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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Madonna on Toast? That's Nothing...

Chewbacca lives in this guy's cabinet!

Chewie's trying to send a message to the world: Please, my children! Please! No more Vader cakes! Eeeeaaaaggghhh!

The Vader-cake cult may seem like harmless fun, but it causes a great disturbance in the Force.

The next thing you know, the FAIL demon will take root in your life, causing epic FAILS even in the games you play to pass the time.

And causing you to think you can see, ahem, Russia (or someplace) from here:

Or causing all kinds of inappropriate Star Wars allusions...

(That's Jodee, not Yodee, right? Ha ha.)

...and causing a brave young ID Jedi to fall on his, er, lightsaber.

Nice job, Luke. Way to "battle the Emperor." By the way, what look are you going for? You look like the Emperor. I thought that intelligent design was "young and rebellious"?

Oh, dear. (Chuck Colson on the left; Jonathan Wells on the right.)

Well, anyway. Here's a photo of the Darwinist stormtroopers with their helmets off.

I was going somewhere with this, but now I have no idea. We'll just end it here, okay? ;-)

UPDATED: Well, even if your whimsical blog post is undirected, trust an intelligent design advocate to supply the closure. Dembski's traipsing toward another EPIC FAIL. Forward and dorkward, Mr. Isaac Newton of Information Theory. *Sheesh*.

But let’s grant that the evolutionary process, as governed by the Darwinian selection mechanism, is not goal directed, i.e., that it is not seeking targets (which, of course, leads to the question how a non-directed process is, nonetheless, finding targets in nature). In that case, it makes sense to think of Darwinian mechanism as a grammar-checker — living things must pass the grammar-checker if they get to survive and reproduce.

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

No. Dembski still thinks that natural selection is a centralized force, like gravity*. It's not. Natural selection is the term we use to describe the outcome that we see arising from billions of changes and interactions in the environment. I wrote about this in my paper:

To imagine an “animal in its environment” is to imagine a static environment and an objectified animal, and by analogy an inert record in a passive archives, and consequently a Platonic view in which “true knowledge must remain fixed” (Mortensen, 1999, 6). In contrast, Moore argues for the dynamic overlap of object and context. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins argued the same when he wrote that animals and insects do not merely live in, but effect, shape, and become their environment, which in turn shapes their descendents and competitors:

It is legitimate to speak of adaptations as being “for the benefit of” something, but that something is best not seen as the individual organism. It is a smaller unit which I call the active, germ-line replicator. The most important kind of replicator is the “gene” or small genetic fragment. Replicators are not, of course, selected directly, but by proxy; they are judged by their phenotypic effects. Although for some purposes it is convenient to think of these phenotypic effects as being packaged together in discrete “vehicles” such as individual organisms, this is not fundamentally necessary. Rather, the replicator should be thought of as having extended phenotypic effects, consisting of all its effects on the world at large, not just if effects on the individual body in which it happens to be sitting [emphasis mine] (1982, 4).

Dawkins is not saying that birds and nests do not have natures; he is saying that genes replicate themselves by living in birds which, in response to finding themselves in one environment, die or develop a new strategy by building nests, thus changing that environment, thereby improving their chances of reproduction, which increases the chance of the gene’s replication. Bird, nest, behavior, gene, and environment do not collide like billiard balls, but overlap and combine. They exist as objects in themselves and also as functions and relationships across these objects. Yet both preservationists and conservationists in ecology envision “a bird” that “builds” a “nest,” and in archives, “a creator” that “creates” a “collection.” This is not exactly incorrect—it is our experience—but it is naïve, mechanistic, Newtonian. This is where [Mark] Greene et al perhaps meant to place their condemnation of “absolutes,” because given sufficient time the nature of anything changes.

Because we as human beings are accustomed to viewing our creations as artificial (even destructive) and ourselves as uniquely technology-dependent, weak and silly beside our animal cousins, we ignore how animals also change and even pollute the environment for themselves and other animals through their own constructions. Dawkins is saying, and Moore is implying, that the bird’s nest or the archives is a behavior as well as a structure, and that successive generations of birds are no less dependent on their increasingly sophisticated nests than we are upon our structures. Birds too are silly and weak without evolution’s technologies—the nest, the hard-shell egg, the beak. Beavers cut down trees to build dens, flooding a field to create a pond, chasing away some animals and inviting others, drowning plants to be replaced by others. Who, then, is polluting? What, then, is “natural?” Is a beaver’s dam natural, therefore eternal, but an archives artificial and thus infinitely plastic, and Greene seems to claim? Building nests, dams, houses, and archives are all behaviors that recreate context—is it really impossible to say, without appealing to naïve neo-Platonism, that nests, dams, houses, and archives indeed each have a nature? This author argues that they do, and that the nature of archives evolves. Archives change, but archives remain distinct from, say, orchestras, or dance performances, as traffic noise is distinct from tubas (Herbert, 1985, 135). Is it not then reasonable to say that archives are what we archive, whatever that may be and however we may go about archiving it (Kaplan, 2000), and however that may change?

This is the tragedy, that the discussion of a comprehensive and universal archival theory gets bogged down in retrograde dualism: record versus archives, natural versus artificial, and eternal first principles or naïve postmodernist relativism. It is a trap. Dualities usually are, and are worthy of suspicion if not outright avoidance because the mind so readily falls into them. In theory, Eastwood and Duranti hope for a place of stasis, of security, a Promised Land, whereas Greene and his colleagues evidently fear a reissuing of the Ten Commandments that would forcibly unite distant tribes (Greene et al, 10). Neither path leads to a legitimate theory, and all of these brilliant thinkers who each have a part of the answer tragically miss the point.

*Which, of course, is really a curvature in space-time, anyway.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Don't Lose Weight! Because... might rewrite the laws of gravity and make everything fly apart! Because, you see, William Dembski, still having a problem with a computer program that Richard Dawkins wrote back in the 1980s, in Apple BASIC no less, makes yet another claim that Dawkins is perpetuating a fraud *yawn* on the public (and naturally I had a problem with that).


WilliamD: Gentlemen: If Dawkins is tuning the parameters differently for the program as described in the book and for it as exhibited in the BBC documentary, isn’t he in effect using a different program?

Me: Uh, duh, no! Great job, Mr. Isaac Newton of Information Theory.

This man is a mathematician? Would he like a secretary/quasi-librarian/archivist and belly dancer to explain programming principles to him? He and his followers still have a problem understanding how an algorithm in a program that was, yes, programmed by Dawkins is an analogy for natural selection?

Of course, Dr. Dr. "I'm not jealous of Dawkins at all" has been verrrry quiet since making that gaffe.

I have news for you Dr. Dr. Dembski - April is fast upon us. You can run but you can't hide (or add, it appears).

UPDATED: Wesley has a post up about how long it's taken Dembski to "reproduce" Dawkins' code, and so does Ian Musgrave. Of course PZ has weighed in. I don't have time for this - I'm writing a paper about how archival theory could be informed by anthropology, evolutionary theory, ecology, and information theory, and I've already wasted too much time trying to get Joe G. to answer me about what he really knows about information theory.

SECOND UPDATE: I love this sarcastic riposte by "CS." Remarks by wags like that convince me that even if intelligent design belonged in schools, only an anti-IDist would be qualified to teach it.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

DaveScot Banned from Uncommon Descent (Again)

Oh, the irony (but not really): Stalinist Behavior at Creationist Blogs. Shimmies to Open Parachute.

We were having a good old time at AtBC - writing poetry to avoid writing our papers - when I remembered that I needed an article out of a book that was not available at my school's library, but was available at another library in the network. So I strapped on my earphones (oh, hush. Those little ear-things don't fit in my ears) and went for a walk.

And meanwhile, all hell breaks loose.

The news breaks here, about halfway down the page.

Barry, pram, toys, throws, out, there of:

Note to UD ContributorsBarry ArringtonThe moderation policy does not apply to you; you are held to a higher standard. I expect your posts to have at least some tangential relationship to Darwinism, ID, or the metaphysical or moral implications of each. The purpose of this site is not to provide a place for you to jump up and rant on one of your pet peeves.

Well. I must say I have mixed feelings. It looks like UD's original moderation policy (delete everything that you don't agree with/makes you look stupid) is being enforced by a new generation upon the old. Ungrateful little punks. (I'm being sarcastic.) But DaveScot was making a point about the racism of the Christian Identity Movement. That gets him banned? I wonder about UD's sympathy for Christian Identity, when they've been trashing Darwin as a "racist" during this entire episode.

(Because trashing the abolitionist Charles Darwin as a "racist" certain seems to have a "relationship to Darwinism, ID, or the metaphysical or moral implications of each" - but pointing out racism elsewhere, such as among creationists, doesn't, you see.)

As another commenter noted, there could be a(nother) resurrection of DaveScot after three days. A testable hypothesis, I'd say.

P.S. - I have been named AtBC Poet Laureate. ;-)

When I consider how his snark was spent,
Ere half his days, in this dark U and D,
And that one poster which is UD marquee
Lodged with them useless, though his pride misspent
To serve therewith their Maker, and present
no true account, lest Dembski chide,
"Doth Design exact day-labor, evidence denied?"
I fondly ask. But Pretense, to prevent
That comment, soon replies: "Designer doth not need
Either man's labs or his own brains; who trains
the credulous to the yoke, they serve him best. His logic
Is ringly: thousands at his fallacies speed,
And post o'er sanity and reason without rest;
They also serve who only bloviate.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Should Dedicated Fishermen Go Jump in the Lake?

High dingbat quotient today. I just can't let this one go: Someone named Tom Frame has written in the Sydney Morning Herald that Darwinists should be "honest" with everyone:

The problem I face is weariness with science-based dialogue partners like Richard Dawkins. It surprises me he is not chided for his innate scientific conservatism and metaphysical complacency. He won't take his depiction of Darwinism to logical conclusions. A dedicated Darwinian would welcome imperialism, genocide, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, euthanasia, forced sterilisations and infanticide. Publicly, he advocates none of them.

Okay, I'll give in and also admit that, as a dedicated Newtonian (I even named my cat after him), I also advocate everyone jumping off of a cliff! But Tom Frame first.

Honestly, how stupid can a person be? There is nothing that is not evolution. You can't "violate" evolution with your socio-political views any more than you can "violate" gravity. Does Frame think that airplane pilots are violating gravity by flying planes? (Sadly, he probably does. He's probably that confused.) If you care for the sick and the weak, you create an environment in which they get better and stronger. Duh. For pity's sake, the Neanderthals cared for and fed their elderly and infirm. Evolution tends toward ecological coexistence and equilibrium, not savagery. (Remember the Galapagos.)

Should beavers also embrace genocide, because after thousands of years of building beaver dams they are incapable of surviving without their structures, and have thus become soft and lazy and "unfit"? Should deer own up to the fact that, well, they've become dependent on their antlers, and are letting into the gene pool "unfit" members would could not have survived without those pointed, technologically advanced weapons? Should bees admit that they've become pansies, toiling on a hive all day instead of being wild and free like the badass, biker drones? I mean, how ridiculous!

If I were to own up to the fact that I do consider some people to be "superior" to others, I think creationists would be surprised to find people with autism spectrum and mental retardation - who are also avid library users - at the top of my hierarchy, and "normal" spoiled brats with fast cars, early acne prevention/nose jobs/breast augmentation, princessy attitudes, spray-on tans, nonexistent belly fat, and daily tantrums due to entitlement syndrome decidedly on my "unfit" list.

(Bwahaha! My one and only car was blue! Of course, it was a 1976 Buick station wagon.)

It's my personal belief that social "Darwinism" sprang up to hold back the implications of evolutionary theory, precisely because it suggested that the poor and the nonwhite had better survival skills than the fragile elite of the Victorian Age, and rich throwaways like our little MacKenzie above. But anyway.

More idiot news: Alan Keyes has a blog. Yes, that Alan Keyes.

*Suppresses major nacho urge*

In fact, Jesus Christ wouldn't even create Barack Obama! Because he's the anti-Christ, you know. *groan*

I'm not linking to Keyes's blaahhhg - you can get there via Ed's site. Just be aware - viewing Alan Keyes' literary glossolalia is painful for more reasons than one. The seizure-inducing colors alone might actually make you want to jump off a cliff.

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Dear GOD Ben Stein Has Lost It

Yes, I used the word "God." Pretend that it means "Going Out for Dinner," which also may as well not exist these days. I must admit that in this instance, the expression has a certain ring to it. Dear GOD that man is an idiot. Dear GOD I didn't need to read that when I'm trying to suppress my nacho/buttered popcorn habit.

Dear God, Ben Stein is an idiot!

First he goes on CBS to blame "Mr. Obama" (it's President Obama, just say it once) for scaring us into wrecking the economy, because we're not buying stock (I am),

What we need, as Bill Clinton aptly pointed out recently, is more cheerleading and less fear-mongering. We elected Mr. Obama to be National Spirit Leader, not National Scary Storyteller.

If Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner, his Treasury Secretary, and Mr. Volcker, his well-respected advisor, and some real superstars like Warren Buffett and Jack Welch all came out and said, "The recession will end within 12 months. We are sure of it," the recession WOULD end within 12 months.

and then he's writing in the New York Times that he's so scared because the barfing economy is all the fault of short sellers.

Can it be that as recently as 2006, financial firms accounted for almost one-third of all the corporate profits in the United States? Or that money was so free-flowing that a single bat mitzvah party could be estimated to cost $10 million?

That era is gone with the wind. Now we face a severe recession, frightening jumps in unemployment, a breathtaking collapse of equity and real estate prices. Now we face a major discontinuity with what has gone before — a real, grinding, 3 a.m. fear, replete with nightmares of bread lines.

Geez, bread lines. Way to inspire confidence, Ben. His solution? End mark-to-market accounting, because short sellers selling securities as the securities plunge are driving securities down. Yeah. They're making money hand over fist [all five of them] dumping collapsing securities, whose value was obviously inflated if they're continuing to fall.

Right. And if people would just stop wearing parachutes, no airplanes would ever crash. They're driving the planes down.

*Briefly leans forward into hand*

Okay, I'm not knowledgeable enough to take on his suggestion to bring back the "uptick" rule because I don't know much about it, and as for credit-default swaps - hell, I'm just a civilian. I'm not into that level of investment yet, and I don't think I'd go for a scheme like that. I don't think I'd ever go for a scheme like short selling.

But, MY GOD, what an imbecile! I'm beginning to think that there's another reason, other than cowardice and belated embarrassment for his appearance in a snake-handler movie, why he cancelled his commencement address at the University of Vermont. He was asked, after all, if he would confine his remarks to his so-called expertise: economics. It sounds like his ability to articulate coherently any position in his own alleged field is severely compromised.

Ben Stein Runs Out of Ideas

Oh. And did I mention that a few weeks ago Stein made a rambling argument in favor of automaker CEOs hopping around the planet in private planes? (Can Al Gore be forgiven now?)

The executive of an important company has immense responsibilities. His or her time is precious. To waste that time in an airport security line or dealing with flight delays is, quite frankly, a sin against the stockholders. Flying on a private plane is not a decadent act -- it is just a way to move a very valuable asset around to maximize its productivity. To keep executives from using these planes is as foolish as not allowing them to use cell phones or computers.

And I certainly never see the president, his cabinet members, or key members of Congress flying commercial jets.

Well, apparently no forgiveness for Al Gore - not from someone who expects the President of the United States to fly a commercial airliner (and probably without a parachute to boot).


Ben Stein's Headintushitis

Are there any restaurants around here that serve late-night nachos? How about a $10 million bat mitzvah in Highland Park?

A final word re stocks: Do what you have to do, but save. I'm still buying stock, but I diversified my portfolio and may do so again. I've been hit hard, but I didn't expect to use this money any time soon, anyway. I'm sticking to my previous course, because I don't see the disadvantage in buying stock on the way down when, eventually, the market will go back up. By the time you've figured out where the bottom is stocks will have risen to at least the point they were when you stopped buying them, anyway - or even higher - and you won't have as many shares as you could have. This is not financial advice, just how I'm approaching things.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Back in the Day

Joe the unlicensed Plumber on what used to happen to traitors and libruhls 'n such "back in the day":

Yeah, well, let me tell you something.

Back in the day, plumbers didn't write wussie books and give femmy book-signings (such as they are). Back in the day, kids that grew up to be the people that the Joe the Plumbers of the world are trying to portray wouldn't go near books. Back in the day, these kids knocked the books out of my arms in the school hallway, then skipped class to avoid detention and smoked pot in the bordering woods.

Back in the day, these people talked more about sports than about being a father. They were more likely to say that "Jesus paid his taxes" because, guess what, when they were in their twenties and finally had to resign themselves to getting a job, they joined a union. Back in the day, they laughed at the military guys who had their mullets shaved off for the button-down, spit-shine look. But all this was, as you know, "back in the day." Things have changed, now. The Republican Party has managed to feminize and sanitize men beyond all the supposed dreams and aims of the feminist movement.

(Back in the day, they just told you not to have sex - nobody went so far as to tell you to actually have sex, which is tantamount to telling you how to do it, with whom, and why. Just think, your pastor knows what you're doing all the time now! And later, he may issue, er, other commands. How convenient! What a control freak's paradise!)

Oh, and Joe - I wouldn't trumpet my supposed military service if I were you. Yeah, Joe, be scared, very scared of all the accolades and compliments you'd receive if you were pressured to join up.

UPDATED: Another case in point about feminized men: creationism sure has changed. Boy, cry me a river, Egnor. If we're "not careful, 'creationists' (80% of America) might notice the irony." Great - no more funding for volcano watching from Louisiana, although I'm not sure what funds Bobby Jindahl is going to withhold after he's done rejecting the stimulus package!

Watch Joe go work for the Discovery Isn't-stitute next. (BTW, what ever happened to David Horowitz? Not a peep from him lately.)

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