20 December 2009

Happy Newtonmas

Last year, I designed and posted some cards for the season. Here they are again. Please feel free to copy, print on hard paper, and send them around. There is a front side and a back side which should be glued together. Depending on taste, you may pick any of the front side versions.

12 December 2009

UK gov't accused of treating religious faith as an "eccentricity"

According to the Daily Telegraph (a.k.a. Daily Torygraph) the Archbishop of Canterbury has accused the government of treating religious faith as an "eccentricity" practised by "oddities". Dr Rowan Williams said ministers were wrong to think that Christian beliefs were no longer relevant in modern Britain and he criticised Labour for looking at religious faith as a “problem” rather than valuing the contribution it made to society. He added that political leaders should be more open about their beliefs.

The BBC asked the following question in the "have your say" page:

Does religion have a part to play in politics?

I am happy to see that the vast majority of respondents think NO, NO and NO! This is a relief.

I checked the to 47 responses and here are the first few, the mot recommended ones:

No and I would go further and say all local authority schools should also be 100% secular. Paul Price, Carmarthen, United Kingdom

Religion and politics should stay separate.
I hate using pain and misery to make a point, but the Church in Ireland shows us the dangers. O.W.

It is absolutely right for the Government to ignore religion. This is 2009 - laws should be based on democratic values, not superstition. If you want to see what a society run according to religious rule of law is like you only have to look at Iran. Richard Lewis, Cambridge

Organised religion has caused more war than peace. Lucien Piers

an "eccentricity" practised by "oddities" Sounds spot on to me [paulmathome], London

Already we have the politicians in a so-called 'class war.'
All we need now is for 'faith war' where they needle each other about which religious sect they belong to. NO NO NO to religion in politics! Norman

The first irrational response is 48th in rank:

Strange thing – countries or states that seek to deny Christ normally end up as terrible places to be in [grainsofsand], United Kingdom
I can imagine what people would reply if the same question was asked in the U.S....

Nigeria and Congo

Two very disturbing postings from "a Nadder!" below.

Witch Children of Nigeria

Children are being accused for being witches. As a result they are being beaten, tied up, denied food, burned, cut, stabbed, burnt with acid or simply murdered by their parents. Over 10,000 have been abandoned, kicked out onto the streets where they are prone to disease, malnutrition and starvation, gangs and sexual slavery.

Tale of a Phone
A graphic description of organized crimes in central Africa and the double Congolese genocide for peace in Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2009 people in the Congo are still dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month (half being children under 5), and 2,700,000 people have died since 2004. An estimated 200,000 women have been raped. 20,000 hippopotamuses have been killed. Brutalities include burning and boiling alive, chopping human parts off and cannibalism.

10 December 2009

Intelligent designers deny the need for a designer

Recursivity: The Fruitlessness of ID "Research"

A heated discussion in Shallit's blog, where, for the first time I realized that there are supporters of the Intelligent Design movement, a spin-off of creationism, claiming that Intelligent Design does not require a designer or the supernatural (god, etc.)

This is in sharp contrast to the main writings of ID. Indeed, ID is defined as
the assertion that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as It is a modern form of the traditional teleological argument for the existence of God, but one which avoids specifying the nature or identity of the designer. The idea was developed by a group of American creationists who reformulated their argument in the creation-evolution controversy to circumvent court rulings that prohibit the teaching of creationism as science. Intelligent design's leading proponents – all of whom are associated with the Discovery Institute, a politically conservative think tank, believe the designer to be the God of Christianity.
It's the article written on Wikipedia by, obviously, Intelligent Designers themselves. One of the main proponents of ID, W. Dembski, is a theologian/philosopher at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and all his writings, talks and work incorporate and propagate christianity very heavily. (He is also trying to use mathematics to support the ID religion but his papers are laughable.) However, someone, writing under the name Joe G and posting in Shallit's blog, insists that (oh yes, he's a bit repetitive):

ID doesn't require the supernatural.
Does ID require a belief in "God"? No.
ID does not require a belief in "God".
ID does not require the supernatural.
All IDists are not religious.
I am an IDists and don't care about religion.
ID does not say anything about worship- nothiung about who, what, where, when nor how.
ID does not say anything about giving service.
ID is not based on any religious doctrine.
ID does not say anything about the supernatural.
ID does not require a belief in "God".
So the bottom line is ID is religious if and only if we change the definition of religion.
The designer could be "God" and that would not mean ID is religious.
ID does NOT argue for the existence of "God".
What IDists do does not have any impact on ID.
IDists have not written that ID is an argument for the existence of "God".
ID is about the DESIGN not the designer(s).
The Wikipedia entry on Intelligent Design can be refuted to any ID FAQ posted on pro-ID websites.
They should be sued for posting such nonsense and then perhaps they would think BEFORE they publish.
I asked him to modify the Wikipedia article (and also tell Dembski and the others about his non-beliefs in gods and religion). But he shies away from doing so. Wikipedia is a public document which can be changed if the information provided is not correct. However, Joe G will not do that. And even if he attempts to do so, leading IDists will not allow him. The reason is simple: ID is a religion, not a science. Scientific entries of Wikipedia welcome modifications (and they become better and better) and corrections of mistakes. But ID is of theological nature and, as such, it relies on faith and dogma.

9 December 2009

Hasse diagrams

This is a piece of the class of amusing mathematical diversions.

I'm working on a problem involving random directed graphs and use the concept of a Hasse diagram: it's just a graph representing a partial order in a minimal way. I stumbled across a site which draws Hasse diagrams of the relation i divides j, where i and j are positive integers. I tried it for various numbers. For example, the Hasse diagram corresponding to the divisors of 2010 is a graph with constant degree equal to 4. Whereas 2009 does not have this property. Besides the obvious significance in numerology [yes, this is a joke], there is a natural question as to what kind of numbers have the property that their Hasse diagram has constant degree.

The page above is part of what seems to be a nice undergraduate book on Algebra, titled Interactive Algebra, by A.M. Cohen, H. Cuypers and H. Sterk.

8 December 2009

Sarah Palin supporters are dumb

I found this here. Watch this inimitable hilarious video. Sarah Palin's devotees gather at Border's bookstore in Columbus, Ohio, on 20 November 2009 waiting for Sarah's autographs. A reporter asks them what exactly Palin stands for and here is a selection from the dialogue:

- She'll make differences.
Rep: which ones?
- I don't know, I guess I haven't really thought about that.

Rep: What do you know about her foreign policy?
- I don't know her well enough, I don't know her foreign policies.

Rep: What kind of spending would you like to see cut?
- All of it, all of it.

- Obama wrote two books describing in detail what he's going to do.
Rep: And what do the books describe?
- Aw, you know, Marxism, Leninism, you know, socialism...

- I think she would acknowledge a system of government in the US rather than focusing on administration czars.
Rep: What do you think is the problem with czars?
- I 'm an American, we don't have czars in America.

- I don't think he [Obama] is even an American citizen.

- I mean we're Americans and she sticks out for the American people not for other people.

- We need to get the polar bears off the endangered list so we can drill there.

Dumb? Yes, totally idiotic folk.

4 December 2009

She saw Jesus on her iron

Mary Jo Coady of Methuen, Massatchusetts, saw Jesus Christ on her iron. And so did other members of her family. "Jesus hit me on my head", she said. The appearance reassured her that "life is going to be good." And the iron is not going to be used again.

Other apparitions of Jesus, Mary, etc., really worthwhile looking at them, are here. Make sure not to miss them!

3 December 2009

Recursivity: The Fruitlessness of ID "Research"

Recursivity: The Fruitlessness of ID "Research"
A wonderful posting debunking claims about the "science" of a branch of Creationists performing Intelligent Design "Research". Shallit explains how a paper by intelligent-designist Stephen Meyer which, unfortunately, was published (but without peer review!) in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, is NOT a research paper, that it has been repudiated by the editors of the journal, and that most of papers referring to it are not research papers. Good posting!

2 December 2009

An angry creationist

As we all now well know, a Mr Ray Comfort, a religious parasite (also known as the banana man because he explains creationism by peeling bananas), has created a new version of Darwin's Origin of Species with his own introduction, and his protégés are now handing them out at college campuses in the US. There has been a huge uproar about this act of barbarism, including lots of comments in the Amazon site which screwed up with a mixup of the original Darwin's book and Comfort's idiocy. I found the following comment, by an angry creationist/intelligent-designist, very amusing [emphasis is mine]:
In response to Mr. Rimmel: Would you seriously take the time and read the Bible, let's say, the NASB or New King James translation, for yourself and not rely on what others say before you make statements that undermine honesty and integrity? You will find that God is the author of Science and He upholds true science. You will be astounded at all the scientific information to be found in the Bible. And a good site to investigate yourself would be Answers In Genesis as well as www.icr.org, with many scientists putting their work out there for you and I to intelligently sift and seperate, coming to conclusions that are well grounded. You will do yourself justice if you give the time to check these out. And if you don't believe that Ray Comfort is credible, then why are you so concerned with what he wrote only in the introduction? If it is not credible to you, it will not be credible to other thinkers, so relax and let it die down on its own. You have nothing to lose by Mr. Comfort speaking his mind on the works of Darwin, do you? If Darwin's work is unbeatable, then it should stand up to Ray Comfort in the least, don't you agree? I hope you do go digging for yourself. Sharpen that shovel and go, Mr. Rummel!!

This made me laugh, hysterically. This person claims (let's read again) that there is a lot of scientific information in the Bible. Like what? Quantum Mechanics? Biology? Mathematics? Physics? Last time I read the bible (and I do review it from time to time), not only I could see no science, but I saw hatred, psychological and physical terror, inaccuracies, contradictions (the list is endless). Check it out for yourself in a simplified version. Or, if you want more in-depth analysis of Bible monstrosities, look here, for example. It's funny, but Muslims, also believe that the Quran is full of science. But think about it, even for a minute. Have you seen *any*, no matter how simple, mathematical or scientific argument in the Bible (say the Pythagorean theorem), with proof? Not really. The Bible has no science, no mathematics, no logic, no rationality. It is a collection of stories (some very gruesome indeed), such as the Odyssey. The difference is that the Oddyssey is a piece of literature, which the Bible isn't (as far as I can tell by reading the parts of the Bible written in Greek; I don't know ancient Hebrew).

And if you want to read the Genesis, as the reader above suggests and you have no time, I suggest reading Crumb's version. Science you will not learn, but, at least, you will be entertained.


What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant