Archives February 2006

(Belated) Happy Birthday, SN1987A!

I don’t know many people who have a favorite supernova, but I do:
Its light first reached Earth 19 years and a day ago (sorry, I meant to write this entry yesterday, but was too busy), on Feb. 23, 1987.

SN1987A remnant

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Ajax == Emacs: the Next Generation

I’ve started learning this

thing. which allows you to do cool things like
Google Maps
and the
U Wisconsin directory search.

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Web server work

I’ve just updated a bunch of software on the back end.

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Fun With CSS: Large Capitals

One thing I’ve always liked about books is the way typesetters sometimes render the first letter differently from the others, usually several times larger, and with the paragraph flowing around it. Sometimes, the first line or the first few words of the first paragraph are also rendered in small caps. I’ve finally figured out how to do this with CSS:


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Weblogs and Open Source Software

Will Bunch at Attytood has an
about the attitude that some in the mainstream media have toward weblogs. Basically, that Real Reporters™ are trained in Real Journalism™ and do things like check facts with multiple independent sources, whereas bloggers are just average bozos who use the Internet to spread rumors and discuss Desperate Housewives.

Where have I seen this attitude before? Oh, that’s right: when Open Source Software started seriously gaining acceptance.

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The Definitive ID FAQ

Best. Intelligent Design FAQ. Ever.

(Thanks to John “Bruce” Wilkins for the link.)

Not God, Just Someone With the Same Skill Set

There are at least two postings at Uncommon Descent (here and here), that argue that fine-tuning of cosmological constants is evidence of a Designer. Evidently the ID party line is that the Designer isn’t necessarily God, but is someone who can change the speed of light, the charge of the electron, and the fine structure constant throughout the universe.

But last year, after Bill Dembski appeared on The Daily Show’s Evolution, Schmevolution, he wrote:

Stewart & Co. had some lines that were not only funny but also memorable. The one that sticks out poked fun at ID: “We’re not saying that the designer is God, just someone with the same skill-set.”
Although the line is funny, it is not accurate.

So please tell us, Bill: how is Stewart’s line inaccurate?

ID Hysterics

Over at Uncommon Descent, Bill Dembski quotes an unnamed colleague as saying:

However, let us not lose sight of the fact that a scientific theory that requires a judge to enforce its teaching cannot be said to be in good INTELLECTUAL health.

Oh, dear. That blew out my industrial-capacity, lead-shielded, firewalled, unplugged irony-meter. Damn. Those things ain’t cheap, you know?

ID Creationists love to compare ID to the Big Bang and to plate tectonics. Now, which of the three made their way into the classroom after the scientific community concluded that they were good ideas, and which one is being pushed through school boards and the courts? Which one “cannot be said to be in good INTELLECTUAL health”?

By proclaiming it illegal to “disparage or denigrate” neo-Darwinism, Judge Jones adopted the principle of the Inquisition, and in so doing rendered both himself and that state-enforced theory ridiculous.

Ooh, the Inquisition! What a deft way to sidestep Godwin’s Law. But let’s reread what Judge Jones actually wrote in his decision:

we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants […] from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID.

(emphasis mine) For the reading-comprehension-impaired, this means that Judge Jones didn’t forbid dissing evolution, but rather forbade requiring teachers to do so. Got that? Good.

Taking a longer view, I think Dover will come eventually to be be seen as a moral victory, in the same way that Galileo’s condemnation is now viewed as a moral victory.

Ah, yes. The “they laughed at Galileo” argument. Unfortunately, as Robert Park put it, “to wear the mantle of Galileo it is not enough that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right.”

Hey, ID guys, feel free to begin demonstrating that you’re right any time you like.

Monty Dembski’s Life of Brian

On Jan. 30, 2006, DaveScot
in Uncommon Descent:

I will remind everyone again – please frame your arguments around science. If the ID movement doesn’t get the issue framed around science it’s going down and I do not like losing. The plain conclusion of scientific evidence supports descent with modification from a common ancestor.

What we are fighting is the idea that the modification was unguided. ID can fight that without ever leaving the battleground of plain scientific conclusions. If we try to argue against anything else we’re are going to lose. Plain and simple.

In the comments, he adds:

Creation science already lost. Didn’t you get the memo?

Pretty strong words, and certainly a welcome change of direction. But
first, here’s what this posting (and the subsequent discussion in the
made me think of:

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