Wednesday, August 31, 2005

We really miss the daily read.

Giants indead. Wow! R.E.A.D T.H.E. C.O.M.M.E.N.T.S

Ok, now that I've read all the commentary myself - including the original via link - I can say it... who won?

The important question in my mind (without any pessimism at all) is, can we lose? I'm talking about the actual destruction of our country. I think the answer is that, while it's not likely it is possible.

Bill thinks we are not doing enough, SDB says we're doing good enough.

I have to side with Bill on this, without disagreeing with SDB's argument. I think Bill is entirely right that cold war analogies miss some points. We are not in the same stand-off situation we were in then. Although there is the possibility of a hot war against nuclear armed opponents, China, Russia or others using Islamic nations as channels, it is a distant possibility unless we appear vulnerable. Even the aftermath of Katrina would not indicate a vulnerability sufficient to exploit. (Now if Yellowstone decides to blow, all bets are off.)

I believe everyone is arguing that it's about hearts and minds and can be summed up with these two quotes...

GWB said:

"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success."

FDR said:

"No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God."

While I applaud what GWB said, it appears quite... uh... effeminate? compared to FDR.

Why the difference? I think it's because of the other enemy, those living in this country that hate it. That's one battle that can be lost. It's not the only one.

Right now there's rioting and looting in the wake of Katrina. Many more are going to die. The limits of local government (to the state level) while not world shattering are still being exposed for all to see. Could it happen on the national level?

Not likely, but yes it could. The question is what makes the possibility of this danger more likely... going after the regimes that support terror now, or hoping the enlightenment of radicals will fight our war for us?

What prevents us from following FDR's lead? Now we're back to the enemies within.

On a personal note, it's good to see SDB making a public argument. I used to read his blog several times in a day (and never missed a day.) He and Rand are the reason I blog.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More about me!

Really, it's more of a critique of this personity type as it applies to me.

Internally=intuition, External=rationally and logically. Sounds like me.

"INTJs live in the world of ideas and strategic planning. They value intelligence, knowledge, and competence, and typically have high standards in these regards, which they continuously strive to fulfill. To a somewhat lesser extent, they have similar expectations of others." I expect people to be people (within all the extremes of the spectrum.)

"Their mind constantly gathers information and makes associations..." Yup.

"...usually are very quick to understand new ideas." Uh, huh.

"..they do not follow an idea as far as they possibly can, seeking only to understand it fully..." Yes, I am lazy.

"INTJs are driven to come to conclusions about ideas." Too deep for me.

"...excellent scientists..." Except that California prop. 13 cut the funding so I never interned at JPL. I gave up a chance at a full scholarship at Harvey Mudd. I settled for computer bum instead. I do wish my life had taken another path.

"It is not easy for the INTJ to express their internal images, insights, and abstractions." Change not easy to near impossible. Nothing in my mind can really be expressed with language. It's very lonely.

"The internal form of the INTJ's thoughts and concepts is highly individualized, and is not readily translatable into a form that others will understand." Ok, so they say the same thing. (Update: I need to emphasize the 'highly individualized' point. INTJ's are a very rare type, but I've met and worked with a few. There thoughts processes were not anything like mine, even though I'm definitely an INTJ. I've been tested during a management workshop and have retested occasionally, many years apart, always with the same result. Interestingly, I was able to perceive some things that only a different group of types -represented by about 25% of the population - are usually able. I may be a rare bird indeed? But then, there's only one and only you too!)

"...their ideas, which are non-linear." Most truly.

"However, their extreme respect of knowledge and intelligence will motivate them to explain themselves to another person who they feel is deserving of the effort." Yes.

"...natural leaders, ...they usually choose to remain in the background until they see a real need to take over the lead." Right, many examples in my life.

"When they are in leadership roles, they are quite effective, because they are able to objectively see the reality of a situation, and are adaptable enough to change things which aren't working well." Quite effective? This requires followers. Not being able to get people to understand something or a willingness to follow often produces less than effective results.

"They are the supreme strategists - always scanning available ideas and concepts and weighing them against their current strategy, to plan for every conceivable contingency." Supreme huh, I'll try not to get a big head... but the fact is, I _IS_ good!

"...lot of time inside their own minds, and may have little interest in the other people's thoughts or feelings." Not entirely true. I do care, but it doesn't really matter. Does it?

"...a tendency to ignore details which are necessary for implementing their ideas." Always a danger.

"...put everything that they encounter into an understandable and rational system" Sounds about right.

"...they are quick to express judgments." Yes, but subject to revision at any time with new data.

"very evolved intuitions" Perhaps.

"...convinced that they are right about things." Only if evidence supports the belief and subject to suspension of (dis)belief when contradictory evidence exists.

"Unless they complement their intuitive understanding with a well-developed ability to express their insights, they may find themselves frequently misunderstood." I'm doomed! Oh, that's why I blog!!!

"In these cases, INTJs tend to blame misunderstandings on the limitations of the other party, rather than on their own difficulty in expressing themselves." No! I blame me.

"This tendency may cause the INTJ to dismiss others input too quickly, and to become generally arrogant and elitist." I have a highly developed sense of humility... but this is often not observed by others. I abhor arrogance.

"...ambitious..." Off and on.

"...self-confident..." Who else am I suppose to be confident in? God, are you listening?

"...deliberate..." Which is a real pain when it comes to writing.

"...long-range thinkers..." Lot of good it's done me. Waited until I was 40 something to marry, three years later I'm divorced.

"...dislike messiness and inefficiency..." But I could be a frustrated perfectionist.

"...truly have affection or regard for others, they simply do not typically feel the need to express it. Others may falsely perceive the INTJ as being rigid and set in their ways. Nothing could be further from the truth, because the INTJ is committed to always finding the objective best strategy to implement their ideas. The INTJ is usually quite open to hearing an alternative way of doing something." Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. - Commited? I don't know.- Yes.

"When under a great deal of stress, the INTJ may become obsessed with mindless repetitive, Sensate activities, such as over-drinking. They may also tend to become absorbed with minutia and details that they would not normally consider important to their overall goal." Interesting point, must watch for this. I do see examples that might fit this description (and I should be a diamond already with the stress I've had in my life.)

"INTJs need to remember to express themselves sufficiently, so as to avoid difficulties with people misunderstandings. In the absence of properly developing their communication abilities, they may become abrupt and short with people, and isolationists." Generally I am not short with anybody.

"INTJs have a tremendous amount of ability to accomplish great things. They have insight into the Big Picture, and are driven to synthesize their concepts into solid plans of action. Their reasoning skills gives them the means to accomplish that. INTJs are most always highly competent people, and will not have a problem meeting their career or education goals. They have the capability to make great strides in these arenas. On a personal level, the INTJ who practices tolerances and puts effort into effectively communicating their insights to others has everything in his or her power to lead a rich and rewarding life."

So? Effective communications is the problem? I've always known that, but have never been able to do anything about it. I've always been bothered when somebody praises me for how well I've expressed something when I know that I absolutely haven't been able to express anything at all. Yes, it is lonely. Now, let's never do this again, ok?

A very reasonable argument

Which I would agree with if not for certain little details.

Much of grade school is taught by rote. One time I failed a math test in the seventh or eigth grade. I checked my answers (it's math, I didn't need anybody else to do it for me!) and determined that every single question was answered absolutely correctly. At that point I brought this to the attention of the teacher. She agreed that I answered 100% correctly. So what happened? What I didn't know was that the test had answers in the back of the book (what a concept) and the book was wrong in every answer to this particular test. Every other student got 100%... with book answers.

I stopped asking questions in that class soon after (the last straw was when I asked a question regarding division by zero to which the teacher reacted badly.)

My personality is INTJ, sometimes refered to as the scientist. I'm a lover of truth and real pain in the neck because I want the details to come out right. Have you ever read the Cuckoo's Egg, written by a character with more ants in his pants than any I've ever observed? He discovered and tracked an international spy because of less than a dollar accounting error. Sometimes small things matter!

I'm a great fan of Martin Gardner and quite skeptical myself. I remember some of Evolution theory as was taught to me in high school. What I was taught was verifiably wrong... pepper moths and giraffe necks. This was the fifth grade. Doing this at that age is nothing more than propaganda. It certainly wasn't science.

The fact is the word evolution is used as a slight of hand trick. The details of evolution are definitely so (as far as basic science produces data) the problem is when these details are used to assert the idea that new kinds of animals are created. Yes, you heard me right, 'evolution' is true and never produces any new kinds of animals. Most people would consider that a contradictory statement, but only because the details regarding evolution are often/always muddled when people argue about it.

Do mutations occur? Yes, evolution requires it to be so... the only problem is that mutations occur more rapidly than evolution can account for. So what gives? Even with the multitude of mutations, we don't get beneficial changes which leads to...

Survival of the fittest which works to keep animals pure. Unlike what we've all been taught, it works directly against the common understanding of evolution. Mutated animals are less fit and die. They generally don't reproduce and so the chain of mutations that might produce a new kind of animal never occurs. It doesn't matter how long you give for it to happen. Ok, if you bother to apply some statistics you discover that in a few zillion ages of the universe you might in theory have one animal turn into another. That's the definition of impossible, folks!

I believe in science. I believe in truth. I hate religion, but I believe in a loving God (which sounds like a contradiction to many, but I would not believe it if I didn't clearly see the evidence that it were true.)

People are hypocrites and many are loony toons. Me, I'm just me (with a different drum.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

More deaf ears?

It is appalling that this continues in many places in this country.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Science IS a way of looking!

Edward J. Larson says Intelligent Design is not science and I certainly don't know enough about it to absolutely disagree with him. However, some of his statements in this article, while better written than most all others I've read in the same vein, still tends to make some assertions with which I can't quite agree.

He says, "Darwinism is not a comforting world view for conscious, egotistical beings like us." If evolution is true, why shouldn't it provide comfort? If this life is all there is, certainly I could use that to my best advantage, as could anybody. Personally, I don't like the idea of ignorant bliss. I don't find any comfort in that at all. On the other hand, many racists seem to find quite a bit of comfort in viewing themselves superior to others and use perversions of evolution theory to support their view.

Then I have a few minor quibbles with some of his modifiers... "Intelligent design, despite its proponents' claims to the contrary, isn't modern science... It's part of that rebellion against it." "Science is a particular way of looking at natural phenomena." Why modern or natural? Isn't science, science? Phenomena is simply a thing observed? I saw an ID book in the bookstore the other day. I didn't buy it, but I think I could spot science verses crap. Now I may have to buy it to determine if it is or not. Stating that something is a rebellion against science requires some pretty demanding evidence if that something is being conducted in an objective way.

"Intelligent design, in contrast, is a critique of all that. Its proponents may challenge the sufficiency of evolutionary explanations for the origin of species but they have not — and cannot — offer testable alternative explanations."

So he's saying that ID is not just not science, but anti-science, a rebellion in his words. Personally, I don't think a rebellion every once in a while is such a bad thing. However, is ID the anti-science!

"The best they can offer is the premise that, if no natural explanation suffices, then God must have done it."

God (done it) is a conclusion. IDers seem to be steadfast in only claiming that there is evidence that some things were designed rather than possibly being the result of random actions. Is it scientific heresy to examine the argument? Claiming something is not science doesn't mean much. Examining an argument and making an argument against it (that actually addresses the points of the initial argument rather than sidestepping them which happens all too often) could very well be considered within the realm of science. If an argument is ridiculous, show it to be so! If it can't stand scrutiny, then scrutinize it! That's science!

"People prefer purpose in their origins." I agree. Might there be an explanation for that within the realm of science? Concocting an evolution hypothesis to explain it isn't much more scientific than the tooth fairy without some concrete evidence in support of the hypothesis which often seems to be lacking. We are often told to just accept it on the basis of some authoritive voice. Sounds like church doctrine to me.

Mr Larson makes some other claims that do not ring entirely true...

"What we know about evolution allows us to...
...combat pathogens by discovering ways to disable or eliminate them.
...understand ecological relationships and preserve habitats.
...explore genetic relationships and push the frontiers of biotechnology."

It's not evolution that allows these things. Science makes progress by using scientific methods, regardless of the prejudicial views, one way or the other, of the scientist. The history of science is the pulling of scales away from eyes. It starts when a lone scientist has an insight and pursues it. By definition, science is the modification and even overthrowing of previous scientific conjecture.

Science often goes against common sense. Quantum theory, which is strongly established science, questions everybody's view of reality But sometimes common sense is right. Many people are qualified to perceive that something is designed (and anyone refuting them would appear idiotic.) Is it a stretch to imagine that someone with more education in a field would be able to spot design in that field?

Update: Very well said.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Actually knowing something helps...

It's sad that this rebuke will probably fall on deaf ears.

Words fail me, but I'm glad they didn't her.

You may need to scroll down past the advertisements to where "It's called courage" begins the article.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Enjoy the View

I've never been a big fan of the idea of a space elevator. I've always been uneasy with the idea thinking there is some physics problem with it we just aren't seeing. However, this article does put a very positive spin on the idea. While this article suggest it might actually be doable in the near future.

Does this mean goodbye rockets? I don't think so. But it may mean goodbye to small payload rockets. As with any industry, there is always a shakeout. I would hope the rocket industry gets itself off the ground sufficiently so we can have the shakeout down the road. We shall see.

Update: The same point

Another article

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Tales of Tails

Perhaps there's more to the flying spaghetti monster than I first thought... perhaps his presence can be felt in the tail?

Have you felt the presence of his noodly appendage?

Now this certainly qualifies as an UNCOMMON INSIGHT.

Generally I have a low regard for ridicule when legitimate issues are being raised, but this is too funny. I assume that most people think that "Intelligent Design" is a thinly veiled way of introducing creation into public schools and I tend to agree with that viewpoint. If true, it certainly doesn't belong in a science class, but then most of what's taught as evolution theory doesn't belong there either.

Science in schools should teach students how to observe and reason using the scientific method. Regardless of what a person chooses to do as an adult in life, they should understand the basics of reasonable logical thinking. Schools generally fall far short of that mark. Perhaps they should start by teaching law and what constitutes evidence?

They should also teach about fallacies so people can recognize them. The pasta lord includes a fun example of that as well, argh!