Past Due

Preface: I had compiled this entry back sometime around 7·11, but the formatting in the newer editor of the blogger software made the links all funky, and some of the style carried over from pasting, which I really didn't like, but fixing it seemed like a huge pain (I had gone straight back to the pure html, which was way more complicated than I had started with), so I just didn't post anything for the last few months. But now I've reinspected it and it isn't nearly as terrible as it once seemed. And so here is this post, with the next two months of nonsense to follow shortly afterwards.

Hopefully I can book CERN!
Do you think adding this in the comments field helped or hurt my odds? They recommended we book 3-4 months (instead of a few weeks) in advance:
I wish we had thought of this 3-4 months ago. We both have undergraduate degrees in physics, does that help our case? I've also personally explained the safety margin [of the LHC and black holes] to many concerned friends and acquaintances following the media hype last year :-) Thanks for the chance!

Update 7·11·10: CERN was great! Pictures (eventually) on facebook.

"A very special kind of monster."

Always one foot on my mind.
Is this another dead end?
Break my fall.
Sorry, I'm busy rewiring my brain.

So you try to figure out what you want, and you try to figure out how much you want what it is you want. And maybe you even just get hung up on trying to figure out why it is you want what you want. But somehow this is all too much. And it doesn't work. And I haven't figured it out yet.

Hmm... this is interesting:
"What this means is that in a broad sense a theistic worldview is empirically unfalsifiable…just like a naturalistic one."
From some loon PZ is talking about here.
I find it interesting, because on some level he is right: naturalism and theism are both unfalsifiable. But for different reasons.
Theism is unfalsifiable because its claims are limited to that which cannot be measured, by definition. It's not just unfalsifiable, it's ultimately unknowable in any interpretation (else we could all agree on one true consistent theism, which is laughable).
Naturalism on the other hand is unfalsifiable for a reason more akin to why conservation of energy has always been true: because our concept of naturalism is the claim that: that which exists and influences the world is in fact knowable. This cannot be falsified because probabilistic laws allow seemingly uncaused behavior to occur (like the vacuum fluctuations). So it's difficult to see how a deity can even fit into reality, or any sort of spiritualistic/non-naturalistic entity or event or influence… if it has a causal influence, it could be described by either probabilistic or deterministic mathematics. If it can be observed, it can be modeled. And if it can't be observed, then in what sense does it exist at all?
In other words, spiritualism, or mentalism, requires a unknowable element, whereas naturalism forbids unknowable elements (or at least unmeasurable elements).
These are the essential components to the definitions of these words, and they are also the most basic reasons why mentalism is completely useless.
The utility of a belief that requires at least one part to be unknowable is really zero. There are useful things in which much is unknown, for instance, black box arguments in computer science, but in those instances we don't require an element to be unknown, it just so happens that knowing every element is not required for the argument to be useful.
That is, there is a difference between arguments in which steps are unknown, and arguments in which steps cannot be known.

Afterbirthday party?

Can you disrespect an idea, belief or tradition, without disrespecting people who hold/support/cherish such an idea/belief/tradition?
If the answer is 'yes', then why is disrespecting a religion often interpreted as disrespecting people?
Otherwise, why does respecting a person mean restraining oneself from speaking earnestly and openly?
Aren't there situations when politeness deserves a back seat to well being?

As I've aged I seem to have become increasingly intolerant of ideas I'm not interested in. It's a bit embarrassing really. This is quite obvious in certain instances, such as the rubik's cube notation. I never learned to read it, because it didn't interest me enough. I didn't even really bother to try.

I do think it was mostly my brain seeing a pattern where there wasn't one.
New game: eat juicy fruits with no napkin (nor napkin equivalents).

I don't respect any of the other religions either, and I wouldn't hesitate to mock any of them. I am an antitheist and I consider major organized religions to be more responsible for human suffering (both now and throughout history)

I consider christianity to be the number one threat to global human wellbeing, and islam to be a close second (they just tend to wield less power).

If moderate muslims want my respect then they should come out and support satire of their religion. However, I don't see why I should respect anyone who holds a religious belief above the life of another human being. Furthermore, if we don't push this issue then we essentially condone their behavior, and we reinforce the idea that religious belief is somehow equal or greater than human rights.
And if homosexuality carried any of the tenets of most of the major religions I wouldn't hesitate to criticism and mock them either. If the average muslim is a tolerant peaceful person, then I would like to invite them in combatting the extremists. Unfortunately I think moderate muslims are probably more enabling extremists, much like the large group of christian moderates allows for a larger group of extremist christians to persist. It isn't that moderate christians or muslims are intolerant of other people, it's that they inhibit the criticism of the extremists, making it look as if criticism is some kind of discrimination, or bigotry. But it isn't: religious extremists are one of the greatest causes of human suffering, especially given that many of the other great causes are not so nearly under human control (e.g. disease, and natural death).

I haven't drawn mohammed yet, but as an antitheist—and more so as a proponent of free speech—I vehemently oppose the notion that any religious belief should trump freedom of speech. I would strongly agree that we not persecute anyone for their religion, but persecuting the religions themselves I am all for. Update 7·11·10: I did draw Muhammed for "Draw Muhammed Day" 

If christians or jews were murdering cartoonists for depicting jesus or moses (or yaweh or god or anyone really) I would reply in the exact same manner without hesitation.

I think that if muslims want to be respected they need to behave like civil members of society. (Note: I already respect the many muslims who would denounce the cartoon-induced murders.

(1 + 0.9 cos(8t)) (1 + 0.1 cos(24t)) (0.9 + 0.05 cos(200t)) (1 + sin(t)), with t from -π to π.

So why don't we put a 1000 ton granite block on the oil leak? (Assuming we could make such a block, I think we could probably manipulate it, though 5000 feet is a very long way.)

So I went looking for 1000 ton granite blocks on google, and found this: http://www.sacredsites.com/middle_east/lebanon/baalbek.htm which mentions 1000 ton, 65+ foot long stones used in ancient Roman architecture! I guess it is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baalbek in modern day Lebanon. Maybe a 1000 ton block wouldn't work either…

I suppose my thinking goes like this: when I say I am a seven, I am saying that the claims humans make about the existence of a god are patently false. Assuming they could possibly have some truth to them, it would be out of shear coincidence, and not due to any sort of casual connection relating the two. But that is ridiculous speak. If I make up my own deity right now, it has no greater chance of being right or wrong than one our society has collectively evolved for tens to hundreds or even thousands of years. Which is to say that none of them have any chance of being right. It is simply absurd to believe in the easter bunny, or santa claus or the tooth fairy, if you are an intelligent creature with a reasonably experienced and matured view of the world. 

These people are amazing. I mean, AMAZING!

"This is a seri... I'm a seri... I'm, uh... I've tried to be a serious man."

 maybe a 10,000 ton block? I remember reading that those battle ships with 16" guns weigh 55,000 tons, I wonder what an aircraft carrier weighs…

As directed by xkcd, I read Bruce Schneier on Security, and holy crap does he have a great point. And I'd like to say I avoid that often, but it certainly isn't true. And to prove it I must only admit (regrettably) that I went to read the article with the legitimate intent to find out what the worst case scenario for the oil leak actually is. (This morbid fascination with worst case scenarios is pretty persuasive, and embarrassing; this morning on NPR they mentioned a worst case being December, or even years, which seems awfully ridiculous. But then again I have no idea what a reasonable estimate would look like, though I find it hard to imagine that not enough information is known to make a reliable estimate.)

And now I've read an actual assessment as well. It's got some interesting things in it.

Later I mentioned the big rock idea to Brian Hayes, who pointed out that the fear would be that oil would continue leaking around the smushed pipe, and then we would have no chance of clamping onto the pipe to stop the flow with equipment. It makes a lot of sense, and it gave me a chill: for the first time I am thinking that it may be the case that humans simply cannot stop the leak. How terrifying.


Anonymity is weird; on the one hand, it is an indispensable feature of progress, allowing those who know to safely reveal what they know to the public. On the other hand, the greater the degree of privacy we maintain, the more in the dark we all feel about what is and isn't allowed, or appropriate, or common or reasonable, etc. 

A part of me wants to emigrate. Not because somewhere else would be so much better, but that we are simply so much worse. Our consumption and our wars overwhelm me. It is something I wish to stop participating in.


Okay, so under my own volition I am revising my question. If the rate of automation can be made to produce at a faster pace than the appetite for acquiring new technology, then we will inevitably have replaced ourselves, right? That is, we automate this and that task, through out our society, including the most mundane and simple tasks, as well as some of the most incomprehensibly complex and important tasks. For instance, processor design and construction are both heavily reliant on computers and robotics. There must be a threshold parameter, after which the degree of automation in society can replace all practical jobs. Starting with devices that can build themselves, thus reducing the cost to materials only. 

"There was that amazing light -- the rich blue skies, dotted with scudding, big-bellied clouds that shifted the sunlight, making fields and rocks broody, then brilliant, in a flash. Monet capitulated, came to Honfleur, and he and Boudin painted side by side, outside, using portable easels and paint in tubes."

"And suddenly, suddenly, Claude Monet just understood what his friend had been telling him about," says Aussenac. "He understood. He said afterward that it was just like a curtain that [had opened] in front of his eyes. He understood what his life was about, and what painting was about."
I love Nedelle's song "Friends Ancestors" so much:
love is little - love is low
love will make our spirit grow
grow in peace - grow in light
love will do the thing thats right

...I feel like such a hippy lately.
Which is perfectly fine by me.

Holy cow! The proton is even smaller than we thought! Or maybe… there could be a mistake somewhere. Or new physics! Though that does seem highly improbable. I'm guessing we're overlooking something in the theory.

I want to respond with this, but it seems too far off the focus of his work:
In Copenhagen a few weeks ago Victor Stenger gave a presentation on why the fine-tuning argument is fallacious, though I believe he omitted the cosmological constant issue, dismissing 120 orders of magnitude discrepancies as probably indicative of us making an error or overlooking an important factor. Apparently he is writing a book about the other main arguments though, involving the production of carbon and stability of hydrogen, etc.

I don't really know what you're talking about here Sean, but I feel obligated to add my two cents (which I hope are sufficiently related).

I consider fine tuning to have two fatal flaws: it only applies to life as we know it, and, it requires that the universe could have been different—that the these empirically determined constants are in fact arbitrary, rather than the result of some yet-unknown mathematical process. I.e., it might be the that empirically measured parameters of the standard model all originate from pure mathematics, the way e does. In which case they would not be finely tuned, but rather inflexible.

It is conceivable that we could build a physical theory from pure mathematics (e.g. number theory) which would then be exempt from this argument, but in the mean time, as long as our theories have open parameters that must be measured by experiment, there will always be people claiming that those parameters were tuned just for us. What is important is to remind such people that they must also assert that there is no purely-mathematical origin for these parameters, and that therefore we can never find any such origin. I'm not sure I can accept any claim that something is in principle unknowable, unless it is a computer scientist with a proof of the claim...
Faith is simultaneously an assertion of strong confidence that something is true, and an acknowledgement that one is ignorant of the assertion's relationship to reality. As such I find it a supremely arrogant position, as well as ignorant. Arrogance with ignorance is intolerable; at least informed arrogance is just displeasing. 

Hope on the other hand is under the influence of desire, a marginally more acceptable justification for assertions based in ignorance. (Or often contrary to some evidence.)

AronRa is always thought provoking.

Heres a fun calculation to give a shot: how much does the temperature of a city rise solely due to AC units? Some assumptions: model the city as a cylinder with height… 200 feet? Furthermore assume the temperature outside is… 95F, and that most people have their AC set to 75F. And that they are cooling rooms of size… 10x20x10 ft. Actually, I'm going to do all this in metric, so just choose reasonable sounding parameters. Anything else? Nothing is coming to mind. Go ahead and use the maximum possible efficiency of a heat pump too. Oh, and maybe… 50% adoption of AC?

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