Casually Causal

Because you said so.
Make a face.
There's always tomorrow.
With a heart much more lovely.

``This is why it is so heartbreaking to see what is being done to mathematics in school.''

I'm wrong! About the one thing I really thought I was good at, and maybe I once was, but I can see I have not been for quite some time (at least since tutoring physics in college). Teaching is much more about presenting mysteries in a captivating and comprehensible way, at the appropriate difficulty to challenge the student. I need to learn that if I hope to be a good teacher one day.

Stars of the Lid and their Refinement of the Decline

Perform the reduction!
Mike Huckabee repeatedly implies that the main reasons for abortions are that the mother is concerned that the child will be an economic burden. What if they are afraid the child will not be loved? Or not provided for? What if they fear that cannot take care of or support a child, or give the child the life that the mother thinks every child deserves? What if the mother can see her own fate, and knows that will most likely result in absolute isolation? What if the mother fears any number of these? How many people were scared by their own upbringing, and may fear (for whatever reason), unavoidable scarring of their offspring in the same manner? (I've heard people raised in foster homes wouldn't wish it on anyone, though I imagine some people were fine with it.) If you could know with absolute certainty that if you conceived, your child would eventually take their own life, would you hesitate? Would you feel guilty if you were aware of such an outcome, and yet conceived the child anyway? This sounds far-fetched, but what it's not far fetched to imagine two people with detectable but recessive genetic disorders that result in a high likelihood of their offspring having severe chronic illness, or even having a high likelihood of childhood death. Given an adult couple aware of this, is the "miracle" of an accidental pregnancy worth the risk?

Death by excessive sunshine.
Ha ha ha ha, this is one of the most disturbing phrases I've ever heard.

Whatever's clever.

How about a good drug story for once?


You know, I hear a lot of people complain about movies having generic plots, or being formulaic, or all that jazz. And I just watched Role Models, and it definitely succumbs to that. But I enjoyed it a lot, and I don't really care if it is loosely fit onto a cookie-cutter plot. There are definitely things in the world I find much more problematic than Hollywood's unwillingness to take a risk, or whatever other way you'd like to phrase similar criticism.
I believe we are witnessing the death throes of religion.
These are creative folk you are dealing with.
It's a good thing there isn't a god, because there is no way it would ever forgive us for this.

Look, it's just an all around shitty situation. You know what would have been an acceptable method of interrogation? Lie detectors, solid evidence, decent, humane treatment, some basic concepts of respect even. These methods would also have the benefit of not increasing the resentment, and potentially creating terrorists out of mistaken identities, and misunderstandings.

I've always been very trusting of people, and therefore gullible. Fortunately, I've also always had a very hard time understanding people, both in what people say, and what they mean, so I've tended to just interpret what I think they say, and what I think they mean, on my own. This works very well in science, where you have context from causal relationships from which you may infer meaning, but not so well with humans, where human nature (rather than reason), tends to be the dominant force for meaning.

Oooo, PZ Myers posted some advice for new commenters (my spellcheck says that isn't a real word), including this:
As this is a science blog, a greater proportion of the readers and commenters here well- educated, and, if not scientists, are reasonably well-versed in logic, observation, empiricism, debate, and rationality. As such, their responses will likely be pointed, eloquent, articulate, and highly opinionated.

I find this interesting due to the last two words. I am highly opinionated, it is where my severe arrogance originates.

Get on the anchored ship. Get on the shore-bound boat. Bring on a blade to cut the rope.

Iron aged tribalism.

No homosexual should accept any form of christianity, islam or judaism. No woman should accept these religions. The god of the old testament, which is included in all three abrahamic religions, is a homophobic misogynist, and this is on top of the whole thing being completely ridiculous. In Richard Dawkin's words, "the god of the old testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." And if you don't agree, go read the bible, read the old testament, and PAY ATTENTION. If you find yourself pausing to explain stories in terms of your own understanding of god, tally it up. When you're done, count your tally marks, and ask yourself if maybe your understanding of right and wrong is more advanced than the people who wrote those stories 2500+ years ago.

How is it that people can think that ancient tribes, who knew almost nothing about reality, were speaking to god, rather than just under superstitious delusions? Why can we all agree the Salem witch trials were fabrication, but most of us can believe that god spoke to moses as a burning bush? I'm very sorry how offensive I come across to my christian friends, assuming any of them read these things, or ever hear me rant about it in person, but please, trust me that I truly believe organized religion to be the single most harmful set of institutions in the world, and that I am only so vocal as to do as much as I can to lessen that harm. If there were an accessible way for me to lessen the production of AK-47s, or feed hungry children the world over, or teach war-torn poverty stricken parts of Africa about effective STD prevention, or teach most of the 3rd world peoples about basic sanitation, or a host of other things, I would. But I don't know how to do that. And I do know that if I can just convince you to be a little less devout, to question a little, to pass it on to the next generation in a weaker form than you received it, then we will all be much better off. Religion really does poison everything. If you've ever second guessed your religious authorities, have you ever continued it on, and asked what made them religious authorities in the first place? What sort of problems did they have to resolve, and what where the methods used to resolve them? And whether those methods were even supposed to be accessible or inaccessible to you? Did years of seminary really teach them how to solve a sort of problem that you cannot solve? I can say that years of physics classes did that for me, and that probably a decent chemist, biologist, geologist, engineer (of all sorts), or many other professions, can say the same. Is it odd that I spend as much time researching and discussing and writing about anti-religion as many dedicated religious folk spend in pro-religious thinking? Am I any less motivated? I would expect that I would be less concerned about people's future, given that I don't fear they will be punished in some hell after life. But then what motivates me? Is it just that I care for people? Do I just care for some people, and strongly believe that the rest of the people can have negative effects on the smaller fraction of people I care about? Maybe. I probably should reserve self-judgement. You can decide. And do you really think I've overlooked the grand truths that other people have allegedly received? Is it possible I have not fully considered my opponents views? No. You can claim that on a number of advanced physics topics, but not on religion. It is obvious. It is clear as the day.

Casually causal?

Kate Capshaw had to be taught how to scream.

"Wear your jewels to bed, princess?" "Yeah. And nothing else. Shocking?" "Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist." "So as a scientist you do a lot of research?" "Always." "And what sort of research would you do on me?"
"Nocturnal activities." "You mean like what sort of cream I put on my face at night. What position I like to sleep in." "Mating customs." "Love rituals?" "Primitive sexual practices" "So you're an authority in that area?" "Years of field work." "I don't blame you for being sore at me. I can be hard to handle." "I've had worse." "But you'll never have better." "I don't know. As a scientist I don't want to prejudice my experiment I'll let you know in the morning."
Win for the scientists! (I'll selectively omit the rest of the dialogue.)

It's a little unpleasant to say, but science is really about separating your human biases from the evidence about how the world is, and although I've been pretty high up on the science rankings among my peers, for my entire life, it still seems that any time I get comfortable in my position I experience great suffering due to my biases creeping in and clouding my objectivity.

I don't understand conservatism. If any archetypical conservatives come across this statement, could you, to the best of your abilities, answer this question: why can't you trust the government with industries like health care, banking, or basic manufacturing (car industry), but you can trust the government with nuclear stockpiles and munitions up the wazoo? Typically I'd rather hand anyone in society (pariah, asylum inmate, nobel-prize winning physicist, doctor, banker, NRA president, world-class marksmen, etc.) my money, my vehicle (for repair) or my hospital care, before I'd hand them a firearm. Especially if I demanded that they use the firearm in my best interest while simultaneously insisting that I pay them as little as possible for their efforts. (Seriously! Conservatives, how does this work?! Though I suppose republicans typically have no problem with large military spending, which I would consider a significant deviation from conservative values.) And if I were a pure capitalist (maybe I am?), I'd further wonder why we can't just think of government as a competing company among other car manufactures, banks and healthcare plans. Why not just consider the government to be a company that our society allows to operate at a loss in industries we deem non-profitable (i.e., unable to turn a net profit). Obviously there are other good reasons to invoke a government run industry—it could be that the industry involves large rewards for unfair behavior (or maybe just an industry in which getting away with cheating is easy), in which case we would tend to prefer a regulatory group, independent of profit (and ideally independent of motive beyond our interests), to monitor, discourage, investigate, prevent and punish companies treading in the unfair area of behavior that are detrimental to our society. I would typically put insurance, and healthcare, near the top of the list, along with education and other well-being related industries. There are two reasons, first, like stated above, that these are industries without much profit, with great benefits from cheating, and for which the main focus is not mutual improvement of the provider and the customer, but rather solely improvement of the customer (yes, we'd all like better doctors and better teachers and better insurers, but we don't tend to think that these industries should exist for profit, so much as they should exist for human benefit). Second, because the products of these industries are all beneficial to the entire society—we all benefit when the average child is better educated, we all benefit when less of us suffer disease less often and/or less severely (insurance follows directly from that). How about this for government-run health care: consider that health insurance is basically a bet between two parties, the insurance company, betting you will be fine, and you, betting you will not. Now just like any other betting scheme, there are three possible distributions of the odds: either the bet is in your favor, the bet is perfectly equal, or the bet is not in your favor. In the case of insurance companies, if it was anything other than "not in your favor", they wouldn't be profitable! That doesn't necessarily mean the true odds of the basic concept of health (or life) insurance aren't in your favor, it just means that the overall odds of the company's strategy, providing insurance to you and many other people, is in their favor. It's exactly like a casino: if the odds weren't in their favor they wouldn't be a business. Stake limits and rules are all designed to ensure that the casino remains profitable, and insurance companies must be the exact same way. The only alternative reminds me of an SNL sketch for "the change bank", where you can exchange coins and cash and any combination of the two. And when asked how they make money the man replies confidently: volume. Back to seriousness, the insurance companies are obviously making money (any NPO insurance companies out there?), which means the bet is obviously balanced in their favor, which means that the industry is no longer centered on our well-being! Help me! Show me the way! Please! (And I'm serious, I really must know how these conclusions are arrived at.)

100 questions, 170 minutes. And these are hard physics questions, so 1.7 minutes might be only 0.7 minutes after you have comprehended the question. (The topics list is very intimidating!) Though if I can answer ~45-50 of them correctly, and not answer many incorrectly, then I will have done very well. So I should really give myself more like 3, or maybe 4 minutes per question. Maybe I should train myself to "feel" 3 minutes pass. On an episode of The Office I watched with Corey the other day, Jim trained Dwight to want altoids whenever his (Jim's) computer rebooted (like Pavlov's dogs). It made me wonder if I've trained myself to react to me alarm (on my phone) in a specific way in the morning (hit snooze a bunch). Though I suppose thats very typical and maybe I was just feeling like that was an important idea because I was half-asleep this morning while doing that and thinking all this (a good time to be wrong about the profoundness, or even the basic coherence of an idea).

What sort of original grammatical errors do you think persist in the bible? Seriously, how many books that long do you think could have not a single grammatical error? Especially considering the retranslations and more than a millenia of hand written and word of mouth passing along. Assuming any of that stuff was real in the first place (which I have no reason to think anyway), it seems extremely unlikely that whatever survived 2000-3500 (or maybe only 2500) years of the game telephone by people who couldn't figure out Maxwell's law of induction, Newton's universal law of gravitation, Darwin's theory of the Origin of the Species, Copernicus's theory of the Heliocentric Solar system, condoms reduce risk of HIV, and so on. Honestly, we're better off just outright betting against the statements of religious authority, based on simple probability.

This is maybe an interesting thought. Regarding relationships, I think I have been right about when a girl likes me, and wrong about when a girl likes me, as well as right about when a girl does not like me. But I don't think I'm ever really wrong about when a girl does not like me. That is, I don't think I've ever assumed a girl didn't like me that actually did. Or at least not since 7th grade. Though obviously I have no real clue. And worse, I think I might be wrong myself.

"Unlike humans, chromosomes can't betray, deceive, or willfully lie. The truth is all they state."
Though, knowing just a little bit too much about biology completely ruins this moment. What if he was a chimera? Then both the test could be correct and yet the conclusion could be wrong. Is it unlikely? Sure. Is it impossible? Far from it. Impossible, like infinity, is very, very far away. But the doctor, if he had known, should have stated this possibility, however unlikely it may be. Of course there are other physically realizable situations as well. I find it interesting that many of the bible's statements about jesus aren't really physically impossible. Immaculate conception, though highly unlikely, is not entirely impossible in humans (though I suppose to produce none-genetically identical offspring may be even more unlikely; that is, typically asexual reproduction would result in a clone, which would be female.) Though can we conceive of a physically possible situation which could result in this? Sure! We could just invoke chimerism again, in combination with asexual reproduction, we could chalk it up to the miscommunications, it could be a variety of additional genetic disorders that resulted in the mother carrying a Y chromosome as well, or in the offspring expressing male phenotypes, and probably a large number of things we don't yet know!

I can't pick fights with strangers. I need someone who I think actually deserves getting beat up. I'm comfortable with the idea that I deserve getting beat up, but not whoever it is that will mostly beat me up.
"Where did you come from, angel? How did you know, I'd be the one?"

Today on my way home from work, I wondered, why do humans have emotions? I've always assumed emotions are a natural mechanism to instill responsibility to care for young, or for various other reproductive reasons (as is ultimately true about everything). But suddenly it really strikes me hard—is there a good reason that humans couldn't have evolved from our less intelligent ancestors completely devoid of emotion? My first thought was: isn't it reasonable to imagine an intelligent species caring for it's young and making parenting bonds (and whatever else is required for successful reproduction and rearing of young), where they care for their young out of purely logical reasons? And I thought that was reasonable, but maybe I was very tired (after all, I did take an hour long nap on my way home). Now that I reconsider it, that is not very reasonable; it requires logic, it requires a lot of insight into the future, it involves cognitive processes far beyond the capabilities of even our more human ancestors (let alone the apes we came from). Many of the emotional artifacts we possess are implemented in much less sophisticated life forms as well. If I recall correctly, voles even have complex relationships, with monogamy and cheating and all sorts of the complex relationship issues humans typically experience as well.

"find your own hole to crawl into. Mine's full."

The process: god will punish you if you break his rules —> god loves you and will forgive you for you mistakes/guilts/deviations —> god might not intervene/interfere with our lives, but he created us and loves us and is good/just/right —> god must exist because without him we wouldn't know right from wrong —> god is obviously inherent in everything, from the beauty of our bodies to the unbelievable intricacy we observe in all living things —> god might not be a person but it must have created the universe (cause what else could?), and he must have tuned it just right so that we would come into existence —> god = the mysterious and fundamental rules of the universe (deism & pantheism, rather than some human-like entity) —> god might not exist at all, and maybe isn't needed to be moral or good, but at least the belief in god has led to good stuff (fear of punishment leading to good behavior, comfort of a grand forgiver resting your nerves over other's guilt, etc. for each subsequent step) —> god does not exist, it is not needed for acceptable moral structure, and he has not done good. To the contrary, at every step of our intellectual evolution it has stood in the way of progress. Unnecessary guilt, escape from responsibility, inadequate answers to exciting, important and productive questions, unnecessary conflict, certainty where there should be none, destruction on nearly every scale ever experienced; it is time we inoculate our species from this grand disease.

Where does the word god come from? Does it predate english? (Because english isn't that old.) Oh, thank you wiktionary:
From Middle English, from Old English god (“supreme being, deity”), Old High German got (a rank of deity) originally neuter, then changed to masculine to reflect the change in religion to Christianity, both from the Proto-Germanic *ǥuđa-, *ǥuđan, from the Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰuto- (“that which is invoked”), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵhau- (“to call, to invoke”) or * *ǵheu- (“to pour”). Not related to the word good.

Ha ha, not too surprising that the word god is not related to the word good—after all, how could it be, with all the horrible shit that god was associated with until recently? (And in my opinion, as much now as ever.)

But how did YHWH of the ancient Israelites (allegedly) come to be god? I once objected to our money using the word god, when many religions don't call it that, and since I'm an atheist, I find it somewhat excluding of me... the response I got was that `god' is referring to the same thing for all those people; regardless of what they call it, it's the same thing. (Of course, this still excludes atheists, who outright deny, or highly doubt the existence of such a thing, though I still maintain even overlooking us non-believers, it is a highly biased statement, and should be removed, LET ALONE my own perspective on the matter.)

Let alone.

It appears I have been experiencing hypographia lately. At least to a minor degree.

``Wrecking ball outside the door.''
``You'll have to shout even louder.''
``Send my cinders home to mother.''

We train ourselves. I've trained myself to watch movies while eating. Or put on a movie while going to sleep. In both cases I am well aware that the movie does nothing of value. They don't help me.
I want Roger Fenton's waggon
Dan sent me this. It's pretty funny.

I say, let it.

You know who you are, even if nobody else does.

The only argument I've heard against allowing openly homosexual people in the military is that it may drive out hundreds or even thousands of excellent service men and women (presumably for reasons ranging from an acceptable discomfort they may experience to flat out homophobia), but I would contend that anyone who would leave the military based on the military's policies, is not a good service person anyway. The military is entirely dependent on the command structure and the strict obedience of the person at the bottom. This is precisely the mechanism required for military personal to carry out enormously destructive acts, such as participating in a nuclear exchange.

At what point in our culture's history did marriage proposals become surprises? Didn't ancient cultures all have prearranged marriages? Isn't that the opposite of a surprise? Or maybe it originates from even before prearranged marriages, when we were more animalistic and men just overpowered women? (Did that ever even happen?)

Well, first of all, there clearly are no such thing as universal morals. Pick anything you think everyone believes to be wrong, and you are guaranteed to find a person somewhere who has completely disobeyed it without the slightest internal conflict or guilt. From eating people to molesting children to molesting old people to sex with dead people and I'm sure far more things that I've GLADLY never even heard of.

According to Oliver Sacks on The Daily Show, "you never lose rhythm, rhythm is deep deep in the brain... and thats a purely human thing, chimpanzees can't dance."
NOVA's Musical Minds, I'll have to make sure I watch that at some point.

And it's still unknown. Just how much distance means we're on our own? And can we be happy alone?

Your skin's so fair it's not fair. You remind me.

Vortex rings in microgravity.
Neat house.
I need to find some cober, cause she seems real cool.
And others.
Faint young sun paradox
CBO budget outlook ...and not the largest tax increase in history. LIARS.

"Permit me to be infantile by myself."
"If I said no could you ever be sure?"

"I'm different than other women Ted. And by different, I mean better."

It's probably a problem. Problemably.
I guess I don't have so much a problem with praise, it's just undeserved praised.

Friend: it's funny, you instilled this sense in me that if an action were detrimental to my hard drive, it shouldn't be allowed to do it, and that makes a lot of sense. Except that as things get more complicated (which computers and drives certainly are), it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what is and is not safe. I really don't know if this is true or not, but it is not inconceivable that the system is so complex that it is intractable to determine what actions are safe and what actions are not. If this is the case, then there could in fact be things you can do which are terrible for a drive.

Shouldn't a news organization that gets so much wrong so quickly lose it's right to be journalism? Can't we take them to court or something? Fuck you, Fox.

Completely ridiculous.
"Sports is to war as pornography is to sex"

Myocardial infarction.

You're giving me the spins.
Even at the risk of chaos.

Now hiring partners in crime.

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