Monday, April 30, 2012

Christians Lose Special Rights; Respond With Threats

This is old news, but 2 weeks ago a local public school board here in Ontario finally ended the practice of distributing Gideon Bibles to students.

It should have been a no-brainer. Nothing prevents parents who want Bibles for their own kids from buying them, or asking the Gideons to supply a copy for free. Nothing prevents students from reading the Christian bible in their school library or elsewhere. But the local school board has no business distributing the holy book for one particular religion in the exclusion of all other religions.

How did some local Christians respond? "Several trustees received threats and hate mail, much of it anti-immigrant." Yes, that's exactly what Jesus would have wanted, I suppose.

Kudos to members of the local Christian community who spoke up against the hate.

Islam is So Weak, It Must Be Protected by Law

You can tell a religion can't stand up to criticism when its adherents have to resort to blasphemy laws to protect it.

That's the case with Islam. The film actor and comedian Adel Imam was recently sentenced to jail in Egypt for movies where he parodied conservative Muslim beliefs.

I won't be visiting Egypt anytime soon.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New Crank Proof of P = NP

For your reading pleasure, here is a new proof that P = NP. It contains other delights, such as a "nontrivial counterexample to Cantor's diagonal argument": a veritable garden of crankiness.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Moose Blogging

Scientist at Work talks about moose populations in Isle Royale:

"Do they wonder why they suffer? Do they linger a few moments longer before getting up again and then sigh before plowing through the snow for another bout of foraging? Moose certainly have thoughts, and some we understand — the fear of being chased by a wolf, the pleasure of eating fresh blue-bead lilies in the spring. But our knowledge about the content of most moose thoughts — thoughts that are as real as any of my mine — lie at the fuzzy boundary between inference and imagination."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Religious Quiz

See if you can do this one WITHOUT google or other reference aids.

What alleged event from religious history does this bronze panel depict, and in what city in New York state is it located?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Periodic Table Goodness

Forget the stupid bell. Next time you're in Waterloo, Ontario, stop by the CEIT building on the campus and visit this awesome gigantic mural of the periodic table. It's so big that I found it really hard to photograph.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sculptor of Rusty Junk Wins Award

This rusty piece of junk is, believe it or not, an award-winning piece of public sculpture that is the most prominent feature of a major downtown square in Waterloo, Ontario.

It is entitled "Waterloo Bell - Bell for Kepler" and was created by Royden Rabinowitch. Recently Rabinowitch accepted the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts for this and other work - an award that carries with it a cash prize of $25,000.

Here is how Rabinowitch described it: "The sculpture’s 3 stacked, major segments simultaneously appear to float and be at risk of falling down. They resemble someone attempting to stay in balance." No, it resembles a rusty piece of junk from a disused factory.

This has got to be one of the ugliest and most unappealing pieces of public art I've ever seen. Let's get rid of it.

Public Institutions Try to Avoid Giving Out Contact Information

One thing that really drives me crazy is trying to contact anyone who works in government or the civil service. In many jurisdictions, it seems like they do their best to keep all kinds of contact information (such as name, phone number, or e-mail address) secret from the public.

An example is our local public high school, the Waterloo Collegiate Institute. This high school is paid for with our provincial tax dollars; yet you will look in vain for the e-mail address of anyone who works there. I tried just now to get a work e-mail address for the webmaster over the phone, but no one would give it to me! This is insane.

Contrast that with the University of Waterloo. Not only are addresses and phone numbers available everywhere, there's even a web app to make finding this information easy.

This reminds me of the story about fire stations after the telephone was invented. Some refused to have telephones installed, saying that if they were to do so, people would constantly be calling them and they wouldn't have the time to put out fires.

I would favour a provincial or federal law saying that all civil servants and others paid with tax money must have their work phone number and work e-mail address posted in an easily-accessible place on the institution's web page.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

World's Worst Journalist Continues Her Streak

Denyse O'Leary, the world's worst journalist™, continues her streak at Uncommon Decent with a posting that shows that she thinks that philosopher Hilary Bok is a man.

Really, you have to work at it to be this bad at your job.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Silly Philosopher Admired by Even Sillier Philosopher

How nice! Philosopher Bradley Monton, who doesn't really understand the problems with intelligent design, is pleased that Alvin Plantinga (author of one of the dumbest arguments against naturalism ever constructed) likes his book.

Well, of course, Brad! The useful idiot: an atheist who thinks there's something to intelligent design! What's not to love?

(Don't bother trying to leave comments at Monton's blog. He certainly doesn't allow that!)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Moose Blogging

What to do when someone finds an exceptionally large and beautiful moose?

Why, kill it, of course.

Humans are really a violent species.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Robot Repair Store, Pittsburgh

Here are some photos from Fraley's Robot Repair in Pittsburgh. I highly recommend this place if your robot needs some tuning up. The service is excellent and the prices are reasonable.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Chemistry Quiz

I invented the chemical process by which a formerly expensive metal became commonplace. They erected this statue in my honor, cast in the metal I helped popularize. Who am I, and where is this statue?

Monday, April 02, 2012

When Geese Attack...

This is the result.

Hat tip: Jason K.