy's, of course it's preferable to be eating the Chicken Club with Cheese if you're there. Disappointingly enough, it is no longer on the combo meals menu but they will serve it to you if you ask for it.

I tend to like most things at McDs. The fries, hamburger, Big Mac, Filet O' Fish, and Apple Pie all tend to be consistently edible. However there is one and only one reason I go to KFC. The reason isn't their, what tastes like, instant potatoes. Nor do I go there for the mealy macaroni and cheese. Have you guessed yet, it's the chicken.

So when I order a four piece original recipe chicken I do not expect my drumstick to look like this right out of the box.

Yep, that's how it came out of the box. Click on the picture and see how well my Sony DSC-F828 does on a macro shot. How exactly did my feathered friend end up in that condition? Did the chicken have to cross a piranha infested river in order to get to the frialator. Even supposing that the chicken came from the Amazon and not Arkansas, why exactly did the kid at the drive-through think I would want to eat it. These places budget for spoilage and he should have just tossed the wretched thing. It isn't worth my effort to go back and complain once I get home.

Perhaps this is perfectly acceptable food in his country. I did have trouble with his accent. I though he told me it was $20.93 and when it was $30.93 and had to ask him why the ten was missing from my change. As I was saying my standards for fast food are not too high and I am a fan, but you can't always get the right help. I suggest KFC to better train the non-indigenous help lest I start calling them Kentucky Fried Creature.

At least my dog was happy. She'll eat anything.

Merry Christmas One and All

Special thanks to Scrooge for all his acts of kindness throughout his entire life.

Bonus question: Is the term "miser" subjective or objective? A story ran recently of two brothers who have sent the same birthday card back and forth for thirty years. Is this an example of two misers?

Great Presentation of Libertarianism

You'll find a great flash presentation of the libertarian philosophy here.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Another press manufactured crisis - Humvee Armor

Since the Bush lied/Joe Wilson hoax I've been getting more sensitive to news fraud like Rathergate. Well here's another to add to the list. Apparently their was no Humvee armor crisis at the time that reporter rigged that question for Rumsfeld.

Why "Intelligent Design" should be discredited in the classroom

Here's my reply to this blog post at Dean's world titled "Further Thoughts On Intelligent Design". He totally mischaracterizes Willard's article by saying of Willard, "In it, he vigorously opposes any dissent from evolutionary theory being allowed into science classes." He linked to the article but I'm having a hard time getting that out of my reading of the article. I am sure that Willard would be more than happy to discuss "dissent" in it's proper context as pseudoscience but I didn't see Willard address this in his article.

Dean goes further:

In reading Huntington's entire piece from top to bottom, two things struck me most powerfully:
1) He does not name one negative consequence of allowing such examination a place in the classroom, and
2) All of his arguments against it seem based on fear. Indeed, his entire thrust (if I make it out correctly) is that this is a "worrisome step" in the "wrong direction."
Worrisome to whom? And what exactly is the worry? That a 6th grader, upon hearing "some people question whether natural selection can fully explain all we see of life on Earth" will suddenly plunge a wooden stake into his agnostic classmate's heart? That soon we'll see scientists subjected to mass auto-de-fe in America?

Look at any decent text on logical fallacies (this one at
the atheistic ""
will do) and you'll find that Slippery Slope is among the most common logical fallacies that anyone — scientist or layman — can fall prey to. So I ask: what precisely is it that Dr. Willard and his intellectual compatriots fear?

This is not how I interpreted the article. He wasn't making a slippery slope argument. It's obvious that Willard's article was written to a specific audience, and it was not one that included neither Creationists nor people who are scientific illiterates. Thus, he does not have to cover in detail the areas that concern Dean so much. Why are the stickers dangerous, it should be obvious, they are false and therefore will lead to error.

This from Willard (bold italics are my emphasis):

Imagine the shock, then, in learning that in Cobb County, Ga., the School District has put stickers on biology textbooks declaring, "Evolution is a theory, not a fact."

This is not just a shot across the bow of modern scientific
thought; it's a body blow right smack in the middle of our double helix.

While there's plenty of room for adults to disagree on matters of religion or science, this debate pits a small minority of believers in the literal word of the creation against 150 years of scientifically generated data.

His concern here is with the truth and what exactly science is. The stickers state "Evolution is a theory, not a fact." Well that is just not true. Evolution is a fact. Willard states this in his article.

Evolutionary change, too, is a fact ...
What is scientific theory on this subject of evolution is Darwin's "Descent with Modifications" or "Theory of Natural Selection."

Furthermore, the sticker depends on an equivocation between the meaning of "theory" in common language and in scientific use. It is more appropriate to contrast "false hypothesis" with "fact" than theory. In science, well-tested theories are as close as one gets to facts when it comes to scientific models.

It would be more appropriate to have a sticker

Warning: Evolution is a fact, Natural Selection, a hypothesis of Darwin's, is an explanation of how that evolution occurred. Despite one hundred and fifty years no evidence has been found that discredits Natural Selection and many of it's predictions have proven true. Thus Natural Selection has been elevated to the status of Theory.
Later Willard refers to the stickers and states:

Are we prepared to imagine a science curriculum that dilutes or eliminates the unifying principle of biology in the service of non-scientific ideology? Those stickers are a worrisome step in that direction.
You can see that this is not a slippery slope argument. The stickers are
worrisome because they are a false, politically injected, product
of a group whose agenda is explicitly to stop teaching evolution in
the public school system. You don't see this happening where
there is no creationist influence and Willard points this out.

Willard also points out why teaching this falsehood is a danger:

Evolution lies at the heart of biology, and is seamlessly and continuously linked to health research to better understand such conditions as AIDS or bird flu or Parkinson's or cancer or heart disease. Every biomedical experiment, every tiny advance, every major breakthrough ultimately connects to the principles first postulated by Darwin.
Dean's complaint "1) He does not name one negative consequence of allowing such examination a place in the classroom" is shown false by the text above.

Willard states explicitly that we are not doing a good enough job teaching evolution in the classroom.

I have a simple suggestion. In addition to the current biology curriculum we devote three years of high to the study of the fact of evolution and the Theory of Natural Selection. Then we can go into great detail on all the pseudoscientific bunk coming out of the creationists and their ilk. For instance, we could show exactly why Behe is a laughing stock in with evolutionary scientists. We could explain why ID is more a political than a scientific issue.

I think this article here could occupy at least one week of the time spent on ID, "Irreducible Complexity Demystified". Of course, ID would not be taught as an actual theory or even hypothesis. We wouldn't do that anymore than we would teach the criticism, "The earth's shape can't be round because spheres are impossible shapes in 3D space" as a hypothesis. It isn't. The earth is flat is a hypothesis, a possible explanation of how things are. It's wrong but it is a hypothesis and not a mere criticism of some other hypothesis. Instead ID would be properly approached as a mistaken and discredited criticism. A false criticism because it didn't even get past the first reviews of Behe's initial proposal before fatal flaws were pointed out.

At the same time we should expand comparative religion courses to educate our children about non-believers. The amount of ignorance in this area is unbelievable. This would require several years of training also. We'd have to cover all the standard attempts at proofs of the existence of a god or gods and their refutations. That's right they have all failed to prove the existence of god and it is important for our children to understand why, lest they decide to fly passenger jets into buildings in a lame attempt to get at 72 virgins.

Might I suggest a sticker to be placed in all bibles distributed in these classes?

Warning: The existence of god is an unfounded hypothesis that has not been proven. Despite thousands of years of effort no credible evidence for his existence has be discovered. Any actions you take on the assumption of his existence could be in error.
"What!" you say, "We don't have enough time in grade school to teach all that." Well, then perhaps that is a good reason not to waste time on a hypothesis, "Intelligent Design", created by a chemist, Behe, about a field in which he is ignorant. ID is a hypothesis that addresses no problem evolutionary scientists have even encountered. There is no problem of irreducible complexity (read the article at talkorigins) in evolution.

ID is merely an invalid criticism with no solution of it's own. It doesn't even address it's own imaginary problem. The only problem ID addresses is the ignorance and lack of imagination on the part of Behe and a bunch of Creationists.

I spell Creationist with a capital 'C' because it is a religion.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Live Deathbed Conversion

The Witt article is bringing more gleeful claims that an atheist has recanted.

To salivating Christians, "I say, don't get too excited". There's an old atheist saying, "There's only one difference between you and me. I believe in one less god". Flew isn't talking about a Christian or Muslim god. He has some other notion in mind. He's still an atheist and heretic as far as any popular religions go.

Be careful, he might just be setting you up for some book sales. His only concession is that he lacks the imagination to understand how life could have originated. He isn't a biologist and has admitted to not keeping up on the subject.

The god of Spinoza, Aristotle, or Einstein is not necessarily of the kind that is going to restore forced prayer in public school.

There is certainly more to the universe that we understand. Seems to me that giving the label "God" to whatever we are ignorant about the world is not something that Christians should aspire to. It's an ever-shrinking notion of God.

The notion of God that Flew is toying with would evaporate at the first experiment where a scientist gets a batch of raw chemicals to form any sort of replicating agent.

BTW, if Witt is quoting Flew correct here: ""Richard Dawkins constantly overlooks the fact that Darwin himself, in the 14th chapter of 'The Origin of Species,' pointed out that his whole argument began with a being which already possessed reproductive powers." then Flew is really out of touch with the writings of Dawkins. Dawkins makes it quite clear he is aware of this.

I am not so sure Witt is quoting correctly thought after reading this: "If we trace evolution backwards, we reach a primitive single cell from which nothing simpler could survive and reproduce. How did it come to be? This first cell must be produced by something other than natural selection — a point Darwin readily conceded." That's a Michael Moore quality paragraph. He is trying to imply that Darwin believed that nothing simpler than a cell could replicate. I don't recall every reading any such thing from Darwin.

That is exactly the point Dawkins gets into in his book "The Selfish Gene". He brings up the issue of the possibility of simplier replicators. The fact that no advanced life would have existed on the planet at that point would make the issue of survival all that more simple. After all there would be no competition for even the simplest replicator. Dawkins covers this in great detail along with many interwined issues.

All I can say to Witt is "Open a book".

UPDATE: Flew states "I have not changed my views"

UPDATE: I think the above statement is bunkum after reading this interview. He has made plenty of statements lately that would lead people to think that he has changed his views. I don't think it is a hearing problem either.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Piercing Utilitarianism

No this isn't a post of a philosophical nature. I am referring to this. I hate piercings but at least this is for a useful purpose. I wonder what his true reason for doing this was? Was he forever losing his glasses, or perhaps he's a wimp who likes the phrase "you wouldn't hit a guy wearing glasses". However, I do think I would prefer being hit wearing the old fashioned kind.

One problem however. It looks like his glasses are on crooked in the third set of pictures. At least it looks like it is to me. Ouch, I can't stand looking at it anymore. I keep thinking about punching him in the nose an how much it is going to hurt.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ignoble Peace Prize

The Nobel peace prize was awarded to another anti-western nut case this year. I almost choked when I heard that Yasser Arafat had won in 1994. This year is only a shade better with the prize going to a woman, Wangari_Maathai, who thinks AIDS was invented by evil western scientists to wipe out the black race.

What's her claim to fame? Well the citation is "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace". What is "sustainable development"? Well apparently she set up an organization that has planted twelve million trees.

All I can say is, heck, even a small capitalistic outfit like Musser Forests has resulted in the planting of over thirty five million trees. This was last year alone and they have been in operation for over fifty years. Assuming linear growth Musser Forests has planted over eight hundred seven five million trees over its entire business lifetime.

I am afraid Ms. Maathai and her Green Belt Movement are pikers having only planted twelve million trees. I bet even the National Arbor Day Foundation has her beat by a order of magnatude.

I didn't even check out her credentials in "democracy and peace" since her race baiting sort of disqualifies her in this regard. Actually, I did and wasn't impressed. I hadn't hear of her before this and apparently I am not alone.

Based on the criteria that the Nobel committee is apparently using, I nominate the president of Musser Forests for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I'm Seeing Red Over The Red States

Who the heck decided to paint the Republican states red? The slogan "Better Dead Than Red" takes on a whole new light with the new terminology. I thought that the "Reds" were the "Commies". It's starting to irritate me because there have been quite a few articles that I have read recently that are referring to Republicans as reds. It's quite confusing.

Seems to me that the Democrat party is the only one that really is associated with colors. I am thinking red, green, or yellow. Red for communist, green for ecology, and yellow for ... you know why. I can't really think of a color that goes with Republicans in popular culture except perhaps blue or that non-color white. ... but then does that open up black to the Democrats.

I'm sure the Democrats would be happy with green. I'm not sure what the Republicans would be happy with. Blue makes one think of blue bloods and orange is not good if one thinks of Ireland. Perhaps a tri-color of red, white, and blue, but then the democrats would be upset.

Then again there is that pesky Green party.

I'm begging you, next time, please anything but red for Republican states.