random good books from my library

[sorry no links. it was painful enough to put the whole table together with blogger editor image uploads...]


politics and evolution

gallup finds that majority of republicans do not belive in the theory of evolution. [i wonder which one begat the other...]

[graph produced with peter mcmaster's barcode script [link lost] for omnigraffle]


kurtz editorial: Are ‘Evangelical Atheists’ Too Outspoken?

paul kurtz editorial on the ever idiotic charge that the atheists and secularists are too outspoken:
Why should religion be held immune from criticism, and why should the admission that one is a disbeliever be considered so disturbing? The Bush administration has supported faith-based charities—though their efficacy has not been adequately tested; it has prohibited federal funding for stem cell research; it has denied global warming; and it has imposed abstinence programs instead of promoting condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS. Much of this mischief is religiously inspired. How can we remain mute while Islam and the West are poised for a possible protracted world conflagration in the name of God?

[the charge of being outspoken is especially ludicrous for those of us who had the misfortune to live through the myths, fictions and delusions of not one but two major religions. double the dose of nonsense, loud and ever present, with one including death penalty for disbelief.]


recently noted quotes

how do you spell "mediocre"? -- a guest [top chef]

i've come to realize that understanding pointers in C is not a skill, it is an aptitude. -- joel spolsky [the guerrilla guide to interviewing]

when the Singularity comes, the first AI to transcend will be a Panasonic toilet seat. No, really ... -- charles stross [conclusion #1 from the Japan trip]

SF is a literature of energy and wary ambition. It will rise wherever people are facing the future with courage. And it fades wherever people lose their nerve and turn away from tomorrow... as has been happening in the USA, ever since this #$@*! century began. -- david brin

I'm not impressed with moments of silence or candlelight vigils or noble rhetoric about this event. If you want to do something to remember that tragedy, the best thing to do is to simply stop living your life in fear. -- p. z. myers [in honor of 9/11]

X-Message-Flag: Microsoft: the company who gave us the botnet zombies. -- anon

To regret that we cannot be done with superstition is no more than to regret that we have a common ancestry with apes and plants and fish. -- christopher hitchens [review of lilla's stillborn god]

being a philosopher means never having to say "oops, i was mistaken". -- oz

too much idealism, and the work never ships -- not enough, and little change is brought to the world. -- scott berkun [the myths of innovation]


grayling on irrationality-based schooling

anthony grayling's commentary on the recent attempt to introduce faith-based schools in england comes just in time for those of us about to vote in ontario. this very topic has [one would hope] destroyed the chances of conservatives winning the provincial election.


griffin and censorship

censored for emmy award comments :
lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.

kathy griffin should try subtlety next time. of course jesus had nothing to do with her win; it was probably some other deity more interested in award ceremonies. she should have thanked allah, or tao, or vishnu instead, and (a) jolt everybody (b) have her words broadcast fully [censorship does not apply to (pro) religious drivel] and (c) possibly have more fans amongst the related faith groups.

for exactly these sorts of mind-boggling situations, salman rushdie [who knows a thing or two about mortal forms of censorship] once wrote:
there is a fault in reality. do not adjust your minds.

related link: atheist group protests emmy awards censorship


quote of the day

joel says:
I've been using Vista on my home laptop since it shipped, and can say with some conviction that nobody should be using it as their primary operating system -- it simply has no redeeming merits to overcome the compatibility headaches it causes. Whenever anyone asks, my advice is to stay with Windows XP (and to purchase new systems with XP preinstalled).


logic and me

a neat little three-minute self-assessment test says:
You Are Incredibly Logical

Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic
You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.
A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

norvig on mind over mind

norvig examines the healing power of prayer and related self deception in this superb essay: evaluating extraordinary claims: mind over matter? or mind over mind?. see also, his warning signs in experimental design and interpretation

[i hope norvig publishes a collection of essays someday. this is the kind of stuff that needs to be on every computer scientist's shelf]


recently noted quotes

win first. then cut. -- ohmi sensei

There will be a SlaughterFest of Horror, an Orgy of Bloodletting, Partial Nudity, Flammable Liquids, Unspeakable Misuse of Power Tools and Small Woodland Creatures, and the Plaintive Wailing of the Doomed. It will make Altamont look like Lilith Fair. -- anthony bourdain [about the next episode of top chef, where he is a guest judge, in bourdain's blog]

first you have to be a cook. than you can become a food critic. -- eren yigit [age nine, in response to whether he would become a food critic when he grew up.]

sure enough, once you've got enough food, people will invent etiquette. -- nanny ogg [nanny ogg's cookbook]

If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline. -- richard dawkins [review of god is not great]

sagacious saint of sacrosanct sayings, sardonic sultan of sarcasm and of scrappy satirical sounds swung slowly or savagely scandalizing shallow society softies with soaring scarlet scherzos, so scholarly, so scintillating. -- wynton marsalis [on sydney betchet, jazz a.b.z]

Bwahahahahaha! He's a Dänikenite! This could be fun. -- p. z. myers [pharyngula]

You can't make people believe in the impossible. All you can do is make people feel very guilty that they can't make themselves believe it. -- christopher hitchens [hitchens and donehue on hardball]

I say it as calmly as I can—the Church should have had the elementary decency to let the earth lie lightly on this troubled and miserable lady, and not to invoke her long anguish to recruit the credulous to a blind faith in which she herself had long ceased to believe. -- christopher hitchens [teresa, bright and dark]

People's noses are a difficult subject for research; we don't get to define human crosses, people tend to be a little snippy about telling them who to breed with and taking their genes apart, and humans are awfully slow to breed. -- p. z. myers [phayrngula]


doctorow on cbc

one of my favorite authors is now a regular in CBC's search engine.
I've started a new gig as an essayist/columnist for Search Engine, a new show on CBC Radio. They've got me reading adaptations of my Guardian columns, starting with my piece on Digital Lysenkoism. They've done a great job with the editing -- it's nice having other people around to help me sound smart!
mp3 file
Search Engine podcast feed
guardian column on digital lysenkoism

[hmm, i doubt cory needs any help to sound smart. in fact he is one of those rare individuals that make everyone around him feel smart. note on the image: copyright ozan s. yigit. it is licensed under the creative commons "attribution shareAlike 2.0 canada" licence. link to wikimedia]


recenty noted links

dawkins reviews hitchens's wonderful god is not great [this one is in my list of best books of 2007]

a system for interactive fiction: inform 7. [last time i looked, this field was littered with the leftovers of clumsy and unimaginative systems that could barely visit dave's cave. i have no idea how far this one has gotten.] zoom is a player for z-code.

i am a big fan of stephan martiniere's art.

collection of articles about plan9, inferno, v9fs et al. grave robbers from outer space [especially see introduction to using 9p under linux and creating dirtab-based synthetic filesystems]

secular student alliance's book list found in secular seasons: freethought booklist [it needs to be updated]

geek counterpoint, an antidote to "soundbite science" does an incovenient truth teardown [movie survives]


mozart and cicadas [haikus]

mozart #29 in A -
even cicadas
know the piece.
summer nightfall -
mozart clarinet
cicada chorus

[oz/07 - a memorable summer evening gift: i am listening mozart symphony no. 29 in A major, followed by the clarinet concerto, with a full accompaniment of cicadas. somehow the cicada rhythms matched mozart's tempi.]

recently noted links

james boyle's excellent article on open access to scientific publications: the irony of a web without science

so you want to make things look like miniatures: tilt/shift photography links

a remarkable newsweek article on global warming denialists. [on this side of the border, the post has been the unsurprising mouthpiece for denialists.] [ipcc report for those who prefer to read first, argue later.]

adam leventhal's what if machine: dtrace port looks into dtrace license issues for possible/hypothetical port to linux. [i think that the amount of hand wringing, bad mouthing and churn around dtrace in linux circles now amounts to dtrace denial, or dtrace envy. it is deeply embarrassing.]

john allen paulos on religion and math: math: gift from god or work of man?
I wonder if the school teaches that non-Euclidean geometry is the work of the devil or at least of non-Christians.