Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Teabaggers & Race-baiting

No one can control all the comments on their blog, but when Zachriel pointed out race-baiting at Gateway Pundit, they deleted Zachriel's comments, and not the race-baiting. Here's just a small sample on the one thread about Obama.
He must be talking about the imaginary father he made up to replace the one who abandoned him and the other one who pimped him out.
Like 85% of the black men in this country….he really doesn’t know; however, my money is on Redd Foxx of Sanford and Son…
Now Bill Ayers will have to write another book about his dad… “Black Skin, Purple Heart”
Isn’t it interesting how BO only seems to acknowledge the white side of his family when it will gain him political points? Oh, except for his “typical white” grandmother.
There are serious rumors that Stanley Dunham fathered Obama with his real mother being a black prostitute in Honolulu
Of course, none of the Gateway Pundits acknowledge the race-baiting, but accuse anyone who points it out of being race-baiters themselves.

Meanwhile, the thread was about Obama saying his father served in WWII, when he obviously meant his grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who volunteered to serve in WWII, the grandfather who raised him from the time Obama was ten years old.

Stanley Armour Dunham

NAACP delegates passed a resolution to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party, calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I can’t believe Dembski chose Word Mutagenation!!

Take a look at William Dembski’s latest draft manuscript, Active Information in Evolutionary Search The Information Cost of No Free Lunch.

Dembski: Proponents of intelligent design have argued that the NFLT shows that Darwinian evolution cannot generate the information required for biological complexity from scratch but instead merely reshuffles existing information.

The NFLT (No Free Lunch Theorem, Wolpert and Macready 1997) doesn’t suggest that Darwinian Evolution can't generate information in the sense of searching a fitness landscape. Rather, it merely states that it may or may not be the best conceivable algorithm for finding fitness.

Dembski: Making such assumptions about underlying search structures is not only common but also vital to the success of optimizing searchers (...).

Such assumptions, however, are useless when searching to find a sequence of, say, 7 letters from a 26-letter alphabet to form a word that will pass successfully through a spell checker… With no metric to determine nearness, the search landscape for such searches is binary—either success or failure. There are no sloped hills to climb.

I can’t believe Dembski chose Word Mutagenation!! He couldn't be more wrong.

It’s been three years since I published Word Mutagenation on the web, the result of a year-long thread on the newsgroup Talk Origins with Intelligent Design advocate, Sean Pitman. I suppose it’s time to dust off the old Letter Mutator and take another look.

Turns out we don’t have to make any assumptions about the search space of words. For instance, we could start with the single-letter word “O”, a replicating population representing a veritable Pond of O’s flowing down to the Sea of Beneficence.

In the beginning was the Word.

We then mutate words in our Sea. We might change a random letter, add a random letter, delete a random letter, or randomly recombine words in the Sea. Something like this:



If a mutant sequence is not a valid word, that is, if it fails the spell-checker rule that Dembski established above, then it is ruthlessly eliminated with no issue. If it is a valid word, it enters the population as a new strain. (We might optionally limit our Pond of Words to just a certain number of the longest words.) So, what do we expect?

Quick calculation:
10-letter words in dictionary ~10^4
10-letter sequences possible ~10^14
Ratio of valid 10-letter words to possible sequences ~10^10

A random search would take ~10^10 or several billion mutations. An evolutionary search algorithm takes only ~10^5 mutations or about a hundred thousand times faster—consistently. There is nothing about the structure of words in Word Mutagenation. It works in the simplest of fashions; random mutation and spell-check, over and over again.

The structure is found in the words themselves. Turns out that language itself has evolved and evidence of that history is found in the words we use.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Blogging Debussy

This piano piece by Debussy is a delight and reminds us of a day not so long past when life was full of sun and color.
(MP3, right-click then Save As, ~5 MB)

Claude Debussy, who lived at the turn of the 20th century, innovated many new sounds, including the novel uses of sevenths, ninths and suspended chords. These new sounds opened the door for the emergence of jazz.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Gasp! Bill O'Reilly lied to Oprah!!

Oprah's Town Hall with Bill O'ReillyOprah had Bill O'Reilly on to promote his version of the culture war. O'Reilly often makes misstatements of fact on his cable news show. Nothing new about that. But now O'Reilly's lied to Oprah — on her own show. That is going too far!

Oprah is presenting a Town Hall style of show. Man #2 is a member of the audience.

Man #2: And, you know, I watched your show where you lumped Bob Woodward in with the anti-Bush media, Woodward who wrote a book that portrayed Bush as a strong leader. Now he writes a book that shows that his view, and the view of the sources he had, which no one has disputed the veracity of his sources, that Bush has lost his way. So now all of a sudden he's anti-Bush. You know, what's...
Mr. O'REILLY: I didn't say he was anti--I told--you should read the book.
Man #2: You lumped him in with the anti-Bush media, that's what you said.
Mr. O'REILLY: Absolutely not.
Man #2: The anti-Bush media including Bob Woodward in your interview with the president.

Anyway, from Foxnews, O'REILLY expounding to the President during the interview:

Mr. O'REILLY: There's one other reason they've turned against the war in Iraq. The anti-Bush press pounds day in and day out - in the newspapers, on the network news, in books like Bob Woodward's - that you don't know what you're doing there, that you have no strategy and don't listen to dissent.
Most of us, given the opportunity to interview the President of the United States, would remember every word, even every stutter of such an encounter. It is hard to believe that O'Reilly would not remember something so specific.

An important aspect of the encounter is that Man #2 has no way within the confines of the forum to rebut O'Reilly's flat denial. It leaves the truthful Man #2 gasping for air, maybe even wondering if he is the one who misremembered. O'Reilly then proceeds to accuse Man #2 of "hiding behind freedom" and of being a "Fox hater". Alas, this happens everyday on the O'Reilly factor.

Just for fun, Bill O'Reilly misremembers about his use of personal attacks, from Media Matters.

O'Reilly attacks ... and attacks ... and attacks

Update: O'Reilly Fibs about John Edwards

(Thanks to Talking Points Memo.)

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Informed comment from 1976. Or is it from 2006?

"Despite the enthusiasm and goodwill, despite the good intentions, the American advisory program was a lamentable disaster that contributed largely to the eventual debacle in Vietnam. It was worse: it was a gigantic con trick foisted on American public opinion. Not so much by those in the field as by those who never walked the field of battle, but strode the corridors of power in Washington, those to whom the Vietnam war started as a kind of theoretical dream of how to combat the spread of Communism, but gradually twisted and writhed into a hellish nightmare." — Nguyen Cao Ky, Former Prime Minister of South Vietnam and ardent anti-Communist, from How We Lost the Vietnam War.

(more quotes in comments)

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Uncommon Dissent

An interesting event occurred at William Dembski's blog, Uncommon Descent. I was banned! (Dembski is supposedly one of the leading Intelligent Design "theoreticians".)

The moderator of Uncommon Descent is DaveScot (who claims a genius IQ). He made a series of misstatements (see comments). He apparently highly resents being corrected. He likes to ridicule people who disagree with him — no matter how valid and reasonable their criticism might be. (I try to abide by these rules when commenting on blogs.)

I checked the moderation policy, and yes indeed, "ID-critics" are not welcome. Apparently, Intelligent Design doesn't hold up well under close examination. DaveScot would even inject pointed questions into my comments, then 'neglect' to post the response.

I found the situation rather amusing, but it wasn't of any major concern because most of the posts on Uncommon Descent lack substance and are unlikely to convince any general readers, and because DaveScot's behavior clearly undermined whatever influence he might have had.

Or in the words of DaveScot, "What’s the matter [church burnin’ ebola] boys, cat got your tongues?" I suppose I didn't measure up to the level of discourse required.

The Panda's Thumb is the virtual pub of the University of Ediacara.Addendum: Apparently DaveScot has been banned from Panda's Thumb for threatening to hack the site and for using another person's nym. That might explain his bitterness.