I'm in the future. Like hundreds of years in the future. I've been dead for centuries.
Oh, lovely, you're a cheery one aren't you?

Sunday, May 14

Life

The Commissar Wades Into Battle, Fit The Seven Thousand Three Hundred And Ninety-Seventh, Or Thereabouts

His response here; the original post here, on a blog called The Brutality of Reason. My comment follows:

So we want to teach something that we cannot possibly scientifically support as the origin of mankind, but toss out the cultural and religious experience that has made Western Culture what it is.

No.

Any further questions?

Look, I don't like ignorance and liberal hypocrisy any more than you do, but I don't like ignorance and conservative hypocrisy either. And you are arguing here from a position of near total ignorance of the subject. For example, you ask:

Was the first single cell organism an animal or plant?

And the answer, again, is no.

These are just the questions that come off the top of my head.

That's the problem. The questions you ask about evolution have already been answered in painstaking detail. The questions you ask about abiogenesis - how the first life forms (which were much simpler than single cells) came into existence - have been answered too, but rather more speculatively, since we don't know for sure.

I note that you focus most of your attention on abiogenesis rather than evolution. Intelligent Design actually focuses primarily on evolution, arguing that certain subsystems of already complex lifeforms cannot have arisen naturally. Unfortunately for ID's supporters, every example they have proposed has been shot down in flames, with clearly plausible evolutionary pathways identified.

What's more, we know that evolution happens. It's quite simple: We can see it happening. Whether all the details of the theory as it presently stands are correct is a question for considerable research and debate, but evolution is real, and it continues today.

We have seen, for example, a bacterium evolve the ability to eat nylon. This is not something that already existed, since we have earlier samples of the bacterium in question and they could not digest nylon at all. What's more, until quite recently there was no nylon for them to eat.

What's even more interesting is that we know exactly how this happened. It wasn't mathematically improbable, and did not require the hand of the divine (or of time travellers or space aliens, as some of the fellows of the Discovery Institute would have it). It was a single mutation, where part of one gene was copied into the wrong place. This then coded for a new protein, an enzyme that allowed the bacterium to digest nylon.

Read some of the work of the late Stephen Jay Gould. His work is marvellously accessible; he truly loves his subject matter and wants to share it with people. You can start with his collections of essays, beginning with The Panda's Thumb, or pick up Wonderful Life, which is the story of the Burgess Shale, a rock formation which contains marvellously detailed fossils of some of the earliest complex animals.

Give it a try. Please. There is so much beauty there in the world if you are willing to accept and understand it, rather than rejecting it because it does not fit your preconceptions.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 07:59 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, May 09

Life

Moving On Up

I'm now Chief Technology Officer at my place of employment.

It says so on my business card.

Also, I have business cards.

Okay, so it's the same job I've been doing for the past 18 months, but now I have a fancy title.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:23 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, May 02

Life

Well, Yeah

I'm working on the technical details for a new business plan that requires 24 x 7 server and network uptime. I have it easy at the moment, since the company I work for is basically 12 x 5 for the in-house stuff. There's a lot of 24 x 7 stuff too, but the responsibility for that falls in other people's laps.

So I'm sweating bullets on network designs. You know the sort of thing: This router is pretty bulletproof, but if it does go down, then... Okay, we can put a backup here, and we can tweak it to take over the IPs automatically... But if this network link goes down, we still lose half the business, so let's split that... And so on.

But really, things go kerflooie all the time. I arrive home, to find no internet. Why is this, I ask. The answer comes:

Hi all,

Just to let you know customers connected to the following exchanges may be currently unable to the Internet:

Liverpool
North Ryde
Manly
Menai
Miller
Minto
Miranda
Mona Vale
Mosman
Northbridge

This is believed to be a fault within an upstream provider's network and we are working to have it resolved as soon as possible.

Well, that's just ducky. As someone noted:
Strangely looks like a Sydney suburban dictionary attack!
Curiously enough, I don't live in any of those places. What's going on?
Our provider has lost power to a switch in Sydney. This has taken out one of our aggregate links to the above exchanges. We are waiting to hear back from them.
And this affects me because?
As a result of the work being performed to resolve the original fault the following exchanges are now also affected:

Balmain
Fairfield West
Castle Hill
Coogee
Epping
Hornsby
Hurstville
Maroubra
North Parramatta
Randwick

Ah. Nice one.

Update: See also: TypePad, Hosting Matters. No finger pointing, just noting that shit happens. Perfectly redundant and fault-tolerant systems are so expensive and complicated that (a) no-one can afford them, so they don't get built, and (b) no-one can understand them, so they fail anyway because of human error.

Which doesn't mean you don't make the effort. We haven't had a power outage at our new office since we moved in (February '05) but I'm still budgeting for dual UPSes. (I just checked one of the web servers - 433 days uptime, and that one isn't on a UPS.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 06:46 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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