Archives for June, 2007

Nonrandom Ten

I’m out of town, here are some hints to the state, city, and organization I’m visiting, and my means of getting there: The means of travel and the organization: “Science Vs. Romance“ by Rilo Kiley from the album Take Offs and Landings (2001, 5:43). The state: “California“ by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers from the…

“I Wanna Be A Witch“ by Kim Fox from the album I Wanna Be A Witch (1997, 3:40). “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” by Bob Dylan from the album MTV Unplugged (1995, 4:48). “It Was a Good Day“ by Ice Cube from the album The Predator (1992, 4:20). “Heaven Or Las Vegas“ by…

I’m conflicted over Tyson Foods’s decision to sell antibiotic-free chickens. On one hand, anything that increases supply and reduces the costs of chicken that aren’t pumped full of antibiotics is good. Antibiotic-laced chicken farms are breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, bacteria which can enter the food supply or transfer those resistance genes to other populations…

Roy Torcaso, 96, fought for the right to serve in public office without declaring his religious beliefs: Mr. Torcaso, who said he was an atheist, was a bookkeeper by profession. He worked for a Bethesda construction company when his legal challenge started in 1959. He had been urged by his boss to become a notary…

T. H. White on Thinking

Do you know, I think that Dr. Swift was silly to laugh about Laputa. I believe it is a mistake to make a mock of people, just because they think. There are ninety thousand people in this world who do not think, for every one who does, and these people hate the thinkers like poison.…

The Chinese Room is a thought experiment in artificial intelligence. John Searle proposed it as a way to falsify the claim that some computer algorithm could be written which could mimic the behavior of an intelligent human so precisely that we could call it an artificial intelligence. Searle proposed that we imagine a log cabin…

In today’s big section on evolution in the New York Times, John Noble Wilford explains the explosion of new material and new understanding of the human family tree. Through the 1990s and into this century, new fossil discoveries have pushed our understanding of hominid origins back in time, and refined our knowledge of how we…

On moderation

Pete Seeger tells us “Moderation in all things, even moderation.” A useful motto in many situations. For instance, my friend Mike the Mad Biologist rightly criticizes hackish pundits, and hackish politicians, for Compulsive Centrist Disorder, the belief that the true answer to any question must lie halfway between the positions being advocated, regardless of what…

The UK’s military chief of staff is concerned: Climate change poses a challenge for the military in adapting operations and helping to deal with the consequences of migration and increased tensions as people compete for resources, the head of the U.K. armed forces said. Rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns are likely to increase…

Denyse “Buy my book” O’Leary thinks that evolutionary biologists are just like religious folk. Among the deep parallels she finds: Scientists and the religious both give booklets to children, celebrate birthdays of important figures, claim that certain things are facts, and seek official recognition. Finally: – sacred bones. Christian churches have the bones of the…