Monday, October 12, 2015

Neat Trompe L'Oeil Bike Rack in Sacramento

While visiting my childhood friend, musician & cartoonist Mark Stivers in Sacramento, I spotted this neat bike rack.

Here's what it looks like from one angle. Just an ordinary, but weird, bike rack, in three pieces.

Here's what it looks like from another angle.

According to this page, the rack was designed by Jason A. Silva.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Another Non-Biologist Thinks He Can Teach Biologists About Evolution

It really cracks me up how religious people with no biology training think they have some special insight into evolution that the people who actually study biology somehow haven't figured out.

Granville Sewell, William Dembski, Barry Arrington --- the list goes on and on. And here's another name to add to the list: Steve Laufmann. It shouldn't surprise you that this dolt is published by the Discovery Institute, a group whose fundamental purpose is to confuse the public about evolution.

Laufmann, who claims to be an expert in "information systems", but cannot seem to manage to complete his own web page (check out all the "lorem ipsums" under "The Blog"), has absolutely nothing new to say. It's all the usual claims without evidence, like "Random events cannot create complex information, except in two circumstances: (a) there is some predefined notion of a desirable outcome, and (b) any "positive gains" toward that outcome are protected from random degradation through some external mechanism. Both of these special circumstances require intention, which the physical laws cannot offer." Laufmann clearly doesn't know a damn thing about information, since random events are, in fact, essentially the only source of information, and it doesn't require anything like "a predefined notion of a desirable outcome".

Oh, and if you had any doubts that Laufmann's doubts are based in religion, check out this page, where he is described as a "long-time ministry leader".

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lobby of the Philadelphia Record, early 1940's

Here's a postcard showing the lobby of the Philadelphia Record newspaper building. The card seems to be postmarked 1945, which suggests this photo is from the time that my parents worked there as newspaper reporters. (The couple at the right center even looks a little like them!)

The building still stands, at 317 N. Broad Street, where it is now high-end apartments.

It seems like a beautiful lobby. I wish I could have seen it, and I wish there were a much higher resolution version of this photo. (This one appears to be a colorized black-and-white photo.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

You'll Know Them By Their Love ... and By Their Honesty

From Ed Brayton, we see this appalling video of how "loving" Christians yell at a lesbian couple getting a marriage license in Kentucky.

Yup, you'll know them by their love.

And, in related news, Barry Arrington loves to label those who disagree with him as liars, while providing this gem: "The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most reliably documented events in all of human history."

Yup, more reliably documented than the Battle of Waterloo, the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, the assassination of Lincoln, the invasion of Normandy, the sinking of the Titanic, ...

You'll know them by their honesty.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Robert Marks II: Still Refusing to Reply One Year Later

Wow, has it been a year already? A year ago, I wrote to the illustrious Robert Marks II, asking him about a claim he made: "we all agree that a picture of Mount Rushmore with the busts of four US Presidents contains more information than a picture of Mount Fuji".

No reply.

No reply after three months.

Or six months. (Just an auto-reply.)

Isn't this just typical of creationists? Make wild claims and refuse to back them up when challenged.

Monday, September 07, 2015

They Offer Nothing But Lies, Continued

Here we have the amusing spectacle of Denyse O'Leary offering nothing truthful at all, with regard to speciation.

What is a "species" anyway? If you listen to Darwinblather, you’d never think to ask.

Right you are, Denyse! If evolutionary biologists studied speciation, there would be articles and books about it in the scientific literature, written by prominent Darwinists (and even some philosophers!). But of course, there are no such things. (Don't follow those links, Denyse!)

In short, no one knows.

In short, Denyse doesn't know. I can guarantee she never read Coyne's book.

Look, I (O’Leary for News) am not saying speciation doesn’t occur. I guess so, but don’t really care.

What Denyse O'Leary doesn't know could fill several large stadiums.

James Barham, A Very Confused Philosopher

As you know, I'm very skeptical about the ability of most philosophers to say anything interesting (or even true) about science. Here is yet another example of bad philosophy, this time from James Barham.

Really, I wish anyone who wants to prattle on and on about the deficiencies of Darwinism would take, at the very least, undergraduate courses on the theory of computation and artificial intelligence. It would save a lot of electrons being wasted the way Barham does.

It starts badly, with a claim that the "Darwinian consensus" (whatever that means) is "gradual[ly] crumbling" and that the "official explanation" (no kidding -- like a 9/11 truther, he really says that) "of the nature of living things---and therefore of human beings---that we've all been led to believe in for the past 60 or 70 years turns out to be dead wrong in some essential respects."

Yeah, yeah. We've heard that for more than a hundred years; it's what Glenn Morton called the "longest-running falsehood in creationism".

"The machine metaphor was a mistake---organisms are not machines, they are intelligent agents."

This is precisely the kind of silliness that a good course on the theory of computation could avoid. Why does he think that a machine cannot be an "intelligent agent"?

"For one thing, it [Darwinism] meant that all purpose is an illusion, even in ourselves, which is absurd. We know that is not true from the direct evidence of our own experience."

No, the biological theory of evolution does not mean that "all purpose is an illusion". Trouble results from using the vague word "purpose", which means many things to different people. It is not a concept that has a precise scientific definition (what are the units of "purpose"?), although Barham tries to provide one: he says, "Purpose is the idea that something happens, not because it must tout court, according to physical law, but rather because it must conditionally, in order for something else to happen." Well, that's not what most people mean by purpose, but even so, practically any computer program would exhibit purpose under Barham's definition. And nature is filled with objects that can serve as a basis for computation, including DNA and sandpiles. There is simply no logical barrier at all to computing devices arising through natural processes.

There are a few philosophers who have something interesting to say about evolution, but Barham is not one of them.