Why do they try?

I’d been getting half a dozen new user registrations a day, from spammers hoping to automatically get a free-for-all blog page (some WordPress configurations allow for that), so I’ve hacked into the registration page two extra questions so their regular scripts won’t work without custom modification for my specific setup. Not like they’re going to, since I don’t allow you folks to automatically get blogs on this page anyway, and I’m the only one using my specific variable names and math setup. This is mostly just to break their scripts and keep from seeing all these user registration notifications every day.

Speaking of which, if it would spur readership, I’m willing to consider letting some of you write your own blog entries on here. What do you think?

The Party of Sexual Repression goes teabagging

Hey!  Descent!  That was a pretty cool game!

Hey! Descent! That was a pretty cool game!

I was going to let all this “teabagging” business slide, as it’s all, you know, too easy a target. Then I stumbled across the sign that changed my mind.

For those of you just joining this Republican epic fail in progress, the story thus far:

In the late 1700s, Britain was exporting tons of cheap tea to the colonies (meaning America), and the colonists were being forced to pay exorbitant taxes to Britain on that tea, much to the chagrin of the local illegal tea trade moguls who were considered upstanding citizens at the time. However, despite still being under British law, the colonies did not get a say in their parliament, meaning they weren’t represented despite being taxed. Thus the phrase “no taxation without representation”. A group of 7000 people (roughly half the population of Boston at the time) stormed the merchant boats and threw crates of tea into the water, during the Boston Tea Party, one of the most famous protests of all time.

Roughly 250 years later, Barack Obama inherits an economy in shambles, after eight years of Bush running up the national debt to unprecedentedly astronomical figures all while reducing the national income by dropping the tax rate on the rich to the insane low of 35%. He proposes to increase the rich’s tax rate back to where it was in the 90s under Clinton, 39.6%. This of course to the crazies that make up the GOP is socialism, because Republicans completely forget everything that came before Reagan. (Seriously, check that out — it peaks at like 93%!)
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Maybe it’s Manos, the Hand of Fate?

Humans have an uncanny ability to see shapes in random noise. We’ve evolved this ability over the millennia so as to avoid certain death when that random blob of different color in the nearby foliage turns out to be a predator intent on turning you into a snack. Those of us that were less able to do so, got eaten, and therefore over time we’ve gotten pretty incredible at it. I mean, in the random noise of a grilled cheese sandwich, a believer sees Jesus’ face, and in the random output of deadly x-rays in a false-color image of a pulsar, the same believer sees the hand of God.

Credit for this photo goes not to a church, where one might rightly expect God to be discovered and photographed, but rather to NASA/PA Wire.

Credit for this photo goes not to a church, where one might rightly expect God to be discovered and photographed, but rather to NASA/PA Wire.

That’s right, the hand of God apparently has three fingers, some kind of do-claw, and a compound fracture of the radius. Goes to show that you see what you want to see. I sooner see Homer Simpson reaching for a forbidden donut. Rarrgh…

For those of you that honestly, earnestly believe this nebula is a divine sign from a divine creator like some of the tear-inducing comments on this thread (never mind that if you were close enough, or waited long enough, or viewed it from another angle, it would look different), I want to remind you that space is really, really, REALLY, big. There’s a lot of stuff in it, a lot of it seems random-looking, and therefore there will be something out there that reminds you of some other thing. Like a horse’s head. Or a DNA helix. Or what God REALLY thinks of you.

Please don’t let that detract from the beauty of these scenes. Sure, they’re explicable, random, follow logical rules of physics and chemistry, and therefore not “special” in the sense of being designed, but they are undeniably beautiful. Those who ignore the natural world’s splendors, who prefer to credit a tiny and micromanaging God for a rainbow, reduce their God to a god of the gaps, where God only exists within those phenomena science has not yet explained.

Okay, that’s a tiny bit of a strawman — creationists stopped using that argument hundreds of years ago, since we figured out refraction. Every step in our march toward understanding this wholly understandable universe encroaches on the territory believers have staked out for God’s domain, so it’s no wonder they freak out and deny every scientific advancement from heliocentrism through evolution. To say that God didn’t create the animals on Earth presently, in their present form, and to say that they evolved naturally and became what we are out of pure chance and natural selection, reduces God’s domain significantly. To say that the initial spark that began the runaway chain reaction we call life, happened through the providence of chance, reduces it still further, almost to nothing. I almost feel bad for them.

Almost.

Go here for more beauty. I’ve saved probably half of this archive. And when you’re done, you can classify galaxies at Galaxy Zoo, or visit the Hubble’s archive. The universe’s untold splendors are ours to discover, if only we’d stop closing our eyes.

Unzip a nanotube? Sounds naughty!

I told you so, when I said carbon research was the next big thing. Can’t wait to see what this does to Moore’s Law, and maybe get a hold of some awesome probably-pocket-sized personal computer using this technology to power its infinitesimally small microchips.

Posts drafted re: Somalian pirates, the LHC / Fermilabs, the beauty of space, the beauty of Linux with Compiz, fully intending to write posts eventually about the “teabagging” ridiculousness of the Republicans in the States, and the fact that I might get Alzheimer’s one day and how I trust science to do something about it.

I could already be a millionaire!

Arrived via Skype:

[08:05:41] chris gordon:

Hello THIBEAULT,

I have been in search of someone with this name (THIBEAULT) and It is my pleasure to seek for your business assistance, and I want you to consider it very important. This is an opportunity I would want us to utilize well. I am Mr. GODWIN CHRIS, an officer in charge of Auditing and Accounting section with (International Commercial Bank Ghana, LTD), and also a Relationship Account Officer to Dr CLIFF THIBEAULT,

One Late Dr CLIFF THIBEAULT,a citizen of your country had a fixed deposit with my bank in 2005 for 48 calendar months, valued at US$18,400,000.00 (Eighteen Million, Four Hundred Thousand US Dollars) the due date for this deposit contract was this 16 of January 2009. Sadly CLIFF was among the death victims in the May 26 2006 Earthquake disaster in Java, Indonesia that killed over 5,000 people. He was in Indonesia on a business trip and that was how he met his end, I have carried out various inquiries to locate any of his client and extended relatives but this has proved unsuccessful.Since the demise of this our customer,Dr CLIFF who was an seasoned oil Merchant/contractor here. I have kept a close watch of the deposit records and accounts and since then no body has come to claim the said money in this a/c as next of kin to the late Dr CLIFF THIBEAULT.

I hereby write in regards to this effect to have you stand as the rightful beneficiary to Late Dr. CLIFF so that the funds will be claim and transferred into your foreign account before my Bank declare the total fund unserviceable or confiscated. Please you will be entitled to a percentage that will be discussed later with you and there is no risk involved, the transaction will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of law.

I immensely request for your optimum honesty and cooperation and Let me know your mind on this and please do treat this information as TOP SECRET. We shall go over the details once I receive your urgent response strictly through my personal email address,( gchrispa@yahoo.com ) We can as well discuss this on phone; let me know when you will be available to speak with me on Skype. Have a nice day and God bless.

Anticipating your communication.

Yours sincerely,
Mr Godwin Chris.

I wonder if he picked the proper name from The Cosby Show. Dr. Cliff Thibeault has a nice ring to it though.

Building cables is fun!

For work, I’m going to be using this schematic to build two VGA-to-RGB-component cables using CAT5 cabling. The goal is to connect two large component-capable TVs to a Windows computer with a dual-head VGA card, to display propaganda corporate information. I’m actually pretty excited about this, as simple a schematic as it is, because it’ll be my first real dabbling with custom wire-building since I built my parallel-port SNES controller adapter back in university. Ah, I remember playing Firepro Wrestling X on my SNES emulator, two players, for the first time, and loving every moment of it.

The drawbacks as I see them are that, as I don’t have any shielded CAT5e at my disposal, I’ll be limited in how I can transport the cord from point A to point B — it will need to avoid the fluorescent lighting as much as possible, lest it picks up ghosting and ruins the image; and one of the two TVs is probably about 70 feet away once you account for all the light-avoidance I’ll have to do to get it there.

Additionally, I’m reformatting another Vista laptop for a friend’s girlfriend, who has pretty good reason to believe her ex-boyfriend left behind a little piece of himself on her computer with which to spy on her. Well, if that’s the case, and something IS being used to keystroke-log or password-hack her computer, even if it was a rootkit, it’ll be gone by the time I’m done zeroing the drive, reinstalling, and putting password locks on the BIOS and encrypting the hard drive. Curious thing about this case is the fact that the processor is a 64 bit one, yet the OS that shipped with it is Vista Home Premium 32-bit. I’d give it an upgrade, but the license on the sticker wouldn’t work with the 64 bit media (why, Microsoft? WHY?), and anyway, I don’t have the appropriate media to begin with.

So what geeky projects do you folks have on the go? I need inspiration for something geeky for home.

Update:
Well fuck. Doesn’t work. Apparently the video card has to be capable of outputting in composite video mode, which apparently some NVidia cards can do with a special dongle that I can’t find anywhere, and some ATI cards can do by default, but I can’t find any of those cards either. There goes a half day of work.

‘Religious apologetics’ infects Vancouver Sun

My rage meter just pegged on reading an article on the Vancouver Sun’s online version, entitled ‘Scientism’ infects Darwinian debates.   I don’t even know where to start. Perhaps once I’m off work and have more time, I will fully debunk this, but it boils down to, “people who think that the act of studying nature to discover its secrets is the only true way to find out more about nature, are just as wrapped up in their faith as people who use really old books and make wild guesses about nature”.

Pro tip for you creationist apologizers — science is a self-correcting meritocracy based on the evidential study of reality, where the bad theories get knocked out and replaced with better ones all the time, and if you find that this reality conflicts with your personal world view, then your personal world view is the one that’s wrong. You put the two ideas on a scale, one with heaps of evidence and the other with nothing but faith, and guess which one weighs more?

Update: Phil Plait is much more eloquent than I am. As usual. He also directly attacks the angle that the Sun article brings up, that science isn’t as good as imagination, by pointing out that without imagination, science is nothing more than a bunch of useless facts.

In the meantime, I’m starting to feel like I’m repeating myself ad nauseum into the ether. Though I know I have a handful regular readers, the site metrics tell me so, I’m not getting a lot of regular commenters, and I’m starting to think it’s my subject matter. Either you folks all agree with me (and I know at least a few of you who are regular readers do not), or you don’t want to take the bait and get into an actual debate on this subject matter. Why? I’m not that scary, am I? I really do just want to spark debate with you, which I absolutely relish not only as a means of getting to know you better, but also to force us both to suss out our personal belief systems as much as possible.

The funny thing is, when the political race in the States was nearing its crescendo, and I was posting stuff that wasn’t exactly controversial (e.g. annoyance at the media’s soft-gloving John McBombeverything), people were more willing to comment. I guess people really do believe that you’re allowed to discuss one another’s political viewpoints but not one another’s religious beliefs. I really just want to encourage you all to view religious belief as something that can be discussed along the same lines as politics.

Frankly, I’m starting to suspect that the fact that your religious beliefs make up the core of your personhood, inclines you all to turn away from any challenges to those beliefs just in case they shake the foundation of those beliefs. It’s why I’m willing to not simply close the browser window and ignore articles like the one I mentioned in this post, even though that would do my blood pressure many favours — my core belief system is that the universe is comprehensible, and the only way to gain understanding of the rules by which it plays is by applying the scientific method, so when someone suggests that people like myself are guilty of “scientism”, I have to post something about it. I can’t let the challenge go unanswered. So why are you?

Hell. If I was just looking for attention, I’d post more random Youtube videos. Those seem to get comments regularly. Or, another sure-fire way to get more comments is, I’d just mention the LHC and have one of the most prolific internet trolls in recent memory return. Then maybe I could debate him properly this time (if such is possible with that type of debater, who hits you with fifty references to poorly thought out pseudoscience in hopes that you can’t adequately answer every last one of them — the “shit and wall” debating method), instead of simply calling him on his games and shutting him out with an “all other planets are yours but this one”.