It’s been a couple months since I’ve even been on wordpress (had more pressing matters than words – if you’ll excuse the phrase). However this news story came out of the New York Times and I found it rather exciting:

Now the title may be a stretch yet, but scientists were able to extract protein material from the preserved bone marrow of a T-Rex.

Much cooler is that they were able to test the sequences they’d retrieved for genetic similarities with current organisms. 3 of the 7 sequences reacted to chicken in a way that really supports the contested idea that dinosaurs eventually evolved into birds. Strong genetic correlations with dinosaurs and birds is a great find.

The best thing about this procedure is there may be some other fossils where protein can be extracted… I can see a bunch of paleontologists reading the initial reports and, in shock, spitting their coffee all over their monitors as they rush to go examine some of their fossils.

But the thought that DNA and protein can survive so long is a a great turn of events. This may mean that Jurassic Park may be possible in the future. This is great for everybody. Ok, well maybe it’s not great for creationists. =P

At the very least, this answers the immortal question of, “What would a T-Rex taste like?” Like Chicken!

Mike

San Diego classifieds

I’m sure many of you have already heard the story about James Cameron producing a documentary where they investigate a tomb uncovered in 1980 which some suspect housed the body of Jesus and his family (including his mother Mary, wife Mary Magdalene, son Judah, and Mathew – there are apparently 5 other coffins in a neighboring tomb yet to be identified). According to the film-makers this is supposed to be a celebration of the life of a great man, however christians have already begun a public outry, declaring that the film-makers are attempting to undermine christianity.

To be fair, if Jesus didn’t resurrect the game is over, that’s the core tenant of the christian faith – it’s understandable they’d be upset… IF the documentary made a good point. But we don’t know yet what points it makes! Of course we only know very little about the documentary, but this hasn’t stopped christians and alleged bible scholars from attacking it head on.

Yes this is an old find (1980), and one which has been covered before 11 years ago with a BBC documentary which proved ill-researched and not particularly well founded in science, archeology, or anything of that nature. Yet allegedly there is new evidence and new arguments to be made on this site.

And this is the key point. They claim to have enough new evidence to propose that makes this tomb worth investigating again. By all accounts this won’t be a retread of the defeated BBC documentary, but something challenging and new. Cameron assures us, “It doesn’t get bigger than this. We’ve done our homework; we’ve made the case; and now it’s time for the debate to begin.”

Of course already christians are trying to combat this, before the documentary has come out or even been seen by them. If you are an intelligent individual this should raise some red flags for you. If they haven’t seen this documentary, then how can they know all the claims forwarded and effectively combat them?

The answer is simple: They can’t. They’re making this shit up in a preemptive manner to discredit the documentary any way they can. Or they’re relying on what they do know of the Tomb to try and (mistakenly?) predict what the arguments will be and discredit those.

Bold words to be sure, but very probably true – the church does have a long and illustrious history of smear campaigns, misinformation, distortion of evidence, and so on… They are exceedingly efficient at it, the complete lack of understanding for evolution and the perpetuating of misconceptions being just one glaring example.

I will say this: Reading a book by its cover is the province of fools and the ignorant. If going in with an open mind will challenge your faith, then you seriously need to re-evaluate your faith.

Forgive me if I sound harsh, but these people are essentially laying a verdict on a movie before it’s release (with no pre-screenings either) or trying to debunk an argument that’s not even yet been forwarded. It is, in concept, utterly absurd.

As I’ve said before, religion thrives on misconception. To repeat a quote of mine that became popular among my debate team, “christian churches are made of straw” – of course referring to the Straw Man Fallacy (also known as the “Fallacy of extension.” And this seems to be what many of these religious scholars are actively doing. Misconceptions are already abound, spreading like wildfire among those who are committing much the same fallacy and not realizing that their concerns are apparently going to be specifically addressed. These misconceptions are as follows:

1. Those were all common names at the time – so what? It’s probably coincidence.

From what little has been revealed, the answer lies in probability. It turns out that those names weren’t as common as expected and when you factor in the specific combination it becomes much less probable. Andrey Feuerverger (professor of statistics and mathematics) recently did a statistical analysis based on how often each name appears during that time period, its frequency, and to be conservative he allowed for the possibility of the name being more frequent than we know. Even then the odds of all five of those names being together is at least 600 to 1 against. That means the probability of this being the correct tomb and not sheer coincidence is a surprising 99.84%!

Let me repeat that, the statistical odds of this being more than coincidence are 99.84%. Something of course glossed over (or somehow missed?) by those attacking the film.

2. What are they going to do with DNA testing? There’s nothing to test!

They are using DNA testing to examine the family relationship and see who is directly related to who. We know that they’ve determined Jesus and the one thought to be Mary Magdalene are not related – which indicates they’re a couple if not spousal. It should go without saying that this alone really changes the odds of this being coincidence with all things considered. They are not using DNA tests to compare with living persons, the shroud of Turin or other such farcical things…

Now I am not staunchly defending the documentary, nor am I taking a particular stand in either direction at the moment. What I am suggesting and really advising is that people hold off until they see the damn documentary before they go making arguments.

Personally I don’t necessarily agree with the ideas being forwarded (I’m rather of the opinion that he never existed, not even as a mortal human), but I am willing to go in with an open mind and see the evidence presented and make assessments based on that.

I encourage others to similarly wait, see what the arguments and evidence are, and THEN make your decisions.

For more information, please refer to these (mostly) unbiased articles:

Discovery’s article on the subject:
James Cameron discusses the film:

Here’s an example as to how journalists are falling into the trap of letting their personal believes affect the way they write and portray the story, look at this (note the absence of documentary claims but focus on the counterarguments):

Yahoo News article:

Or if you really want to see the bad, look to Fox News.

Again the whole point is to not jump to conclusions and listen to the morons defending faith without even seeing the damn thing. It may be easily falsifiable, but wait and find out.

Yours in reason,

Mike

Free online classifieds

Evidently “some people say” that the Nintendo DS leads to child molestation… Ha!

You can see their actual report here.

Essentially their story goes like this:

– You are driving your child around and he or she is playing their DS. Fair enough.

– A pedophile or child molestor is driving on the highway near enough to you to glance over and scan your car for children. He sees your child playing a Nintendo DS. (improbable, but ok..)

– The child molester then whips out his DS and, while driving, begins pictochat to see if he can find your kid on pictochat. (Using a DS while driving would be a very difficult thing to do, especially pictochat which tends to require both hands – one to hold it and one to use the stylus).

– Your kid isn’t playing a game but is instead sitting already in pictochat mode for some unexplicable reason and just waiting for some random shmuck (who’s steering with his mental willpower at this point) to message him/her.

– When your kid gets the message he/she accepts the messages and the child molester uses his Jedi mind tricks to get the kid to tell him the address. “You want to tell me where you live.” (Again, the odds of a kid giving up his address so readily is very improbable. And a kid gullible enough to do it wouldn’t even know the address.)

– The pedophile writes down the address (balancing the DS and paper pad while writing and driving the car), seeks it out, breaks in and rapes the kid.

Uh huh, great job Fox.

This would be a great case study in sensationalist garbage.

The kid already has to be on pictochat (on the freeway which is very unlikely) and waiting for someone to message him for this to work. Most kids play games on the DS, it’s not really seen as a communication device among children except for friends and neighbors. Also it’s not like they’d have the sense to be quiet about it if they’re dumb enough to give away their address. They wouldn’t be at the age where they’d keep secrets from mommy because some random stranger said to. Plus, pedos are far more likely to reach kids online through IMs…

Just to address a comment in the report:

Granted they knew it was me sending the messages but they had only met me minutes before.

Really sherlock? I’m sure the fact that you were invited into their home, trusted by the mother, and already AT their address helped that. Oh and the fact that you’re a well known news figure and a trusted authority source was another factor playing into that. With the questions he was asking they probably thought it was a demonstration or test of the communication capabilities, not a way to test child readiness to divulge their address to strangers.

And wow, the DS can send a message more than 300′ away while they advertise only 65 feet, those must be evil deceptive bastards! Of course it’s probably fair to assume that the 65 feet is the range for the worst conditions and it’s safer to underpromise on this sort of thing, but how dare they allow such a long distance for gameplaying? I think that’s actually awesome and opens great possibility for multiplayer (what everyone really uses the wifi for).

Beyond that there’s the usual shallow propaganda techniques Fox is known for. It’s remarkable the kind of stories they will run know… are they just low on ideas?

Mike

Free classified ads search engine.

Can the RIAA even read?

February 9, 2007

Many of you probably already know about Steve Job’s essay on music and DRM copy protection that he published on Apple’s website earlier this week (if not you can find it readily here). He talks at length about DRM and copy protection, and how it’s not interoperable and other issues as well as the reasons behind why it’s done. He also recommends that the companies get rid of DRM as it would be better for the consumers and everyone involved. Here are some excerpts:

“The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.”

“Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.”

“Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.”

Seems obvious and straightforward enough, right? If you read the entire article he makes some very good points about how futile copy protection is (with numbers to support it) and how sharing the DRM protection among other major companies would be a terrible idea that would be problematic and ruin the whole point.

Now this is the kicker. Here is the RIAA’s response to Job’s article:

“Apple’s offer to license Fairplay to other technology companies is a welcome breakthrough and would be a real victory for fans, artists and labels. There have been many services seeking a license to the Apple DRM. This would enable the interoperability that we have been urging for a very long time.”

Did they miss the premise of the entire article? Did they miss the arguments and comments that licensing fairplay would be a complete and disastrous mess? It appears so.

Even if they had overlooked the bulk of article calling for all DRM protection to be removed, there is nothing Jobs said that would suggest Apple plans to license their DRM – quite the opposite in fact. Jobs lists it as an option and then immediately discusses why it’s not a viable one.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that the RIAA is living in some alternate closet dimension of their own creation. It seems that working for the RIAA requires a degree of self-delusion that could put even spin doctors like Bill O’Reilly to shame…

Mike

Free classified ads search engine

I can respect Tom Cruise as an actor…

Sure he plays pretty much the same role in every movie (the cocky jackass who finds humility, loyalty and other virtues), but he plays that one role very well!

Yet riding on the hype of War of the Worlds he announced to the world that he was, indeed, a nutjob and basketcase. Professing faith in scientology he offended rational people everywhere.

My current feelings for Tom Cruise are best represented by this picture:

This just perfectly sums up Tom.

This came out of a brief photoshop lesson and it seems so perfect, so… him. We’ve got the purple crown with a strange symbol (it’s really a wristband and symbol for the Bleed Purple Foundation) which is pure silliness contrasted with a stern and perceptive staring into the distance look (good ol’ Tom is keeping a watch out for the minions of Lord Zenu). We have a yellow background to contrast everything even further.

Yes, this is the prophet of scientology. This is the man that, in 2000 years, people may actually be worshiping as a demigod or the son of some diety. They will say he healed the sick, he defeated the robot uprising unwittingly unleashed by Microsoft, he died and came back to life in his true alien form, and so on. That the whole religion was created in 1954 as a bet will be long forgotten. There is no science, only TOM.

This picture is the future folks. Peace.

Mike

Free classified ads search engine.

As someone with a science background I tend to be quite skeptical of most claims, but this article is nevertheless unnerving.

Global warming: the final verdict

A study by the world’s leading experts says global warming will happen faster and be more devastating than previously thought

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday January 21, 2007
The Observer

Global warming is destined to have a far more destructive and earlier impact than previously estimated, the most authoritative report yet produced on climate change will warn next week.A draft copy of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by The Observer, shows the frequency of devastating storms – like the ones that battered Britain last week – will increase dramatically. Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre; snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains; deserts will spread; oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls; and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent.

The impact will be catastrophic, forcing hundreds of millions of people to flee their devastated homelands, particularly in tropical, low-lying areas, while creating waves of immigrants whose movements will strain the economies of even the most affluent countries.

‘The really chilling thing about the IPCC report is that it is the work of several thousand climate experts who have widely differing views about how greenhouse gases will have their effect. Some think they will have a major impact, others a lesser role. Each paragraph of this report was therefore argued over and scrutinised intensely. Only points that were considered indisputable survived this process. This is a very conservative document – that’s what makes it so scary,’ said one senior UK climate expert.

Climate concerns are likely to dominate international politics next month. President Bush is to make the issue a part of his state of the union address on Wednesday while the IPCC report’s final version is set for release on 2 February in a set of global news conferences.

Although the final wording of the report is still being worked on, the draft indicates that scientists now have their clearest idea so far about future climate changes, as well as about recent events. It points out that:

· 12 of the past 13 years were the warmest since records began;

· ocean temperatures have risen at least three kilometres beneath the surface;

· glaciers, snow cover and permafrost have decreased in both hemispheres;

· sea levels are rising at the rate of almost 2mm a year;

· cold days, nights and frost have become rarer while hot days, hot nights and heatwaves have become more frequent.

And the cause is clear, say the authors: ‘It is very likely that [man-made] greenhouse gas increases caused most of the average temperature increases since the mid-20th century,’ says the report.

To date, these changes have caused global temperatures to rise by 0.6C. The most likely outcome of continuing rises in greenhouses gases will be to make the planet a further 3C hotter by 2100, although the report acknowledges that rises of 4.5C to 5C could be experienced. Ice-cap melting, rises in sea levels, flooding, cyclones and storms will be an inevitable consequence.

Past assessments by the IPCC have suggested such scenarios are ‘likely’ to occur this century. Its latest report, based on sophisticated computer models and more detailed observations of snow cover loss, sea level rises and the spread of deserts, is far more robust and confident. Now the panel writes of changes as ‘extremely likely’ and ‘almost certain’.

And in a specific rebuff to sceptics who still argue natural variation in the Sun’s output is the real cause of climate change, the panel says mankind’s industrial emissions have had five times more effect on the climate than any fluctuations in solar radiation. We are the masters of our own destruction, in short.

There is some comfort, however. The panel believes the Gulf Stream will go on bathing Britain with its warm waters for the next 100 years. Some researchers have said it could be disrupted by cold waters pouring off Greenland’s melting ice sheets, plunging western Europe into a mini Ice Age, as depicted in the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow.

The report reflects climate scientists’ growing fears that Earth is nearing the stage when carbon dioxide rises will bring irreversible change to the planet. ‘We are seeing vast sections of Antarctic ice disappearing at an alarming rate,’ said climate expert Chris Rapley, in a phone call to The Observer from the Antarctic Peninsula last week. ‘That means we can expect to see sea levels rise at about a metre a century from now on – and that will have devastating consequences.’

However, there is still hope, said Peter Cox of Exeter University. ‘We are like alcoholics who have got as far as admitting there is a problem. It is a start. Now we have got to start drying out – which means reducing our carbon output.’

If it’s indeed true that this report was compiled by a wide array of scientists with all manner of different viewpoints, then this could be the most unbiased and accurate account of the possible dangers. It’s certainly worth considering. So far there seems to be a mountain of evidence in support global warming. The arguments against it seem soundly refuted from what I’ve seen and read, and the Michael Crichton novel (which probably deserves its own blog) has similarly been debunked as the fiction it is.

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist I’m starting to think we really should do something about this before it winds up being too late. It is better safe than sorry, and it definitely would be nice to clean up our act a bit and get some fresher air.

– Mike

Free classified ads search engine

Stephen Colbert is one of my favorite television characters ever. The man is simply awesome. Anyway he is sort of an over-the-top emulation of Bill O’Reilly, indirectly mocking him and the more strident “conservatives” by acting like an idiot enthusiastically supporting every decision of theirs. He is very much like O’Reilly except the idiocy is a joke, and not real.

Anyway in a move that is almost too good to be true, Colbert was invited to appear on the O’Reilly Factor and O’Reilly appeared on the Colbert report. Both interviews are amusing, but the one on the Colbert Report was just awesome. Here are some links:

Colbert on O’Reilly’s show

O’Reilly on the Colbert Report

O’Reilly was strangely respectful on his show when Stephen was on, though after Colbert left he went on a diatribe about how Colbert was bad for the country, and the damage that was being done. Maybe he was afraid of going toe-to-toe with Stephen (who does think very quickly on his feet) and looking like a jackass, or maybe he toned it down and held back because he knew he’d be appearing on the Colbert Report later. I’m sure O’Reilly also realizes that acting like a jackass to someone who’s pretending to idolize him would look Bully-ish. However it does look like O’Reilly has to work to hold his composure at times.

There were some very funny moments in the Colbert Report interview, and some fairly subtle jabs near the beginning about O’Reilly’s sex scandal (the reference of Jon as a sexual predator and how Bill would know what that’s like). There are some great moments so go watch if you haven’t seen it yet. The best line though has to be: “If you’re an act, then what am I?”

Peace out nation,

Mike

Free classified ads search engine

The trouble with Evolution is that everyone *thinks* they understand it.

– Richard Dawkins

This has come up recently, I was informed about a speaker in my area who could “scientifically prove” that evolution is false. Of course anybody with comprehension of science and the scientific process (less than 30% of you if you’re American) knows how ridiculous this is, for reasons I’ll get into later.

I have seen and heard these speakers before, and they prey on the misconceptions and ignorance of their audience. They exploit the perceptions of those who are faithful and have very limited knowledge of the principles of evolution. They only reinforce what the faithful want to believe, they assuage cognitive dissonance with fallacies – and the faithful blindly accept the distortions because it makes them feel comfortable and secure in their beliefs. It’s very probable that the speakers themselves fully believe what they’re saying, but the issue is that they don’t understand evolution at all. It’s easy to persuade somebody with no knowledge that something is wrong.

I am not trying to attack or disparage the faithful or these speakers, I am instead pointing out that many of them don’t really “get it.” Indeed the general level of education in America is pathetic with surveys showing almost 48% of the population believing humans co-existed with dinosaurs (Chapter 7 – “Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding”, Report: Science & Engineering Indicators – 2003, National Science Board, National Science Foundation, April 2002)…

I’m glad I come from a family of scientists and have taken many unversity courses in anthropology and other such research so I know more than the vast majority of Americans.

Almost every other developed country accepts evolution more than we do, and consequently they are better educated on evolution than we are (we are on the bottom of both charts). Is that a coincidence? Certainly not. We live in a religious society that mistakenly sees evolution as a threat to faith, and it is easier to defeat something you don’t understand. A great many of the scientists who study evolution are religious and they don’t perceive it as a threat to their beliefs, and they actually understand it.

Now I won’t actually get into the evolution vs. creation debate because there is little hope of changing people’s minds. What I will do is illustrate many of the fallacies committed by these speakers and evangelical advocates against evolution.

The most important thing about science is that it’s not a belief system. You often see the faithful mistakenly align science as a belief, and you sometimes hear about some speaker who “proves evolution wrong scientifically”. Evolution has never been proven wrong scientifically, and if it was it would be from a scientist, not some evangelical speaker.

The truth is that science is its own harshest critic, scientists are more skeptical of science than the faithful are, that’s the nature of the beast. The very structure of science is to make a hypothesis and do every thing imaginable to prove it wrong. If it can’t be proven wrong (based on strictly empirical evidence and study) it becomes a theory. If it is absolutely unbeatable and incontrovertible then it becomes a law. If there was anything that legitimately disproved evolution than it would cease to be or undergo severe revisions to be consistent with new data. Darwin was wrong on a number of things, scientists were the ones to find his mistakes and change the theories (NOT the evangelicals). Indeed evangelicals like to use the outdated Darwin models and argue against them, ignoring or not knowing that they’ve been out of date for the last 100 years.

So let’s get in to some of the common myths you see…

Myth: Evolution is just a theory.

Essentially true, but dismissing it as “just a theory” a grave distortion of what a scientific theory is. A scientific theory is not the same as a hypothesis, it is not a guess by any possible stretch. A theory is an organized set of information that has been confirmed repeatedly and not yet proven untrue. A theory is demonstrated to be true, it’s observable, repeatable, and far more supported and confirmed than any guess. Of course evangelicals like to distort the word “Theory” to make it sound weak when it isn’t. Here are some more examples of scientific “theories:”

Quantum Theory: This deals with subatomic particles and some crazy stuff, it is the reason we have cell phones and computers.

Stress Theory: This is the theory that allows engineers to construct buildings, bridges, roads, planes, cars, etc. It works.

As you are probably in a building and on a computer, your very situation in life at this moment is hinged upon scientific theory. Should you pretend your computer doesn’t exist and never cross another bridge because it’s “only theory”?

Oh and it’s only the mechanisms through which evolution is accomplished that are theory. Explanations such as genetic drift, natural selection, mate selection, those are the theories of the mechanics of how evolution works. Evolution in itself is a biological fact.

Myth: Evolution doesn’t explain how life started.

True. But then it was never meant or intended to. No scientist worth his degree has ever claimed that evolution indubitably explains how life sprang into existence. Evolution is the study of the way life changes, adapts and evolves over time and from adversity. Being analogous it explains how the leaves fell from the tree, not how they came to be in the first place. The idea that “evolution doesn’t explain where life came from so it’s wrong” is as stupid as saying “We don’t know how human civilization started so recorded history is all wrong.”

The notion that life arose from inanimate matter, the “primordial ooze” or “primeval soup” the abiogenesis hypothesis. Note that it’s a hypothesis and NOT a theory. It’s an educated guess. Now you see why creationists like to use the origin of life argument? It’s easier to defeat an untested or unproven hypothesis/guess than it is to even begin an attack on a scientific theory. This is an example of twisting words and misguiding people.

Some people also like to clump evolution together with the big bang theory which is completely absurd. They are completely different scientific entities.

Myth: We evolved from monkeys.

False. This is a misconception perpetuated largely by that drawing of apes becoming man… which if I recall was originally drawn to mock Darwin, it was part of an early smear campaign to discredit him by distorting his theory. It is with great irony (but not surprising in a religious country like the USA) that it has become a symbol of evolution.

According to evolution we did NOT evolve from apes, we simply share a common ancestor many millions of years ago. We both evolved from Pierolapithecus catalaunicus. You can actually say that Apes evolved from humans and be equally incorrect.

Hell, there are very distinguishable differences in the ethnicities of humans, both in appearance in genetics, and that came about over a couple hundred thousand years of separation… Imagine if we had continued without mingling or seeing each other for several million years – the differences between whites/Asians/blacks/etc. would have been astounding, we’d eventually have become different species. Imagine if technology was lost and the planet surface was divided by impossible crevasses and the west coast, the north and the south were all separated for millions of years – we would be completely different with the Southerners probably becoming something like Morlocks.

Myth: Evolution is random.

False. Random chance is very contrary to the principle of Natural Selection, which is one of the fundamental concepts of evolution. Members of a species that are less suited to survive die out while those more capable thrive and expand. There is nothing random about it, life under evolution progresses in a natural and logical manner.

We all have genetic differences and mutations that are chance, (you might be taller or shorter than the rest of your family, may have more hair, a better brain for math, a unique allergy, may be double jointed, and so on) and these differences make us stronger or weaker in certain areas. Natural selection actively selects which strengths are suited for survival in an environments and which aren’t. There is a very small element of chance, but selection is the opposite of random.

No, we did not develop eyes at random, we developed eyes over an exceptionally long, gradual process of trial and error. Eyes were not spontaneously or miraculously generated, and there was never “half an eye.” Eyes began as a simple cluster of cells that were sensitive to light and they slowly increased in complexity and capability until they were able to see directions and eventually colors and complex shapes.

To be taken step by step through how this could have occurred, watch this segment from an instructional lecture (it’s like a British kid friendly show from 1991) by Richard Dawkins called “Climbing Mount Improbable.” He demonstrates exactly how something as complex as the eye evolved through natural selection (and then goes on to explain wings and camouflage).

To flip the fallacious “watch maker argument” around, watches were also not created at random. The creation of the watch was a slow and gradual process of trial and error, of experimentation and exploration. Like the lightbulb it took many attempts and a lot of revision before it was finally done right. No watch maker magically popped into existence and started crafting watches on his first go. The watch itself had to evolve.

Myth: Complex things don’t come naturally:

False. For reasons above.

Myth: Evolution isn’t testable or repeatable.

False. Evolution has been observed in a number of species and it is testable and repeatable with bacteria and other simple, short lived lifeforms. Even kids can do it. When I was in high school my biology class genetically augmented and evolved some ecoli strains.

For a solid example refer to: (Weinberg, J.R., V.R. Starczak, and D. Jorg, 1992, “Evidence for rapid speciation following a founder event in the laboratory.” Evolution 46: 1214-1220) For more observed instances of speciation, refer to this FAQ.

It should be noted that nobody has been able to spontaneously generate an entire new species out of thin air or inanimate matter.

Perhaps one of the strangest things was the advocates for “intelligent design” were the ones to frequently (and mistakenly) accuse evolution of being untestable or unrepeatable when their own idea was utterly impossible to test, observe, repeat, or prove. Fortunately the intelligent design craze seems to have died down a little since most religious leaders (including the Pope and the Vatican) have openly said that it’s absurd and not a science by any possible stretch.

And those are just a few of gross misconceptions and egregious misunderstandings of evolution. I may get into more at a later date.

Now on another note…

Here’s an interesting thing… If you think about it, Evolution has to exist for the bible to be true. IF there were an Adam and Eve (there wasn’t) and they began as the only two humans on the planet (they weren’t) that doesn’t account for the wide genetic differences and variations across the human spectrum. Let’s say they were Arabic: dark brown hair, brown eyes, and bronze skin… if there is no evolution then where did the Asians come from? Where did the blacks come from? And the whites? The Filipinos? The Eskimos? Etc. Even if they had been originally very different (Adam was black and Eve was pale white with blonde hair and blue eyes) there is still no possible way for their descendants to have developed very different eye colors (brown, green, blue, grey, black, etc.), hair colors (different shades of brown, black, blonde, and red), skin (we all know the differences here), facial features (the features between whites, blacks, Mexicans, arabs, Asians and so forth are visibly obvious), sizes (heights and weights) and so on without evolution. It’s not possible… unless of course evolution is true.

Hell, if the story of Noah was true we’d all be descended from him and his family, which would guarantee even less genetic variance (particularly as it – according to theists – occurred not that long ago) as they were certainly all similar in race, and appearance. So where could all these vastly different humans come from?

And another(even less related) thing. If the great flood apparently wiped out all life on the planet except for those on the ark, then how come christians point to “many cultures have stories of a great flood” as evidence that it happened. That other cultures still existed disproves the great flood in the first place!

Food for thought.

-Mike

Free classified ad search engine

 

Well it seems my predictions were coming true… at least until Steve Jobs stopped early.

As I thought they went into more details about the iTV and they announced the iPhone! They also utilized that multi-touch functionality of theirs in a creative and useful way (for the phone). It seems to work very similarly to that video I linked to in my previous blog, in particular in how it handles pictures and how they can be sized.

Also as I predicted the phone included some unexpected features… It is fully touch screen compatible and comes with a number of sensors (including a proximity sensor) as well as means to prevent accidental touches. It makes calling and conference calling incredibly easy (you can touch the screen to add people to a call), and so on. This phone is going to drastically raise the bar and this is going to provide a solid kick in the ass to the other phone companies who have been very lackluster in terms of innovation (i.e. they haven’t innovated archaic things such as voicemail at all). And I don’t mean innovation as in adding new things, I mean innovation as in revamping and improving upon how things are already done.

Not to mention this phone carries the undeniably powerful iPod name, it comes with a version of OS X (which is an interesting way to get the OS in more people’s hands – often those who experiment with OS X switch shortly after), full fledged internet capabilities, comprehensive video and music capabilities, 2 megapixel camera and so on. This thing will make an impact for certain.

I’m even considering going back to Cingular even though we did not part on the best of terms (they gave me a whole bunch of BS fees when I switched to Verizon).

However that’s where the conference ended. Jobs and Co. brought John Mayor on stage for a few songs, concluded it simply, packed up and left. There wasn’t even the trademark “oh and one more thing…” this time around.

So which of my predictions didn’t see light?

– No new Leopard info

– No iSight or new monitor

– No iWork or iLife announcements

– No Tablet (though the multi touch in the iPod suggests we will see one)

We did however learn that Apple Computer Inc. was changing and shortening its name to Apple Inc. I suppose they’re dropping the “computer” to be more in line with their ever expanding electronic products. They are changing their horizons and taking on more avenues of the electronic market… They even showed a comparison graph which showed video game console sales. Is Apple planning on getting into the video game console market at some point? I actually hope not.

With all the crazy new stuff they’re coming out with, I hope they keep their emphasis and specialty on building great computers and fine tuning their operating system.

Peace,

Mike

Free classified ads search engine

The Console Wars…

December 28, 2006

Well my first post is going to be kind of a long-winded rant… I promise future ones won’t be this bad.

This is an issue that is probably only truly interesting to a select few – the members of the nerd patrol eagerly lapping up any technological information that comes about and/or the “fanboys” looking for reassurance of some kind. In the latter case only the Nintendo fans and so-called “Xbots” will find anything to satisfy their beliefs here.

(Let it be known that I hate terms like “fanboys” and “Xbots” as they are often recklessly thrown around too easily and readily by people who don’t know what they’re talking about or who don’t even know what the words mean).

Earlier in the fall I made a prediction and it was that the console rankings would wind up looking like this: The Nintendo Wii would quickly win a solid first place, followed by the Xbox 360 with the PS3 some distance behind. I also predicted that both formats (HD-DVD and Blu-Ray) will lose, with DVD carrying on as the standard video playing format. I still hold true to my original forecasts and I think the market has so far been shaping up precisely the way I had envisioned.

Nintendo made a brilliant move with the Wii, by going in a completely new (revolutionary) direction they’ve effectively removed themselves from the competitors and offer a unique service that is a “must have” to everyone – including a great many people who otherwise aren’t interested in videogames. Even for most people sitting on a particular side of an ideaological corporate fence during the “console war” the Wii is not seen as direct competition, even the most strident fanboys will tout “PSWii” and “Wii60” (some will even use silly abbreviations such as “FTW”). Nintendo has very cleverly sidestepped the entire issue, appealed to almost all gamers, appealed to vast amounts of regular people (including women, who before weren’t keen on gaming) and comes at an amazingly affordable $249.99!

Even the name “Wii” has caught on in an unusual way… When I first heard the name I thought the Nintendo execs had taken crazy pills, stuffed themselves with pizza, dropped a few hits of LSD and then knocked each other out with throw pillows (decorated with anime girls no less). I was one of those who despised the name and thought there was no rational way it would fly – but evidently it has. It’s fairly easily slid into mainstream usage and the sexual innuendo isn’t play on all that much anymore. All across the world people are playing with their Wiis free of guilt!

Nintendo fans, Sony fans, Microsoft fans, PC gamers, and even non-gamers are enticed to pick up the Wii, and because it’s so unique, with such surprising support and at such low cost it will easily come in first place.

The real battle, the real console war, will take place between the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Microsoft has a brilliant marketing department (denoted just by the fact that they dominate the computer industry, even with an inferior operating system [Yes I’m a Mac guy, oops] ) and they made a clever play by following the PS2 example and coming out a year earlier. Now they have gained a strong foothold, had time to flesh out the graphical capabilities, built a good library, and are far more available at this critical time. The 360 has had time to evolve and grow, becoming a force to be recogned with.

Conversely the PS3 is plagued by a host of problems and issues. It has limited offerings at launch and so far the graphics of the games are trounced by the 360. It is particularly evident in multiplatform games where the PS3 very visibly lacks in texture and graphical quality. This is a temporary setback to a system that hasn’t been fleshed out yet, but consumers won’t see it that way. They will see the 360 with Gears of War and other visually impressive games and turn to see the PS3 lacking.

What hurts Sony the most is the $600 price tag, which is a huge chunk of change. This is definitely worth it to the Playstation enthusiasts who also happent to want a Blu-Ray player to boot, but a great many people don’t want the Blu-ray forced on them and Americans reject and distrust the Sony’s trojan horse tactic. Oops!

There are other concerns only gamers and technophiles worry about – the lack of an internal scaler, not all older games are backwards compatible yet, backwards compatible games do experience terrible resolution and anti-aliasing blunders (they look like jagged hell ran over them), and several others – but by and large the PS3 is suffering due to its price and a weak launch. Demand has virtually ground to a halt on these things already, with some of them becoming available in stores and sitting there for hours or days at a time. My friends and I have seen them just sitting in Costco, Target and other retail stores. I overheard a gamestop employee saying they got in 6 and it took days to sell them all. There is a fairly high return rate as ebay sellers aren’t making the killing they thought they would and are returning the consoles! There was a strong launch with people going mad over the ebay possibilities, but it seems the hardcore buyers have already dwindled…

I originally had thought that the Xbox 360 would sell strongly because people looking for PS3s (which I presumed would be completely unavailable) would instead opt for the 360, but instead the reverse is true… Many people are ignoring the PS3s (which are occasionally available) and opting for the much cheaper 360 anyway! Though the Wii is still in ridiculously high demand and fully unavailable.

So I’ve run on long enough, so to wrap up those are my predictions. We can see how it all fares in the long run, but I think so far the market has demonstrated that my assumptions will play out predictably. As for why I think both HD formats will lose, this article sums it up nicely. However I think he is expecting too much of PS3 sales and in light of recent events it seems likely that a bunch of people won’t in fact be accidentally buying blu-rays…

Anyway in my next post I’ll probably tackle something more controversial, like evolution vs. creationism. Until then. Peace.

-Mike

Oh and while you’re at it, check out my friend’s website: GoSasa for Free Classified Ads.