Oh joy...

Sep. 29th, 2008 11:46 pm
gwalla: (accept christ playstation)
A Wasilia resident is claiming that Palin has said that she believes dinosaurs walked with men.

Now, granted, this is the Huffington Post, so axes are being ground left and right (but mostly left), and this person could be dishonest. However, while it hasn't been publicized much, the fact that Sarah Palin is an IDiot is public knowledge and not news. The only potential revelation here is that she may be a young earth creationist instead.
gwalla: (sporfle cat)
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsyvania's memorandum on the Dover, PA school board's Intellgent Design debacle is a masterpiece of deadpan comedy. Seriously, the whole thing is funny as hell. The judge had the board members' number, and the latter end up looking like complete tools (emphasis in quotes is mine):
In fact, one un­­fortunate theme in this case is the striking ig­­norance con­cern­­ing the concept of ID amongst Board members. Con­­spicuous­­ly, Board mem­bers who voted for the cur­­riculum change tes­­tified at trial that they had utterly no grasp of ID. To illustrate, con­sider that Geesey tes­tified she did not under­­stand the sub­­stance of the cur­­riculum change, yet she voted for it.... Second, Buck­ing­­ham, Chair of the Cur­­riculum Com­­mit­tee at the time, ad­­mit­ted that he had no basis to know whether ID amount­­ed to good sci­ence as of the time of his first de­pos­ition, which was two and a half months after the ID Policy was ap­­prov­ed, yet he voted for the cur­riculum change. Third, Cleaver voted for the cur­­riculum change des­­pite the teachers’ ob­jections, based upon assur­ances from Bonsell. Cleaver ad­mit­ted­ly knew nothing about ID, in­­clud­ing the words com­­prising the phrase, as she con­­sistently refer­­red to ID as “intelligence design” through­­out her tes­timony. In add­­ition, Cleaver was bereft of any under­­stand­­ing of [Of] Pandas [and People] ex­cept that Spahr had said it was not a good sci­­ence book which should not be used in high school. In add­ition, Supe­r­inten­d­ent Nilsen’s entire under­­stand­ing of ID was that “evo­lution has a design.”
Not only that, but one of the ringleaders, Alan Bonsell, blatantly lied about his interest in creationism:
It is notable, and in fact in­credible that Bonsell dis­claim­ed any in­terest in creation­ism during his tes­timony, des­pite the ad­mis­sion by his counsel in Defendants’ open­ing state­ment that Bonsell had such an interest. Simply put, Bonsell repeat­ed­ly failed to testify in a truth­ful manner about this and other subjects.
It repeatedly points out that Bonsell's testimony is not remotely credible, to the point that it almost becomes a running gag. The memorandum concludes with a snipe at the inevitable whining about "activist judges", and all but calls the defendants assholes:
Those who dis­agree with our hold­ing will likely mark it as the product of an ac­tivist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifest­ly not an ac­tivist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the ac­tivism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aid­ed by a nation­al public in­terest law firm eager to find a con­stitu­tion­al test case on ID, who in com­bination drove the Board to adopt an im­prudent and ul­timate­ly un­constitu­tion­al policy. The breath­taking in­anity of the Board’s decision is evident when con­sidered against the factual back­drop which has now been fully re­veal­ed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserv­ed better than to be drag­ged into this legal mael­strom, with its re­sult­ing utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
All that, and a brief history of fundamentalism and creationism (including the previous attempt to sneak creationism past the First Amendment, "creation science"), a clear and nearly jargon-free explanation of why ID is not science and what that means (not something you'd expect from a legal document about science), and point-by-point rebuttals of ID's supporting claims.

They got owned so hard it hurts.
gwalla: (domoslide)
The avahi cleesei, named due to his work in protecting lemurs.
gwalla: (king crimson finger)
A new invention: coffee beer. Seriously.
gwalla: (stop! hammertime)
Wireworld is a game I've stumbled upon recently. Well, "game" in quotes, since there are no players. I'll explain.

It's a type of game called a "cellular automaton", which is a sort of system "played" on a grid: you start with an arrangement of cells in certain states, and repeatedly apply rules that change the states of cells based on the states of their neighboring cells. Conway's Game of Life (not to be confused with Milton Bradley's Game of Life) is probably the best known, and definitely one of the simplest: there are two possible states (all cells are either "live" or "dead"), and live cells may die from having too few live neighbors ("loneliness") or too many ("overcrowding"), while dead cells may come to life if they have enough live neighbors ("reproduction"). It was a popular way of wasting cycles on idle computers in the early days of microcomputers, and it's possible to make all sorts of nifty mutating, repeating, or infinitely growing(!) patterns on it.

Wireworld is slightly more complicated than the Game of Life. There are four states: insulator (the default state), conductor (also called "copper"), electron head, and electron tail. The rules are: a wire becomes an electron head if it is adjacent (orthogonally or diagonally) to one or two electron heads, an electron head becomes an electron tail, and an electron tail becomes a conductor. It gets its name from the fact that you can create a line of conductor cells (a "wire") and set an "electron" (an electron head cell and electron tail cell adjacent to each other) on it, and the electron will travel along the wire in the direction of the head (the next conductor cell becomes the electron head, the old head becomes the tail, and the old tail turns back into a conductor). This in itself isn't that interesting. What is interesting is that it's actually possible to build more complicated "circuits" such as virtual "logic gates" (the technological basis of binary computing) within this simple framework. In fact, it's theoretically possible to build an entire computer within Wireworld.

Most explorations of Wireworld have used a simple square grid. I wonder whether a hex grid with the same rules would be as flexible? It seems like it'd be more difficult, since while a square cell has 8 neighbors, a hex cell only has 6. Other avenues for exploration include 3D versions: cubic (either 26 neighbors or, if triagonals aren't considered adjacent, 20) or based on a close-packing of spheres (12 neighbors).

Time to flex my geekmuscles.
gwalla: (lon chaney)
A Brief History of Time Travel

A short and interesting analysis of chronophysics as it has been approached in science fiction. What happens when you go back and kill your father before you were born? Depends on your universe.

By the redoubtable Justin B. Rye, author of Espe-Ranto: Learn Not To Speak Esperanto, the excellent Star Trek Rant (why Trek's science and tech makes no sense), and great essays on SF Xenolinguistics and Futurese.

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