Monthly Archives: February 2009

How to Tell the Difference Between Science and Bunk. Massimo Pigliucci on Atheists Talk

i-3f2f66a0b2d43a01afdc6acfdd6aa34b-mn_atheists.jpg… Being interviewed by ME! (So don’t expect this to go well!!!!)

Sunday March 1, 2009

Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, of the Stonybrook Institute in New York, is a biologist and a philosopher who has published about a hundred technical papers and several books on evolutionary biology. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, selected “for fundamental studies of genotype by environmental interactions and for public defense of evolutionary biology from pseudoscientific attack.” Massimo is also an atheist, and has published articles in Skeptical Enquirer, Philosophy Now, The Philosopher’s Magazine and American Atheist Magazine.

Greg Laden, who has been a frequent and popular guest on “Atheists Talk,” is an evolutionary anthropologist, and adviser and instructor at the University of Minnesota, and a blogger. On Sunday Greg turns the tables and does the interviewing, talking to Massimo about Ken Miller and the role of God in tweaking the genome at strategic moments; whether or not man is some sort of elevated creature as according to biologists who should know better and the role of pseudoscience in weakening the public’s understanding of evolution.

image.jpgAtheists Talk” airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

To stream live, go here.

Podcasts of past shows are available at Minnesota Atheists or
through iTunes. For all other podcast systems, such as one you might be running on Linux, use this feed.

Why didn’t Darwin discover Mendel’s laws?

ResearchBlogging.orgPerhaps we are all subject to falling into the trap of what I call the Hydraulic Theory of Everything. If you eat more you will be bigger, if you eat less you will be smaller. Emotional states are the continuously varying outcome of different levels of a set of hormones, forming “happy” or “stressy” or “angry” cocktails. Your brain is a vessel into which life pours various elixirs. Too much of one thing, and there will not be enough room for something else. Even political arguments are hydraulic. The ‘balanced’ middle view between two arguments is like the mixture of contrasting primary colors on a pallet.
Continue reading Why didn’t Darwin discover Mendel’s laws?

Understanding Michele Bachmann in the context of Human Evolution

i-43618a1b871c8cb3deea154e29185dda-barking dog.JPG

This barking dog is not very smart. But it could make a good Republican.
The only thing harder to understand than Michele Bachmann is the Republican Party. Bachmann is hard to understand in this way: How can a person with her mind be an elected member of congress?!?!??? The Republican party is hard to understand in this way: How can a party that is trying to become more rather than less relevant keep putting Michele Bachmann on the podium in places like the National Party Convention and, most recently, at CEPAC??!?!?!?
Continue reading Understanding Michele Bachmann in the context of Human Evolution

‘Pre-Existing Condition’ Fueled Killer Cyclone

A “pre-existing condition” in the North Indian Ocean stoked the sudden intensification of last year’s Tropical Cyclone Nargis just before its devastating landfall in Burma, according to a new NASA/university study. The cyclone became Burma’s worst natural disaster ever and one of the deadliest cyclones of all time.

Continue reading ‘Pre-Existing Condition’ Fueled Killer Cyclone

Please Don’t Play Games With My Date and Time Data

An Open Letter to All Software Developers,

I don’t like changing, shifting, cutsie, idiotic date formats, and I don’t like rounding off much either.

Many systems that provide information on date and time make unwrarented and embarrassingly stupid assumptions about what you want to know. In Movable Type, the system designers assume that if a post is set up for the future by a few days, that I don’t care what time of day it is scheduled for. WTF is that all about??? A scheduled post for two hours from now is listed with the date/time “2 hours from now” but a post scheduled for 48 hours from now is listed as “2 days from now.” Do they not think that I care what time a post on my blog is made public?

Even worse, and for Moveable type, I’d call this a bug because it is just plain wrong, is this: If Post A is coming out in two days, and Post B in three days, and the current time is two days before the midpoint in time between Post A plus Post B, then Moveable Type might say “2 days” for both posts. This looks like both of these posts are coming out on the same day. Fer’instance, if it is now Tuesday, I think (silly me) that “two days from now” is Thursday. If you tell me something is going to happen in two days from now, I think “OK, Thursday.” Then, if you tell me right away that a different thing is also going to happen two days from now, I still think “OK, Thursday.” I can do that all day. See what I’m saying?

With blog posts, I am very interested to know what hour something happens, no matter how far into the future. The older version of Moveable Type had a “batch editor” that allowed me to see and edit a spreadsheet-like form with day and time for each recent or scheduled post all on one page. The new version (4.x) of Movable type does not appear to have this. Correct me if I’m wrong, please. But if I’m not wrong, this is clear evidence that some software designers are just not getting what at least some of us are using this “date and time” variable for. We are not playing around here. We want our data.

I see a similar thing in Evolution, the email client. when I go backwards in time, the date format changes from a time and nothing else, to “Yesterday [time]” to the day of the week and the time, to a calendar date. Why does Evolution think that I have different concepts of scale as time shifts? Why not just have one format, which I can adjust to my liking, and stick with that one format!?!? I mean, seriously, I MIGHT have difference concepts of time as scale shifts. That is how life MIGHT work under some circumstances, but not always for all people under all circumstances. The user should be empowered to make that decision, not some kid in Peoria with a c compiler.

Technorarti is even worse. Technorati uses designators like “A while ago” or “some time in the past.” Morons.

There needs to be a law that all date and time data are taken seriously and not sillified with these odd monikers.

Insane snowfall

We are expecting the storm of the year today in the Twin Cities. I’m looking at a weather map, and there is snow everywhere around Minneapolis and Saint Paul, including where I am. Events have been canceled. The whole nine yards (important planning related sports metaphor).

Yet when I look outside, I see not one flake of snow, and when I look at the news on TV I only see stories about a revolution happening in Mexico.

What is going on here, people???