Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Daydreaming is good

As it turns out your brain is very active when daydreaming.  I got all kinds of good stuff done in highschool.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Software choices

Have a program you love or looking for a better, cheaper, or simpler alternative for any operating system, often web-based?  (I love this site so much.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Democracy in Iraq

Although Bush Jr. was attacked for the senseless idealism it suggested, Democracy in Iraq might be the best way to handle present religious extremism.  (Reza Aslan on The Daily Show)

Cable news false debate

More in my series on "adults" mixing it up and calling each other names on TV. This time, a recent cable news debate about Obama getting a degree at Notre Dame. How many bad arguments can you find?

Bill Donohue - Of course the eye catching element is Donohue compares Obama to former KKK leader David Duke. Although this is headline catching, shocking, and probably works on some level, this is also a fallacy of composition. The bishop comparing Obama to David Duke is like comparing someone with different values to a serial killer: you may disagree with someone else's values but that doesn't make them a monster. Additionally, the David Duke point makes it look like 1/2 of the country that agrees with Obama are all members of a white supremacist terrorist organization. Its a false dilemma that you are either with Bill or with the terrorists.

Additionally, partial birth abortion is a non-issue as it makes up 0.2 percent of the 1.3 million abortions (source). It is therefore comparable to Obama's recent efforts to cut the federal budget by only 17 billion dollars, which would cut the overall budget by much less than 1% --- its a purely a symbolic act or effort at placation.

Robert Boston - Fundamentally misunderstands the point of the debate; he's trying to keep a lid on what he sees as a manufactured controversy by saying it isn't currently an issue and therefore shouldn't become one (the is-ought problem). He suggests that this isn't news because the majority of Catholics don't care nor agree with the bishop and therefore Bill isn't a representative of anyone. Fox New's website asks and answers its own question with its headline "Fabricated controversy or real debate?" Unfortunately, the real heart of the issue is whether a minority opinion here should be important (resisting a Bandwagon fallacy).

Also, he uses the term "you people" which is pretty close to an ad hominem that hurts his own credibility, not Donohue's.

"Moderator" Megyn Kelly (thanks Kimberly) - Failed the hardest by only attacking Boston, and using bad arguments to do so.
Kelly: "I just want to challenge you on your point ... the claim that the catholic church has allowed all these people to speak -- pro death penalty and so on and so forth."
Both the moderator and Boston failed to do their homework: George W. Bush gave the commencement and was given an honorary degree in 2001 after overseeing the execution of 155 people in Texas. There was no controversy at all about him coming despite this conflict with with Catholic dogma. It may be true that the death penalty is LESS bad than abortion, but no one made that point or tried to.

2009-05-19 edit: I formerly wrote that George W. Bush merely spoke at the college, but he in fact got an honorary degree.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Making software play nice


Digsby is an amazing social program that unifies your social networks (myspace, facebook), email, and instant messaging connections. Unfortunately, like many programs, Digsby likes saving all sorts of information to your computer, which clogs your registry over time. It also saves logs of conversations, information about your social networks, and has other privacy issues. Further, I have no idea if Digsby is even somewhat secure. New programs by new startup companies shouldn't be trusted -- what if it hurt system when I ran it?

Fortunately, I used a program called Sandboxie to solve this problem.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Blackberry afraid to move out of parents' basement

Some people apparently love Blackberry. My 8100?

  • The device on the whole is about as intuitive as trying to pet an angry cat.
  • Getting the software off your computer is like when you got Crisco on your hands when you were a kid. Try washing that shit off.
  • Developers are playing a game with users of "hide the features and settings". Desktop software similarly useful.
  • Wait for Jesus to return while installing the Desktop Software.
  • While other renegade companies are learning to distribute and sell software for their smartphones like its some kind of platform, Blackberry can't download external software unless you have a data connection with your provider. Forget saving money and bandwidth by downloading stuff through your computer.
  • Blackberry thinks Mac users should buy a real computer (won't download saved music and photos with an accessory SD card and won't update anything).
  • But the latest operating system has all kinds of features! But how do you install this mysterious software when its not listed in the official support downloads? Magic!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Evolution solves problems

Picture a kid in Texas who wants to be a doctor. Make sure she goes to a top Christian university in the same state. The highschool she's in says that evolution is just a theory, but in college she's given a very different picture. This suggests that Texas schools do not prepare the doctors of tomorrow with an education in line with their own top Christian medical school. This very real situation means that our society's healers will learn and then discard useless information.

In addition, Biology created by the alternative theory to evolution of intelligent design will not heal anyone. Evolutionary biology has created gene therapies that are currently making people more healthy and will continue to cure more diseases into the foreseeable future. Its not that creationism or intelligent design is fundamentally incorrect or impossible, its that there is no application; the principles derived from these ideas are not testable in a laboratory nor do they provide new information or a new perspective on current information.

As a required curriculum for students in Texas or any other state, it seems therefore to be a waste of time. Support real science to get actual results.

Related: Bill Maher points out that recent high profile viruses evolved (skip to 1:50 in the video) and that treatments for these and future diseases are obviously generated using real science.