Archives January 2006

A Jim Pinkoski Treasure Trove

Long-time readers of Pharyngula have been treated to PZ Myyrrzz’s (“If you doubt this is possible, how is it there are PIGMIES + DWARFS??“), so I was pleased to discover a veritable treasure trove of Pinkoski’s work.

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ID and Suboptimal Design

William Dembski has put up a paper entitled Intelligent Design is not Optimal Design, which purports to counter the argument from suboptimal design (e.g., “Why would Godan intelligent designer wire human retinas backward, when he had done a better job with octopodes?” or “Why is the panda’s thumb such a kludge? Why not use the same thumb design as in humans?”). His conclusion:

This is a fallen world. The good that God initially intended is no longer fully in evidence. Much has been perverted. Dysteleology, the perversion of design in nature, is a reality. It is evident all around us.

I’ve added a section about this to the notes on the Frequently Asked But Never Answered Questions About Intelligent Design.

(Thanks to Uncommon Descent for the pointer.)

Little Languages and Tables

Recently, a coworker whipped up a Perl script that’ll build all of the
Perl modules we support. This is useful for when we add a new
supported OS or OS version. This script takes a config file, moduledefs, which lists the modules to build, as well as various quirks that affect how and whether the modules should be built. moduledefs is itself a `require‘d Perl script:

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Utah Creationism Bill

The Utah Daily Herald has a perspicacious editorial on Utah’s anti-evolution bill.

While the bill does not mention “intelligent design,” “divine design” or any other euphemism for creationism by name, the implications are clear: A number of legislators want to push religion into the public schools by force of law.

We could end the discussion right here and say that S.B. 96 is nothing but unenforceable nonsense, since the public schools couldn’t discuss an actual theory of the origins of life if they wanted to. None seem to exist.[…]

Only Utah’s Legislature could come up with such an Aristotelian conundrum. We invite our senators to elaborate on any of the genuine “theories” to which this bill refers. The Herald will provide space on this page for the effort. Please list in detail the scientific observations and measurements that support any, or all, of the theories to which your bill makes reference. We’re ready to be enlightened.

Thanks to Uncommon Descent (now under new management!) for the link.

Orson Scott Card vs. the Brain Eater

In case there was still any lingering doubt about whether Orson Scott Card has fallen prey to the brain eater, he is now . PZ Mhriearrr goes on a tear.

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Neologism: Filibuster Screen

I propose the following new term: filibuster screen. It refers to an application splash screen, such as KDE’s or OpenOffice’s, which not only takes up a big chunk of otherwise-useful screen real estate for a long time while it starts up, but also ignores window manager hints so you can’t even move the bloody thing out of the way, thus preventing you from getting any useful work done.

I realize “filibuster screen” is a bit lame. If you can think of a better term, please say so in the comments.

Dembski Admits Motives

It’s official: Uncommon Descent is an IDC circle jerk:

The deal with this blog, since I’ve given it over to my friends, is to build community and “feel the love.” Unfortunately, that requires recalcitrant elements to be purged. That’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Comment by William Dembski — January 10, 2006

Science Diet

Every time the creation vs. evolution debate flares up, someone on the
creationism side will say that “Darwinism” is an “athiest” plot to
destroy religion. And someone on the evolution side will say that
evolution has nothing to say about God, and is quite compatible with
religion. So why don’t the creationists just accept that they can have
their cake and eat it too? That they can have both religion and the
best science available?

It’s kind of like when your doctor tells you you have to lose 40
pounds and puts you on a diet. You moan and make a face. He says,
“Hey, just because it’s a diet doesn’t mean you can’t have tasty and
filling meals.” That’s true. But it does mean that you can’t have
greasy burgers with deep-fried lard balls, or Twinkies and Moon Pies,
a fondness for which is probably the reason you need to lose 40 pounds
in the first place.

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Tom Toles on ID

Tom Toles’s Dec. 23, 2005 cartoon:

The tagline “Maybe a new name…” at the bottom is perfect, because that’s exactly what Bill Dembski was advocating on his weblog:

I therefore offer the following proposal if ID gets outlawed from our public schools: retitle it Intelligent Evolution (IE).

I wrote about this earlier, but I’m glad the creationists’ tactics have entered the public consciousness enough that a mainstream cartoonist like Toles figures his readers will get it.

Pat Robertson’s God Is A Pussy

After his call to assassinate Hugo Chavez and his claim that the residents of Dover, PA rejected God, now Pat Robertson is saying that God caused Ariel Sharon’s stroke. Which, I think, puts him in the same category as Howard Stern, Marilyn Manson, and Bill O’Reilly, since it’s obvious he’s just saying whatever will rile people up and get him some attention.

But on the off chance that he’s off his meds and really means what he says, what kind of god is this? A being who created cubic megarparsecs of space and billions of years of time, yet is petty enough to care about a few square miles of desert on our planet. One who’s vindictive enough to cause a man grievous bodily harm instead of explaining his position rationally. And finally, he’s a pussy who won’t come out and show himself.

I’m sorry, but that’s not a being worthy of worship.