Friday, May 27, 2005

One more thing before we get off Allen's case. Back when he had a sense of humor, he made that disconnect with attractive women a source of laughs (and intentional squirms). But by his later movies, his celebrity had fogged his brain. He just acted entitled.
David Edelstein gets it right about Woody Allen.
H. Allen Orr on why Intelligent Design...isn't.

Another problem with Dembski’s arguments concerns the N.F.L. theorems. Recent work shows that these theorems don’t hold in the case of co-evolution, when two or more species evolve in response to one another. And most evolution is surely co-evolution. Organisms do not spend most of their time adapting to rocks; they are perpetually challenged by, and adapting to, a rapidly changing suite of viruses, parasites, predators, and prey. A theorem that doesn’t apply to these situations is a theorem whose relevance to biology is unclear. As it happens, David Wolpert, one of the authors of the N.F.L. theorems, recently denounced Dembski’s use of those theorems as “fatally informal and imprecise.” Dembski’s apparent response has been a tactical retreat. In 2002, Dembski triumphantly proclaimed, “The No Free Lunch theorems dash any hope of generating specified complexity via evolutionary algorithms.” Now he says, “I certainly never argued that the N.F.L. theorems provide a direct refutation of Darwinism.”
What's interesting (and ironic) is that the ID movement should be having more political success in front of dim-witted school boards even as its proponents are continuously forced to admit the fallacies in their "theory".
Salon ("Never Say Die") is approaching profitability based on its hybrid approach to maying for online content.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

News about your digital self:
The wealthy will be able to download their consciousness into computers by 2050 - the not so well off by "2075 or 2080", claims futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson, head of the Futurology unit at BT.
Um, aren't there some unspoken assumptions here? So it's been proven that a. we know in scientifically meaningful (i.e. testable) terms what the consciousness is? And b. it can be quantified?

I must have missed who discovered that, and when they got the Nobel prize. (File under Einstein's "The Man of Science is a Poor Philosopher" dept.)
Bummer. Another promising means of space travel bites the dust.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Derb:
I have given up reading emails about [Intelligent Design]. Same applies, btw, to emails about flying saucers, Martian canals, the hollow earth, Atlantis, telepathy, dianetics, unicorns, phrenology, astrology, orgonomy, alien abductions, Bridey Murphy, the location of Noah's ark, the fate of the Marie Celeste's crew, and whether or not the bishops of the Church of England should open Joanna Southcott's box. I do not wish to know any more than I currently know about any of these topics. If you believe in one, many, or all of them, I'm fine with it, and wish you joy of your belief -- just don't try to enlist me. And please don't try to dump any of this stuff into my kids' school science curriculum.

Time weighs in with it's picks for the 100 best movies of all time....

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Great news for writers who have been left high and dry by the retreat of once great short story markets like The Atlantic.
Anthony Lane in his merciless appraisal of the new Star Wars movie:

The young Obi-Wan Kenobi is not, I hasten to add, the most nauseating figure onscreen; nor is R2-D2 or even C-3PO, although I still fail to understand why I should have been expected to waste twenty-five years of my life following the progress of a beeping trash can and a gay, gold-plated Jeeves. No, the one who gets me is Yoda.

May I take the opportunity to enter a brief plea in favor of his extermination? Any educated moviegoer would know what to do, having watched that helpful sequence in “Gremlins” when a small, sage-colored beastie is fed into an electric blender. A fittingly frantic end, I feel, for the faux-pensive stillness on which the Yoda legend has hung.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Britons described them as "chauvinists, stubborn, nannied and humourless". However, the French may be more shocked by the views of other nations.

For the Germans, the French are "pretentious, offhand and frivolous". The Dutch describe them as "agitated, talkative and shallow." The Spanish see them as "cold, distant, vain and impolite" and the Portuguese as "preaching". In Italy they come across as "snobs, arrogant, flesh-loving, righteous and self-obsessed" and the Greeks find them "not very with it, egocentric bons vivants".

Interestingly, the Swedes consider them "disobedient, immoral, disorganised, neo-colonialist and dirty".

But the knockout punch to French pride came in the way the poll was conducted. People were not asked what they hated in the French, just what they thought of them.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Tech Central gets to the heart of why Star Trek truly mattered:

Star Trek didn't just offer the illimitable joys of William Shatner tumbling out of his chair every time the camera shook, or yet another sermon from the pen of Gene Roddenberry about how organized religion is a childish superstition. It offered a world. It offered a place that dreamers could call their own; a place where wonky, right-leaning dreams of rugged space exploration and pioneering could sit comfortably next to hippy-dippy dreams of world peace and universal brotherhood. It was a kind of home, and home is no place for shrewd critical judgments.
Complete article.

"Newsweek Lied. People died." Going to be hearing this a lot more in the coming days and weeks...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

89% and dropping. Microsoft's share of the browser market, that is, according to CNN.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Astronomers photographed a cosmic event this morning which they believe is the birth of a black hole, has learned.

A faint visible-light flash moments after a high-energy gamma-ray burst likely heralds the merger of two dense neutron stars to create a relatively low-mass black hole, said Neil Gehrels of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. It is the first time an optical counterpart to a very short-duration gamma-ray burst has ever been detected.


Update: Sean Carroll has more details.

Can it really be happening? Is the truth actually catching up with Arianna Huffington?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The legacy of Richard the Second continues. This, from Publisher's Lunch newsletter:
Lisa Beth Kovetz's novel, about four women - a rich debutante; a scandalous but insightful, young secretary; a lonely and pregnant wife; and a brilliant, friendless lawyer - who meet on their lunch breaks to read erotic stories they have written, to Hillel Black of Sourcebooks, at auction, by Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans.
Lisa played Scroop and was part of the ensemble in the movie and now writes children's books and produces CDs out in LA. Talk about you've come a long way, baby!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Looks like some Mac users are having...'issues' with the new QuickTime 7.

Update: And here's the fix.
And another superb critique of the nonsense behind what is called Intelligent Design...
Media afford few opportunities to actually see the difference between tyranny and freedom, that is, the difference between living in darkness and living in light...

This is one of them.