Monthly Archives: July 2011

Google Inc IS a different kind of thing

In the old days, canals, roads, train tracks, etc. were almost all privately owned in many countries. Some airports too, but not many. Now, most of these elements of our infrastructure are publicly owned or so regulated that they may as well be. Same with utilities.

I wrote a while ago about how Amazon Dot Com is a public good that should not be privately controlled. A lot of people got mad at me and pointed out how wrong I was, but that is because they did not understand that the vast majority of on line commerce is actually run by Amazon even though you don’t know that while you are doing it. Imagine that Sears not only was sears, bur also owned all other appliance manufacturers, as well as Walmarts, Coscos, and Kmarts, but you didn’t know that. If I then said “Sears is about the only place you buy stuff from” you would have to understand that i mean “Sears and all that they own.”

In the case of Google, it is somewhat different. Google probably owns and/or operates stuff that does not have their name on it, but aside from that, it is quite possible to run your entire computer life off of Google and nothing else. Google is on the verge of becoming more insidious than Microsoft, but they are actually dong a pretty good job at it.

But the latest maneneo with pseudonymous has shown us that a benevolent dictator is still a dictator and must be destroyed. As a society we have to do what we’ve done before: Publicly take over and run that which was private but that has become infrastructure. And while we are at it we need to decommission all cable companies. I mean, seriously … how is that not a monopoly?


“We can know nothing about the origin of life”


Sometimes people say this because it seems reasonable to them … what, with life originating so long ago and so much geological mushing-around happening since then. But sometimes people say this, and sound quite innocent saying it, because they want to throw the average person off track and make them think that Evolutionary Biology has this big gap — at the beginning — in which any-old kind of story can fit, including a supernatural or religious story, or even just a spiritual Jungian story, or anything but a story about molecules interacting.

So, the purpose of this blog post is to be handy, to point to, to produce a link to, in answer to that question. Every time somebody says “We can know nothing about the origin of life bla bla bla” you respond with a link to this post. In the meantime, if you think there is something missing in this post that should be conveyed to anyone making that argument, please add it to the comments.

Here’s the code to copy and past to link to this post:

<a href=””>”We can know nothing about the origin of life”</a>

Below are two lists. The first list is a set of blog posts by a variety of science bloggers about the origin of life. The second list is the bibliography my installation of Mendeley (reference management software) spit out at me when I asked it to find all the references to “Origin of Life” on my hard drive or nearby localities. This includes only a subset (about 5%) of my PDF files and none of my paper files (of which there are about 5,000) of which, in turn, probably only 1 or 2% address this issue, as it is not my field.

So, the reference list is provisional and just to get your stared, but also serves the purpose of demonstrating how there is quite a bit of work on the topic.

At present, we know something about the origin of life. I think we could know a lot more, and I think we will eventually. The assertion that we can’t because it isn’t happening now and happened a long time ago is wrong for several reasons: 1) Are you sure it is not happening now?; 2) It could be replicated in the lab; 3) It might be happening somewhere else, or evidence of it could be found on another celestial object; and 4) Yes, indeed, it turns out that we actually can reconstruct things through inference from ancient data, modeling, and experiment that happened in the past, and do so scientifically. If you hear someone telling you that you can’t, that this is not science, that it violates the scientific method, then you are hearing the words of a person who either knows nothing about science or is telling you a lie, because science can and does address the past.

So, without further ado, the lists:

Continue reading “We can know nothing about the origin of life”

Darwinian Thinking From The Birds

…Louis Agassiz, the most famous scientist of his time, eclipsing Darwin in his stature and influence (up to a point) addressed this diversity across the landscape in one way. Darwin addressed it in another way. Today, most people don’t even know what Agassiz said, even though it is a perfectly rational model if you are a creationist, and something like half of all Americans are. But, his ideas would be considered absurd even by modern Young Earth Creationists (YECs). Darwin’s view, in contrast, is not absurd, but it is complicated….

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Climate Change Update

Relying heavily on the excellent resource known as Dr. Jeff Master’s Wunderblog and a few other sources, I’ve compiled a quick list of a few of the highlights of weather events related to global warming in the news these days, in preparation for this weekend’s radio show “The Science of Global Warming: Science V Denialsim” on Atheists Talk #126, with Kevin Zelnio and John Abraham.

Here goes:
Continue reading Climate Change Update

On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance

ResearchBlogging.orgAccording to a newly published paper in the journal “Remote Sensing” the Earth’s atmosphere releases into space more heat than climate scientists had previously estimated in a way that effectively removes concern about fossil CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
Continue reading On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance