The Lolife Podcast No. 75

Here is a very interesting interview I did with Ernan McMullin. He is a fascinating guy who knew Schrodinger and Carl Sagan. He is a priest and he studied theoretical physics. He is currently the O’Hara Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the godfather of a good friend of mine. I blogged about him before in regards to Intelligent Design, which he thinks is nonsense on both scientific and theological grounds. It’s a fairly long but highly interesting interview. Check it out!

Download/Listen (MP3, 01:13:19, 34.4MB)
Subscribe (RSS)

The Lolife Podcast No. 75

Good-bye Sioux


I was raised, for the most part, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, home of the University of North Dakota, which is home of the UND Fighting Sioux. There has been on on-going controversy about the name/mascot of the Sioux because it is the name of several living Indian bands. The NCAA has rules which prohibit the use of Indian names, nicknames and mascots.

It’s been an extra controversy in Grand Forks because a rich dick by the name of Ralph Engelstad donated a bunch of money to UND for a new hockey arena (a sport which UND excels at nationally) and then threatened to withdraw it when they considered changing the name.

But the name has got to change. It saddens me, as a long time Sioux hockey fan, to lose the tradition I grew up with. But my respect for the living nations that were once part of the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) is greater. You can’t honor people against their will. And while many North Dakotans are respectful of their Indian neighbors, many are not and many hockey fans are not and the cartoons and caricatures of Native Americans as entertainment for white people is wholly inappropriate.

It’s not the name that makes the UND Fighting Sioux the UND Fighting Sioux. We’ll love our hockey team regardless of the name. It’s never too late to do the right thing.

(Thanks to massdistraction for taking a nice pic of my Sioux t-shirt!)

Good-bye Sioux

The Price of Gas

1. I think it is retarded that people protest the price of gas. It’s called a market and protesting does nothing.

2. It is even more retarded that here in Minnesota the Republicans are trying to blame the price of gas on a $0.02 gas tax. Oil was $30 per barrel when Bush took office and now it is $130. I don’t think it is the $0.02 gax tax you fucking idiots!

3. Further to #2, destablizing the Middle East is a really, really bad idea if you are concerned about the price of gas. We are spending 3 TRILLION dollars sending the military to the oil fields of Iraq. We could have purchased 23 billion barrels of oil at $130 per barrel with that money or 100 billion barrels at $30 per barrel. The most expensive oil in the world is the oil you need to send your military to protect.

4. Oil is a dead-end technology. It’s like hunting for whales. In retrospect it will seem like the dumbest thing we’ve ever done. Wind, solar, surf and nuclear power, using hydrogen as a battery, is the future of the American economy but our current leadership is too stupid to lead us there.

And finally, the high price of gas is a Good Thing®. It’s a regressive “tax”, which sucks, but the only way we can get people to break out of this dead-end mentality is to make the alternatives more attractive. America’s biggest security risk is our lack of energy independence. Too bad the neo-Cons pushed us in the entirely wrong direction for the last 8 years.

The Price of Gas

Unleash the Fury


This cracks me up. It cracks me up because it hints at a very deep truth — the struggle to use written text in a way that adequately communicates emotional content. Never before have we had this near-instantaneous interpersonal written communication. Never before have we conducted so much business and navigated so many relationships in a written medium.

When someone reaches for that caps lock key, they are emotional and they want to holler at someone. They want the text to holler for them. And it does! We add the emotion back in when we read it.

Think about it — we lose information when we type an email message and that information is put back by the recipient, using clues from the text. Things like italics, bolding, case and punctuation, in addition, of course, to the word choices in the message, try to convey a multi-dimensional interpersonal communication over a single, written channel. The emotional content of emails is often (some might say always) misinterpreted by the recipient.

Except, perhaps, when we unleash the fury of caps lock.

Unleash the Fury

HOWTO: Be a successful blogger

For someone as brilliant (and humble) as I am, I often wonder why I am so fantastically ignored on the Internet. I get very few comments and almost no one links to me. I never get forwarded clever little “memes”. I’m just one of a billion little blogs that garners almost no interest.

Using my un-experience I have developed a simple 4-point list so that you, too, can be a successful blogger:

1. Post a lot. If you don’t post a lot you won’t be successful, period. Post no less than several times per day. When in doubt post an “open thread” or post about how you are too busy to post.

2. Pretend you have a theme, even if you don’t. So name your blog “Math Blogger” or “Sex Blogger” or “Evolution Blog” or some name that makes people think you have one and only one main theme. Then post whatever you want. It’s not having a theme that’s important, it’s making people think you have a theme.

3. Be hot. If you are hot, put your picture on your blog. Better yet, be female and hot. No amount of clever, intelligent posting can make up for being hot. If you aren’t hot, only post pictures of you that make you seem hot. Again, it’s not the reality that’s important here.

4. Shamelessly self-promote yourself all the time. Go to every trendy conference, befriend other A-list bloggers, get pictures of yourself with famous bloggers and ruthlessly shove your persona down Twitter and Facebook and every other social meme that erupts. You’re not a blogger, you’re a brand!

I’m just kidding. I don’t feel at all sorry for myself. I have no idea why some people get jillions of readers and jillions of comments for writing ordinary and obvious things. It’s a cult of personality that is impossible to predict.

HOWTO: Be a successful blogger

Why IDiots are idiots

Here’s what we know:

1. 13.73 billion years ago, the universe was created.
2. Somewhere around 4 billion years ago the Earth was created.
3. Around 3 billion years ago, life formed.
4. Life evolved and grew more and more complex and diverse.
5. Today there are millions of species.

The Intelligent Design (ID) movement, exemplified by the movie Expelled, has a problem with #4. They think God mucked around in #4. Science doesn’t have a theory (yet) for how the universe was created (#1). We know exactly what happened milliseconds after the Big Bang, but we don’t know how the Big Bang banged. We don’t have much of a theory about how life was created (although we are making significant progress) (#3). We have really, really good theories of #2 and #4. They are based on hardcore science and have been argued about and tested very thoroughly.

So if you are fervently religious and want to believe that God did #1 and #3, fine, great, have at it. We’ll probably prove you wrong on #3 someday but for #1, God snapping his fingers is as good of theory as any.

But why would you argue with #4? Evolution is obvious. Natural selection is obvious and if you think God is smart then he might think of a way to do things that was clever! He didn’t zap fully formed humans into existence He created a beautiful machine that opened up like a flower over billions of years from which stepped a mind capable of wondering and worshipping. Evolution is a testament to the patience and the brilliance of God. Science is never and could never be at odds with the will of the Creator.

So ID isn’t just bad science, it’s bad theology, it’s bad philosophy, it’s bad everything. It’s especially destructive because it falsely presents itself as being on the side of believers. That is nonsense. True believers are in awe of God’s creation, including the Big Bang, the old earth and natural selection. Science studies God’s creation, it doesn’t oppose it.

Why IDiots are idiots

Hillary R. Clinton will you please go now!

From Maureen Dowd (via @Chuckumentary)

“The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. … I don’t care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Hillary R. Clinton, will you please go now! You can go on skates. You can go on skis. … You can go in an old blue shoe.

Just go, go, GO!”

I personally don’t think it is a bad thing at all that the Democratic race is still on-going. The Republicans like to spin it like it is great for their candidate, but their candidate is a tired, old, rich, white man who thinks in lock-step with George W. Bush on way too many issues, including the war. They have huge problems so they delude themselves and the American public to whatever extent necessary to make it seem like they have a chance.

I do not want Hillary Clinton to be the candidate.

Hillary R. Clinton will you please go now!

We need more snobs like PZ

Thank you, micadelic, for one of the most inane analyses I’ve seen of the Expelled issue:

i just wonder why, if mr. pz is so smart, he’s doesn’t realize he was used as part of a pretty clever publicity stunt. expelling him from expelled! and then he rushes to the nearest computer to breathlessly report how he was kicked out. priceless.

pretty funny if you ask me (and i believe in evolution). i just think pz is an insufferable intellectual snob and it’s great to see him get punk’d.

I suppose I should stop being surprised at the things you think…

PZ attempted to see a movie that he was in. The makers of the movie knew he was coming and waited until the last moment to kick him out. (They could have just emailed him and told him he wasn’t welcome.) The “clever publicity stunt” made those tools look like extra special tools when they kicked out PZ and let Dawkins in! Oops, sorry, didn’t recognize the most recognizable atheist in the world (who is also in the film!). PZ’s reporting of the incident was hilarious and the press associated with the incident was 100% critical and negative towards the movie. Oh, yes, very clever.

I’ve met PZ and he is a very humble and very nice person. He is not a “snob” in the slightest. What he is is extremely knowledgeable about this issue — evolution — and he is constantly defending generally accepted science against people who don’t know a single fucking thing about it. Yes, I suppose one can seem like a snob when you are an expert on a subject and you are debating self-righteous idiots without a clue WTF they are talking about.

The core issue here is very interesting — how the Right pretends to be anti-intellectual. Anti-intellectualism is an agenda of elevating mediocrity and small-minded thinking while denigrating education and intelligence. It’s completely nuts and it gets us incompetent leadership like George W. Bush — a “regular guy” completely devoid of the skills necessary to do his job.

We need a hell of a lot more “intellectual snobs” and a lot less influence by ignorant people too lazy to be intellectually engaged with the world.

We need more snobs like PZ

PZ slices/dices

PZ has another great post slicing and dicing ignorant creationists.

You should read the whole thing but here is a humorous little quote:

Even if physicist discovered that the Big Bang was a result of a cataclysmic battle between Odin and a gang of frost giants, it would not perturb our understanding of life’s history here. It would make the cosmologists freak out, which would be fun, and it would shape our philosophical understanding of our presence here, but evolution is built on evidence on this planet, evidence that will not go away whatever the physicists discover about events 14 billion years ago.

It is amazing that none of the IDiots take on the very specific points that PZ makes in this post. Their arguments are really weak and easily refuted and yet the believers just ignore ideas that undermine their weird little superstitions.

PZ slices/dices