I dreamt I was your hero

Finally, my view is represented! And wait, a better point from this project: You don't actually need to know the answer to something to make good decisions about it! This applies to many areas, and it is a mark of an intelligent person to be able to see these features in a given area without even knowing much about that area.
I am speaking very liberally and it is probably unwise of me to do so, but here is a more concrete example: I was asked by several people about the possibility that the Large Hadron Collider might create a blackhole that would then destroy the Earth. I explained that it seemed highly unlikely, than I gave my arguments, which are mainly: physicists are not reckless people (we don't want to risk our existence any more than the average person, maybe even less so), and nature very frequently produces much higher energies, which we would expect to display these very visible events more often on the cosmic stage. In one instance, (speaking to my friend/coworker, Matt, at lunch), I made the mistake of bringing up the Manhattan project, and how some physicists were concerned with igniting the atmosphere and destroying the Earth. Turns out there is a paper that showed it was not a reasonable concern. But again, without me personally being able to make a decision (i.e., do the required calculations), I still felt confident that I could claim it was unlikely. Why? Because again, physicists, whether 1940s physicists or 2000s physicists, are not reckless people. And additionally, the universe generates some very high energy events that humans can not reproduce (without inconceivably orchestrated efforts), such as large comet impacts. In the case of the atomic bomb igniting the atmosphere, we now know (though they didn't in 1940), that very large impact events have occurred on the Earth, releasing billions of times as much energy as an atomic bomb. Since the Earth's atmosphere seems to have large quantities of nitrogen following those events, it seems unreasonable that a man-made device will somehow trigger a catastrophic reaction of Earth's nitrogen.

38 minutes
29 minutes
40 minutes
31 minutes.


t-shirt of Russell & Whitehead's proof of 1+1=2

"Every single scientific statement carries with it some sort of estimate of how big the uncertainty is."
The relationship between scientific thinking and humility, was I born with a natural humility? Maybe I'm just shy.

Oh right, I want to watch all of this.
and this is funny.

What I like about Chris Rock is that he is always happy sounding. He has a contagious laugh.

I heard they put uppers in his embalming fluid (joke about McCain).

Is it just me, or is it somewhat surreal to see that people have gone through so much trouble to set and break records that utterly waste food. Granted I'm sure it's not that much food, and it's not very healthy food, still. Aren't there thousands of people dying of dehydration right now? I know sending them diet Coke would be insult to injury, but still, what went into making or purchasing the drink?

The next link lead to this one.
Exactly. Though he's kind of annoying sounding. But good points.
I don't think I watched this.
A master.
A small explosion? Impressive!
Supernova 1987A

One of the biggest hurdles in talking about the origin of life is, I think, clearly defining life. The difficulty is that as scientists we conceive of a continuous spectrum of structures all the way from non-life to life, meaning that the definition is arbitrary, and the exact origin of life is as much a problem of the heap as it is the actual scientific question of the specific sequence of mechanical constructs that led from non-life to life.

It's really hard for me to remember that a girl could like me as much as I like her. And my experience has not helped me overcome that difficulty much.

Science teaches you that certainty isn't. You begin to realize that the notion of certainty was born to human language long before the idea it represented could be fully verified, which ultimately it couldn't be (the whole point). Science teaches you to always be open to the possibility that new evidence will prove you wrong, on whatever it was you thought you couldn't be wrong about. Religion, and tradition in general, contradict this principle outright, by claiming to know the truth. Inevitably this results in religion looking silly over longer periods of time, during which new evidence often makes old ideas begin to appear so obviously outdated that it becomes very embarrassing to deny the new view.

Well, at least I'm not making excuses for all the excuses I've made. Unless this is me doing that?

What a minute, what are we thinking? Let's just make a religion in which gay marriage is a basic tenet? Listen, either marriage is, or is not a religious deal. If it is, then the government shouldn't get involved with it, which includes all the various policy benefits. If it isn't, then at best it should apply to homosexual couples, and at worst it should have a completely analogous counter part which by definition would be marriage for homosexual couples.

Lean your head back. Try and relax. Hold on.
Initiate a cycle no one but you can stop.

"Spare me your space aged technobabble, Attilla the Hun."

"If you want to saw off the end of your penis, you're welcome. (laughter) You're not to do it to a child who hasn't asked for it. Same with the genitals of a little girl. If she thinks later on she'd be better off without them, let her take, or have taken to her, a sharp instrument. If it proves that it's good for AIDS - it might well be, I've heard that it's said to be good for cervical cancer - let it be decided by the grown-up. It is not right, it is not moral, it is in fact wicked, to submit children to the mutilation of their genitalia, or to anyone without consent. (applause. Hitchens bangs podium) Do you understand that this elementary point only needs to be made because of wickedness enjoined by religion. The rabbi here's a fairly humane guy. He wouldn't - if he didn't think God was involved - ever consider mutilating the genitals of a child, but because it's a covenant with God, anything can be done. (laughter), Now don't you see - you laugh, but you should be crying. (laughter) I said crying! (laughter) Okay, suit yourself. (laughter)"
-Christopher Hitchens debating with Rabbi Schmuley Boteach
, January 30, 2008 [Youtube, 42' 30"]

I am confident that Hitchens was in fact not joking, and though his effort to convey his seriousness was laughed at, was nothing other than serious.

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
–Steven Weinberg

Ah, yes, tradition. The finest way of making decisions in the world, even the dead get their say.
"irate_atheist" writing at RichardDawkins.net, October 23, 2007

Picking up the pieces.

You meant a lot to me. More than you know. And I just want to thank you for that.
Damn, I wish I was your lover.
I had a dream I was your hero.


You're a GOD, don't you forget it.

Join us. Join us or fuck you.

Tie you to the murphy bed.
Roll over to me.

And I have stopped drinking. And smoking. And eating. And breathing.

Can I tell you how beautiful you are? Is that okay?
"It's so great that you can't remember pain."

"Remember what FDR said, 'we have nothing to fear, but another great depression'".

I think I should do something great. So why haven't I?
And where are you?
And where am I.
And why does any of that affect me still?
What monstrous things has thinking brought about?
What monstrous things has thinking overcome.


No Jekyll & All Hyde

Ooo, this debate is far more annoying than the previous ones. Both candidates are beginning to appear more clearly typical politicians, more petty, more interested solely on their election rather than their issues. And they just hit a point I find important (!), paraphrasing "should we fund a Manhattan-like project that developed the nuclear bomb, to deal with global energy, and alternative energy, or should we fund 100,000 garages across america, the kind of industry and innovation that developed silicon valley?". This is a question for scientists. First a little background: the Manhattan project was an enormous undertaking to solve a theoretically plausibly solvable problem. That is, the physical theory that explains the operation of a nuclear bomb was beginning to emerge, and be validated through experiment, and it was understood to such a degree that the theoretical construction of a bomb was appearing to be a valid construction. We then spent lots of money to accelerate that research, the development of that theory, and the technical side to really push that. Silicon Valley on the other hand is largely a result of many unforeseen innovations which were realized through an enormous number of tinkering minds, motivated minds, curious minds, and capitalist minds. The two achievements were very different, one was exact, and predictable, the other was nebulous, and despite conveying a vague sense of importance, was completely unimaginable preceding it's actual emergence, and remains quite unpredictable. Alternative energy falls somewhere between the two. There is no good solution. We chose the best fuel first, and though the best alternatives are decent, and will surely improve with increased adoption, they will still all fall short of oil. As a result, there is no theoretical silver bullet, as there was with the Manhattan project. Alternative energy also tends to be a capital intensive problem. While early hackers could do interesting things with early computers with relatively inexpensive equipment, development of alternative energy is not a garage sort of activity. Does that exclude the idea that garage tinker-ers might produce grand contributions to the field? Of course not. In my expert (am I allowed to say that?) opinion, we need to spend a lot of money on middle sized projects. Maybe the best approach would be to provide incentives, or subsidization, since the cost of such research tends to not be profitable yet. If we want to encourage the garage tinkers, the best place might be finding more novel solutions to certain hurdles within the alternative energy industry, perhaps with some sort of award-challenge deal.

I think this is the problem: I am a big company with money. You are a person with bad credit who wants a home. So I say, I'll buy you that house there for 300k dollars, and you agree to pay me back over the next thirty years, 500k dollars. Then it turns out you can't pay your mortgage, so you stop. And I kick you out and take the house. But it turns out the house I thought was worth 300k isn't worth anything now, because the prices were all inflated. Then on top of that, I took what I thought was my 500k dollars over the next thirty years, and gave it to some other guy as a Mortgage-backed security (MBS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortgage-backed_security) (A security is a fungible, negotiable instrument representing financial value. Securities are broadly categorized into debt securities (such as banknotes, bonds and debentures), and equity securities, e.g., common stocks.)

properties with foreclosure activity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Foreclosure_Trend_-_2007.png


It's weird that the conservatives vs. the liberals always boils down to simple absolutes in principle, like free market vs. government regulation. It should be clear by now, (as evidenced by history), that neither extreme works fully: the U.S.S.R. collapsed on the one hand, and the great depression is an example of the market crushing itself. FDIC is an institution that certainly all but the most adamant libertarian would agree with. And what is FDIC really? It's the government preventing banks from taking huge risks with the money WE give them. It's a way to prevent consumers from unknowingly risking everything, (even though the risk is very unlikely). UPDATE: It appears that this simple model is incorrect, and that the banks don't actually have any money, nor do we.

Play the victim.

X-rays and lightning
The production of X-rays by a bolt of lightning was theoretically predicted as early as 1925 but no evidence was found until 2001/2002, when researchers at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, detected x-ray emissions from an induced lightning strike along a wire trailed behind a rocket shot into a storm cloud. In the same year University of Florida and Florida Tech researchers used an array of electric field and X-ray detectors at a lightning research facility in North Florida to confirm that natural lightning makes X-rays in large quantities. The cause of the X-ray emissions is still a matter for research. The temperature of lightning is too cold to account for the X-rays observed.

Sink or swim.
Thats a real punch in the crotch.

Own your demons.

Do I not actually have any beliefs? Or at least I try not to?

Where do you think we are?
I'm a crazy person.
In the spirit of taking things too far.
I need to add Justnowism and Dystheism to my religious beliefs.

Sometimes I know you're not with me.

If I were to give you two statements: "OJ Simpson was acquitted because the glove did not fit. But the glove actually did fit."
Then I asked you, "Do the preceding statements declare OJ Simpson to be guilty? And is it an explicit or implicit statement of guilt?" I would expect that by definitions, the majority response would be "Yes, guilty, and implicit, but not explicit."
Likewise, if I were replace the first two statements with "OJ Simpson was the murderer." I would expect most people to check off the 'explicit' box.
Arbitrary means 'based on random choice or personal whim'. The statement that I judge the validity of statements based on whether or not a study has been done to support or refute said statement is the exact opposite of arbitrary measures. If I had said I use the first letter of a statement to judge it's validity, or the time of day I read it, or the day of the week, or the astrological sign, or my intuition, or my personal experiences, those would ALL be arbitrary.

Count the swans through a telescope
Toxic debt.
All Jekyll and no Hyde.

I am sorry if this seems rude or mean, but creationists have absolutely no place in biology debate, no more so than they have a place in particle physics debates.

Oooh, MHC proteins...!

Be careful, you probably won't be able to tell I like you, let alone am completely crazy for you.

Science: the process or result of a process by which information is validated. The more rigorous the method of validation, the more easily and/or more well established the information becomes.

Monetary reform & electoral reform. Chicken or egg?

Economics is King.
The two things I would have liked to see mentioned, that were left out: first, when he mentioned that banks need to keep some amount related to what they've loaned out, along with the mentions of the central bank, is that the government plays with the loan rate of the central bank loaning money to banks to make up for that reserve difference, and that by playing with that rate they influence the bank's willingness to loan money (by influencing their willingness to borrow the difference from the government, through the interest rate). It's in the 2nd video, about 6:24 in, mentioning that the banks must have 10% more in deposit than they have on loan.
The second thing I wish they had mentioned was that when you sign your home/car whatever over as collateral for your loan, and the bank counts that as actual money, that depends on the market value of that item. And if the market for that item disappears, then so does it's value. Houses can be worthless just like everything else.

All we ever wanted was everything.


Look what that does to me

Phase transitions! Versus bifurcation theory?

Lots of interesting talk tonight. What if the universe is fundamentally discrete on all fronts (space, time, matter, energy), are incompleteness theorems, currently stated in terms of the ability to construct real numbers, still valid?
They would still be necessary probably to describe quantum states, even though we could not measure those states as being what we describe them as.
Is there any real danger of ZFC being inconsistent? And if it proved inconsistent, is there any chance of the halting problem or relativization proofs being invalidated? Seems the answer is no. I'm pretty sure the undecidability of the halting problem can be shown without any information about the incompleteness theorems.

Could we perhaps axiomize our system even more fundamentally? Like: axiomatic system must have consistency, as well as (insert other basic properties here). Could the universe be constructed with an infinite set of axioms? What might that imply?

The one that never steps back.
We don't mean the same.

Do high-tech people lose their jobs in this sort of thing?
Look what we've done?
These are kind of fun: averageness, youthfulness, baby face, cuteness. Ha ha: "A prototype for a 'child woman' is Jean Harlow."
These are interesting, related to global warming.

Kisses. No. Though really serious things have happened for a kiss.

Drunk animals are funny.

Science ought to open up the war between creationism and science, by pointing out that creationists are not just incorrectly challenging the Theory of Evolution, but also the Theory of Abiogensis, the Theory of Geology, the Theory of Cosmology, the Theory of Radioactivity, and all of the empirical and mathematical evidence supporting these theories provided by the fields of Biology, Genetics, Astronomy, Chemistry, and Physics.

The Large Hadron Rap.
Neat photo(s). STOP THIS ALREADY!
Kind of mean. Rightly so?

Tulip mania
I need to learn: Hamilton's equations, Hamiltonian (quantum mechanics), Lagrangian mechanics, Landau theory, tons of other stuff...
I should watch more of Da Ali G show
Nothing's going to change my world.

Where are you?
SARAH PALIN is PRO-LIFE, unless it is HER DAUGHTER in which case she is PRO-CHOICE.
Katie Couric has to ask every question several times, because Sarah Palin is surprisingly good at dodging questions. They are being forced to abandon their base or look foolish. NO WAIT! I am WRONG! She is using terminology that will nod to the severely religious, without displaying public preaching, which is known to piss people like me off.

She did it again! A while back I wondered:
When she said, "...I'm not going to disagree with the point that they make, that, man's activities, can be, attributed, to, changes" (at about 1 minute left)—was she misspeaking, completely ignorant of the actual situation, or, (hopefully the most unlikely), so uninformed of science that she has failed to comprehend simple causality? (It is difficult to imagine her being that ignorant.)

Now during the debate she actually said, "I'm not one to attribute every man—activity of man, to changes in the climate." (00:29:29)
So then she explains that she doesn't want to talk about what the causes were, but rather we want to clean up this planet. She fails to understand that in order to 'clean up the planet' and simultaneously 'not take a(nother) dump on the economy' it would be beneficial to know what caused it, and what is and is not a good approach to fixing it.

Listen, the danger of religion is exactly the danger in not learning from one's mistakes. The reason the plague killed so many people was because we attributed the existence of the plague to mystical beliefs, such as god punishing us for ridiculous reasons.

Could the ground be used to filter out dirty chemicals from coal plants? Like a smokestack that went deep underground into a network of pipes maybe?

I'm waiting for someone to find me and take your place.
I'm the nicest asshole you'll ever meet.

"Grieve for the lost and the lonely."

Holy crap, I'm going as an owl pellet this year.

Ha ha

My love is rotten to the core.

If you want to see if your religious beliefs hold contradictions, you can take this test, though I disagreed strongly with their conclusions. Don't read any further if you don't want my disagreements to ruin the test for you.
Similarly this test looks for contradictions in a broader range of philosophical views. I had a disagreement with that too, though I didn't explain it here.

I need to know: am I somehow rationalizing my beliefs to appear consistent, or do I have a valid argument here? I took two "direct hits" and one "bite the bullet".
Here is their analysis:
Direct Hit 1
You've just taken a direct hit! Earlier you agreed that it is rational to believe that the Loch Ness monster does not exist if there is an absence of strong evidence or argument that it does. No strong evidence or argument was required to show that the monster does not exist - absence of evidence or argument was enough. But now you claim that the atheist needs to be able to provide strong arguments or evidence if their belief in the non-existence of God is to be rational rather than a matter of faith.
The contradiction is that on the first ocassion (Loch Ness monster) you agreed that the absence of evidence or argument is enough to rationally justify belief in the non-existence of the Loch Ness monster, but on this occasion (God), you do not.
The second question was phrased such that there was no evidence for or against god, while the first question was more implying that we have searched for the loch ness monster, but simply not found anything. This was phrased as an absence of evidence, but in obtaining a null result is really evidence of absence. Evidence of absence IS evidence, and thus conclusions can be drawn. Absence of evidence IS NOT evidence of anything, it is absent! And therefore conclusions CAN NOT be drawn!

Direct Hit 2
You've just taken a direct hit! You say that God does not have the freedom and power to do impossible things such as create square circles, but in an earlier answer you said that any being which it is right to call God must be free and have the power to do anything. So, on your view, God is not free and does not have the power to do what is impossible. This requires that you accept - in common with most theologians, but contrary to your earlier answer - that God's freedom and power are not unbounded. He does not have the freedom and power to do literally anything.
My response:
"...but in an earlier answer you said that any being which it is right to call God must be free and have the power to do anything."When I read this, I take the word 'anything' to mean, 'anything physically possible', whereas they apparently meant 'literally anything'. As a strict physicalist, I completely reject the notion that the universe is fundamentally lawless, which would be required for some being to do 'literally anything'. So if you want to ask me about doing literally anything, you need to phrase it as such. Violating mathematical proof would be one example I would cite as truly impossible (as well as most anything that appears to violate certain foundational principles of modern science, such as superluminal communication). This is why I once came up with the notions of 'strong' and 'weak' omnipotence, and claimed that the silly magical ideas of deities would be defined as 'strongly omnipotent', while creatures that actually exist, and actually can do 'anything' that is physically possible would be 'weakly omnipotent'. (Turing machines that can do physical work in addition to mathematical computation?) I believe the human race, taken as a single entity, constitutes a weakly omnipotent being. It seems that the only walls we will ever be forced against will force any intelligence into the same corner. With the aid of our technology, we are 'unstoppable', at least as far as something can go in being unstoppable.

Bitten Bullet 1
You stated earlier that evolutionary theory is essentially true. However, you have now claimed that it is foolish to believe in God without certain, irrevocable proof that she exists. The problem is that there is no certain proof that evolutionary theory is true - even though there is overwhelming evidence that it is true. So it seems that you require certain, irrevocable proof for God's existence, but accept evolutionary theory without certain proof. So you've got a choice: (a) Bite a bullet and claim that a higher standard of proof is required for belief in God than for belief in evolution. (b) Take a hit, conceding that there is a contradiction in your responses.
You chose to bite the bullet.
And here are my retort:
Bite the bullet (the simplest):
Yes, I require more evidence for the existence of god than evolution. This boils down to the dictum made famous by Bill Nye, who was a student (apparently?) of Carl Sagan's, who said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!". Simply, the hypothesis of god is quite extraordinary, demanding an incredible level of evidence. Evolution on the hand is a quite simple claim, nearly self evident, mostly because it is a principle that influences every aspect of every known life form. Simply put, it permeates the organic world.

Fucking Navy Seals, fucking bunch of elitists, thats what they are. No, wait, I'm sorry, it is good that they are elite, they have a terribly challenging jobs, and not just anybody can do it. The president on the other hand, fucking elitist democrats, wanting some Harvard educated candidate... assholes! What do they think they're doing? Running a complicated government or something?

And so it begins!

While I was trying to flush out what exactly a 'bible believer' is, I stumbled across this post and then this post too, both by the self proclaimed bible believer. I wrote this comment, but it is currently awaiting moderation, (think he will post it?):

I think the original wall was not [intended to be] one way, but rather to protect both government and religion from one another. What makes you think Christians are being kept out of American government?

According to this Gallup poll, while a Catholic has a 95% “vote for”, 4% “would not vote for” rating, an atheist has a 45% “vote for”, and a 53% “would not vote for” rating. It is identically the opposite of Christianity barred from government: while

You are correct to say that Christians are allowed to participate in American government, but Christianity should play NO PART in American government, since that would infringe upon the Bill of Rights (and The First Amendment to The Constitution).

According to the wikipedia article, List of United States Presidential religious affiliations:

The vast majority of the presidents can be characterized as Christians, at least by formal membership. Some were Unitarian, or Quaker, or unaffiliated with a specific religious body. Some are thought have have been deists, or irreligious. No president thus far has been a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or an adherent of any other specifically non-Christian religion.

So please do not claim that Christianity is somehow persecuted by American government. I assure you that the atheists have it much harder.

Assuming that you could somehow convince me a god with influence over physical reality does exist, I would still not like it ('him'). I would still hate that 'being' with all of my own, and I would still reject all praise and worshiping of that creature. It would be a vile entity, petty beyond any human potential, accomplice to not just the most grand, but the totality of 'evil' throughout history, and accountable for all human, as well as other creaturely suffering. Completely unworthy of my time, energy, and admiration. CHRISTIANS arguing that they are being suppressed? FUCK YOU, okay? 100% of every American President has been christian. 100% of every American Vice President has been christian. You think YOU have a hard time being represented? In the entire history of the United States, there has been only ONE publicly admitted atheist. So PLEASE do not cry suppression.

all the best.