Saturday, December 20, 2014

Silly Preview Bug

Here's a silly Preview bug and a work-around. If you know a better work-around, let me know.

Preview is a document viewer and editor for the Mac. One thing it allows is "annotation"; that is, you can take an existing .jpg file (for example) and add things like arrows, rectangles, and so forth. I use the annotation for, among other things, putting red rectangles around parts of articles or papers I'm interested in.

However, it has the following silly bug. If you use Preview to look at a grayscale JPG, and then annotate it by adding color in any form (say, a red rectangle), you'll see the red rectangle as you edit it. However, if you re-open the changed file after saving, you'll find (to your surprise and dismay) that the red rectangle has magically become gray. Apparently Preview is not smart enough to understand that if you add color to a grayscale JPG, you want to save it as color JPG.

I couldn't figure out any way at all to get Preview to behave in the way I expected, and a web search didn't produce any suggestions to fix the problem. So here's a kludge to solve the problem. In a Terminal window, type a line like the following:

convert inputfile.jpg -colorspace HSL outputfile.jpg

This uses ImageMagick to change the file, which you can then use Preview to annotate and get the expected behavior. Oddly enough, for some reason I don't understand, using "RGB" in place of "HSL" doesn't work.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Groundless Annual Ritual of ID Self-Congratulation

As each year draws to a close, we can expect being treated to the annual ritual of self-congratulation by intelligent design advocates. Why, they have accomplished so much in the last year! The movement is simply overflowing with ideas! And honest, god-fearing people! And real scientists! And publishing successes! Not at all like those dogmatic, liberal, communistic, intolerant, censoring, Nazi-like evolutionists!

2014 is no different. Here we have the DI's official clown, David Klinghoffer, comparing himself to Leon Wieseltier (in part because, he says, their surnames sound similar -- I kid you not) and the Discovery Institute to The New Republic.

Actually, there are two big similarities I can think of: when TNR tried to come up with a list of 100 "thinkers" whose achievements were most in line with things that TNR cares about, science didn't even merit its own category. But theology did! And TNR's Wieseltier wrote a review of Nagel's book that demonstrated he didn't have the vaguest understanding of why Mind and Cosmos was nearly universally panned. Wieseltier even adopted intelligent design tropes like "Darwinist mob", "Darwinist dittoheads", "bargain-basement atheism", "mob of materialists", "free-thinking inquisitors", "Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Secular Faith", and "scientistic tyranny". Don't let the door hit you on your way out, Leon.

Klinghoffer claims "In the evolution controversy, it's supporters of intelligent design who stand for ideas (disagree with us or not) and idealism." Well, that's something that we can actually check. Since ID is so brimming with ideas, let's look at ID's flagship journal, Bio-Complexity, and see how many papers were published this year. ID supporters are always complaining about how their groundbreaking word is censored by evil Darwinists. If true (it's not), then in Bio-Complexity they have no grounds for complaints: nearly all of the 32 people listed on the "Editorial Team" are well-known creationists and hence automatically friendly to any submission.

How many papers did Bio-Complexity manage to publish this year? A grand total of four! Why, that's 1/8th of a paper per member of the editorial team. By any measure, this is simply astounding productivity. They can be proud of how much they have added to the world's knowledge!

Looking a little deeper, we see that of these four, only one is labeled as a "research article". Two are "critical reviews" and one is a "critical focus". And of these four stellar contributions, one has 2 out of the 3 authors on the editorial team, two are written by members of the editorial team, leaving only one contribution having no one on the editorial team. And that one is written by Winston Ewert, who is a "senior researcher" at Robert J. Marks II's "evolutionary informatics lab". In other words, with all the ideas that ID supporters are brimming with, they couldn't manage to publish a single article by anyone not on the editorial team or directly associated with the editors.

What happened to the claim that ID creationists stand for ideas? One research article a year is not that impressive. Where are all those ideas Klinghoffer was raving about? Why can't their own flagship journal manage to publish any of them?

As 2015 draws near, don't expect that we will get any answers to these questions. Heck, not even the illustrious Robert J. Marks II can manage to respond to a simple question about information theory.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Robert J. Marks II Information Theory Watch, Three Months Later

Three months ago I wrote to the illustrious Robert Marks II about a claim he made, that "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".

Since I don't actually agree with that, I asked Professor Marks for some justification. He did not reply.

Now, three months later, I'm sending him another reminder.

Who thinks that he will ever send me a calculation justifying his claim?

Sunday, December 07, 2014

How Religion Rots Your Brain, Kills You, and Abandons Your Corpse to Rats

From Hamilton, Ontario comes this story of a woman so besotted with religion that she failed to encourage her ailing husband to get medical help and then, after he died, left his corpse to rot for months in a sealed bedroom while it was eaten by rats.

In the meantime, she was praying for a miraculous resurrection.

When, six months later, no miracle occurred, did she rethink her beliefs? No, of course not. She believes more strongly than ever, and is quoted as saying "In fact, it has cast me more at the mercy of God, because he is the ultimate judge."

If there's a better local example of how religion can warp your brain, I don't know it. Why we continue, as a society, to coddle religious believers and treat religion as a positive force is beyond me.