Thursday, November 16, 2006

Some cute kid on YouTube

This actually isn't just some kid, this is my kid:

Mr. T Loves His Mother

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Quick quote:

. . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.

* Douglas Adams, as quoted in Richard Dawkins' Eulogy for Adams

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Goodbye Ann

Ann Richards was possibly the funniest, wittiest, smartest, erudite, and real politicians this country has ever known. No one could deflect the mean-spiritedness of conservatives better than her. Her even temper and humor gave her an air of poise and self control that could only be dreamed of by any politician today. Her willingness to listen to what people have to say created bonds of trust and empathy. I remember hearing her on the Al Franken show and finding myself laughing more at what she had to say than what Mr. Franken was saying. Her humor was her tool for creating a comfortable environment to discuss the harsh realities of life. She was more open and honest than any other politician I know of. For example: instead of hiding her past problems with alcohol she openly acknowledged that she was an alcoholic and that she was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunately, her political career was swiftboated not unlike many other people who have run against our current president. She was the victim of swiftboating before "swiftboat" was a verb.

Ann's life will continue to be a shining example for progressives for many years to come. She will be missed.

Here are several quotes that I feel illustrate her best:

I am delighted to be here with you this evening, because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like.

He was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.[about George Bush senior]

The regular Democratic Party and its organization was run by men who looked on women as little more than machine parts.

The public does not like you to mislead or represent yourself to be something you're not. And the other thing that the public really does like is the self-examination to say, you know, I'm not perfect. I'm just like you. They don't ask their public officials to be perfect. They just ask them to be smart, truthful, honest, and show a modicum of good sense.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin Dead

The Crocodile Hunter finally met his end by the barb of a stingray through his chest.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Perspective on the Israeli/Lebanon Conflict

The response of Israel to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hisbolah is without a doubt a war crime. What if one these US anti-Mexican vigilante border patrol groups that we've been hearing about so much kidnapped a couple of Mexican soldiers? Would the appropriate response from Mexico be to bomb US civilians? Of course not. This is a police matter, NOT a millitary matter.

Friday, July 21, 2006

My Current Project

A quick google search revealed that though many many people have written random sentence generators, I could find none that relied on linguistic theory to generate gramatical sentences. So this has been my latest project. I have set up some criteria for myself:

1. Sentence lengths are not predefined and could theoretically go on ad infinitum.
2. Sentences must satisfy the theta criterion.
3. The generator must be able to generate sentences in any tense and mood.

So how is it going? Very slowly. Here's a couple of examples of the output:
"Bob or a towel practices is Jim was fetched but sings".
"Jill is fetched".
"a bird but Jack shakes but made walk".

As you can see I have a long way to go.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Answer to Anna's Question

An inciteful friend of mine, asked me a question the other day, and though I understood the answer, I couldn't quite explain it the way she deserved to hear it. The way to explain it came to me today, and I thought it worthy of a blog entry:

Q:Why is there such a disparity between the amount of resources that each sex puts into their offspring? Why does it seem that females get the short end of the stick?

A:To put it bluntly, males are selfish mutants. Here's why:

Imagine a species where there is no difference at all between the sexes, in fact there would be no reason to distinguish them as two different sexes. They still reproduce sexually but the sex cells split evenly in both parents and both parents swap them and both get pregnant. The resources for reproduction would be shared evenly between the 2 parents, both would have to deal with the costs of gestation and rearing. Now imagine that a selfish mutant comes into the population and decides it only wants to inseminate but not be inseminated because it doesn't want to invest the resources and time required for gestation. Because of this, this selfish mutant can spend the time it normally would gestating getting other organisms pregnant. In the next generation of these organisms the selfish mutant genes will have higher numbers than any one of the non-selfish ones. This generation with a higher population of selfish mutants will produce even more selfish mutants in the next generation. However, since these mutants can't get pregnant, the proportion of mutants to non-mutants will quickly rise to 50% and stay there unless there are other external factors at play. This is what's called an evolutionarily stable strategy.

Populations of individuals need to find strategies that maintain the population without having to be disrupted by an even more selfish individual happening upon them. Many of the breakthroughs associated with modern biology come from this line of reasoning. It was first proposed by John Maynard-Smith and has since been a powerful tool in understanding animal behavior.

If this piques your interest I highly recomend Richard Dawkins's the Selfish Gene.

Explorer Destroyer