24 October 2007

#1 on Google meme

From PZ comes another meme:
I'd like to suggest a meme, where the premise is that you will attempt to find 5 statements, which if you were to type into google (preferably google.com, but we'll take the other country specific ones if need be), you'll find that you are returned with your blog as the number one hit.
I used google.ca, so suck on that, America!

Anyway, here they are. I decided to be a real man and do it without enclosing in quotations:

1. King Aardvark - #2 is a company called King Aardvark Web Design, and their logo is kind of similar to mine. But it's not me.

2. high school religion classes - from a popular early post of mine included in CotG.

3. John Tesh kick in the nuts - though, honestly, any name I've ever mentioned + kick in the nuts leads to my blog as the #1 hit. This is from a couple of posts about my contempt for Christian pop music.

4. behe dawkins pissed - a ficticious scrap between the two authors.

5. apostles look like morons half the time - a Christian troll dropped by and we had a brief argument about this - not whether they do look like morons (they do) but about the implications of them looking like morons.

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Return to Blogging link dump and update

Well I haven't posted in a while, so I guess I need an explanation. Ready?

I'm lazy.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, here are some interesting things I've had sent my way the past couple of days:

1) Symphony Mario! I'm sure some of you have seen this before.

2) Viva Caligula! An ultraviolent cartoony flash game from Adult Swim. The most thorough review I've found is here.

In other news, my hole is done, and it looks good. Hooray! I didn't kill anybody. Also, the arena in Kingston where I designed the temporary support tower didn't collapse during construction, so double hooray! Now a new project is starting up, which is another shit tank. Hooray! (Umm, hooray? Upon further consideration, another shit tank probably isn't "hooray" worthy.)

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Berlzebub needs help loading his ark

Berlzebub's basement is flooded. Everyone (all 4 of you) go to his blog and give your encouragement. Or laugh at him. I don't think it matters which.


11 October 2007


Well that, as they say, is that. Liberal majority again. The big loser here was not really the Conservatives (though they lost a few seats) but John Tory in particular. It's fitting that he used the slogan "Leadership Matters." Most Ontarians paid attention and looked at his leadership when he made his asshat private school funding comments, comments that a large portion of his own followers couldn't follow. As such, he is without a seat this term. Mwahaha. Asshat.

Anyway, MMP didn't pass. Oh well. There were news reports that the NDP accused the Liberals of not advertising the referendum enough, and that many voters came into the polling stations and were utterly confused and unaware of the referendum. I'll admit I didn't see much in the way of TV ads, but I did get a nice pamphlet in the mail that said (paraphrased) "Vote! Election! ++Special Referendum++!!!" So was this not mailed out to everybody? Or are most people too lazy to read a freakin' pamphlet?

The only other interesting thing was that my wife almost checked off for the Libertarian party rep instead of the Liberal party rep. Small difference in names, big difference in views there.

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03 October 2007

Blue Jays end another mediocre season

On Sunday I got to go to a Toronto Blue Jays game. My wife snagged the tickets: excellent field-level spots normally costing $44, which were free because it was "Fan Appreciation Weekend," or, as it really should be called, "please come to the stadium and watch because it's the last game of the season and we're out of the running and without free tickets the whole place would be empty Weekend." Anyway, the ploy worked because the place was respectibly full and lively. In addition to the free tickets, they also gave out free Jays toques, and since they struck out 7 opposing batters, we all got a free slice from Pizza Pizza. Hooray for free stuff.

I hadn't been to a Jays game in about 8 years - back when they had players like Shawn Green, Carlos Delgado, and Alex Gonzalez. They were still mediocre back then but at least I knew the players. I haven't followed baseball for about 6 years and the only baseball I've watched this year was the homerun derby. Not that having a more intimate knowledge of the Jays roster would have helped much, since on Sunday the team consisted of regulars Alex Rios, AJ Burnett, and a bunch of minor leaguers. Still, they played pretty hard at times, so it was fun. I miss the glory days of the early '90s though.

In typical mediocre Jays fashion, they were actually doing pretty well against Tampa Bay (up 4-2) but completely blew it in a disastrous 6th inning, yielding 5 unanswered runs. Meh.

Interesting things about the game:

1) There was one minor league guy who the Jays brought up recently who came in batting 1.000. Amazingly, through his next two at bats, he belted in some RBIs with a single and a triple, causing some drunk guys without shirts to yell things like "greatest hitter of all time!" He unfortunately got out in his next at bat, dropping his overall average to 0.750.

2) Speaking of triples, I've never seen so many in a game before. There were four triples in total, two for each team.

3) I couldn't understand all the thousands of people eagerly lining up for $8 domestic beer and $9 nachos. Are they crazy?

4) I don't remember pre-game warmup looking like this:
There's the trainer working on one of the players. The other guy is soaking it all in a little too intently, don't you think?

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01 October 2007

The Framing Debate - I agree with PZ

Over at Scienceblogs, PZ (along with Greg Laden) has been arguing with Mark Nisbet and Chris Mooney about the concept of framing science for the public. The PZ/Laden argument is that the public needs to be taught real science regardless of the indidental damage to the public's beliefs (ie. literal religous beliefs), whereas the Mooney/Nisbet position is that scientists need to focus on gaining trust from the public and coddling their incorrect beliefs because if scientists insult them, they will reject the science.

I've mainly not bothered picking sides since I can see some good in both parts of the argument. For me, the important thing is to get science to play a larger role in society - I don't care if Nisbet chooses to waffle a bit in order to bring hardline theists a little closer to science, and I don't care if PZ produces hardline science that only appeals to sciencey people like those who read Pharyngula. Basically it's the same as my stance on the "new atheism" - I don't care if you're Hitchens or Hemant: the important thing is quality and quantity, not focus.

However, after the recent debate between the guys I mentioned above (aside: why is it mostly guys? We need more scientists who are women to lead more of the pro-science charge), I'm putting a little more stock in the PZ/Laden argument. From PZ:
For my part, I gave my short definition of framing: a method of persuading people who don't know anything to trust you. Neither Mooney nor Nisbet objected in their replies, so I'll assume they didn't find that false. I said that the real difference here is that the framers focus on the "trust you" part of the definition, and think that's where the important effort should be exerted…which is fine. Trust is nice. However, the scientists and educators are seeing the "people who don't know anything" part and noting that framing seems to be a band-aid of rhetoric slapped on the real problem, and that all this talk of framing and appearances and who you'd like to have a beer with does nothing to correct public ignorance, which is the central problem here. We want to produce a science-literate nation, not merely a country that blithely and uncomprehendingly likes science.
From my experience, this is a very, very important point. Take my wife, for instance. She likes science (she did well at science fairs in school), knows it well enough, and went into a sciencey field (electrical engineering); however, she's also a fairly hardcore theist and went into a profession that let her stay in her insulated non-questioning religion bubble. The result is that, even though science is her friend, she's unaware of the issues, unaware of the conflicts, and just assumes science proves her preexisting religious views. For example, she thinks scientists have proven the Great Flood.

Let me reiterate: the framing battle has already been won with her and still she believes some crazy stuff because she's never actually been engaged by the science.

Personally, I think we can help things out by shifting science education away from rote memorization of fact toward teaching scientific/critical thinking and by not waffling on controversial topics. There is no way that a person should graduate highschool (or even elementary school) and not know that the earth is billions of years old and that the biblical flood is not a geological event. So, yeah, I guess that's me coming down more on the PZ side of things than the Mooney side.

Another thing is: who decides when the population is friendly enough to scientists that we can stop coddling them and actually teach them real science? Does Mooney just flick a switch where it suddenly becomes ok for scientists to actually teach again? I said above that quality and quantity should be more important than focus. This is actually a situation where too much focus is a bad thing. Many people don't need to be coddled by framing (eg. they aren't that religious) and could be crying out for a more meaty science article. I know Mooney/Nisbet wouldn't want other scientists to completely ignore these people, but a heavy emphasis on framing could let these people down, or, at the very least, make it hard for them to find the more sciencey article they're looking for.

Ultimately, it may never be possible to win all the battles. Who will they trust? Their friend the scientist, or God?

Simply being a friend isn't enough.

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