Friday, December 4, 2009

Jonathan Wells shows his ignorance. Man bites dog at page 75645

Jonathan Wells, a fellow of the Dishonesty Institute posted on the "Evolution News and Views" website the following in a post attacking Donald Prothero, someone who actually does know his shit:
Some Darwinists have suggested that ancestral four-winged fruit flies could have evolved by mutation into modern two-winged fruit flies. But this explanation doesn’t work, because a two-winged fly hasn’t simply lost a pair of wings; it has acquired a large and complex gene (ultrabithorax) that enables it to develop “halteres,” or balancers. The halteres are located behind the fly’s normal pair of wings and vibrate rapidly to stabilize the insect in flight. So the two-winged fly represents the gain—not loss—of an important structure. (See Chapter 9 of my book "Icons of Evolution"). (Emphasis mine)

Well, Jonathan Wells, tell me, why is this large and complex gene found in other insects than Diptera?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Does Ray Comfort genuinly not understand evolution?

Ray Comfort, an easy target for anti-creationists because of his incredible obvious ignorance when it comes down to understanding evolution, has apologized for not knowing where he talks about:
I sincerely apologize for misrepresenting what Darwinian evolution says about the origin of males and females.
And he then cointinues to state that he:
I have checked out the references you have given me as to what the theory has to say about their genesis, read them again and again, and I still don’t understand what you believe.
Well, we (evolutionary biologists) could help out here. But the problem is not the evolution of the sexes, it is:
It doesn’t make sense to me because I can’t reconcile what I see in creation with what you would have me believe about evolution.
I give him that. Yes, it is impossible to reconcile evolution with a literal interpretation of the bible. And this is also why nobody until now has been able to talk sense into him. And further, nobody will, until he is willing to look at evolution as a process by itself and see what it explains. And he knows already, you can read that between the lines of his own posts, that once he tries that, he will see the power and beauty of evolution and it will become even more difficult to reconcile with his religious perspective.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Selectivity with civil rights

Yesterday, I was once more reminded of the selectivity of people when it comes down to civil rights. When California voted for proposition 8, a large proportion came from African Americans, who should know better about civil rights. They still are struggling to get those honoured, but when it was time to support another group struggling with similar issues, they turned around and voted to uphold discriminatory practices against another group in society. The same thing you see with gay rights activists, who as easy turn around and bash another group they do not have affinity with. It sucks, but I fear it is the reality we have to deal with.

Monday, October 26, 2009

When someone hits you with a hammer.....

When someone hits you with a hammer, who do you blame for the pain?
  1. The person who hit you with the hammer?
  1. Yourself because you actually feel the pain?
Most people reading this will choose option 1. And that is very logical.

So, why is this an issue? Well, when we replace the hammer for abusive language, there is a considerable number of people who say that words do not hurt people, it is their own sensitivity that does. Tell that the boys who are bullied at school for being perceived gay while being heterosexual. Or the black man who is called a n......! Or the mentally disabled who is called crazy.

Words hurt, and words kill. And if anybody tells you to bone up and that you should be able to just handle it as a big guy, remember that that is just another way to be abusive and controlling. Because in the end, abusive language has only one purpose, and that is to control the recipient of the abusive language.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ADA: who is the problem?

So, once it has been established that discrimination takes place, how are you dealing with it. Often, the atmosphere at the workplace has been destroyed, and that often becomes an argument to continue exclusion of the person discriminated in the first place. However, is that the only solution? Well, no, because when discrimination takes place, there is the person that does the discriminating and the person that is discriminated against. So, once it has been established that discrimination takes place, the person doing the discrimination has to bone up and change their ways, and if they cannot, they should be removed from their position. That might hurt, but it is also the most effective way to ensure similar cases of discrimination won't happen again. In short, the target for resolution should be those that discriminate, not those that have been discriminated.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ADA: Discrimination definition

After the previous two posts, I thought that it might be handy to actually post the ADA definition of discrimination related to employment, which includes volunteers when the organisation voluntarily sings off on that:
The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits, and all other employment-related activities.

Sounds clear to me.

So, who is covered (same link):
Employment discrimination is prohibited against "qualified individuals with disabilities." This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected.

The last sentence is crucial.....

Monday, September 21, 2009

ADA: Miscommunication

I think many cases of discrimination are not intentional, but caused by stupid things such as miscommunication between people within an organisation. This is especially true for organisations without a clear structure on how to deal with all aspects. Organisations are bombarded with things they have to think about, react to, and each time, they have to do it right. Well, sometimes, that fails. Volunteer organisations are especially sensitive to this, as most volunteers learn on the job when it arises how to deal with specific aspects. And generally there is nothing wrong with that, unless that leads to for example discrimination of someone.

Good communication within an organisation is essential when someone asks for accommodation for a disability. From the initial request, such a request has to be passed on to the proper functionaries within that organisation, and they then have to act on it. This requires good communication between people. When this fails, the responsible functionaries can be genuinely ignorant about the request. When said functionary than moves on and ignore the request, the disabled person will feel unheard at least and might feel discriminated when the outcome is that the disabled person is for example excluded.

Miscommunication is not the end of the world. Shit happens. It becomes a big deal when it is defended, when the results of the miscommunication are attributed to the disabled person. That adds substantial grievance to the situation.

Fortunately, miscommunication can be dealt with. Once it is obvious that there was miscommunication, apologizing for it and straightening out what has gone wrong is often the only things what is needed. However, when that is not done, it add insult to injury and aggrevates the situation.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Disclaimer added

I have added a disclaimer to the blog after I was accused that some of my blog posts were injurious. Each of the posts at this blog reflect my personal opinion. However, if you feel I have made false statements about you or an organization you represent, contact me specifying what is wrong. If you do not contact me about these errors, I am no longer responsible for their presence at this public blog.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Art of Communication

We all communicate all the time, using words, intonation, hand movements, body postures, facial expressions, etc. We do it in person, by e-mail, on the phone, by snail mail, in books and journals.

Communication is an Art. Just like some people are excellent Artists, and some just plain suck, the same happens with communication. Some people are very good at it, and some, well, not as talented.

So, what happens if someone decides that communication is overrated, and start assuming or interpreting? It is when the shit hits the fan, because it is so error prone. That is why I generally try to ask what is going on, and it makes that I sometimes only after some time come to the conclusion that I actually agree or disagree with what happened in a specific situation.

In the context, I think I can safely say that if you really want to piss me off, assume that I do things for a specific reason without asking me. Because most of the time, you are wrong. I especially get really pissed when someone assumes that I have very negative emotions. I most of the time do not have them, and even when I do have them, it is generally short lived.

And if you really want to know, use an assumption of how I feel as a reason to for example end a friendship or business relationship. If you really cannot say why YOU want to do that, do not invent reasons that I supposedly have. It really pisses me off.

And now that we are talking about pet peeves, never ever ignore when I respond to your unsubstantiated claims about how I feel.....

Communication is an Art, and if used properly, it can help resolve many many issues. Most issues start with poor communication. When a situation has gone bad, resolution often starts with recognizing that the feelings of the other are valid. Your own feelings are always valid. So are those from your opponent. One thing I find fascinating in the US is that many discussions I have seen will escalate as they become black and white. I have encountered that much less in the Netherlands. I think that is because everything in this country at a political level is split down the middle, due to a two party system. In a multi-party system, you are forced to find common ground all the time with other parties, because hardly ever will one party have an absolute majority. But I digress....

When two people (or groups) fight and one retreats to their own little island of (perceived) righteousness, there will be only losers. And that is sad. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cage fight: Mental versus physical disability!

I am enraged. I went to see the soloist. The soloist is about how a mental illness can destroy the life of a gifted man. A man who ends up at the streets of Los Angeles, one of the 60,000 homeless people there. Many of the homeless have mental disabilities.

Mental disabilities are incredibly underestimated by many people because it does not show. You often cannot see when the person behind you in line at the supermarket has a mental disability. You won't see that it took all the energy that person had to go and do the shoppings.

When someone is missing a limb, it is easy for an outsider to have compassion because we can imagine how difficult it has to be to get around with one leg, in a wheelchair, not seeing anything, or being deaf. But there is more to it. It is very hard for us to imagine that your brain is taken over by voices that talk to you. How do you imagine that? How do you imagine that your brain is not working the way it is working? It is not like hearing voices like we do. We can shut those voices out because they are from outside our brain. That is easy. But when those voices come from the inside, how do you shut those off with the brain that is making them?

In the movie, Mr Ayers has paranoid schizophrenia. It is just one of the many versions of mental disabilities. There are many more. Some milder, some more severe.

What I hope is that our society becomes more social, and starts to treat mentally disabled people with more dignity.... You can always hope.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Slow Facebook with Vista and Firefox

My Facebook pages were pretty much impossible to load in Firefox after I got a new computer with Vista 32 bit....

After some digging around, I found a website that suggested to look at add-ons that could be an issue. One mentioned the Skype add-on specifically. So, I disabled all add-ons and yes, facebook was fast again! I then enabled them one by one (ok, three by three), till I had only a few add-ons remaining, including skype. Once I turned that one on, facebook became slow as you can imagine again! And honestly, I can live without the Skype add=on, so that one is now permanently disabled! {Problem solved

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dell E6500 internet connection issues

A few days ago, I got a brand new Dell Latitude E6500. A really nice machine. In the first days, I only had two issues, FaceBook in FireFox is acting totally weird, and at home, the internet kept connecting and disconnecting. After digging around, I finally found the solution. The Wireless LAN adapter is configured by default to use power saving. The way to solve it is:
  1. Go to the control panel
  2. Open device manager
  3. Go to Network Adapters and right click the Dell Wireless 1510 Wireless-N WLAN Mini-Card
  4. Select properties and go to the Advanced tab
  5. Then disable 'Minimum Power Consumption'
  6. Go top the Power Managament tab and disable that as well.
This solved my issues.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bill Donohue re-rapes rape victims of the Irish Catholic Church

Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights tries to minimize the sexual, physical and emotional abuse committed by the Catholic church in Ireland. I already did not have any respect left for this sub-human piece of meat, but for him to minimize what has happened is nothing short than a re-raping of all those victims. hear yourself here:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gay marriage cost money!?!?!?

What the fuck! The retards of the GOP in the form of their token-black has found a new way to get support for their anti-gay message. It would cost money if gay-marriage would be legalized. True, but heterosexual marriage already costs money when your employee is married. So, what they are saying is effectively that it is okay if you have to pay for a heterosexual's partner, but not for a homosexual's partner. Really, they are actively promoting that the inequality is kept in place! They are actively promoting the discrimination of gay people over hetero-normative people!

PS. maybe we can use it as a argument to hire more gays, because they are cheaper.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

"Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" is a normal English sentence. It is also trademarked. Yes, TRADEMARKED. What is worse, I can now expect a cease and desist letter from the lawyer of Susan Jeffers, just like another blogger who just accidentally used it. Well, if is going to remove it because of that (because I won't), I think the blogosphere does not have a problem to get it on so many non-American servers that she just will be paying a shipload of money for many many S&D letters. My guess is that it is a cheap way to get some publicity for her not so good selling book..... Let me say it this way, if she had written a good book, she would not need this kind of cheap publicity at the costs of a random blogger.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Men out of control; blame the women

Why is it that men always blame the women when they cannot hold their dick in their pants? I think because they can. It varies a lot between regions how this is played out, like in many Muslim countries, where a woman who even is seen with a man that is not related to her is already considered over the line. O yes, they will use nice excuses as preserving her whatever, but in the end, it is all about man having a problem with their dick.

A variant of that is when women are blamed for being raped. "She dressed to sluttish." "She asked for it with those clothes." What a bullshit. It is shifting the blame. When do men get it that their dick is their responsibility and nobodies else's.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Opposing gay marriage to protect the children?

One frequent heard argument to object to gay marriage is that it is better for the children. lets assume for the moment that it is indeed true, despite that it is clearly not. Is a ban on gay marriage actually having an effect on where those children grow up? Not at all? The only difference is that they have two parents who are not married and have no rights, but for the rest, they will have two fathers or two mothers regardless. So, why oppose gay marriage if prohibiting gay marriage does not have an effect on where the children grow up?

Friday, March 6, 2009

California supreme court: Marriage is just a word

Marriage for gay couples seems to be ended in California, but it seems that the justices take hat VERY narrowly, namely meaning just the word marriage. They pretty much explicitly say that gays should have the same rights, and that no form of discrimination is allowed. Or as justice Kennard, one of the two swing voters indicated:

She reminded lawyers that the "core" part of last year's marriage ruling required the state to give sexual orientation the same constitutional protection as race and gender.

Proposition 8 "hasn't destroyed equal protection," Kennard said.

So, here we go again, do we want the same rights, or do we want the same term? I think the gay movement in this country is loosing ground by requiring that we get the same term and the same rights, because much of the opposition has to do with the term. Many religious people see marriage as a sacred term, and just for that purpose, they object to it. So, by choosing for equal rights, and give the term marriage to the religious for the time being, we can improve dramatically in our rights. As soon as we have our rights, we can argue that the term marriage should be taken out of the legal system because it is a violation of the separation between church and state, but that is a fight we can fight later.

It is time that someone asks for the same rights from the Californian government without wanting to use the word marriage, and see what the justices of the supreme court rule. One willing municipality (San Francisco?) who make a move towards and it might be quickly enough resolved. As long as we want to have rights to the word Marriage, we are loosing this battle. (Now I duck and run for the anger this provokes from my fellow gay activists)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Only marriage between a man and a woman of the same race is valid or recognized in California

In California, proposition 8 added the following words to the state constitution:

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California

We have recognized that rights cannot be denied based on skin colour, but people can be actively discriminated against because they are gay.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Michael Egnor's unsubstantiated claims

Michael Egnor keeps claiming that ID has produced evidence for design:
Some aspects of biology, particularly molecular biology, show clear scientific evidence for intelligent design.

Really, the same rehashed creationist claims that are presented over and over again as 'evidence' for design? Show us the irrefutable proof before claiming once again that you have proof. But let me guess, he does not have it.

And before you claim that each and every person who thinks evolution is the only sensible explanation is an atheist, I am not, you are wrong!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers

New Scientist just published a new article: Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers. My goodness, and I have to be surprised? And what is even more predictable is that Utah has the highest percentage of internet porn subscriptions! Oh! My! God! Who the fuck (pun intended) do conservatives think they are that they think that they can preach their fucked-up ideas about morality, when they themselves have the biggest issues with it! Fucking hypocrites!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sophophora melanogaster hits Nature's news wire

Short of having my own article in Nature, I go for the second best with that, a news article that effectively is the result of my work. A fly by any other name reports on our effort to save Drosophila melanogaster from being renamed to Sophophora melanogaster. I reported on this before, here and here, so go there for more thought of me about this issue.

"Quantum fluctuation" verus "God"

I am amused by the discussion between PZ Myers and Ray Comfort. I don't agree with either position (I come to that in a minute), but they are at least equal stubborn and convinced they know the truth and the other is wrong. Personally, I think PZ is a raging evangelical atheist, while Ray is nothing more than your average raging evangelical christian. Both annoy me to no end.

The issue at hand is: "Where did it all start?" The devout christian will say: GOD! The devout atheist will say: QUANTUM FLUCTUATION! Ray launched a new website called: "Pull the plug on atheism", PZ of course responded like stung by a bee with: "The banana man thinks he's got atheists on the run" after which Ray fired back with: "A Challenge to a Professor" followed by PZ response: "Called out by a clown" with of course a response from Ray: "Professor Myers Flakes"...... Somewhere on the line, PZ indicates that Ray's answers have been answered in the comments, and sure enough, many provided little pieces to that answer. Most interesting is a comment by "cosmologist" here:

Ray, the universe began from a quantum fluctuation (big bang); a phase transition from potential energy to kinetic energy.

Quantum fluctuations were the FIRST CAUSE and PRIME MOVER of the universe. The universe before the big bang was in a quantum state. There's no need to resort to asking what came before quantum fluctuations because CAUSALITY breaks down at the subatomic level (the condition the universe was in the beginning).

Because the universe was in a quantum state before the big bang, it adheres to the quantum uncertainty principle. There can be NO SUCH THING AS NOTHING in this universe as long as the generation of energy via virtualparticle pairs does not violate the law of energy conservation; it requires no miracle or supernatural act to create the energy in the universe.

Ah, it contains the convenient escape hatch:

There's no need to resort to asking what came before quantum fluctuations because CAUSALITY breaks down at the subatomic level

Cosmology (religious or scientific) has a fundamental problem, and that is to explain the beginning in a way that does not require a ultimate cause. So, the break down of causality is convenient, and even if true, it does not rescue the problem, because:

Because the universe was in a quantum state before the big bang

So, before we had the big bang, there was a universe in a quantum state that already existed:

Because there can be no such thing as 0 energy in the universe, the universe also adheres to the thermal laws of thermodynamics, which basically says absolute zero is unattainable. This shows that there cant be or never was NOTHING in this universe.

So, there was always something. And where did that something come from? No answer.

I understand that people at that point invoke gods, but heck, as PZ correctly asked:

who made god?

I think this is an eternal stand-off, because neither can answer the others question, and it is here where neither knows.

And I, I don't know where it all started, but I do know that both are wrong with their limited and narrow-minded world views...... But that is for another time......