athelind: (ME!)
Athelind's Internal Thought Processes:

Man, this hat has seen better days. Mostly before if fell behind the dresser.

I'm just starting a load of laundry. I wonder if I can machine-wash this thing?

That might ruin it!

On the other claw, do I ever plan to put it back on my head in this condition?


I'll keep you all posted ... for Science!!

It's a black fatigue/combat cap. The cylindrical crown fits much better on my head and is far more flattering than the dome crown of a baseball cal. I like it a lot, but if I destroy it, I can replace it easily and cheaply.




Update: It's as good as new!


athelind: (Ommm)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

I am a fan of many authors and songwriters who are famous for their brevity and wit, for their pithy epigrams, for their quotability. Franklin, Twain, Heinlein, Sagan; I pepper my speech with references to all of them.

My favorite quote, however, is not a nice, tidy little soundbite. It's not an epigram. It's not pithy. I can't randomly drop make an oblique reference to it in casual conversation.

I first discovered it in a book my grandmother left me: The Ascent of Man, by Jacob Bronowski, based on his PBS series of the same name. More than any other passage, it spoke to me.



It is said that science will dehumanise people and turn them into numbers. This is false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashed of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.'

I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died at Auschwitz, to stand here by the pond as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.



athelind: (eco-rant)
... This is just a quick note. No substance, no references, no citations.


A lot of people are up in arms about how the situation in Japan underscores the "dangers of nuclear power".

To this point, the radiation leaked into the environment is minimal. Things are Very Bad Indeed if you're within a certain radius of the plant, but my suspicion is that the increased health risks and hazards caused by this amount of radiation will still be substantially less than those caused by fossil fuel plants.

Let me emphasize this:

The environmental and human impact of a complex of nuclear reactors failing catastrophically after a major disaster is less than that of fossil fuel plants in the regular course of their operation.[Citation Needed]



I will endeavor to find numbers to confirm or deny this next week, after I return home.


Yes, I just used the Lorax as an icon in a possibly-pro-nuclear post.
athelind: (work)
After the SRI debacle of 2008, I promised myself that I wouldn't count chickens on any future job offers. If something looked promising, I might let some people know, or drop some hints, but nothing that would jinx anything.

Some people say you don't really have the job for sure until you clock in that first day.

I went one further: I wasn't going to believe that I'd really landed the elusive Real Full-Time Job With Benefits until the first paycheck cleared.

The check cleared Tuesday night.
I am now officially employed as a Technical Writer.


... of course, I'm only 10 days into a 90-day trial period, so there's a part of me that thinks that even this is premature.

This was, for the record, extremely fast-tracked. The Monday before Further Confusion (09 JAN 2011), [livejournal.com profile] kohai_tiger gave me a heads up about a job listing at his company, in his department. I cleaned up my resume and sent it in.

The Monday of Further Confusion (17 JAN 2011), the last day of the con, my cell phone rang while I was sitting in a panel. I took the call outside, and when I came back, I had an interview slated for Wednesday (19 JAN 2011).

The Tuesday after that (25 JAN 2011), I had my second interview.

My last day at Legends was Friday, 04 FEB 2011.

My first day on the job was Monday the 7th.

Turn-around time from first hearing about the job to starting it: 4 weeks exactly.

I should note that the job boards, the resume shotgun, and all the rest of the knuckle-down, nose-to-the-grindstone, job-hunting-is-your-job legwork aren't what finally landed me the Real Job.

What landed me the job was playing Star Wars D&D twice a month with my friends.

I'm afraid I've learned all the wrong lessons from this.


I love the job.

For those of you wondering what a "Technical Writer" does ... well, so was I, a few weeks ago. Summary: I turn field data into readable, well-organized reports.

The work is interesting, and I'm working with a good team.

During the interview, they were very enthusiastic about my resume and my writing samples. This was the first time in all my time job hunting where interviewers looked at my wide-ranging, eclectic background as an asset. this job can make use of all of my different skill sets—even my time at Legends!

Because of those wide-ranging skills, they're also going to be cross-training me as a field tech as well as a technical writer; at least one person has said "it would be a waste to keep you behind a desk."

One thing I love: after getting tossed into the deep end of the You Figure It Out pool at the last two "Real Jobs" I've had since graduation, and then spending two years in the genial chaos of Legends, I'm in a place where the standing orders are "if you have a question, ask someone"—and the answers generally start with, "let's look it up!"

I'm in heaven.

I made an interesting discovery on my second or third day.

Our company certifies clean rooms, vent hoods, and other lab apparatus for a wide range of companies, mostly in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Our safety-and-technical trainer repeatedly emphasizes during our training sessions that our work insures the cleanliness of locations that make medicine that gets directly injected into the bloodstreams of patients with already-compromised immune systems

Contaminants, especially unsuspected contaminants, could kill people. Lots of people.

And it comes down to us.

Lives are in our hands.

Here's the interesting discovery:

I'm good with that.

I'm a Coast Guard veteran, and my first long-term civilian job after mustering out was pushing hospital patients down to X-Ray and Nuclear Medicine on gurneys. I've had lives in my hands before.

When that clicked during training, it didn't feel like ZOMG PRESSURE. Quite the opposite: I relaxed. Some little ball of tension inside me evaporated.

When I know that lives hinge on the quality of the work I do ... I'm in my comfort zone.

It's odd place to find your comfort zone, I confess.

Maybe it's that, in a job with High Stakes, I don't feel the need to "prove" anything. Simply doing the job and doing it well and right is validation enough.

Maybe it's just that, deep down, I can only really take a job seriously if lives are on the line. "Pfffft. Urgent? You're not bleeding and you're not drowning. Let me tell you about urgent ... ."


athelind: (Eye - VK)
There's been a bit of a kerfluffle about a recent study about students who fell for a hoax website about the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

Frankly, the article linked above is a shoddy piece of science journalism. As [livejournal.com profile] eggshellhammer pointed out, it doesn't link to the original study. Even worse, in Your Obedient Serpent's eyes: it didn't specify the age level of the students. That's an important factor: a study about the critical thinking ability of kindergarten students has entirely different implications than the same study about a group of college undergraduates.

That in itself is an indication of a failure of critical thinking ability in would-be science journalists.

As it transpires, this study involved seventh-graders. The conclusion can thus be summarized as, "wow, you can con a 12-year-old into believing some crazy shit", which is hardly earth-shattering news. I'd say three-quarters of the contents of snopes.com is stuff that was repeated as gospel truth on the Bicentennial schoolyards of my twelfth year.

(I find the datum that students ignore search engines in favor of randomlytypinginaname.com to be much more startling, personally. Seriously, WTF?)

The other study mentioned in the University of Connecticut article suggests that this, in large measure, just reflects a need for improved emphasis on Internet search and access skills, and not some Terrible Crisis in Education. That's how the researchers seem to interpret it; the DANGER WILL ROBINSON! reactions were mostly imposed by the secondary sources. For my part, I was intrigued and, on some level, amused at the revelation that students who had difficulties with traditional literacy showed superior online reading facilities.

As for the details of the first study ... I'm going to be generous and completely ignore the implications of drawing broad conclusions from a sample group of twenty-five students in a single class. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that this specific class is representative of the entire population of students in Connecticut. Let's take a look at two of the sited conclusions:

• All but one of the 25 rated the site as "very credible" ...

Let us, just for a moment, step out of the role of of the Know-It-All Grown-Up Who Knows This Site Is Patently Absurd Because There's No Such Thing. Let us remember that those reading this journal are likely to have at least five more years of formal education than the subjects of this study.

Yes, http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/ is "very credible".

"Credible" doesn't mean "true" or "accurate". It means "able to be believed", or "capable of persuading". The website has a professional presentation and a serious, convincing tone. The only obvious joke on the main page (aside from a deadpan link to sasquatch) is a reference to the organization "Greenpeas". The FAQ gets increasingly flippant and absurdist, but they avoid an overtly humorous tone for the main body.

Given that aquarium octopuses are well-known for getting out of their tanks and taking walks, and that there is at least one species of land-dwelling, arboreal hermit crabs, the idea of a "tree octopus" is just plausible enough to someone who knows just how weird and wacky life on Earth can get.

In science, "credibility" also means "reproducibility", and in this context, that extends to being able to find other corroborating sources.

This leads us to the second conclusion I want to examine:

• Most struggled when asked to produce proof - or even clues - that the web site was false ...

Hey, it's an exercise for the class! Let's check our own research and critical thinking abilities, shall we?

I'm curious to see what proofs (or even clues!) the folks reading this can come up with, above and beyond the flippant tone of the FAQ that I mentioned above. The Sasquatch link leads to an equally-deadpan page, of course.

Needless to say, "I just know there's no such thing" isn't a valid "proof"; in fact, it doesn't even rate as a "clue".

Answers will be graded!


Thanks ... and apologies ... to [livejournal.com profile] pseudomanitou for drawing my attention to this study and the reactions which followed. Please don't think I'm being an asshole for deconstructing this.
Update: [livejournal.com profile] eggshellhammer contacted the original author and scored a link to the original document. Yes, the sample group was larger than 25.
athelind: (Parallel Worlds)

Evidence Emerges That Laws of Physics Are Not Fine-Tuned For Life



I admit it: even the weak versions of the Anthropic Principle make me twitch. Yes, if we're observing the universe, its physical conditions must allow us to exist; fine, that's kind of a "duh". Stronger versions get increasingly ... problematic ... as their proponents start dwelling on what a "fortunate coincidence" it is that all of these underlying physical constants line up just right for the perfect bowl of porridge rise of Life As We Know It ...

... and then they start talking about how the Universe must have arisen in such a way ...

... and then they just lapse into "GLAARGLE BARGLE PROOF OF GOD" and start speaking in tongues.

Yes, there are more sophisticated and defensible versions of the Anthropic Principle out there, but nevertheless, the concept has turned into something of a buzzword for those who want to dress up "intelligent design" in a costume that will get them into big science conferences as well as Kansas school board meetings.1

These are the people most likely to start harping on how amazing it is that the value of little terms buried deep in complex equations like the cosmological constant are exactly perfectly optimally perfectly wonderfully exact to promote the development of blah blah blah blah blah.

This is why Your Obedient Serpent uttered a joyous and most undraconic "squee" when Futurismic pointed out this article that indicates, hey, you know what, Doctor Pangloss? This may not be the Best of All Possible Worlds, after all!

Of course, as a militant agnostic, I'm just going to sit back and make popcorn as this news prompts a stampede of would-be Oolon Colluphids to get themselves run over at the next zebra crossing.


1A similar fate has befallen James Lovelock's "Gaia hypothesis", which has been Flanderized by both detractors and some proponents into "WOO GODDESS". The elegant systems mechanics behind the Gaia principle play an important part in my own weird version of pantheism, but that just makes it that much worse when Princess Priestess Raven Shadowscroft in beads and sequins spouts the words in the middle of some pompous Aquarian rant.
athelind: (facepalm)
Yesterday, I asked myself a question that's come up a few times over the last few months: why do I feel hung over when I haven't had any alcohol? I had a headache that acetaminophen barely touched, and it stuck around all day, finally fading some time around 2300 hours.1

(Oddly, I seldom get hangovers when I've actually imbibed. Usually, I'm very careful to cut myself off well before bedtime, and to drink copious water before hitting the hoard. I usually add a single aspirin to my usual nighttime meds, as well.)

Since a goodly part of the ill effects of hangover come from dehydration, I've been assuming that the combination of dry winter air and the return of the heater have been the primary factors. Of course, in the summer, I was ascribing the same effect to warm overnight temperatures.

Yesterday, though, I realized that, while the headache was the most noticeable symptom, it was accompanied by what I will euphemistically refer to as "stomach upset".

Grauph. Not only do I have a wretched headache, but that milkshake from In-N-Out has triggered my lactose intolerance.

... wait a sec.

Eureka.
2

The form of stomach upset induced by lactose intolerance3 can, indeed, result in dehydration4, thus prompting the other symptoms.

Running through recent incidents in my mind, I realized that there did, indeed, seem to be a correspondence between Dinner at I/O with Strawberry Shake and a day of chronic headache and general malaise.5

The evidence seems to support the hypothesis that milkshakes give me hangovers.

No, I am not going to chug a milkshake before bed just to test that out.

Not even for SCIENCE!!


  1. IT'S NOT A TOOMAH!
  2. Though I was in the bathing chamber without pants, I did not otherwise emulate Archimedes.
  3. Yes, that. You know exactly what I'm talking about.
  4. That's why it's important to make sure you get plenty of fluids when you have the flu.
    Or dysentery.
  5. IT'S NOT ATTUMA!

athelind: (green hills of earth)
When I mentioned him in yesterday's Writer's Block, I was entirely unaware of the fact that today would have been Unca Carl's 76th birthday.

I've linked to this before, but it's always worth revisiting:




...That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.



athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
In a moment of magnificent serendipity, I just turned on the TV to catch the very beginning of the very first episode of COSMOS, which I have not seen since it originally aired.

Preach it, Unca Carl.


athelind: (green hills of earth)
As if to demonstrate that Life Goes On, I just had an Archimedes moment: I ran out of the shower, towel wrapped 'round my waist, shouting "EUREKA!"

You see, I finally figured out a series of graphics that would explain to observers just what I was seeing in all that Elkhorn Slough data back in 2004-2005. I was trying to get a coherent article out of three or four different studies, each of which insisted that the Big Erosion Hotspot was in a different part of the Slough. Unfortunately, because their studies found erosion and deposition occurring at opposite ends of the Slough, the PhDs responsible for two of the papers each had ... issues ... with the other.

Bear in mind that these gentlemen were supposed to be my co-authors.

Bear in mind as well that I'm the only guy who looked at all four and a half data sets spanning 15 years.

Of course, any hypothesis that reconciled these supposedly-contradictory datasets was going to get lambasted from both ends.

Of course, after staring at all that data for three years, I came up with one:

Elkhorn Slough would experience Big Erosion Events that would dump a lot of sediment at the head of the Slough, and it would work its way down to the mouth over a period of years, thus giving the pattern of "Erosion here, deposition there" in one study, and "Erosion there, deposition here" a few years later.

I just figured out how to make maps that show the bulge of sediment moving down the slough.

It's clearly visible in the "flip chart" of cross-sections I carried around with me during that whole project, but I just figured out a way to display the data in four or five Q&D maps, rather than making people scrutinize Excel graphs for three years to see the pattern emerge.

So, yeah, "Eureka".

And you know what's even better?

When I rattled this off to [livejournal.com profile] thoughtsdriftby, who's an engineer, he said, "oh, yeah. that's plug flow."

So:
  1. I still have all that data on my desktop hard drive.
  2. And I have an open-source GIS program that I've been wanting to figure out.
  3. And I want closure, dammit.


I may have material for a Master's Thesis here.


athelind: (far call)
Last week was the 41st anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight, widely viewed as the "defining moment" of my generation.

Really, though, the defining moment of my generation was not when Humanity reached out to stride upon the Moon.

It was when we turned away.


athelind: (Sci Fi)

Plastic Antibodies Effective In Living Animals!



Natural antibodies are proteins that are shaped to wrap around the molecules of a dangerous substance. The body has to be exposed to the substance to learn how to make them, and the immune system responses involved in the process can contribute to the trauma. Thing like antivenom serums are currently made by injecting a large animal like a horse with the toxin, and then filtering their blood for the antibodies—these natural antibodies can sometimes induce reactions of their own.

This technique creates synthetic antibodies out of plastic, simply by molding the polymer around the molecules.

This is insanely brilliant, and could open huge doors in medical treatments.

It's also one of those Amazing Advances of the Future that slipped by most SF writers.

In a space opera setting, since these are biologically neutral, you could actually have antitoxins that would work on almost any species! Call Sector General!

I can so easily see a Plastic Antibody Synthesis rig as part of the onboard medical systems of KLDR-4077, or a transhuman/posthuman character like Charlotte; it seems especially well-suited to her "rebuilt to survive in a toxic world" theme.


Regular readers will note that I've added another new "column" to my Subject Headers: "Here's Your Effing Jetpack." Yes, it's the 21st Century, and no, we don't have all the wonderful Jetsons technology they promised us—but we have so much tech that hardly anyone did foresee. And we take most of it for granted, including the ones that make this post possible. There are enough net-tech sites out there that I won't bother making note of the latest Cupertino Tchotchke, but if something weird, wonderful, and off the wall strikes my eye—well, Here's Your Effing Jetpack.
athelind: (green hills of earth)
I got home just in time to make a post in celebration of Jacques Cousteau's 100th birthday.

I, of course, grew up on The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, and his work as always been an inspiration to me. I know I owe some part of my love of the sea to his work and his words.

As part of the celebration, they are re-launching Calypso.

A better monument to the man, I cannot conceive.






To ride on the crest of a wild raging storm ... )

Happy Centennial, Dr. Cousteau, wherever you may be.

athelind: (far call)

Something is consuming hydrogen and methane on Saturn's moon, Titan.



This isn't as obvious, exciting, or definitive a "yes" as, say, an ancient city atop Olympus Mons, or giant tentacles pulling a space probe beneath the ice, and most people are going to react by saying, "aw, that could be anything".

And yes, it could be a lot of things.

But it's an anomaly. The concentrations of at least two chemicals are far from what we'd predict if only simple physical and chemical processes are involved. James Lovelock, before he got famous for his controversial Gaea Hypothesis, postulated that the best way to search for life would be to look for exactly that: "anomalous" concentrations of compounds, far from chemical equilibrium, that are nonetheless stable.

NASA scientists have been saying for years that Titan and a few other gas giant moons have "all the requirements" for methane-based life, if such a thing is possible. I've largely smiled, nodded, and moved on, because, up until now, it looked like the "perfect conditions" on the Outer Moons were at chemical equilibrium.

But now: missing hydrogen and acetylene.

As someone whose entire college curriculum was built around the application of systems theory to biology, that makes me sit up and take notice.


athelind: (green hills of earth)
People are always sending me "cool" links from places like BoingBoing, but it's always stuff related to SF and fantasy, or gaming and superheroes, or gadgets and space travel.

Among my various job titles over the years is "Historical Bathymetry Change Analyst", and that's the one I got to pick myself. I love maps. I love history. I love teasing out patterns from reams of data. Examining the way bodies of water change over decades and centuries fascinates me.

Ladies and gentlemen, This is Relevant to My Interests:



That's the course of the Mississippi River, as it's changed and meandered over tens of thousands of years.

Look at that incredible image.

Just look at it.


athelind: (far call)
I just watched President Obama's speech at Kennedy Space Center.

My distillation:

He wants to move beyond the "Business As Usual" stagnation of the Shuttle era, but he doesn't want to go back to the days of token high-profile publicity stunt-flights. He wants to set up a long-term program of expanding and extending the human presence in space, and improving the technology to get us out there and let us stay out there. He wants to establish a space infrastructure, and not just one in LEO: one geared for long-range, deep-space exploration.

I don't think he ever said the "C-word", but I might have heard it there, between the lines.

Neil doesn't like it, but Buzz does—and, frankly, between the two, I trust Buzz's opinion more. The guy who advocated the Mars Cycler is not the type to say "we should keep doing it this way because we've always done it this way".


athelind: (green hills of earth)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Do you believe there is other intelligent life in distant galaxies? If no, why not? If yes, do you believe this is something to be feared and avoided or actively sought out?*

This was yesterday's QOTD, and it's taken me until now to answer it.

I am entirely agnostic on this issue. I do not have sufficient data to make a reasonable case for either position—I can think of many reasonable-sounding arguments, but they all come down to unfounded assumptions at one point or another.

Since I'm militantly agnostic on several questions that other people find all-important, this isn't surprising. I'm simply being consistent.

I once read something that asserted that "belief" derived from old Germanic roots that mean "prefer" or ""desire". The etymology is dubious, but the principle is sound: when people say that they "believe" something, I've found that, by and large, they're really asserting that they would prefer that it were true, that the world worked in such-and-such a fashion.**

To my great surprise, I found that, upon examination, I don't have any real preference for either position. I really am agnostic.

If extraterrestrial intelligence exists, then, wow! That's wonderful! Look at all of these new people to meet! All of these new perspectives to learn! All of these new cultures to discover!

If ETI doesn't exist, if we're the only conscious, tool-using species at this particular epoch—or if we're the first and only such species to ever emerge—then we and our progeny can, if technology and physics will ever allow, expand to the stars without barriers or hesitation or White Liberal Guilt Prime Directives. It's ours. All ours.

And that has its bright spots, as well.


*I am going to arrogantly assume that "distant galaxies" is, as is so often the case, Astronomically Illiterate Shorthand for "other star systems".
**I will now irritate a vocal portion of my audience by opining that the contrapositive often holds, as well.

athelind: (soylent)

Federal Judge Rules Against Patents On Human Genes



Your Obedient Serpent applauds this rare triumph of common sense over corporate interests. Patenting a naturally-occurring human genetic sequence is like patenting the gall bladder or the pancreas.

I could also frame an argument based on the Thirteenth Amendment: if someone else claims legal authority over part of your body, and asserts that only they can profit from it, that strikes me as a form of "involuntary servitude".

This might be a convoluted logic, but no more so than the arguments in favor of human gene patents.

Note that the peculiar nature of the patent claim asserts the sole rights to create tests for the genes in question, this means that Myriad Genetics sought to claim authority over that part of your genetic code that would contain the sequence, whether or not it actually does.

So, congratulations, everyone. Judge Sweet has declared that you're not owned.

At least, not by that corporation.


athelind: (cue howard)

Warning! Two-topic post!




There's a discussion on CNN right now, where Rick Sanchez is talking to a guy from the Census Bureau about why we have to count everyone instead of using statistical methods to take a sample, and extrapolate the population numbers from there. Evidently, Rick's List is an "audience-driven" show, where Sanchez presents stories based on viewer questions; this explains some of his eye-rolling as he tries to hold up "his" side of the interview ("TV ratings extrapolate the opinons of a thousand viewers from a poll of a hundred, and we know how well that works.").

To me -- and, I suspect, anyone who's really studied and used statistical methods -- the answer is obvious

The U.S. Census is one of the rare opportunities to get the baseline data upon which we can base our statistical analyses.



In the Geospatial Analysis/Remote Sensing field, we call this "groundtruthing". It doesn't matter how good you think your digital data is -- at some point, you have to get down on the ground, take a look at the place you're mapping, and make sure the Map Resembles The Territory.

It's funny -- I'll lay odds that the guy who posed the question on Rick's site is also one of those people who bitches that "statistics don't mean a damned thing -- they can make'em say anything they want." Too many people will lambaste statistics as a lazy shortcut that fabricates meaningless data -- until they find themselves in a situation where rigorous, complete data collection inconveniences them.


And, yes, statistics can be misused, massaged, and abused. More often than not, it's because the people reading them aren't doing so fairly or rigorously, and the people viewing them don't really know how to read them.


This segues into a subject that was running through my head earlier this morning:

The people who are most resistant to accepting the principals of Evolution by Natural Selection in a biological context are those who most eagerly accept the same principle in an economic context. They call it "Capitalism". Darwin cheerfully admitted that he got a lot of ideas from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

There are those who will argue that the biological and economic systems are very different, and you can't assume that a model that works for one will hold true in another.

True enough, but from a century or two of observation, the model holds more true in the biological context.*

Even more, they tend to embrace it in a social context, as well, condemning programs that "coddle" the poor. If the poor were worthwhile -- in other words, if they were fit -- they wouldn't need support. If they were worthy, they wouldn't be poor, now, would they? So it's Right and Natural to leave them to their own devices.

Creationists tend to be Social Darwinists.




*Actually, the model works just fine in either context -- the mix of stable periods, instabilities, conditional oscillations, and mass extinctions look very similar whether you're looking at graphs of the fossil record or of economic trends. When you're on the ground in the middle of it all, however, the Panglossian hypothesis that the Invisible Hand of the market will produce the most desirable results depends heavily on how "desirable" you consider a regular pattern of decimation.


athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
Posted for future reference:

The Key to Quantum Gravity May Lie in the Æther.




Expect the TIMECUBE crazies and the anti-science types who think that the Big Bang is part of "Darwinism" to jump all over this, shrieking, "See? Einstein was wrong!" and insulting the intelligence of everyone who doesn't immediately see that this proves their own particular brand of blather.
athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
Posted for future reference:

The Key to Quantum Gravity May Lie in the Æther.




Expect the TIMECUBE crazies and the anti-science types who think that the Big Bang is part of "Darwinism" to jump all over this, shrieking, "See? Einstein was wrong!" and insulting the intelligence of everyone who doesn't immediately see that this proves their own particular brand of blather.
athelind: (coyote laughs)

Yet Another Power Failure Knocks Out The Large Hadron Collider!



This makes me a little nervous; I'd joked earlier that the last few LHC glitches coincided with the escalating assaults on my late, lamented Grape.

I have a NEW car now, dagnabbit!


athelind: (Default)

Yet Another Power Failure Knocks Out The Large Hadron Collider!



This makes me a little nervous; I'd joked earlier that the last few LHC glitches coincided with the escalating assaults on my late, lamented Grape.

I have a NEW car now, dagnabbit!


athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
This is making the rounds of my Friends List; for those who haven't seen it yet, it's my turn to share.







I always said that Unca Carl was a poet.


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