California Prop 8

It’s scary and sad at the same time that the polling for Proposition 8, the proposition to repeal legal gay marriage in California, not only shows a severe upswing for the Bad Guys, but the polling also resembles uncannily a Jesus Fish.  Is this pollreidolia?

(Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight.com)

Update: The plot thickens!  It seems the Yes-on-Prop-8 coalition is blackmailing companies that support the No side.  Funny that the side willing to stoop to immoral practices always seems to be the side claiming moral superiority, isn’t it?  And by funny, I mean gutwrenchingly depressing.

An Essential, Concise History of the LHC, 2002–2008

This is definitely worth a read if you are as excited about the Large Hadron Collider as I am, and it will hopefully tide you over until they’ve repaired the issue with liquid helium coolant spilling from a magnetic lock and have restarted the Great Experiment.  Interestingly, it includes links to articles regarding arguments that have sprung up amongst the shrill fringes. Though, they’re admittedly biased toward reality so those proponents of doomsday scenarios might claim, and correctly so, that they’re not being properly heard out.  (Please, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-Lest-He-Appear-Suddenly-Like-Beetlejuice, this doesn’t mean you’re allowed to pipe in.  All other worlds — any other scientific blog on the internet — are yours, but stay the hell off Europa — my blog.)

And here comes a rant, because it’s relevant to my parenthetical last point.  Frankly, I’m sick and tired of loons being given the floor in a misguided attempt to air out both sides of every story.  Fine, be skeptical, attempt to disprove the science put forward stating that strangelets, micro-black-holes, Bose-novas, et cetera, are impossible, using real, peer-reviewed science based on existing foundations wherever possible. Also, it’s well possible that two or three PhD-owners could very well be wrong, but hundreds are far less likely to be wrong.  Your theories have to be able to a) be predictive, b) be duplicable by other scientists, and c) be falsifiable so as to actually allow for the possibility of experiments to prove or disprove them.

Science is not dogma, we do not accept the word of scientists with their arms crossed who demand we believe them without any proof.  They must give us proof or else their hypothesis does not graduate to a theory.   And even once a hypothesis becomes a theory, when presented with real evidence that a theory is flawed, the theory is either altered or overturned.  Despite this uncertainty that something might come along in the future to overturn the accepted theory, a “theory” is not a wild guess.  A “theory” in scientific terms is as close to fact as can be achieved, using the evidence at hand, and when a “theory” predicts stuff correctly, repeatedly, without being disproven, without contradictory evidence for years and years, then this strengthens and bolsters the theory’s credibility.  Yes, this sidebar is mostly directed at the flawed assertion that the theory of evolution is just a theory, but it’s relevant, because guess what?  So’s the theory of gravity, so’s the atomic theory, so’s cell theory, the theory of plate tectonics, the big bang theory, the kinetic theory of gases, chaos theory, and the theory of global anthropogenic climate change.  They’re all pretty well established, but all would fall to a proper bit of science — you know, as opposed to the usual tactic, being ideological ranting and pointing at a two thousand year old book or a study produced once but never duplicated by real scientists written by a shill funded by a special interest.  You can dispute them, but you have to prove that a better theory fits the evidence and/or prove the evidence does not fit the current theory.

To those of you who believe the LHC will destroy the world, why is your one or two scientists’ science (most of which being predicated on false assumptions or easily disprovable assertions) supposed to trump all the science that went into researching the feasibility of the project to begin with?  Why, when so many scientists have gone about disproving the doomsaying, do you cry repeatedly “why won’t you just perform a study to examine the safety of the project” when impartial scientists already have several times?  I guess what I’m asking is, why, when you play the scientific “game” within “the rules”, and lose, do you try to circumvent the rules to be heard?  Is it just that you’re sore losers?

Again, this isn’t me saying Beetlejuice.  I was nice the last time I edited your comments, I’ll be much less nice this time, so stay away, you-know-who.

On a related note — science, despite my “faith” in its processes and results, sure is strange.

Continued evolution of homo sapiens sapiens (that’s us!)

I seem to only be able to manage a post a week, or at least to post in flurries on weekends, so I might as well make my posts count.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the state of evolution within the human species, where it almost seems as though we may have stalled in our own evolutionary tracks, because we’ve reached the pinnacle of intellect where we have gained a mastery over the dark art of “science”, and therefore can overcome most otherwise evolutionary influences like predators or environmental hazards usually within a lifetime or two, thus short-circuiting the whole natural selection process.  After thinking a good deal more about it, I’m convinced that evolution is still happening, but its effects, like a river that’s been dammed, will simply route around the dampening effort.

As an example, Clifton has informed me that his unborn son (who is, admittedly, possibly fictitious, as Clifton’s known for the “long con”) is suspected to have spina bifida, which is a very common congenital defect wherein the baby’s neural tube, what will become the spinal column, and what protects the spinal cord ultimately, fails to fully form.  This condition affects one out of a thousand babies in North America.  Most originally-explored environmental links to its cause have proven spurious at best, and there’s a mounting pile of evidence suggesting that the condition is genetic, with a specific gene suspected as being responsible should that particular gene mutate in a certain way.

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What a fine way to spend Turkey Day Evening…

… sipping green tea and watching someone with a decent handle on science mangle creationists on Youtube.  This is why VenomFangX got his panties in a bunch, because he got thoroughly whomped.  I’ve only watched up to Part 4, but I’m going to watch the rest after linking the whole bunch from here.

As promised, here’s Thunderf00t’s series, “Why do people laugh at creationists?”  Parts 2 through 26 (yeah!), after the fold.  If this kills people’s computers, I could also replace the whole lot with a link to the playlist on Youtube.  Sit through it all, and you’re going to be treated to a dissection of the views of our favorite VP Candidate, Bible Spice Sarah Palin.

Part 1:

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OpenOffice.org 3.0 is out!

Go get it now, from the main site if you can manage — they’ve been slaughtered by the demand so they have a lightweight download page up right now — or if you can’t, there’s an RSS feed of Bittorrent links for every version of OpenOffice as they become available.  (Who sez bittorrent is for illegal stuff only?)

New features include full native OOXML support; full PDF Import / Export; better notes under Writer so you don’t have to go blind looking for tiny yellow boxes to hover your mouse over any more; greater than 256 columns in its Excel-alike Calc; a ton of niggling bugfixes, as usual; and Much Much Moretm!.

About OOXML — that’s Microsoft’s proprietary Office “Open” XML format, which is only open if you don’t count the binary blobs they use for their formatting, so I’m actually a bit upset they included this from a purist’s perspective.  And anyway, the way the format is written, Microsoft is the only one that could ever claim 100% compatibility because it’s full of back-references to other parts of their Office suites, such as “format this the way Excel 97 does” without specifying exactly how Excel 97 formats that thing.  It’s also undetermined whether Microsoft Office 2007 actually fully supports the OOXML format as defined in their ISO approval documentation, so I’m holding out hope that OOo3.0 is the *first* office suite to fully support OOXML.

Rant aside, go get it.  Who knows, maybe your own personal pet peeve about OOo will be cured.  And if not, there’s always the bug reporting tool (which is down temporarily while the site is slammed).

VenomFangX Apologizes to the Internets

High-larious!

In case you hadn’t been following this intertubes-based slapfight, VenomFangX is a Creationist who has been filling Youtube with his ridiculous magical-world views, and who, ultimately, attempted to silence his biggest detractor Thunderf00t using a DMCA Copyright takedown notice and failed miserably when it turned out this Thunderf00t guy actually knew the law better than he did.  And as part of the legal settlement he was made to read this statement and post it on Youtube.  I’ll post Thunderf00t’s entire “Why do people laugh at creationists?” series in the very-near-future, as they’re copyright-free if used for the purpose of education.  And they’re pretty damn solid, scientifically, as well.

As President of the Internet, I hereby absolve you of your sins, VenomFangX, on one condition — GTFO.  You are now banished from the internets, never again to sully their porn-filled halls with your creationist nonsense.  (I am a strict ruler, but a fair one.)

Further discussion of this king-sized smackdown at Skepchick and Pharyngula.  I really oughtta blogroll both of them.

Gaming madness

Dude, WTF.  I love Megaman and all, but this burns my eyes.  And now yours too!

Dude, WTF. I love Megaman and all, but this makes my eyes bleed. And now yours too!

As I write this post, Megaman’s got a Jewel Satellite shield up and is sitting under two Telly spawn pipes at the end of the Plug Man stage in Megaman 9, harvesting bolts and extra lives.  In the meantime, I’m doing something productive, like writing on my blog.  This is how weekends should truly be spent — doing absolutely nothing of consequence!  And to top it off, I have Monday off for Turkey Day, and expect to be gorging myself on pumpkin pie in short order.

But before I get to Turkey Day, I’ve got two free days that I desire nothing more than to be spent playing video games.  It’s been a bit since I’ve talked about video games, so let’s catch you up on what I’ve done lately.

Borrowed Pickles’ copy of Wii Fit and played around with it for about two weeks, and while it was fun, I certainly couldn’t get myself into a routine playing it.  I’m pretty fit as it stands, though, and the game told me I was pretty much at my ideal BMI, and while I know body mass index is a flawed metric, I could have told you that I’m perfect already.

I asked Doctor Who to play No More Heroes.  This is what happened.

Doctor Who tried to play No More Heroes. This is what happened.

I also recently beat No More Heroes, as mentioned in a previous post.  The game is absolutely fantastic, and even the grind-ish parts where you have to make money don’t seem all that bad because of just how much fun it can be to run back and forth chopping people in half or killing seven or eight bad guys with one swing.  The plot, on the other hand, is an absolutely ridiculous tangled web where plot developments and twists throughout the game follow a trend of starting at one, then doubling after the fourth stage, then again after the eighth stage, and then again every stage after this.  By the time you hit the “real ending”, you’re not sure if anything that’s happened through the rest of the game was even planned out or not, or if there’s a coherent story flow.  Spoilers after the break…

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Nice quiet weekend, for a change

Jodi and I spent a nice quiet weekend for the first time in recent memory — no big projects, no major interruptions from work, just finally putting No More Heroes to bed (what a twisted plot it has, video game or not!), then watching Heroes (right after No More Heroes, the irony isn’t lost on me) and a great documentary miniseries called Miracle Planet.  We also had a full, homemade, roasted chicken meal, complete with stuffing and my first successful stab at making gravy, though I used far too much gravy browning and it came out looking approximately like molasses.  Tasted fine though.

Work is still work.  I’m still taking on more responsibility than I should by rights have to.  I’ve been told a new guy was offered the position for the other centre, but he has to put in his notice at his current place of employ, and even then I’ll likely have to train him up when he takes the position properly.  So I’m not out of the tunnel, but I can see the light at the end.  Here’s to hoping the light isn’t a train (which I guess in this metaphor would mean that they’ll have hired four complete wrecks in a row for the IT position in that centre, and I’ll just end up being tapped for even longer).

I’ve made a deal with Jodi, that she’s to read the Dune series if I promise to read the Belgariad series.  On reading the first few pages, I really hope she’s right about it picking up and not being as low-fantasy as it seems right now.

We haven’t gotten voter registration cards yet, likely due to our moving recently.  Tomorrow’s the deadline on calling Elections Canada — and I damn well want to vote this year more than any previous, so I’m going to make a point of taking time out of my usually-busy Monday to exercise my duty as a citizen and flex my electoral muscle.  Which is hopefully better defined than my other muscles.  I can’t bring myself to rage about the economic meltdown, but I will point you to this article at the Great Orange Satan and tell you that were I offered the $200,000 to give up on the $0-or-$1,000,000 suitcase, per the Deal or No Deal reference, I’d take the $200,000 in a heartbeat.  Not an instant of hesitation.  Call me a pragmatist.  And a populist, because I’m definitely that too.

If you haven’t gotten your voter registration yet, call Elections Canada first thing tomorrow at 1-800-463-6868 and do your part.  And yes, this does matter, so get informed, and vote.  If we all end up in the poorhouse or fighting over scraps of food and the last of the unpolluted water in some freaky Mad Max scenario, all because the uninformed electorate was swayed by commercials wherein puffins poop on politicians, then I’ll be the first to blame you.  Right before I roundhouse kick you and take your moldy cheese.  Fucker.

I want a Famous Person to endorse ME, doggone it!

Wow, famous people really really like Sarah Palin, by golly!  They managed to get the quote right from Peggy Noonan, ostensibly a famous person by virtue of being a former Reagan speechwriter (and therefore Republican, and therefore wholly unbiased), but one of two things happened here — they made the ad before anyone said it, and sent it around to see who’d be willing to put it in their wholly unbiased review the next day, or they were unwilling to actually look at the byline when they made the ad pulling the quote from Noonan’s review.  Possibility A sounds a hell of a lot more likely, honestly.  Meaning they’re manipulating those press-members that are in the tank for them, and they let it slip.  Wink wink, dontchaknow.

This is just too hilarious to let them live down.  Spread this around!

In the meantime, the Canadian debate was a bit of a let-down.  While everyone was dogpiling on Harper for his horrid policies, his personality being a fully owned subsidiary of the Republican party, etc., it seems as though Harper actually came off as being the level-headed one according to the press, and everyone else just seemed to be, well, dogpiling him.  Layton also came off as a bit of a one-trick pony, harping on big oil and Bush, no matter how absolutely correct he was.  I kept hoping for any of the charges against Harper to resonate with the audience, but if it happened, I didn’t see it.  I ought to put up a poll on who won the Canadian debate, except for the fact that my sample size is, at my last count, a total of 10 readers, and thus not really representative.

Oh well, at least Biden schooled Palin and her inability to answer simple questions without referring to her talking-points cards.  That’s good news anyway.

New plugins, and a full Gallery install

Finally, due to this webhost actually knowing what they’re doing and having PHP Safe Mode turned off, I can run my very own Gallery installation and not have to rely on other websites’ picture sharing interfaces and crappy privacy policies. So I installed it here and threw on those pictures from NB from last year. I’ll be adding more galleries as I get time, and as I reacquire them — Carrie, if you’re reading this, I need stuff from TO, I can’t seem to find a single picture anywhere!  As I recall, you have them on a Gallery installation somewhere yourself, but I don’t have the faintest clue where.

Also, you can now one-click bookmark articles on your favorite social bookmarking sites (let me know if your favorite is missing, I can add it), you can subscribe to receive e-mail updates when someone posts a new comment on a blog post, and you’ll all have some new toys in spamming my comments threads — an HTML WYSIWYG editor and the ability to edit your posts for a short while after posting them in case you’re a complete fuckup and need to fix your HTML despite the editor I installed for you.  (Loser.)

Anyway, enjoy.