Friday, April 30, 2004

Why smart guys are dangerous
They make ya think. That's the short answer. What? More? Ok, being sort of a smart guy myself, I can tell you how dangerous thinking is. Sometimes this can shake you to your very foundations, which one of my favorite smart guys, Steven Den Beste did the other day when I was looking for something interesting to read (and he never disappoints.) Anyway, I found this article on Noah's Y chromosome which is a very good article, but really was a shattering blow to my worldview. Since my beliefs include the idea that the bible is what it claims to be, a collection of books written over a period of about 1600 years by 40 or so writers, but ultimately inspired by one author... I take the story of Noah and the ark very seriously, but like any story from any source, the truth behind the story should not conflict with available evidence. Except for the fact that if all sources completely agree this perversely actually reduces the credibility of a story, but I'm not going to go into that here. Well, SDB came up with a whopper of a confliction which boils down to this... if the story is true then all men would have the exact same Y chromosome... they don't, therefore they aren't... and the story is false. Since I'm just an ignorant laymen, I didn't know what to think. I needed time and research and some quiet thought to resolve this issue for myself.

It turns out that one premise of this article is not entirely true. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes made up of genes. Only one pair, the X-Y chromosomes, determine gender. Your mother only has an X-X pair, so you get a X from her. Your father has an X-Y pair... if he gave you your X chromosome, you are a girl, if he gave you your Y chromosome, you are a boy. Generally the chromosomes you get from your parents either come from one or the other, and each is copied entirely and so are identical to the parent that supplied it. If this were always true, SDB's argument would be flawless and would entirely impeach the biblical account of Noah... and further would impeach the account of Adam in the process.

Now let me tweak an evolutionist for a moment... suppose they want to play devil's advocate (although how they would top Keanu I don't know) they might argue that mutations would do the trick... ok, back to reality... no mutations have nothing to do with it.

Instead, the answer is that you don't always get exact copies of a parents chromosome... sometimes the biological process that copies the chromosome allows for swapping of some genes between parents to occur... which is to say, the Y chromosome that boys get from their father can sometimes have a gene or two from their mother. Would this account for the genetic diversity we see in the world today? I don't know, but the four wives in the ark story appear to have diverse genetics to contribute.

See how dangerous this thinking thing can be?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Nuke the UN! Oil for Fraud

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

What is it with The State Department?

Monday, April 26, 2004

...Evil Alter Ego Takes Over...

Battle in Fallujah
"Afterward, a cheering mob of Iraqis looted their wrecked Humvees..." Everytime I hear about a cheering mob it reminds me of the aftermath of America Attacked 9/11/2001 when the mobs cheered then. These vermin need to be exterminated, every last cockroach. Because some people are not part of the mob (and only because of this) I would give the city three days of warning, then I think a nuke would send the right message. Nobody is going to continue living in Falujah. Then we warn the next city...

We could just bulldoze the place... but I think a little radioactive decay would do wonders for the place. Let the world be shocked, with all the bullshit spewing forth from various places a little shock therapy would be good for them. We're the craziest people on the planet... we need these bugs to understand they are messing with a force of nature. Every time they stick a finger in the socket we should chop it off at the shoulder.

...Effects of Touch Tone Phone Menu Which Prevents Me From Cancelling a Bill for Service Begins to Wear Off...

I still say we nuke 'em.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

This is evolution?...Unique Calf
Seems more like an off switch didn't get thrown to me.

Confession time
I have made a promise to myself that no matter what stupid or foolish things I put on my blog I would not delete any posts. I was tempted to do so with my post about my wife coming home. A husband should never say negative things in public about his wife. Although the collapse of the Soviet Union had reversed her fortunes considerably, she is not used to the poor life that I provide. With my age and experience I should be earning twice or more of what I currently do. It will never happen at the mom and pop company I currently work for. Unlike 99.99...% of the world, I never gave the accumulating of money and things a high priority. Over the years I've giving away anything I've had, mostly to strangers. I have one sister (of my four) that is like that. She doesn't have much of a life these days either.

My wife does not love me, but it is for a good reason, a very common reason... it is nearly impossible to love someone as fat as I am unless you've had the time to grow to love me... to see the person inside. When I met my wife in Istanbul, I was over 500 lbs. and I am not much less than that today. She was in a desperate situation and I was her hero. I am not such a hero today.

People talk about quality of life, but I doubt they have any understanding of what it means. People are oblivious. They will argue that they are not, but at the same time their actions will prove their words to be a lie. Even fat people don't understand the severe lowering of the quality of life for those that are fatter. I can't really imagine what it would be like to be bed ridden or stuck in a wheelchair even though I am close to both. It's also interesting the level of anger that people direct at the obese... as if being fat is something we want to be in addition to being some kind of insult to those that aren't.

One day my wife will have the legal right to stay in this country without needing me. I do not doubt that she will leave me when she can. So our lives will change again. I lived many years alone, but now if I live at all I think I will be much easier to be alone... not desirable, but easier to do.

I have good qualities, but also some that are not. I enjoy playing poker and sometimes I lose. This is not an easy thing to live with. Usually I can play for many hours (even days) and go home with sometimes more and sometimes less what I sit down with, several thousands on some occasions... yes, in either direction. One year I did not have a single losing day, but that hasn't been the case since. I admit, some days my winnings were only $40, but it still counts. I could probably do that again if I were to limit my winnings, but I haven't made the decision to do that.

If you plot the number of chips over time it is a sawtooth waveform, which is to say a relatively steady decline punctuated by a rapid climb followed by the same with the longterm trend being downward because the house takes a rake of every pot. You have to be a fairly good player to overcome the rake if you sit at a table for any length of time. I can sit at a table with only $100 and play actively for 30 hours or more. I know how rare this is because I hardly ever leave a table with the same people I sat down with, 95% will break before that time although some do seem to be more consistant in staying.

But I'm talking history mostly, I haven't played poker except for once in the last 3 months (I won $201) which is since coming to live with my wife. She does not approve.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Wife is Home...

She calls it prison. Her mother cried when she had to leave Sevastopol for her flight. I picked her up at SFO last night. I must be a nice guy. I found out last night that I bought her a nice little mink coat... $1200. This morning I find out I still owe $300. Oh, and the cost to use Western Union to send it... that came out of my wallet this morning.

Did I mention I may be losing my job? Yeah, I mentioned it to her before she bought this coat. You can't say we're not a team... I get the paycheck, she spends it. I'm 45 and have about ten cents saved for my retirement. On the other hand, I just passed a licensing exam with the state so perhaps my next life will be new, exciting and as interesting as has been my past.

Her mother cried because my wife is going back to that prison...

Friday, April 23, 2004

Pat Tillman Killed in Afghanistan defending your freedom.

...and then comes the media circus... disgraceful... others fight for your freedom as well.

I think this says it well.

Money May Corrupt
But does anyone doubt that the corrupt are particularly attracted to the money?

The Ethically Challenged Elite... French Journalists

This is a really simple one. If you participate in a criminal or terrorist activity, you are a criminal or terrorist. If you are doing it for the money, you are also a pimp. No excuses apply. There are no qualifications that change this basic fact. If you think there are, you are confused... seek help.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

A new kind of draft... Rand directs attention to this interesting perspective on the idea of reinstating the draft.

Why are people calling for a new draft? It's hard to avoid the conclusion that it's pure political B.S. It may even be an indication those calling for this are dangerous enemies of this country. Why is that? Simply because nobody today could argue that the American military isn't an effective fighting force. Anyone therefore, suggesting we reinstate the draft would risk damaging that capability. How could any other suggested purpose be more important than that? Especially since the only direction things could go is from the most effective fighting force is to something less effective.

There does appear to be a need for a larger military simply for the reason that we are demanding too much from too few... and they certainly deserve better, including the respect for the difficult job they do so well, but also rotation back to their families. Some say we need to increase pay to entice more to volunteer; however, today's volunteers are doing it because they want to defend this country knowing full well it isn't the path to riches. Do we really want people in the military whose motivation is money rather than dedication? Would today's soldiers want to fight along side them?

The solution presents itself when we realize that their are two aspect of this fight that need to be addressed... Military battle actions and it's aftermath which are police actions. There is nothing wrong with our ability to wage military actions and we shouldn't change it. Suggesting we risk doing so is tantamount to sedition. Well, what about a new branch of service that consists of a police force that we can send to relieve the military after it has done it's job?

In the type of war we are in, sedition is a very real problem. I believe that many people have stepped over the line that separates free speech from sedition. Here's an area that could use a draft and the beauty is the result is likely to be good regardless of how people react to it... if they run to Canada... good. If they get arrested... good again. If they accept their term of service and training, also good because the military can then get it's well earned relief. Hmmm... so is there a down side? I'm thinking we start filing charges of sedition and those convicted become draftees!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

It seems so simple when this guy says it... the RANT:: Your Enumeration Station

Two parties only? The Degeneration of the Democratic Party
This country always seems to like keeping things to two main parties. So if a third party is to grow, one of the main parties must wither.

The funny thing is, most people don't like the two main parties, but every other appears wacko. I'm wondering if the GOP might become two parties, with those that understand the meaning to the 9th amendment and those that continue to ignore it.

Baldilocks talks about evil
Who was it that said something like, "the only thing it takes for evil to win is for good people to do nothing?"

Monday, April 19, 2004

Something offensive in this tone?... The future of Weblogging - Nico Macdonald
To paraphrase (starting after the 2nd page heading, Hard Work), the author of this article says, regardless of the source, we need more journalists and then lists what the author apparently thinks bloggers lack... interviews with people, research and reason, along with of course, a boring introduction.

While I agree that journalists should be more professional (oh, it didn't say that exactly, huh?) I think the other bases are covered; but I wonder, why is it not good enough that bloggers each have their own personal reason for wanting to blog?

Well, no matter, the author is presenting us with the future of blogging so we'd better just sit up and pay attention.

Blogging doesn't support storytelling, a pillar of journalism... hm, imagine that?

Getting a perspective is difficult... why certainly! Isn't it a good thing bloggers have so many?

Oh, the problem to "manage and use this profusion of information" is a blog issue, rather than a more general issue I suppose? ...an interesting viewpoint. Ah, I see now... the search engines aren't designed to handle the dynamic hypertext aspect of things (by directing you to some appropriate page that is not a blog) when the page count goes up (what with people not linking to just the right authoritive source, rather than willy, nilly to whatever tickles their fancy.)

Blogs are hard to get oversight of... is this a disadvantage? Well, from the perspective of a control freak, I guess it would be?

In the absence of of a large number of publishers (meaning editors to control things I presume) perhaps bloggers should implement some technology to control themselves. It wouldn't be prudent to leave it up to the individual to decide the content and presentation of the material they publish... no, no, this wouldn't do at all?

I guess we can't get rid of the control freaks... I personally like order, I just don't like being ordered... some people don't seem to understand the difference or why this might seem offensive. I like technology too, I just don't want to be controlled by it. What is it about this apparent lack of control that makes some people so nervous? Perhaps Maxwell and 99 can explain this chaos verses control issue to me better. I'm simply not that smart, I suppose.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Gas prices fall below 6 cents per gallon...Ok, it's not about oil
I remember hearing of the price being about 6 cents per gallon about six months ago, but this article reports "Petrol costs around one cent a litre in Iraq." Meanwhile, here in California I pay over $2 per gallon.

This is just wrong... but for a more balanced perspective than mine... The Price of Gasoline 2

Chain of Evidence (part one) A discussion of Evolution They never talk about a rope of evidence. This is the type of thought I have after a long hard day, when I lie down, but can't go to sleep! In our adversarial legal system the defense will often portray evidence to be like a chain, so that all they have to do to save their client is to show that a single link is broken. The prosecution on the other hand, will try to liken the evidence to a rope of many threads, so that even if a single thread of evidence is torn apart, the rest will be enough to convict. Interestingly, in science, they rely on chains of evidence; but in life, both for faith and fraud, they much prefer ropes.

Fraud and Faith - the deceivers and the believers... I note that religion and evolution have a lot in common in this regard. Whether you believe in a creator or not, it's easy to see the rampant fraud found in many religions. I have an even stricter view. I believe there is only one Truth and that deviation from that truth indicates fraud. So either there is one true religion or there are none. If there are two teachings that disagree, the only possibility is that one or both are wrong... they can't both be right. However, the Truth can be misunderstood and misrepresented, but still be the truth. So you might be on the right path, but be distracted by things that don't lead to an ultimate understanding.

Evolution has it's various branches of believers too. Not everyone that believes in evolution believes the same thing. While perhaps most would say there is no creator, others make allowances that a creator could exist and some go further, saying a creator had an active part in directing evolution to a small or greater extent. Again, you have your true believers and your despicable deceivers. Frauds and hoaxes are a well known embarrassment for true believers in the history of the theory of evolution. Believers would like to point to the rope of evidence, generally avoiding the weak threads; However for most science, which is a search for Truth, the historically preferred point of view is that of unbreakable chains, where a rigorous proof is made up of many links, all testable by experimentation.

The author of The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins, appears to be a sincere believer in orthodox evolution theory, which makes no room for the possibility of a creator. His sincerity is evidenced by his willingness to examine a wide range of points under contention concerning the theory and presenting generally sound expressions for his point of view. However, I did detect what I consider to be a serious weakness in some of his arguments.

In his book he gives two examples that are computer algorithms in the chapter titled, 'Accumulating Small Change.' Both are intended to be impressive, but I found them both to be seriously flawed (perhaps because algorithms are my life, being a programmer by trade.) Interestingly, he even admits to their flaws, perhaps to take away from his eventual detractors, but doesn't really press the negative argument. Here are my thoughts for whatever they are worth...

He starts by addressing what is known as the monkeys at the typewriter argument. This is an argument based on the fact that a biological molecule is so complex that a random chain of elements will never, in the life of the universe, ever come about by chance. The argument goes, that even an extreme example of a much simpler thing, a single sentence from the works of Shakespeare, if left to chance, is also as unlikely to be produced in the life of the universe, let alone a complete work, which itself is much less complicated than any living thing. But what happens if we remove some element of chance, which is analogous to what natural selection is suppose to do for us? It's magic! Now instead of forever, it takes only 41 to 64 iterations to produce the desired phrase. Is this a true representation of what natural selection can do for us? In a word, no.

The point of the argument the author makes is that there is a difference between single-step selection, which is governed by chance and can be shown beyond any reasonable doubt to never happen, and cumulative selection, which by the process of natural selection, is like a ratcheting mechanism that prevents the chaos of chance that absolutely would refute evolution. The argument apparently being that no chance is involved, since all random mutations are likely to occur and natural selection will cause those that are viable to be safely locked in to the next iterative step.

The author himself admits to one flaw of this argument. Interestingly, this flaw goes to the heart of his argument (even being in the title of his book) that there is no designer. He honestly points out that the example he gives is misleading. Each step of the iteration is judged based on an ideal target. In other words, the algorithm was designed to work. This is a serious flaw if you are arguing against a designer being necessary.

The second flaw of this first argument is sort of a sin of omission. The problem is that the example he uses glosses over some very real difficulties when you try to map this analogy to the real thing. The problem is viability. In the example he starts with a random group of 28 letters from which the target sentence is to be derived. This is an example of single-step selection if this chain represents a viable entity. Is this chain of letters suppose to represent a viable living thing or be analogous to the prebiotic soup we used to hear about? Or perhaps the clay crystals theory which is more in vogue these days (since the prebiotic soup theory has been pretty well discredited.)

It seems to me this example is being used to address both arguments; that cumulative selection ultimately leads to a viable molecule and that once that point is reached other molecules can be evolved from the original. Clearly this example can not be used to suggest an analogy to going from one viable form of life to another, because to do so would require that each iterative step along the way also be a gramatically correct sentence, which is clearly not the case. Could it represent the steps from prebiotic to biological molecule? Well if you stretch it a lot, perhaps, but then you have to address the issue of chemically stable intermediate molecules (or cumulative selection goes out the window) and the jury is still out on that one. Proponents of evolution say that given enough time, not only is it probable, but that it's certain. This argument can be addressed mathematically, although I would not presume to do so (not being a mathematician, I leave that to others more qualified... then I try to google 'em.)

The second example he gives, and appears quite proud of, is a demonstration of emergent patterns. Again he introduces a design element (as in creator) in that he makes the algorithm produce symetrical patterns because this maps better to what we often see in nature. The thing that we are suppose to be so awestruck by is the fact that using a very simple iterative procedure, we can end up with pictures that look somewhat like drawings of things we might find in nature or produced by man. Ok, it's cool in a geeky sort of way. However, it reminds me of the cartoon version of evolution where they morph from one animal to another. While suggestive, those cartoons do not provide any support what-so-ever for the theory of evolution. Neither does his little computer program. Can complicated things arise from simple algorithms? Of course they can. Does this give evidence of evolution? Only in the minds of those that are predisposed to believe it in the first place. This is cloud watching folks, not science.

So have I thoroughly demolished the premise of the book? Not at all, but I do hope I have presented a reasonable alternate view that is worthy of consideration. I believe evolution to be a fraud, but leave it up to others to either prove or disprove. I believe in science because I find comfort in a chain of evidence. I believe in a creator because I've spent a good part of my life examining the rope. But painting pretty pictures will never convince me of the theory of evolution... I want the facts ma'am, just the facts.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Ignorance is not a dirty word, but malfeasance is.
Yesterday I got this book in the mail and all I can say is WOW!

As a citizen of this country I have to trust to some degree, along with the rest of my fellow citizens and residents, that public officials will look out for my interests. When I read the constitution, certain parts seem pretty clear to me. One that seems really clear is the 9th Amendment. But it turns out that those we trust to protect our rights are not deserving of that trust. They have basically made this amendment void, or as the author puts it, "Had judges done their job, this book would not need to be written."

What are you're rights? Some would say they are whatever the government says they are, but the 9th amendment refutes that. The presumption of liberty is that no rights of ANY KIND can be denied you by the government unless it is 'necessary and proper' (in order to protect some of those same rights in other citizens.) The courts decide what is necessary and proper and must give the benefit of the doubt in the direction of liberty.

The other issue is that by listing (enumerating) your rights, it makes it seem that those rights are more important than rights that are not spelled out. While it's true that some rights may be more important and that specifying them helps to defend them, it also has the side effect that other rights are lost without anybody even being aware of it. This is what the courts are suppose to protect us from, but if they assume that what isn't written doesn't exist, then they aren't going to protect us and that's been what's been slowly happening since the founding of this country.

It's easy to sound like a whack job when discussing this issue, but it really is of significant importants to the protection of rights that our founding fathers assumed so implicitly they didn't even feel the need to discuss it much. I'm simply amazed at my ignorance and the fact that a general ignorance leads to a tyranical state which was not only never intended, but actually feared with vigilance because our founders clearly saw examples of it in their day.

Everybody should get and read this book... especially those that make our laws.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Who's at fault? For the 9/11 misdirected hatred and stupidity occuring these days?

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

JOB ONE for any president is National Security

Monday, April 12, 2004

Another angle on the private Russian Mars venture... $5 billion Mars mission of Russian oligarchs

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Now that's the spirit, but can they do it?
Russians plan Mars reality TV show
Wouldn't it be something if they pulled this off? What about NASA then?

Will computers ever think?
I'm taking a break from reading to do a little read... uh, surfin'. This article asks the question... "Did the Ruy Lopez exist before its 16th-century namesake started playing it?" Ruy Lopez is a set of opening moves in chess named after a man that may have first played them. Before you can answer that question you must specify what is meant by exist. First, it's pretty obvious that to exist as a thought is an entirely different thing from existing as a physical object. Second, that the concept certainly exists separate from the word used to describe it. I think another question would help clarify the answer... Does the number 12 exist before somebody gave it a name? If a man says something in the woods and his wife is not there to hear it, is he still wrong? My answer is, absolutely, the concept of 12 exists the same as the concept of the 12th number after the largest number ever conceived by man (note that when I say man rather than a man I'm referring to humanity) even if nobody ever bothers to consider it's existance. Of course, I'm not offering any proof, that's just my biased opinion.

The question of computer thought was put to me one day over 30 years ago when I was riding in the back of my scoutmaster's van along with an airman we were giving a ride to from the base. The airman was definitely sure that computers would be expressing thoughts in no time at all. I considered both sides of the argument, but finally said, no... while a computer might do something that appeared to be like thinking, I don't think a computer will itself ever think. My scoutmaster happened to be a psychiatrist in the Air Force which might have made that question interesting to him. Years later I read Penrose and was comforted to find someone of his thinking ability agreeing with me. Now however, I still have my nagging doubts, coming from all places the bible! There's a scripture talking about the confusion of languages in Babel which says that if men were not confused nothing would be unattainable for them. I interpret this to mean that God has endowed us with his own god-like qualities. I'm not sure where this thought leads...

Wonderful Ironies fill the book Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life which I'm reading. I'm about a third of the way through it and thoroughly enjoying it. It's more philosophical than the previous book I reported on, using evolution more as a subtext to the discussion. He uses the concept of universal acid (no, not that kind of acid, hippies may go back to sleep now) to lead to the thought he expresses that Darwin teaches us about the unity of design space... which is an expansion of the philosophical argument that things we learn in math are discovered rather than created (concepts don't depend on a particular inventor, somebody will eventually come along to discover the same thing another person might have.) Although he does mention in the preface that basically he's not going to be making a rigorous proof of anything in this book; I was still struck by the thought that taking a philosophical discussion approach is a lot like going full circle back to Plato... We don't need no stinkin' experiments, we can think this thing through. This is a book that needs to be examined piece by piece and I look forward to discovering how the author ties it all together. Next weekend I hope to make some more specific comments about elements in the book.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Which evolves faster: gas prices or book costs?
I went to the bookstore in Modesto to pick up a few books. The books were cheap, but the price of gas ($2.05 per gallon) certainly wasn't. I picked up the two books suggested by Rand for my enlightenment (I think evolution is a fraud dressed up like real science... others disagree.) I also ordered the book I've been wanting, Restoring the Lost Constitution : The Presumption of Liberty, since they didn't have it in stock and discovered that it was about $8 cheaper to buy it that way. It will be mailed to my home. I used to spend a few hundred dollars every visit to the bookstore, and visited often, but that all changed after I got married. Buying books now is a very rare treat. I have plenty to read on the internet though.

I was pleasantly surprised by 'The Blind Watchmaker.' Frankly, I was expecting I'd be wasting money on a dry text full of old arguments, but this book is a well written narrative of old arguments. Yes, I'm not finding much I haven't read before, but it's presented in interesting ways and has a refreshing honesty that is often missing when some argue the evolutionary case. He does make a lot of the typical naked assertions that people that believe in evolution seem not to notice and people that don't have to wince and get past.

Now I freely admit that I don't understand evolution theory in totality or even as much as some proponents do... I'm not a biologist, or chemist, or any other type of scientist for that matter, but I do have some limited thinking abilities. In any case, this is what I got out of the first book...

The first two chapters suggest good stuff to follow, but does present the irksome thought that the reason why evolution is counter intuative is that we mere humans can't really appreciate the time involved. Personally, I have no problem with conceiving the Earth to being 4.5 billion years old and can accept for the sake of argument that life existed on this planet for 3 billion years.

The third and fourth chapters establishes that the argument will be classical (small changes and natural selection result in evolution.) In chapter nine he says that gradualists don't exist, were invented by punctuationist and that punctuationist are actually gradualists. Hey, I thought it was funny. He also makes the good point that people that believe in punctuated equilibrium are often confused with saltationists, which is a thoroughly discredited belief in single generation major changes. Now the reason anybody came up with the punctuation theory at all was because of the fossil record. The author says the fossil record shows what we should expect because what is being interpreted as an evolutionary event is actually a migrational event. He doesn't provide any evidence other than conjecture for this assertion and this doesn't jive with my mental picture of the fossil record, but it certainly could be true. For me the serious part of this chapter and most interesting was the discussion of rate of change being either variable or constant, but the author doesn't really go into the implications here.

In chapter five the author says, "...mutation is, ultimately, the only way in which new variation enters the species." and in chapter seven, "Natural selection may only subtract, but mutation can add."

I agree with these statements. Notice the author distinguishes mutation from natural selection which others often seem to confuse. My question is what happens when we closely examine what kinds of new variations are added by mutations and does this result in evolution?

In chapter 10 we find that the real party animals of evolution are the taxonomists. The author is solidly in the camp of bifurcators that believe only one true tree matches the tree of life... How could I disagree with this since children are born from parents? It makes perfect sense to me.

Not until the 11th and final chapter does the author make a statement I categorically disagree with. Referring to Lamarckian theory (I'd forgotten the name) he says... "It is not possible to prove that acquired characteristics are never inherited." Yes it is, it's quite simple. Acquired traits are things physically changing the body but not it's genetics. Inheritance comes through genetics. Case closed... but wait, what about lungs of mountain people? Well that would be classical natural selection because those with greater lung capacity are the ones likely to live long enough and stay to breed at altitude... no mystery.

I never knew there was such a group as mutationists, that don't believe in natural selection. Here the author and I ask the same question, "...[If] mutation, without selection, is the driving force of evolution... explain how [do] mutations tend to be for the better?" The implication, rightly so, is that mutations, those that are viable and inheritable because no other has any impact on evolution, are bad generally (and arguably always.)

So how did I like the book overall? Was I enlightened? I enjoyed it. It was well written for the most part and minor quibbles I have don't detract from the authors case... The author makes the case that DNA is a recipe rather than a blueprint... ok, I'd rather think of it as a digital code which the author himself says it is. Is digital code more congruent with blueprint or recipe? I don't know, I could make a case for either, but I don't think it advances the discussion of evolution.

I didn't find anything particularly new in the book, which was both a pleasant surprise and a disappointment. First because I'm not a ignorant as I supposed, but second because I really like to have my beliefs challenged... This book didn't do that. What it did do is boldly cover a variety of topics that other evolutionists seem to avoid and I really like that. It will go on my bookshelf.

Now I have the second book to read. My expectation is that it won't provide new evidence to refute what I believe, but I don't know that yet. However if it doesn't, which is my assumption, then I will follow with an attempt to make my thoughts clear as to the major flaw I see with the evolution argument.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The search for Truth
My brain is so wired tonight I don't know if I'll be able to sleep, but I must because I have work in the morning and have an early meeting to attend. But I have one last thought to share before I nod off to sleep.

My world view is filled with pieces of evidence that don't fit. Little nagging things that I have yet to resolve. Some of these things have bothered me for years, even decades. What bothers me is I don't see this in other people. Do they have these nagging thoughts that won't go away? Or are they all so sure of themselves as they appear? The good thing is, this isn't one of those nagging issues for me... so off to sleep I go.

Feeling like Elvis...I'm all worked up... uh huh huh
Next saturday, for sure, I'm going to Barnes and Noble in Modesto to pick up some books... gotta call them tomorrow to make sure they hold copies for me.

Er wait, maybe I'm Mel Gibson? Conspiracy Theory, anyone? VR (a real for goodness sakes, rocket scientist!) suggests that I believe Evolution to be some kind of conspiracy. No actually, I believe Hollywood to be some kind of conspiracy. I believe Evolution to be a delusion grasped at by people that want to deny the existance of a creator. Sorry, I was being facetious. While I believe in a creator, I don't believe Evolutionist to be delusional... any more so than the rest of us.

Sometimes people argue over terms, which is a fruitless argument. I think it's pretty simple, the genetic code defines a living thing in a physical way (all parts being written down is how it's put biblically.) The source of this blueprint comes from parentage. Errors do occur and can also be introduced later. Some of these errors can be passed on and are viable. Evolutionist say this can result in new species and may even claim to have documented such a thing. I disagree. No one in my lifetime of 45 years, and this includes at least one friend that specialized in the field (a brilliant black doctor of biology that I believe studied some in Germany) has ever provide me with conclusive evidence of such a thing. Nor have I read of such a thing in any book (although I do admit to being bored to tears by some of the text I've read.)

I do remember a friend telling me he once saw someone produce life in a laboratory from inanimate chemicals, but I didn't give that story much credence.

Now I know the normal definition of natural selection includes the passing of genetic errors, but every example I've ever heard has been simple parentage... the pepper moth is a classic example. Nobody claims the coloration came from genetic errors. So is this an example of natural selection or is it not? If it is then genetic error has nothing to do with it, if not, then it's a bad example.

Is my education way out of date? Of course it is, I don't specialize in this field. But that's a pretty lousy argument for evolutionist to make... you're not part of the club, so your opinion doesn't matter. Of course, my opinion doesn't matter... facts matter... So let's hear some facts... [silence]

Perhaps those books will hold the answers?

Did I put myself into a box?Rand responds to my curiosity
My wife says that money in my hands is like water, meaning I spend it too freely. It's true. So I've given her 90 days to prove she could do a better job. I must say, the pearl necklace and earings she bought look wonderful and I'm sure she will have lots to tell me after the month she spends in Sevastopol visiting her parents. I'm just a poor programmer... really, I don't get paid enough. When I lost my job about a year ago and left the state for another, I closed all my bank accounts here. Except for a joint account, now that I think about it. I'd have to drive seventy miles to get to the branch... which I can't do during the week when I work... and I don't know if they are open on weekends?

How does this relate to putting myself in a box, you ask? Ok, you didn't... it's rhetorical. Anyway, it has to do with my previous post on evolution. Rand asserts that I "do not understand evolution." I'd have to agree with him if he's speaking in totality; however, I would plead that I do have some understanding. In any case, he recommended that I read two books... 'The Blind Watchmaker' by Dawkins, and 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea' by Dennett. My reply was that in the interest of avoiding a fruitless argument, something I know Rand appreciates, that I'd read these two books before responding any further. Otherwise, he's right, I'd be responding to an argument that has already been made and settled. What I really like is that these books are not expensive, but I still have to see what my account situation is before I can order them from Amazon. I've been keeping about $20 back from my paycheck and depositing the rest in my wife's account. I don't have access to that account and I just bought gas (over $2 a gallon here in California, sheesh.) I've been rich and I've been poor... rich is better.

Anyway, in the same breath I said... I am curious as to what aspect of my post indicates my misunderstanding of evolution?

So dear readers (of which I'm pretty sure there are none) do I respond to his points or wait until some future time in which I have been enlightened? Yer right! The point of this blog is to see how often I can fit my little foot into my big mouth! ;) Here goes...

Ken - Many people have applied probability to this question and the results are not good for the theory of evolution.

Rand - No one has applied probability to that question in a way that has any relevance to the theory of evolution, since natural selection is not a random process.

I expect these books of enlightenment will correct my view, but I do take some exception to this statement on a number of points. I agree that natural selection is not a random process (well, not completely random at least) but as I have already stated, natural selection is insufficient in itself to result in any form of evolution. Natural selection, when you remove the mumbo jumbo, is just another name for breeding. Whether that breeding process is the result of a struggle to survive in an environment or through animal husbandry, it remains and always will be, simply a loaded term for the concept of breeding. The term 'Natural Selection' carries semantic baggage that makes it obscure the fact that it is nothing more. Why can I say definitively that it is nothing more? I say it because abundant evidence exists to show that without genetic modification (which is why the fruit fly experiments were conducted in the first place) breeding does not produce a new kind of animal.

[INTERLUDE] In the dark ages of my fifth grade, they showed us a film whereby giraffes with longer necks were naturally selected. Sounded like a breeding process to me then... and still does. [/end]

I said kind rather than species because, species is not a rigorous definition (making catalogs does not rigor produce) whereas I do have a rigorous definition of kind. Kind is that which results from breeding... cats produce cats, horses produce horses, and birds produce birds... these are kinds... when you get to things like mules, you've reached the limits of a kind because they can no longer breed. This is a rigorous definition which can be tested simply by doing.

Now if you accept the concept that natural selection also requires genetic modification (and if you don't, how do you explain new features which require new code. If you say it's just there in the 'junk' DNA you need to carefully rethink that, because that doesn't fly either.) then this genetic modification from whatever source is a random event and therefore is subject to analysis as such.

Rand - I suspect ... that most of your knowledge of evolution comes from flawed criticism of it.

Actually no, these are my own unoriginal thoughts (is that a paraducks or what?) based on popular publications like Scientific America and others that have tried to explain things like genetics to uninformed laymen like myself. I read a lot, not just popular publications, but even those actual journals of science that various organizations publish... I admit, I do not always understand the details but I do have a curious desire to understand many things. I'm of the belief that people that truly do understand things, generally are able to communicate those ideas in laymens terms (not withstanding some esoteric math proofs.) I've always believed that truth does not depend on authority but is capable of standing on it's own. It's that damned INTJ thing again.

Rand - Also, the Galapagos finches were geographically isolated enough, and had short enough generation time, to provide enough isolated generations to allow them to speciate. Humans have never seen similar conditions, despite the differences in "races."

Little Ol' Me - This last statement is just dripping with bias (and certainly represents the orthadox evolutionary view)...

First is the problem of what is a species... the Nazi's certainly had an answer for this question, but I can't say that I agree with them. Putting that aside, saying that humans have never had similar conditions is an easy and unworthy argument. Finches do breed faster than humans, ya got me on that one. However, the isolation argument falls flat... are humans not isolated to a single planet with many environmental niches?

What makes them different species? Darwin said, diet and shape of beak. Humans don't have beaks, but the variety of shapes they come in is astounding. I'd wager real money (even as poor as I am) that the human diet is much more diversified than that of finches, counting every variety of bird on the planet. So I challenge you, are humans one species or many?

I say, birds is birds... which is to say, through animal husbandry I'm sure many new and exotic beak shapes could be developed and you'd still have a finch.

If you came here first, I do recommend you check out the Tranterrestrial Musings link... Rand inspired me to start this blog and I greatly respect the effort he puts into his blog... I only wish I could do the same.

Education and Evolution
Rand always seems to attract good comments at his blog (then again, also my comments :) )...Double Standards These are comments on the comments..

"Although there are vigorous arguments among biologists about many aspects of neo-Darwinism, teachers aren't informed about those scientific debates, ignoring guidance from the U.S. Congress in 2001 that "where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist."

Amazing, something congress did that I can fully support. I think a curriculum should expose children to opposing viewpoints as well as contradictory evidence (at an age when they are ready for it) as I believe this leads to better thinking abilities as they grow to be adults.

Now here I have to disagree with Rand... "Equally disingenuous is the clearly implied notion that ... the theory of evolution itself is shaky and not fully accepted by the scientific community, when in fact such arguments are arguments over details..."

Not always are they just details, sometimes they are fundamental to the very foundation of evolutionary theory. Pooh-pooing is not a scientific method, regardless of the stature of the pooh-er.

Eric says..."It is all too often taught as a FACT, to the detriment of teaching kids the scientific method."

This is exactly what I remember from my school days (back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.) I think he's nailed it.

Mike Daily suggest that "Origin of Species" in the title of Darwins work suggests he meant creation of life (if I am interpretting Mike correctly.)

Technically I think Darwin really did mean origin of species (one from another) rather than origin of life (it's creation) but it's still an interesting point. Modern evolutionist have pretty much given up on trying to prove that life spontaneously occured from random chemical actions. Today you are more likely to hear from a biologist that life evolved with direction after a god created it. If they just can't stand the idea of a god, they replace god with some other mechanism (deferring the issue to avoid it.)

Mike says, "I have never seen nor heard of any proof of the creation of a species." To which Rand asks... "Mike, what would constitute such "proof," and how reasonable is it to expect to see it in a human lifetime? Sorry, but inference from facts and logic are the best we can do."

I'd like to know the answer to that one myself. How is proof defined? A fact is something that can be independantly and objectively observed and considered an element of truth. Evidence is the collection of facts that support a supposition. Proof seems to be dependant on the field of study. Mathematics, for instance, is an area where rigorous proof is the norm, whereas all other fields seem to have a less rigorous standard of proof. Evolution IMHO seems the most faith based of all the science I've ever come across. Worse, where conflicting evidence is presented, it's ridiculed, ignored and even fraud is used to cover up the truth. Perhaps this happens in other areas of science too (I'm sure to some extent it does since reputations and science go hand in hand) but it seems to this humble observer to be more prevalent in evolution science then anywhere else I've seen. Only UFOlogy has more hoaxes (and I would not consider that a science.)

VR says... "There is direct observation, fossil, physiological and genetic evidence for evolutionary processes, evidence from direct experiments for many of the important processes, evolution in other modes (such as computer programs) and so on. That makes for extremely strong theory."

This deserves a longer answer, but right now I have to pick up my son from the basketball court because I promised to take him out to a movie. More to follow...

I'm back. We went to see 'Walking Tall.' The story in this remake with 'The Rock' did not seem as developed as the original. The best scene for me was the jury scene, but even then you didn't get the full force of the community feeling that led to the verdict. I was definitely left with the impression that Sheriff Pusser was an angry moron with a good heart. Kind of reminded me of myself. Anyway, back on topic...

To respond to VR's comment that evolution is an 'extremely strong theory' has to address the problem of bias. The collection of evidence involves bias and the interpretation of the evidence involves bias. Part of what the scientific method is supposed to accomplish is to remove much of that bias, but it can never remove it all (or there would be no debate.)

When you look at the fossil record, you have evidence, but of what? One thing you have is the apparent explosion of life in certain periods. This leads to the 'puntuated equalibrium' which is at odds with classical evolution. Rand might call this a detail, but if so, it's a pretty major one. Other's might call this a refinement. Personally, I don't see how it either supports or denies evolution.

For me, genetics is the strongest evidence of all. In Darwin's time, cells were a blob of mystery, classical evolution only looked at macro manifestations. He looked at the shape of a finches beak and it's diet and determined that these were different species derived from a common ancestor. I would say, look at the different shapes of humans and their diets (my Russian wife feeds me some strange stuff) and yet they are all of the same species. I don't know about you, but I definitely see a bias here.

I think it's fair to say that natural selection certainly occurs, but by itself is insufficient to account for the supposition of evolution. Pepper moths can go from dark to light and back, but they are still pepper moths; no change has occured in the gene pool other than a skewing of the total population to have certain traits. The missing ingredient genetics requires to support evolution is genetic errors caused various factors, most of which have probably been identified. The key factor here is the presumption that these errors are random. The problem biologist get hit in the face with is that they don't appear to be random. My problem is that even if not random, it still doesn't account for evolution.

I'm a programmer. I write code for a living. People that write code generally have a hard time explaining to people that don't some of the implications of codes. While we still don't know all about how DNA works (how does a cell know what kind it is and organize itself?) we do know that it's a very elegant way of defining the production of the essential molecules that result in a living thing. The code itself seems to be a very simple digital code, relatively easy to understand at some levels. That's the way it is with codes, like an alphabet; which is a very simple array of letters, combined in certain ways to make words and sentences and thoughts.

However, when you randomly add letters, you are not likely to produce many words and the words you do produce are not likely to arrange themselves into sentences; but if by some miracle they did arrange themselves into even a single sentence, they would probably not convey a coherent thought. Many people have applied probability to this question and the results are not good for the theory of evolution.

Others will point to fruit fly experients where generations are irradiated and the results cataloged. What we've learned is that you can mess up the code, some flies will live, but the flies eventually breed back to the original form. The code is self healing. From a software perspective, the results of these experiments are very interesting. What happens is you get thing like extra legs and wings and things. What does this mean if you understand things like a programmer? It means the code for wings and things are not changed. What is changed is the parameters going to that code that tells it how many or when to stop. Not only is this not a dramatic change to the code, but it is evidence to me that whoever wrote the code thinks a lot like many good programmers do. That is, the code is broken down into subroutines. Make no mistake, this is dramatic evidence that the code is not just a random configuration.

But that's my bias. Others would say, 'no, you're wrong. The real interpretation of this evidence is that pieces of code (what I'm calling subroutines) are being passed from one species to another.' Ok... that's a hypothesis... what's the evidence I would ask?

Please, anyone... I'd really like the answer to that one.

Ah, but we are not finished. The next problem is that these experiments did not produce anything new, just deformation of existing structures. Which is exactly the result you expect from the random modification of code. It's hard to get code right. For a human it takes lot's of practice and often a lot of revision. It's easy to write something that doesn't work. While there may be some random elements in the design, it's never, ever the result of chance. Mistakes don't work right and for a living thing, this often means it doesn't live or is unable to reproduce. It never results in something better adapted to an environment. In one case out of millions in the fruit fly experiments, they found a single fly which they claimed was a better adaption (with the provision that the adaption was better for an artificial environment they described which did not exist in nature... this is otherwise known as cooking the books... a true example of bias.)

Saturday, April 03, 2004

How stupid do these politicians thing we are?
September 10 and September 11
Those out to overthrow the current government would have people believe that somehow the current administration is guilty of not paying attention to what's important because they were unable to predict the time and method of an attack pre-emptively. To which I would ask, ok you arrogant pea-brains, where and how now? If you can't say exactly, then your claims are without merit... if you can, then you are guilty, because you either will not prevent it or had something to do with it. So which is it going to be, numb nuts?

Thursday, April 01, 2004

What to do about terrorists?
This article raises the subject, so here's how I see it. The solution to terrorism is to not tolerate it. What? I need to elaborate?

First, make no distinction between terrorists and terrorist sympathizers. When people are dancing in the streets, smiling and cheering an act of terrorisms (or dragging dead bodies through the streets)... they are as guilty as the culprits and should be treated as such... names and photos should be added to the terrorist database pending disposition of their case.

Educating children to become terrorists is an act of terrorism.

Terrorists must be identified and isolated. Any threat must be taken seriously and conclusively dealt with. If within our borders they must either be put to death or expelled from our borders with no right of return. If outside our borders and supporting terrorism, either financially or educationally, they should be targeted. A nation can set it's own policies regarding how to deal with terrorism within it's own borders; however, when they export terrorism, all bets' are off.

Anyone with an inclination to be a terrorist should be afraid to act on that inclination or be dead as a result of a comprehensive policy toward terrorism.

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