Saturday, December 26, 2009

WTF? Seriously, just WTF?

Via an entry on FSTDT I found this blazing pyre of stupid.
WARNING: Follow the previous link at your own risk.

I can't even begin to pick this apart. Partly due to the amazingly high fail-to-word ratio. Mostly because, like most web-pages made by not-in-a-good-way crazy people, the page design is terrible. I'm talking headache-inducingly unreadable. Hence the warning above.

If you do follow the link, you may at first wonder what I'm talking about. You may say to yourself "Poor design, sure. Kind of boring, but I don't see what the big deal is." Keep going. Scroll down. Follow a few internal links. It gets much, much worse. So, if you want a laugh, take a couple of Tylenol and check it out.

Reading something like this would normally raise my blood pressure to a life-threateningly dangerous level. But this is just too dumb.

So yeah, WTF?


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Warm Fuzzies again.

Still awesome!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Laws of Thermodynamics say you're an idiot

Heh, heh.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

INL update

I have a face-to-face interview at INL on Friday, Oct 30. Awesome!

I told my boss about it. His reaction was not what I had feared. As is usually the case, my anxiety was completely unfounded.

That's about it.


Friday, October 02, 2009


A couple of months ago, I applied for a technician job at Idaho National Laboratories (in the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator lab, I believe. (Woohoo! Nuclear Batteries!)

By this point I had given up on hearing back from them. So, imagine my surprise when I get home from work and have a message that says they want to set up a phone interview.

On the one hand, WOOHOO! SWEET!

On the other, I'd pretty much settled on sticking around, here, and my lazier side keeps bringing up things like telling my current boss, address change, utilities, actually moving and other hassles involved in changing jobs.


P.S. -- Yes, I know the difference between a thermoelectric generator and a battery. "Nuclear batteries" is technically inaccurate. Sue me. (Unless you are with INL, in which case, I know it's important and take such things very seriously)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Amazon Kindle, Douglas Adams would have loved this

So I got a Kindle the other day.

It totally kicks ass. Here are a couple of pics of it (next to a mass-market paperback for size comparison).

My kindle has 2Gb of memory (about 1.5 available for user content), so it will hold a pretty good sized library (I only have 3 books on it so far, though).

It also has a cellular wireless connection for, get this, FREE! The browser is pretty basic, so between that, the connection speed, and the e-paper screen's refresh rate, browsing the internet is significantly slower than my DSL connection at home, but still way faster than the old 56k dial-up. Plus images may or may not look right, but for mainly text pages (like Google and Wikipedia) it is great. I can easily check my email (gmail) but sending is a bit tricky right now, since I am not accustomed to thumb-typing.

This thing really does live up to the comparison to the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

All it needs is a cover with "Don't Panic" in large, friendly letters. I'm working on that.


Friday, March 13, 2009

My review of Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne

Okay. I really liked this book. The writing is clear, engaging and on a level that any interested high school student could follow. It is well annotated and referenced.

This is a good place to start for anyone looking to learn about Modern Evolutionary Theory, whether you know nothing about it or just need to brush up on the evidence.

I do have one major problem with it, and one minor quibble.

My major problem is that Coyne uses a variation on "Evolutionary Theory explains this very well, but it makes no sense from the standpoint of Special Creation" at the end of nearly every section.

Part of my problem is that this book is supposed to support MET, and I strongly feel that Special Creation shouldn't be mentioned at all. Creationists have no positive evidence, and must resort to lame attempts to tear down MET. Coyne presents a ton of evidence, and the above statement is completely unnecessary.

Mostly though, my problem is that the statement is wrong. It flies in the face of Special Creation's biggest weakness; the thing that makes it totally unscientific. Falsification.

You see, all these things do make sense under Special Creation. But so does anything else. Special Creation provides no reason to think things should be one way and not another (especially when God the Designer is defined to be inscrutable), so it can't make predictions.

For example, using MET, Neil Shubin and his colleagues predicted that fossil evidence of a fish/amphibian transition would be found in strata around 375 myo. After locating exposed strata in this age range, and after some diligent searching, Tiktaalik was discovered. A prediction of MET was fulfilled. (Coyne provides this example).

Now, if we want to find fossils with certain characteristics, how would Special Creation predict where to look?

When asked what evidence he would accept to falsify Evolutionary Theory, J.B.S. Haldane famously said, "Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian!"

But what could possibly falsify Special Creation? There is nothing that can't be explained by God's whim. This is what makes Special Creation, and all such supernatural ideas, not science.

Now my minor quibble.

Coyne describes several predictions of MET, but the above Tiktaalik example is the only one that was clearly a prediction. The others are called predictions, but it is never clear if the evidence was found after the prediction was made or if the prediction is actually an explanation of previously uncovered evidence.

It makes a difference. Explanation is great, of course, and the prediction is that it will apply to any future evidence. But good, solid, positive predictions are the hallmark of a sound theory, and it is those that I want most to read about. That is what makes Tiktaalik so viscerally satisfying.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

This gives my inner gadget-geek the warm fuzzies

How awesome is that? I totally want one.

The only thing that would make this cooler would be if the display was in your glasses lens, rather than projected.

This actually reminds me of a movie I saw a few years ago The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest. It is truly inspiring that the device in the movie was small and had a unique interface, but was otherwise no different than an ordinary computer, but the real life device under development is much, much more.


Friday, February 27, 2009

One of my favorite Futurama moments

From season 2, episode 23: "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In which philosphy leads to chocolate overload

Yesterday, I sat down to write a post to answer the question "Where does your morality come from?" The situation that prompted this question, and the answer are subjects for another post.

Anyway, as I was thinking about this, I decided I wanted some mulled cider. Now, I have everything I need to make it except, well, cider. As I get into my car, it occurs to me that there is a liquor store a couple of blocks away, as opposed to clear across town like the grocery store.

Okay, mulled wine then. After I grab a bottle of Merlot, I walk past the whiskey isle. Suddenly I think "Mmmmm, butterscotch." So I buy a 50 mL bottle of Cutty Sark as well. When I get home, I pull out the recipe file to see if I have one for butterscotch. I don't. A quick trip to provides one.

Now, what's good with butterscotch. Well, ice cream, of course, but I want something more.

How about brownies? Cool. I check to see if I have everything I need for brownies and butterscotch, and I see that I have 5 bottles of Guinness Extra Stout in the fridge (I made stew last weekend). I seem to remember that I saw a recipe for brownies that called for Guinness. A quick trip back to provides it, too.

Now this is a serious brownie recipe, people. It calls for 8 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, 4 oz. of white chocolate, 3/4 cup of cocoa, and suggests a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips as a mix-in (although I used walnuts instead).

They're cooling as I type. I will update once I come off the high.


UPDATE - 7pm - The brownies/butterscotch are great. Here's a pic.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another reason why Archimedes is my hero

Via GiFS comes an interesting article:
A Prayer for Archimedes: A long-lost text by the ancient Greek mathematician shows that he had begun to discover the principles of calculus.

It seems that an old (very old) prayer book was discovered to have a faint palimpsest, which turned out to be writings of Archimedes.

Archimedes wrote his manuscript on a papyrus scroll 2,200 years ago. At an unknown later time, someone copied the text from papyrus to animal-skin parchment. Then, 700 years ago, a monk needed parchment for a new prayer book. He pulled the copy of Archimedes' book off the shelf, cut the pages in half, rotated them 90 degrees, and scraped the surface to remove the ink, creating a palimpsest—fresh writing material made by clearing away older text. Then he wrote his prayers on the nearly-clean pages.
Of course his prayers were far more important than whatever nonsense had been preserved for 1500 years
I was going to include more snippets from the article, but I ended up with most of it. Just go read it at the above link. It is awesomely cool.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

the xkcd test

Your result for The xkcd test...


You scored 92% percent on knowing it and 100% percent on getting it!

You clearly follow the comic, and understand the humour quite well.

Take The xkcd test
at HelloQuizzy


Written by, directed by, starring and end theme performed by Clint Eastwood.

If you guessed from my post title that I just saw Gran Torino, you'd be right...

It was good. Very good. Funny in spots, poignant in others. A bit predictable, maybe, but all in all I definitely recommend it. Overly PC, sensitive and/or humorless people may be offended by Clint Eastwood's character. Those who are not tone-deaf may be offended by Eastwood's singing.


Saturday, January 17, 2009


This is a test.
This is only a test.

I never, ever thought of this. Of course, now it seems so obvious that I feel kind of foolish.
A post on Qalmlea's blog had blocks of collapsed text, and I admit, it kind of blew my mind.
This has been a test of collapsible posting. Neat!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Assembler 2

Woohoo! 25 more levels!

One of them took me 15 minutes. Damn that physics engine is sensitive.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Another xian who doesn't know what "proof" means

WARNING - You may want to turn the volume down. (the music is actually pretty good, but grating if unexpected)

UPDATE - I know MarkCC at Good Math/Bad Math blogged about this, and pointed out the same thing I do. But check the dates. Mine is a day before his.

UPDATE #2 - It seems the video has been made private. In order to view it, you must sign the poster's friends list. Ah yes. To defend oneself against criticism by only allowing those who agree with you.

Nice friendly opening there, dude.

That's a lot of crap to pull from one passage of scripture.

Anyway, here's why this doesn't work. It's a circular argument. His method only results in the speed of light if you already know the speed of light.


See the last equation there? v is always going to be very close to c. The only reason this guy got a value close to the speed of light was that he used the known speed of light for c.

He seems to think that finding v in the equation for relativistic time dilation proves his point. It does not. The value he really wants to find is c. In order to do that, he'd have to know v, which would be God's velocity relative to earth. Ignoring the fact that God would therefore be receding at near the speed of light (by his argument) that value is not given in scripture.

All this proves is that xians should not try to use math or physics in their apologetics.

Sorry, but thanks for playing.

Also, I love that his background music is Judith by A Perfect Circle, a song expressing contempt for religion (specifically xianity). Note the line "Fuck your god" at ( :44). Ah, irony. It's almost enough to make me call Poe's Law, except that I know some xians who really are that clueless.