Friday, December 23, 2005

stupid ftp

Well, for some reason I can't upload any images to my server, so until I can troubleshoot that after xmas I'm not going to post anything here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

the coolest thing ever (seriously this time, it is really the coolest thing ever)

I will do this someday. Rocketboom showed me this.

Part I of my holiday break will be covered in full tomorrow. I slipped on vomit, fell down the stairs and broke my back! I ate a lot of breakfast! I watched a lot of TV! I walked around Harlem! I saw a Broadway musical! I rode trains! I drank a lot of beer!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

big city driving and beer

Pittsburgh was awesome. I'll post pictures after all my many missions are over. It will be one giant mother load of a post. Believe you me.

But I thought of an interesting analogy while in Pittsburgh:

Driving in Indianapolis is to driving in Pittsburgh as Michelob Ultra is to Dogfish Head World Wide Stout.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

beer, jennyB pizza, and I'm leaving

Well, I'm finished with pretty much everything for the semester. I didn't get a draft of my Darwin paper to Sandy, but everything else is done. My paper on the synthesis: a little rough around the edges, but I think there's some good stuff in there. Logic exam was turned in last Thursday, grades aren't posted yet. Gave my presentation today on Friedman and the "strong programme" which went ok. Finished all my grades and will post them soon.

I'm going to Pittsburgh tomorrow to see my friend Tracy from college who I haven't seen in a while and, of course, the most Irish one of them all, R Kelly. R doesn't get off his completely insane-o job until 3am, so Tracy and I will have to keep busy (mainly by going to Penn Brewing Company: dark lager here I come!) until we can rendevouz with R in Clairton at 3am and continue drinking until the sun come up...ya'll. Should be fun. I need to go to sleep.

BUT FIRST...I was all excited about beer the other night so I went into the 'cellar' and picked out some of my most highly anticipated bottles for a little photo shoot. Here they are:

From left to right, all more or less sour ales: De Proef's Primitive Ale, New Belgium's La Folie, Oud Beersel Kriek, 11 year old Vapeur Folie, and Lindeman's Cuvee Rene Gueuze. All from Belgium, all nice and funk-ay.

Then on Saturday, JennyB and I penciled in some face time with each other and made pizza. And drank La Fin du Monde. And watched Chappelle Show (on the computer) and then a video on human evolution. And Jen fell asleep. Sorry JennyB. I just got all worked up talking about linguistics with you and I knew there was this cool thing about sign language on the video.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

god said let there be snow and there was a shit ton of snow...and Dembski is still misleading!

...and it was good because I am well provisioned bitches!

Anyway, there's about 5 inches of snow on the ground right now and it's supposed to fall until midnight or so...I love snow. I wish I lived in the mountains. Anyway, luckily, I don't have to go out anywhere because I am well provisioned. I have 2lbs of chicken breast I'm going to fry up...that's right...fried chicked. And I have a bunch of potatoes I'm going to mash up...that's right...mashed potatoes. I might even put some roasted garlic in them. That's right. I even have a bit of broccoli I might steam up...that's right...steamed broccoli. Oh, yeah, did I mention I have the whole first season of the Sopranos? That's right...the whole first season. Oh, and I have a 14oz bottle of Adnam's Broadside strong Ale? That's right...english strong ale to warm me from the inside. And an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels? That's right...Tennessee whiskey mother fuckers. Looks like I'm good to go.

So Dembski is still at it. I know, I'm shocked. His latest post is really funny. It's a letter he received from a 'colleague'. Just in case he removes the whole post, which he's done before, I've reproduced the whole thing below followed by a comment I posted. I'm sure it will get deleted.


"[From a philosopher colleague:]

I am visiting Harvard, and I was reading the conservative student
paper here, and came across an interesting quote from from Richard
Wrangham, a biologist, on the gaps in science that Intelligent Design
theorists point to: “Given that everything we know about science
gives us confidence that these details either have already or will
shortly be provided, this is both an unhelpful and an improbable claim.”

Nevermind the Intelligent Design context specifically. What I am
interested in is whether there can be a good reason for a naturalist
(and this guy may not be one, though his being a biologist, alas, makes
it more likely than not given the stats) to believe of an unsolved
scientific problem that a solution will eventually be found
(”shortly” or not). The argument seems to be an induction: We have
solved so many prior scientific problems that we have a reasonable
confidence that we will solve this one.

Now, if one were a theist who believed with Descartes that God made
a world for us to get to know and understand, this would be an
eminently reasonable claim. But I wonder if a naturalist can have
reason to be confident about the solvability of currently unsolved
scientific problems. A naturalist has no _a priori_ reason to
suppose that nature is easily knowable. Wrangham, though, is making
an _a posteriori_ claim. However, even that seems unjustified. Yes,
we have solved many problems that seem insoluble, and the solutions
have tended to be relatively simple.

However that seems to be no grounds for an inductive conclusion that
all scientific problems have relatively simple solutions, as one’s
inductive sample is relevantly biased: All the problems in one’s
inductive sample are ones that we managed to solve. Moreover, we
cannot usefully say that (*) the solutions have tended to be
relatively simple. For the only sense of “relatively simple” that
makes (*) true is “simple enough to be solved by us” (after all, some
problems are very complicated–hours and hours of computer simulation
are needed, really messy equations appear, complex non-selective
“spandrel”-type evolutionary stories are given, etc.) But then all
we have as inductive data is that we have solved many problems and
these have turned out to be solvable by us. And that, of course, is
simply equivalent to the claim that we have solved many problems.
And this, in turn, at most justifies the conclusion that we will
solve many more.

Now if the data available to us said: (**) Of any set of scientific
problems humans would like answers to, most get solved eventually,
then an argument could get off the ground. But I am not sure (**) is
true or even makes sense. Counting and individuating scientific
problems is a dubious endeavor. Moreover, for many scientific
problems we only have outlines of solutions. We have a confidence
that the details can be filled in, e.g., in our knowledge of why
hurricanes happen (is that a good example?), but this confidence is
not grounded in us actually having filled in the details.

So, the question is this: Can one argue that if one is a naturalist,
one has no reason to expect currently open scientific problems to
ever get solved (maybe with the exception of some problems where our
present knowledge of the laws of nature assures us that a solution is
available in principle and it is just a matter of plugging ahead and
figuring out various parameters, and we are assured of a solution)?
And could one turn this into an argument against naturalism?"

My comment:

This is an interesting post (assuming you endorse this post which I think you do) considering that you have extensive training in the history and philosophy of science, or so at least I'm led to believe but I have no confirmation of this fact. It's also surprising because either the post is fake or, more likely, there is a huge disconnect between philosophy and philosophy of science. Notwithstanding the fact that it was a biologist who made the argument, the philosopher who made the remarks against the biologist's argument apparently isn't familiar with the fairly well known argument I'm about to recite below and it's also interesting that you take his argument against the 'optimistic induction' of the biologist to be worth something, preseumable in favor of ID.

The opposite conclusion than that offered in the post above is typically arrived at by historians and philosophers of science. As you probably well know, it's called the 'pessimistic meta-induction'. It goes something like this: all of our scientific theories in the past have been shown to be false eventhough many of them were very empirically successful, therefore why should be expect any of our theories now or in the future, even if they are empirically successful, to not be false?

Unfortunately, for you, I don't think many people use the pessimistic meta-induction (PMI) to argue that ID should be considered a rival to evolutionary biology. And even if they did, it would be a bit self defeating wouldn't it? And it reveals something interesting about ID: the PMI is an argument that all scientific theories will eventually be shown to false. Well, actually, I guess a theory has to be scientific, i.e. falsifiable at least in principle, to be possibly demonstrated to be false, so I guess ID doesn't really qualify. Ha.

Moreover, just because a theory will most likely be shown to be false doesn't mean it's not a good theory and that we should reject it, or for that matter, we should reject all theories because they'll eventually be shown to be false. However, it's also the case that evolutionary biology is a far better theory (on any account) than ID, and until the day ID becomes a better theory (which will be never, I'm pretty sure of that), than perhaps people will consider giving up evolution. And while all your 'Kuhnian resistance to revolution' crap is true to some extent, you exaggerate beyond all measure when you claim that's what's happening with ID and evolutionary biology now. And you know it.

Anywho, good luck trying to dupe people over with mis information. And it's that much worse that you know this post was mis information.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

little Billy Dembski strikes again

I have a ton of shit to do, like work on my logic take home exam...d-consistent, consistent, denumerable sets, denumerable sets...AHHHHHHHH! I think I might actually fail this one.

BUT...I can't let this pass without a remark: I maintained a username on Billy Dembski's site for several weeks if not months! But, alas, one semi-smart ass remark and I was deleted. BLAST! DAMN YOU DEMBSKI!

There was a post about 'the culture wars' in American. There was a link to a comedian doing a stand up bit about young earth creationists...which is really fucking hilarious and I suggest you watch it.

In the comment section I wrote, innocently enough: "Does Bill Dembski believe that dinoaurs were put on the earth by god to deceive us?"

I didn't think that was really that bad, maybe a little 'snarky' (I hate that word but I can't help myself), but Billy 'I'm a fucking pariah" Dembski thought it was just too much.

Such is life I suppose. But have no fear!! I shall pseudonymously re-register!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

mountains and fragile music

Here's a link to a cool performance by Laura Veirs on Morning Becomes Eclectic. I think her voice is a little fragile and I don't really dig that too much (and I think her lyrics are a touch cheesy) but I guess that's part of her appeal. I really like the music though. It's fragile too, held together by a string it seems, but solid melodies and cool instrumental harmonies and creative rythms with a great feel. She's a decent guitar player too.

And check this out, Google Earth almost gets it right. Photo I took of the Plott Balsams above Sylva NC and the same shot from Google Earth.

Friday, December 02, 2005

creepy creepy creepy

Over at Pharyngula I found a link to one of the creepiest videos I've ever seen. I suggest you watch it. It's not actually nasty creepy, but it's depressingly creepy: it's young people doing 'internships' in Washington DC at an office that faces the Supreme Court. What do they do in this office? They pray that the supreme court justices rule according to God's word. Here's what PZ Myers of Pharyngula writes:

"They dance. They chant. They pray. They scream. They bob back and forth, they jump up and down. They're like a mob of dervishes, hysterical, freakish, ineffectual, deluded.

They pay $1500 for 3 months of brain-damaging validation of insanity.

People ask why I despise religion. Try watching this video through my eyes, and maybe you'll understand. This religion is an excuse to strip young people of their minds and their dignity, indoctrinate them in brainless mob behavior, and rationalize craziness—so that they are willing to overlook the foolishness of their mentors. That video documents a disease.

Pedophile Catholic priests get a lot of outraged attention, but they violate the body; it's the destruction of thinking minds that is even worse, and that's the part of religion almost everyone glosses over. What a shame that in a country blind to the evils of religion, a corrupter like Lou Engle gets money tossed to him."

I pretty much agree with all of this...although I'm not sure it's worse than child molestation.

Anyway, I've been thinking about something for a while now and this might be the perfect opportunity to do it: an anti-prayer prayer. When someone prays for something, pray right back at them that their prayer fails. I just think that would be hilarious.

So here I envisage getting like 50 people together and standing below their office and praying up at them, throwing up a prayer reflector. Or better yet, holding up a giant piece of shiny material in front of their windows and scream up at them:

"Your prayer cannot penetrate this foil prayer blocker!! It was blessed by 17 monks of 13 religions and it impenetrable to the weak prayers of wayward youth! Only a grand wizard prayer master can penetrate it's blessed foily goodness! The justices, now removed from the influence of your prayer, will vote for abortion, for freedom, for everything that is right in this world!! HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!"

Or something to that effect at any rate. Who wants to join me?? We're going to DC!! Don't worry, we'll stop at the Brickskeller for refreshments. You can't go to DC and not stop at one of the best beer bars in the country...that's for sure.

Two other observations about this video: (1) they used google earth which is pretty fucking cool and (2) why are some many young religious wingnuts so attractive? It's a shame really, all those good looks being wasted.