Monthly Archives: April 2012

Brian’s Links 16 April 2012: Can You Find a Theme?

“Riding the Booster.” This video is simply amazing – the solid rocket booster goes up and it comes back down again. I must say, I got a bit dizzy after booster separation. But worth the ride!

Benedict XVI has been dubbed “The Green Pope” for his environmental concern. I like it, and not just because my last name is Green. Here’s a report from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Climate Change.

Ever wondered if your brain was messing with your ability to judge and reason correctly? Well, it is: here is a list of cognitive biases. And the bias I address in some of my research, teleological bias, isn’t even on this immense list. (Teleological bias is the tendency to infer purposes where there are none, e.g., the lightning striking your dog really was a random accident, not because you named your dog Zeus.)

The thought experiment of “ethical autocorrect.”

So, all your traceable purchases are being traced and compiled in myriad computers.  The easy way to stop store-centered ones is to pay cash (like a criminal) and never use those store “clubs.” But the internet is tracking you too! Here are some more sophisticated responses for the internet. And if you tell your Facebook friends to warn them, it just gives the trackers more info on you!

The Nobel Peace Prize committee is under investigation for straying from the prize’s original purpose…

Contagious twitching. A very strange case.

Muggers just need a nice dinner and some conversation.

The case of the Millionaire Metaphysician. For more info see Ammonius.org.

The Guerrilla Grafters, surreptitiously turning non-fruiting city trees into fruiting ones. I like it.

Is it wrong to father 400 children through sperm donation? (And if not, then where is the cutoff? Is there one?) Because of sperm banks, some guys are “fathering” (in a biological sense only) an immense number of children.  This is not insignificant; this is the human gene pool being altered here, not to mention people’s lives.

English Muslim baroness warns Christians to stand up for their religion.

And how to prove the absurdity of the Supreme Court case “Citizens United”? Colbert is on it. Because Mitt Romney is a serial killer. Corporation are people. Bain Capital repeatedly bought and broke up corporations, killing them. Therefore Romney’s a serial killer. I love absurdity. This link to the Colbert Report will get you the video in case the embedded video below has failed. (The embed is a mirror copy of the original (removed for some kind of YouTube terms violation) and likely won’t be alive for long.) This is a few months old, but still just as pertinent.


Brian’s Links 2 April 2012: Robots, Romney, and More Robots

These little robots are just waiting for Skynet to give them guidance. Someday I am going to have to write a more extensive post on the philosophy (and theology) behind these kinds of inventions, but for now I’ll just say that the militarized versions can’t be too far off. Hang a pistol and camera on them and you’ve got a fleet of unpleasant little drones. They remind me of the mechanical hounds in Fahrenheit 451, except that these fly.

Hey, turns out multicellular life is not so hard to get after all. Just repeatedly select for the yeast colonies that settle fastest and voila! Multicellular yeast. One blogger doesn’t like it though.  If multicellular life is so easy to get, he reasons, then what was once a serious obstacle to the evolution of spacefaring intelligence has been easily past. Which means there must be something else causing Fermi’s Paradox… such as intelligent species always destroying themselves.  I have previously discussed “The Great Filterhere, but I’m not as pessimistic as the fellow at Marginal Revolution. We still have a pretty good chance, I think. Though the robots above are not helping my case right now.

Antibiotic-free meat still has drug-resistant bacteria in it, including deadly MRSA. The bacteria don’t seem to follow our ideas about what they ought to be infecting. And you thought meat was supposed to be safe!

Fascinating article about UX, the “Urban eXperiment” in Paris. A literal underground movement – way ahead of the police, and luckily, also not too dangerous, doing such dastardly deeds as sneaking in and repairing the broken clock in the French Pantheon.

Vibrations on rockets make seeing difficult. An expensive problem and a $5 solution. Good thinking.

Another from Be Scofield at Tikkun: the new atheists and racism.

Old news, but in case you missed it: Romney is not concerned about the very poor. Dana Dillon at Catholic Moral Theology takes Romney down, at least from a Catholic perspective: “for Catholics, being unconcerned with the very poor is not an option.”

And (besides the above disturbing comment) why is Mitt Romney so unappealing? Well, it could be that he’s (like) a robot

Penultimately, an atheist in Texas thinks about suing to get a Nativity scene removed. But he discovers he’s going blind, cannot pay for treatment, and so has to give up pursuing the case. And then the town Christians come to his aid, donating to help him pay his rent and get the medical treatment he needs.

And lastly, the lil’ Skynet robots play the James Bond theme.  I bet if they got together with the Stayin’ Alive Petman they could really do something interesting.


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