Aah I'm late.

Tuesday, March 18

Rant

Twenty-Two Stupid People

These people have questions.  They are addressed to Bill Nye.

I'll answer them anyway.
  1. Bill Nye, are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?

    Yes.  Yes he is.

  2. Are you scared of a Divine Creator?

    No.  I don't believe such a being exists.

  3. Is it completely illogical to believe that the earth was created mature, i.e. trees created with rings...  Adam created as an adult...

    An interesting question.  If we take it that you mean the Universe and not just our planet, and that the false history is consistent (that is, we don't find ancient buried cities and then carbon-date them to last week), the answer is yes, it is completely illogical.  It is known as the Omphalos hypothesis, or colloquially, Last Thursdayism, the idea there being that the Universe was created last Thursday, but it was created old.  The reason that it is illogical is twofold; first, if every conceivable test indicates that the Universe is 13.8 billion years old, it doesn't mean anything to say that it's not, and second it rests on an assumption that time is other than a property of the Universe.  Last Thursday, or 4004 BC, or any other date, is something that happened in the Universe.  Saying that the Universe was created last Thursday is the same as saying that the Universe was created in Poughkeepsie.

    The Big Bang is a little different here: It is the zero co-ordinate of all dimensions of our Universe.  To put it another way, the Big Bang didn't happen in any location, it happened everywhere at once.  That's why we can still see it in the sky no matter where we look.  (It's just that the expansion of the Universe has cooled the image down from gamma rays to microwaves.)

  4. Does not the second law of thermodynamics disprove evolution?

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics is the bedrock of physics.  It says that the entropy of a closed system always increases.  Every observation we have ever made has borne this out.  For entropy to decrease locally, there must be an external source of energy, such as a BALL OF FLAMING GAS A MILLION MILES WIDE SITTING IN THE FUCKING SKY.

  5. How do you explain a sunset if their [sic] is no God?

    The Earth rotates.

  6. If the Big Bang theory is true and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk such theories?

    They don't.  We've already dealt with this misconception with respect to evolution.  With respect to the Big Bang theory, there is, again, no conflict.  The Universe is expanding.  That means that it used to be smaller.  At one time it was very small.  It went bang. The Second Law is not violated by this in any way; the Second Law is in effect in every part of the Universe we are able to observe.

    We can see this bang and study its properties in the Cosmic Microwave Background, radiation that comes to us from everywhere in the Universe because it was originally emitted during that event.

  7. What about Noetics?

    People have been experimenting with Noetics (under various names, and with varying degrees of experimental quality) for all of human history.  The sum total of positive evidence for Noetics is zero.

  8. Where do you derive objective meaning in life?

    There is no such thing.  Meaning is the mapping of a internal (mental) representation to external reality.  It is, by definition, subjective.

  9. If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate?  By Chance?

    The first single-celled organism most likely evolved from something simpler that was not a cell.  We know that it is relatively easy to create the building blocks of life under chemical conditions that would have held on the early Earth.  We know that there are self-replicating molecules that are simpler than any living organism existing today.  These molecules do not exist in any quantity today, because life exists now, and they would be immediately eaten.  We do not know the precise path by which abiogenesis occurred, only that no great leap from inorganic matter to complete modern cells is likely, or needed.

  10. I believe in the Big Bang theory.  God said it and BANG, it happened.

    That is not a question.

  11. Why do evolutionists/secularists/huminists [sic]/non-God believing people reject the idea of their [sic] being a creator God but embrace the concept of intelligent design from aliens or other extra-terrestrial sources?

    That depends on what you mean.  Raëlism, for example, is an atheistic religion that believes that life on Earth was initiated by aliens.  There is a concept of panspermia, under which life on Earth initiated from elsewhere in the Universe, by, for example, bacterial spores carried by meteorites.  This is not scientifically implausible, but nor on the other hand is there is any evidence that it happened.  The Raëlians, however, believe in most of what is told in the Old Testament of the Bible - the Garden of Eden, for example, and the Great Flood - just that it was caused by aliens rather than a supernatural deity.  We know that these events did not happen - there was no Garden, there was most certainly no Flood.  Among atheists, these beliefs are held by only a tiny percentage of crazy people.

  12. There is no inbetween...  the only one found has been Lucy and there are only a few pieces of the hundreds necessary for an "official proof".

    Due to prehistoric interracial monkey business, your DNA is around 1% Neanderthal.  Good hominid fossils are scarce, but not so scarce as you claim, nor are they our only line of evidence.  

    Lucy was a striking find, for both her age and the completeness of her remains, but Turkana Boy while only half as old (1.6My vs. 3.2My) is considerably more complete.  Selam is a fossil of an Australopithecus afarensis child, the same species as Lucy, a less complete skeleton but with a remarkably preserved skull.  Kadanuumuu is another significant a. afarensis find, again only a partial skeleton, but of a full-grown adult.  There are many other partial finds of a. afarensis, and many more of other hominid species.

    On the question of "inbetween", I assume that by this you mean a transitional fossil, between, in this case, apes and hominids.  Firstly, this betrays a misunderstanding, in that all species are transitional, because evolution doesn't stop.  Second, Lucy is not "inbetween" apes and hominids - Lucy was a hominid.

  13. Does metamorphosis help support evolution?

    I'm not sure what you are asking.  Metamorphosis happens; it is neither required nor precluded by evolutionary theory.  The best answer is that it is neutral.

    Update: Geneticist Adam Rutherford says thisThe post-birth transformation of a tadpole into a frog is a means of eliminating competition between young and mature as they’re in completely different ecological niches.

    So the answer is yes.

  14. If Evolution is a theory (like creationism or the Bible) why then is Evolution taught as fact?

    There are several misconceptions in this question.  First, creationism is not a theory in the scientific sense (and the Bible is not a theory in any sense).  Second, a theory, in science, is the highest level of understanding we can have, an explanation that has been rigorously tested and found to work.  Gravity, for example, is a theory (the theory is called General Relativity).  Saying that evolution is a theory is like saying that Einstein was a Nobel-prize-winning physicist.  It is not a slight, it's an honour.

    Third, evolution is both a theory and a fact.  Again, this is like gravity: Gravity is a fact; you drop something, and it falls.  The theory is the explanation of how this happens.  Evolution is a fact: We have seen new species evolve, both in nature and in the laboratory.  The theory explains how this happens.

  15. Because science by definition is a "theory" - not testable, observable, or repeatable, why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?

    Your confusion is understandable, because you are operating under a definition of science that is the diametric opposite of the truth.  A theory is, by definition, testable, observable, and repeatable.  Karl Popper defined proper scientific theories as falsifiable - that is, we can never prove them to be true beyond all possible doubt, but we can prove them to be false.  The purpose of science is to find the false theories (or more generally, false hypotheses) and throw them out.

    This is precisely why we object to creationism and intelligent design: Because they are deliberately constructed so as to be unfalsifiable; they are the opposite of science.

  16. What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?

    Mutations can occur in several ways.  Genes can be modified in place or moved (which are information-neutral), the can be deleted (which leads to a decrease in information), or they can be inserted or duplicated (which lead to an increase in information).  All of these types of mutation have been observed on innumerable occasions; mutations are not at all rare.  Despite ongoing protests by the mathematically illiterate, there is no question whatsoever about the possibility of the natural increase of genetic information.  It is possible, it happens, we have seen it happen.

  17. What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in salvation?

    Purpose and meaning are something intelligent entities construct for themselves; they cannot be granted externally.

  18. Why have we found only 1 "Lucy", when we have found more than 1 of everything else?

    In fact, we have found zero of many fossils.  The fossil record of bats, for example, is poor, because they simply don't fossilise well. If you want to leave a lot of fossils, you either need to be a vast group of animals existing for tens of millions of years like the dinosaurs, or be a hard-shelled marine invertebrate.  Also, there is only one Lucy for the same reason that there is only one Christina Hendricks - Lucy is defined by what she is, and you can't have two.  Turkana Boy is a far more complete skeleton of an early hominid, but is younger than Lucy.  Lucy is (or was, depending on your criteria) the oldest find of a significantly complete hominid; more often, we only find the skull, or teeth.  Teeth are harder and fossilise better than any other part of our body.  We do have a number of other early hominid skeletons, though not as many or as complete as we'd like.

  19. Can you believe in "the big bang" without "faith"?

    Certainly, in much the same way that you can believe in the Colosseum in Rome when viewing its ruins.  We can see the Big Bang today in the Cosmic Microwave Background.  We know that it happened because it's still there.

  20. How can you look at the world and not believe someone created/thought of it?  It's Amazing!!!

    Cymothoa exigua is a species of marine louse that enters a fish's mouth via the gills, destroys the fish's tongue, and then attaches itself to the stub, taking over the tongue's function.  If you search for it, you will find pictures.  It has a face.

  21. Relating to the big bang theory...  Where did the exploding star come from?

    First, addressing your misconception: It was not a star. Stars did not begin to form until around 100 million years after the Big Bang. 

    But the broader question: We don't know.  It is very likely impossible to know.  In fact, it is reasonable to argue that the question is not meaningful - "where" is a question relating to space, and space originated with the Big Bang.  But we know that the Big Bang happened, because we can see it.

  22. If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?

    Because one isolated population of proto-simians evolved into apes and hominids, while other populations evolved into modern-day monkeys.  Speciation - the evolution of a new species - and extinction - the death of an existing species - are distinct events, and you can have one without the other.  When dodos were wiped out, no earlier species was automatically restored to existence; your proposition makes no more sense.

Why do I say these people are stupid?  With the exception of question 16, which involves information theory, none of this touches on my formal education post high-school.  Nor did I have to look up any of the basic facts, though I did check the specifics.  All of this knowledge is readily available; you have to actively resist learning it.

And if you actively resist learning, you are stupid.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 05:59 PM | Comments (14) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Thursday, February 06

Rant

I Can't Math, I Have The Dumb

Sooo....  That Wakfu thingy.  Quite a bargain at CAD $40 for 52 episodes  plus various specials dubbed and subbed on Blu-Ray, plus a t-shirt, plus PDF artbooks, plus free worldwide shipping.

I've been hoping they'd give an add-on for extra copies of just the disks, because I'd like to give a couple of copies as gifts.  I think my nephews would love Wakfu, but they wouldn't sit still for it subtitled.

And now they have the add-on: You can one extra set of disks with your order - for an extra $60.

In absolute terms this is still a damn good deal.  I've paid that much (and more) to import individual anime DVDs.  But since I already have a second Kickstarter account* and (assuming I can remember the login details) I can just pledge for another $40 goodie bag, it seems like someone's miscalculated somewhere.

* Everyone needs two Ouyas.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:32 AM | Comments (10) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Monday, December 09

Rant

Dear Sydney Trains

Will you please shut your bloody trains up?!

Taking one of the newer trains from Hornsby to Wynyard subjects passengers to no fewer than 102 automated announcements and alerts.  That's about 100 too many.  And that excludes any manual announcements made with the volume invariably cranked up way, way too loud.

Stop it.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 08:34 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Friday, June 07

Rant

Irritatants

The next time someone asserts that the United States is a Christian nation, or was founded on Christian principles, I'm going to drop Mount Rushmore on their head.

(Prompted by the twaddle spouted by Andrew Klavan over at PJTV, but it's a video and their video player sucks, so unless they post a transcript I can't be bothered tearing his nonsense to tiny shreds as it deserves.)

irritatant, n: Something that gives one the irrits.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:33 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, May 07

Rant

Intercourse The Penguin: A Critique Of Artificial Scarcity In A Post-Scarcity Economy

If you subscribe to a magazine electronically on Amazon, they will delete your back issues after six months "for your convenience".

Yes, they actually say that.  They delete your property for your convenience.  If you go searching for why your back issues - THAT YOU HAVE PAID FOR - seem to be missing, you find that in the fine print on "How magazine subscriptions work".  A shorter and more accurate explanation would have been "They don't."

And if you think that smacks of doublespeak, don't forget that this is the company that made news by deleting unauthorised copies of 1984 off customer's devices. 

I've sent a complaint to Amazon; it's hard enough to even find how to do that these days.  I was very good and didn't swear...  Much at all.

But, frankly, FUCK DRM in all its forms.

I may expand on this subject once I have calmed down a little.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:20 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Thursday, April 25

Rant

Just My Opinion

Web and app designers who employ grey text on a grey background for copy should be shot.*

Right now, looking at you, new Google Play app.

It keeps happening because it looks great. It's a miserable experience to actually read, but it looks stylish and elegant.

* For grey-on-grey headings, they should merely be slapped with a dead sturgeon.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 06:26 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, April 23

Rant

Windows 8 Sucks

There are some good bits.  The Task Manager is a solid improvement.  And the file copy activity dialog is what it always should have been.  Those are a couple of minor items, though.  Overall, it sucks.

Needlessly, because there's a perfectly functional operating system underneath; they've simply layered a whole bunch of crapware and crippling and blatantly idiotic configuration choices on top and broken it.

I give it zero out of ten, as in, there is zero reason to use it.  If you want to run Windows, stick with 7; if you want a touch-enabled device, use Android.

It might be redeemable with something like Classic Shell; I'll find out.  Of course, again, there is no reason why you should need to do that, but if you're stuck with a Windows 8 laptop (like me) and (unlike me) no spare Windows 7 keys, there's potentially a way to fix the most egregious of Microsoft's fuckups.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 08:14 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Sunday, March 17

Rant

SinCity Part III

In which Maxis/EA attempt to cover up their earlier lies with more lies.

At this point I'm getting a distinct whiff of class-action lawsuit drifting in from the ether.

Update: The reason I think this is important is not that SimCity is a bad game - that happens - or that the launch was a train wreck - that happens too.  It's that everyone knew it would turn out like this, and it would have been just as easy to do it right as to screw it up beyond redemption.  It's not the failure itself, it's the wasted potential that galls me.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 06:45 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Friday, March 15

Rant

SinCity Part II

Given Maxis/EA's repeated assertions that the reason SimCity 5 is restricted to online play only is that significant parts of the simulation are handled on the servers because the requirements are too steep for desktop PCs and it can't actually run standalone, coupled with the ongoing costs of providing such infrastructure, there were really only two views one could take: Either their engineers and project managers are deeply, deeply incompetent, or they're lying through their teeth.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:26 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Tuesday, March 12

Rant

SinCity

Filed this under "Rant", but it's not my rant, it's by John Walker over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
[T]here was only one valid response from EA after the clusterfuck of SimCity’s launch: capitulation. A full admission that the DRM that infests their game was needless, a bad mistake, and that they’re working to strip it out for single-player games as quickly as possible.

Claiming SimCity fixed, by removing the server queues, random crashes, lost cities, server drops, and the artificial restrictions placed on the game just to make it run, is like claiming a broken leg fixed because you’ve mended the crutches.

That's just getting warmed up.  And some of the comments are downright harsh.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:06 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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