So What?

Reading the coverage on the tazing of Andrew Meyer, I noted that a number of the stories pointed out that Mr. Meyer is a "known prankster" or has "a history of practical jokes."

Are practical jokers exempted from the right to free speech? Or was the point that this was just another of his "pranks"? How is the contents of his website relevant to the story?


Trying to read your T-shirt

Men are stereotypically accused of looking at women's breasts. This conversation floated through my head earlier today and seemed funny...

Attractive woman wearing T-shirt: "What are you looking at, jerk?"

Me: "Um... I was trying to read your T-shirt."

Attractive woman: "Nice try."

Me: "It's true. Your breasts kind of get in the way. Sorry. Never mind."

Woman: "It says, 'Yanni Live'."

Me (looking away): "Thanks"


The System is Broken: Giving away national secrets is okay as long as you do it anonymously

"An embassy official provided no information about Iraqi casualties
but said no State Department personnel were wounded or killed. He
spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to
speak to media."

So what was he doing speaking to media?! How is this system supposed
to work?

Giving away secrets is against the law, but "officials" do it, and
get away with it, all the time. Sometimes, as in the case of Valerie
Plame, it seems to be the people in charge who *want* information
leaked inappropriately.


The System is Broken: Contradictions

Why are some registered dietitians overweight?

Why do some nurses and doctors smoke? Wouldn't you think that health professionals would exemplify good health? But many of them are overweight and have poor health practices, like smoking and failing to get enough sleep. Why is that?

Why do religious leaders and organizations get involved in lawsuits? Aren't they supposed to be the experts at getting along with others?

Why is a nation ostensibly devoted to individual freedom and choice trying to force its system on other nations?


The Devil in Your Details

Want your privacy invaded? Just take a trip abroad. Despite criticisms, the DHS is standing by most of the measures of their "Automated Targeting System." Even if they decide you're innocent, they'll store your personal information for 15 years.

What really caught my eye was the name of DHS' chief privacy officer. Here's a quote from the AP article:

'"ATS does not replace human decision-making," said Hugo Teufel III, the department's chief privacy officer.'

The guy's name is German for "devil". How ironic is that?


I thought we wanted a democracy in Iraq?

What are US politicians doing "[calling] for the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki"? Shouldn't that be a matter for the Iraqi parliament and people to decide?

Let's give them their country back and bring our troops home.

What's the Score in Iraq?


The GAO review is less favorable than the White House's, but even the White House review indicates that fewer than half of the benchmarks were met (8 out of 18)!

Why are we still there?!

In his book, Armed Madhouse, Greg Palast says it's about the oil. Our soldiers are dying for oil?! Bring 'em home!



"Fossil find pushes human-ape split back millions of years"

Who says there's a "human-ape split"? I would categorize humans as a kind of ape.


Nonduality in the Bible

"Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (WEB)

"At the morning talks recently there has been a musician who plays traditional Indian flute for the group after the talks. The flute does not know music: it does not know 'G' from 'B flat;' it does not know tempo or emphasis, and cannot make music come out of itself: it's just a hollow bamboo stick with holes in it! It is the musician who has the knowledge and the skill and the intention and the dexterity, and whose breath blows through the instrument and whose fingers manipulate the openings so that beautiful music flows out. When the music is ended, no one congratulates the wooden stick on the music it made: it is the musician who is applauded and thanked for this beautiful gift of music.

"It is precisely so with what we think of as our 'selves.' We are instruments, hollow sticks, through which the Breath, the Spirit, the Energy which is Presence, All That Is, Consciousness, flows. Just as it is not the flute making the note, but the Musician making the note through the instrument, so it is the breath which Presence which animates this mind and body and comes out through this mouth to make it seem that this mouth is speaking words." (Perfect Brilliant Stillness, David Carse)



Humans are causing earth's climate to get warmer.

No, they're not. The climate goes through natural cycles over time.

Human activity puts carbon into the atmosphere and that's affecting life on our planet.

No, it's not a problem. Or to the extent it is a problem, we'll find technological solutions.

The rainforest is being destroyed.

So what? The land that's cleared makes it possible to raise more food for people -- beef cattle, wheat, and so forth.

But that causes species to become extinct.

Spare me the sad music. Yes, some species are becoming extinct. That's a natural process. Species have always come and gone.

... and on it goes.

I wonder if an aspect of the debate and seeming inability of the debaters to find common ground might be different starting assumptions. Here's one: "Growth is always a good thing. We have to grow our economy and culture and value and wealth and worth. More and bigger is always better. More technology, more money, more food, more of the things we want."

Here's another: "Unlimited growth cannot be sustained indefinitely. The well-being of the system as a whole depends upon being in balance. Not too much of this, not too much of that. If we don't limit ourselves, eventually reality will do it for us."

Starting from different assumptions, the same evidence may be interpreted in wildly different ways.

In considering the various on-going debates, it might be most productive for each of the debaters to examine their own assumptions and consider how their assumptions drive them. It seems to me unlikely that this will happen, however. It seems much more in keeping with human nature for each debater to assume certainty and plow ahead, seek to devastate their opposition with clever, compelling arguments. So much for saving the planet and making peace.

Return to the Cold War?

Forbes describes the statements of the man accused in Britain of killing Litvinenko.

A reading based on the idea that Lugovoi is projecting Russian attitudes on Britain would indicate some interesting things about Russia. He calls his target "a haven for criminals," says that her officials indulge in "cynical and impudent lies", that they deliberately provoke confrontations with other nations for political reasons, and other Cold War diplomatic tactics. He implies "imperial aspirations" on the part of his mark.

If all Britain wanted was a scapegoat, seems like it would have been simpler to find one closer to home.


Your Culture Is Killing You

Read about what high fructose corn syrup does to your liver. And how common it is in food.

Find out what animal protein does to your risk of cancer.

Learn how the ocean is dying due to overfishing and global warming.

Find out how the medical system is failing to keep us well.

The system is broken. Better figure out how to protect yourself!


The "All is One" Hypothesis

Here's a hypothesis:

There is one big All which human minds divide into millions of little things.

The one big All can't be a thing itself because it consists of awareness and what appears to awareness. The awareness of All can't perceive All directly, just like an eye can't look at itself directly, although it can look at its reflection in a mirror. In the same way, what appears to awareness is a reflection of itself -- All is one, and every thing is part of it. The awareness and what appears to it is All's way of looking at and knowing itself.

One of the things that human minds divide the All into is persons. There is actually no personhood operating at any level, just awareness and the things that appear to it. There is actually no separation between things, despite the cognizing activity of human minds. All of it is just what is appearing to awareness.

Awareness is what knows the meaning of these words.


The Internet is Weightless


I'm not buying it.

What he measured is not the weight of the information, but the weight
of the medium carrying the information. The same electrons arranged
in a random configuration wouldn't weigh any less would they?

Besides, he just considered the electrons involved in encoding the
information when it's in a memory chip. What about when it's on disk?
How many electrons are involved then? What about when it's on the
wire? I don't know what the numbers are, but I feel confident they're
different. Does that mean the information has different weights
depending on the medium in which it is encoded? It makes no sense to
me to call the measurement the weight of the information if it
changes with the medium.

Suppose the Internet ran on vacuum tubes, which would use many more
electrons to record a bit than solid state capacitors on integrated
chips do. Would that mean that the information weighed more? That
doesn't make sense. If information has weight, it should weigh the
same no matter how it's encoded.

We can also imagine storage devices in the future that will be more
efficient than current capacitors, using fewer electrons to record
each bit. Will that make the information weigh less?

Consider the same information stored in a human brain and in a
computer. Take for example, the word "dog". Based on the argument in
the article, we can compute the weight of the word "dog" when stored
in an electronic memory. I don't know how many electrons would be
involved in storing the same data in my brain, but I bet it wouldn't
be the same number. If it's the same information, it should weigh the
same regardless of medium. The notion of information having weight
seems meaningless to me.

Finally, weight is a function of gravity. If we moved the electrons
from the Earth to the Moon, they would weigh less. Their mass would
remain the same, however. Thus, it would make more sense to measure
the mass of the information (assuming it has some) rather than its
weight. Based on the arguments I've presented above, I would say that
information does not have mass or weight, even though I've read
claims that it does. I'm willing to be convinced if someone can show
me the gap in my thinking.



In Schrodinger's thought experiment with the cat, the cat is thought
to be in a superposition of states because the behavior of quanta is
predictable only in a probabilistic, statistical sense. When an
observation is made, the superposition is resolved into a single
coherent state. The observation has to be made by a conscious
observer. But what do we mean by a conscious observer?

Scientific materialism: Here, consciousness is an epiphenomenon of
the fundamental physical realm. Quanta exist in the physical realm.
How can an epiphenomenon of the physical realm collapse probabilistic
superpositions in the realm it is dependent upon? How can an
epiphenomenon act backward in time to collapse a superposition .3
seconds ago (the time required for the sensory input of the
observation to reach conscious awareness in the mind of the
observer)? We have a paradox.

Cartesian dualism: Consciousness is independent of the physical
realm. It appears that the mental and physical realms interact only
in human souls. Consciousness is not typically imputed to other
living beings. So, presumably, only a human observer can collapse a
quantum superposition. But how does that work? Light reflected from
the inside of the box, carrying the information about whether the cat
is alive or dead enters the eyes of the observer. Consciousness gets
the information .3 seconds later. How can consciousness reach back in
time and affect an outcome that was encoded in light .3 seconds ago?
Normally, the consciousness of the observer can only affect the
observer. How can it affect a separate process (the experimental

Monistic idealism: In this paradigm, the outcome is fixed ahead of
time. Universal consciousness determined the outcome from the
beginning. At the present, it acts through the observer to observe
the predetermined outcome. There's no superposition, no paradox, no
need for multi-world explanations, no need for hidden variables.
Everything is held in consciousness and is simply played out.

Suppose we try scientific materialism and cartesian dualism with a
fixed future. That would allow us to avoid the superposition of
states and the need for consciousness to collapse it.

In SM, where is the information about future outcomes recorded? The
behavior of particles is encoded in the patterns that govern them --
Newton's laws, Boyle's law, quantum theory, etc. But since quantum
theory is statistical and probabilistic, full predictability is
lacking and there's nowhere to put information about future outcomes.
In the SM universe, the future can't be fixed.

In CD, we can put the information about future outcomes in the mental
realm, but we still have the issue of accounting for how the realms
interact. How would the future outcome recorded in the mental realm
affect the physical? Furthermore, how do we explain phenomena in the
mental realm? So CD gives us a place to store outcomes, but leaves us
with explanatory problems, and we still have to give up free will.


Fwd: John McDougall, MD - Letter to the Editor - NY Times re "Death by Veganism"

Begin forwarded message:
>> From: John McDougall MD<mcdougall@lava.net>
>> Date: May 22, 2007 3:53:54 AM EDT
>> To: <karenturtle@comcast.net>
>> Subject: John McDougall, MD - Letter to the Editor - NY Times re
>> "Death by Veganism"
>> Reply-To: mcdougall@lava.net
>> Read this McDougall mailing online: www.drmcdougall.com/misc/

>> 2007other/nytimes.html
>> John McDougall, MD - Letter to the Editor - NY Times
>> The New York Times today (May 21, 2007) carried an Op-Ed piece
>> about the dangers of a vegan diet, titled "Death by Veganism,"
>> that deserves an immediate response:
>> For the original article see: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/

>> opinion/21planck.html_r=1&oref=slogin
>> This article, written by Nina Planck, who is identified as a food
>> writer and expert on farmers markets and local food, stems from
>> the case of a recent murder conviction of parents who starved
>> their 6 week old child to death by feeding him a diet of apple
>> juice and soy milk. She writes on her web site, "Among many
>> sources for this piece, I interviewed a family practitioner who
>> treats many vegetarian and vegan families."
>> For the story of the child's death see: http://query.nytimes.com/

>> gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9F0DE0D71438F936A35757C0A9659C8B63
>> Here is the 150 word letter to the editor that I sent to the New
>> York Times (chances of publication by the newspaper are obviously
>> small):
>> Nina Planck's article condemning vegan diet contains serious
>> errors concerning the adequacy of plant foods. Plants do contain
>> all the essential amino acids in adequate quantities to meet human
>> needs, and even those of children (Millward). Vitamin D is not
>> found in milk or meat, unless it is added during manufacturing.
>> Sunlight is the proper source of this vitamin. Plants manufacture
>> beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. The original source of
>> all minerals (including calcium and zinc) is the ground. Plants
>> are abundant in minerals; and they act as the conduit of minerals
>> to animals. The scientific truth is protein, essential amino
>> acid, mineral, and vitamin (except for B12 which is synthesized by
>> bacteria, not animals) deficiencies are never caused by a diet
>> based on whole plant foods when calorie needs are met. Ms.
>> Planck's distortion of nutritional science is a serious matter
>> that needs to be fixed.
>> Reference: Millward DJ. The nutritional value of plant-based
>> diets in relation to human amino acid and protein requirements.
>> Proc Nutr Soc. 1999 May;58(2):249-60.
>> Addition comments not sent to the newspaper.
>> Nina Planck writes: "You cannot create and nourish a robust baby
>> merely on foods from plants."
>> The scientific truth is: Babies at 6 weeks of age require human
>> breast milk and any other diet means malnutrition. Imagine if the
>> exact opposite approach killed an infant with a formula made of
>> pulverized beef and cow's milk, would this have received similar
>> worldwide press? I believe the case would have been properly
>> considered child neglect (intentional or not) and have gone
>> unnoticed except for those intimately involved. "People love to
>> hear good news about their bad habits" so the tragedy of the death
>> of an infant caused by misguided parents who fed their infant
>> apple juice and soy milk for the first 6 weeks of life has been
>> used to justify eating meat and drinking cow's milk.
>> Nina Planck writes: Protein deficiency is one danger of a vegan
>> diet for babies. Nutritionists used to speak of proteins as "first
>> class" (from meat, fish, eggs and milk) and "second class" (from
>> plants), but today this is considered denigrating to vegetarians.
>> The scientific truth is: Confusion about our protein needs came
>> from studies of the nutritional needs of animals. Mendel and
>> Osborne in 1913 reported rats grew better on animal, than on
>> vegetable, sources of protein. A direct consequence of their
>> studies resulted in meat, eggs, and dairy foods being classified
>> as superior, or "Class A" protein sources and vegetable proteins
>> designated as inferior, or "Class B" proteins. Seems no one
>> considered that rats are not people. One obvious difference in
>> their nutritional needs is rat milk is 11 times more concentrated
>> in protein than is human breast milk. The extra protein supports
>> this animal's rapid growth to adult size in 5 months; while humans
>> take 17 years to fully mature. The world's authority on human
>> protein needs, Prof. Joseph Millward, wrote the following:
>> "Contrary to general opinion, the distinction between diet ary
>> protein sources in terms of the nutritional superiority of animal
>> over plant proteins is much more difficult to demonstrate and less
>> relevant in human nutrition." (References in my April 2007
>> newsletter.)
>> Nina Planck writes: The fact remains, though, that humans prefer
>> animal proteins and fats to cereals and tubers, because they
>> contain all the essential amino acids needed for life in the right
>> ratio. This is not true of plant proteins, which are inferior in
>> quantity and quality — even soy.
>> The scientific truth is: Proteins function as structural
>> materials which build the scaffoldings that maintain cell shapes,
>> enzymes which catalyze biochemical reactions, and hormones which
>> signal messages between cells—to name only a few of their vital
>> roles. Since plants are made up of structurally sound cells with
>> enzymes and hormones, they are by nature rich sources of
>> proteins. In fact, so rich are plants that they can meet the
>> protein needs of the earth's largest animals: elephants,
>> hippopotamuses, giraffes, and cows. You would be correct to
>> deduce that the protein needs of relatively small humans can
>> easily be met by plants. (References in my April 2007 newsletter.)
>> Nina Planck writes: Yet even a breast-fed baby is at risk. Studies
>> show that vegan breast milk lacks enough docosahexaenoic acid, or
>> DHA, the omega-3 fat found in fatty fish.
>> The scientific truth is: Only plants can synthesize essential
>> fats. Any DHA found in animals had its origin from a plant (as
>> alpha linolenic acid). The human body has no difficulty converting
>> plant-derived omega-3 fat, alpha linolenic acid, into DHA or other
>> n-3 fatty acids, supplying our needs even during gestation and
>> infancy.
>> Reference: Langdon JH. Has an aquatic diet been necessary for
>> hominin brain evolution and functional development? Br J Nutr.
>> 2006 Jul;96(1):7-17.
>> Mothers who eat the Western diet pass dangerous loads of
>> environmental contaminants through their breast milk to their
>> infants. Meat, dairy and fish in her diet are the source of 80%
>> to 90% of these toxic chemicals. The cleanest and healthiest milk
>> is made by mothers eating a starch-based vegan diet.
>> Nina Planck writes: A vegan diet is equally dangerous for weaned
>> babies and toddlers, who need plenty of protein and calcium.
>> The scientific truth is: Infants should be exclusively breast fed
>> until age 6 months and then partially breast fed until
>> approximately 2 years of age. Starches, fruits, and vegetables
>> should be added after the age of 6 months. The addition of cow's
>> milk causes problems as common as constipation and as devastating
>> as type-1 diabetes. (See my May 2003 newsletter on Marketing Milk
>> and Disease.) Adding meat to an infant's diet is one of the main
>> reasons all children raised on the Western diet have the
>> beginnings of atherosclerosis by the age of 2 years.
>> Nina Planck writes: "An adult who was well-nourished in utero and
>> in infancy may choose to get by on a vegan diet, but babies are
>> built from protein, calcium, cholesterol and fish oil."
>> The scientific truth is: Babies are ideally built from mother's
>> breast milk initially and then from whole foods. Hopefully,
>> parents will realize that the healthiest diet for the entire
>> family (after weaning) is based on starches with the addition of
>> fruits and vegetables. (Vitamin B12 is added to the diet of
>> pregnant or nursing mothers and after 3 years of following a plant-
>> based diet strictly.)
>> Nina Planck has been allowed by the New York Times to exploit the
>> tragedy of a family and to spread commonly held, but
>> scientifically incorrect, information on human nutrition. The
>> author and the newspaper should be held accountable. Hopefully,
>> the end result will be that people desiring the truth will take
>> the trouble to look at the evidence. If this were to be the case,
>> then this New York Times article could be the beginning of long
>> overdue changes in the ways people eat. Write and tell everyone
>> you know that the New York Times has done a sloppy job, and damage
>> to the public, by allowing harmful lies to be spread—especially
>> when you consider that Planck's message promotes a diet known to
>> cause obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and major cancers.
>> John McDougall, MD
>> http://www.drmcdougall.com/
>> May 21, 2007
>> ©2007 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
>> McDougall Wellness Center P.O. Box 14039, Santa Rosa, CA 95402
>> http://www.drmcdougall.com
>> Unsubscribe | Change e-mail address | Subscribe
>> McDougall Newsletter and Event Mailings Designed and Managed by
>> www.BestNewslettersOnline.com


Baby-sitting Robots

A while ago in his blog, Scott Adams suggested a thought experiment that can make clear the illusory nature of free will. I would provide a link to it, but his archive doesn't go back that far and doesn't have a search function.

The thought experiment is this: Consider a young woman gently rocking a baby in a cradle. Most human beings would consider the young woman to have free will in the sense that she could choose to treat the baby gently or roughly.

Now replace the young woman with a robot. The robot's arm is controlled by software and rocks the cradle either gently or roughly, depending on the setting of a "mood" variable in the software. If mood is above a certain value, say 5, the robot rocks the cradle gently. If the value of mood falls below 5, the robot gets progressively rougher as the value drops. I think most human beings would not consider the robot to have free will.

So let's make the robot more complex. Let's give it a sense of morality. If its mood falls below 5, it will continue to be gentle unless its ethics function decides that the baby is "evil", in which case it kills the baby. Does this robot have free will? I think most people would still say no.

But you get the idea. We can continue making the robot more sophisticated and complex. At what point does it acquire free will? Never? Then why does it make sense to think that biological robots have free will? Where is the difference?

The implications of the thought experiment go beyond just free will, though. Just like we would agree that the baby-sitting robot does not have free will, we also would not impute personhood to it. If the baby-sitting robot is a valid model of biological robots, then it also does not make sense to impute personhood to a biological robot whose responses are determined by the operation of software. So that would mean that there's no such thing as a person, or soul. Such things are further illusions created by the operation of the robot's thought processor (what's called "consciousness").

Morality is usually presented as a fixed, objective standard external to the robots. However, this thought experiment can show that it's actually just a way robots attempt to reprogram each other (We might tell the baby-sitting robot that gently rocking the baby is "good" while killing it would be "bad", but that just reflects our preferences. Replace the baby with something we don't feel as strongly about, say, another robot, or a brick). Good and evil are just what a given robot admires or fears, what aids or threatens the robot's survival. Since each robot may admire or fear different things, good and evil wind up being relative to the perspective of the robot in question.

For the arms dealer or terrorist, war in Iraq is a good thing. For the Iraqi man on the street, war in Iraq is a bad thing.


Should You Trust Your Doctor?

I'm reading <i>Protecting America's Health</i>, by Philip J. Hilts.

He tells the story of "arguably the worst drug disaster in American
history, though it received little press coverage." In the late 1970s
and early 1980s, a class of drugs for controlling cardiac arrythmias
became available. The FDA approved these drugs for patients with
serious cardiac arrythmic conditions.

However, around 1981, doctors started using these drugs on patients
with only mild arrythmias. Over the course of the next seven years,
doctors became convinced, based on their experience and casual
observation, that such patients were benefiting from their use of
these drugs.

In 1988, over the protest of doctors, a study was carried out by the
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to assess the efficacy of
the drugs in a more formal way. Doctors felt so strongly about this
that they accused the leader of the experiment of being immoral for
"withholding" the drugs from the control group.

Preliminary numbers in late 1988 showed a significant difference in
the death rates of the experimental and control groups. Although the
experimenters could see that there was a difference, they couldn't
tell which way it went because the study was carried out under a
double blind protocol. The assumption was that the experimental group
(those receiving the drugs) had the lower death rate. More patients
were enrolled in the study.

Imagine their surprise when, in 1989, the blind was broken and the
results examined. The death rate in the experimental group was 3.5
times that in the control group. Throughout the 1980s, doctors had
been poisoning their mild arrythmia patients in the belief that the
drugs lowered death risk. Actually, the study revealed that the drugs
more than tripled the death risk for patients taking them.

When the study was completed, around 400,000 patients were receiving
the drugs in question to address mild arrythmias. Based on this, the
numbers from the study indicated that the drugs were killing about
5000 patients each year. The study only covered some of the drugs.
Other similar drugs used in the same way may have been killing many
more patients.

In the aftermath, doctors said, "We're sorry," flushed their supply
of anti-arrythmia drugs, and put their patients on something else,
right? Well, not quite. That would've involved admitting a mistake.
According to a study by Columbia Univeristy over 81% of cardiologists
did not change existing patients' prescriptions. Rather, they started
prescribing other drugs for <i>new</i> patients.


What happens when two helpdesks start trading e-mails?

Especially when neither tech is allowed to let a message go
unanswered? Suppose Superlative Help for Information Technologists
got infected by an e-mail virus that sent a Nigerian money laundering
note to Acme Support Services.

"Thank you for contacting Acme Support Services. How can I be of
service today?"

"Everything is hunky-dory here at Superaltive Help for Information
Technologists. What can we do for you?"

"Um... not a thing. You contacted us. What's your technical issue?"

"We don't have any technical issues that we know of. Perhaps I can
interest you in a three year contract for unlimited telephone
support? This week only, it's a low $39.95."

"Thank you for contacting Acme Support Services. If there's anything
further we can do to help you, please don't hesitate to get in touch."

"Thank you for e-mailing us. We're here to help. Keep our contact
information handy. You never know when you might want a friend on the
other end of the phone."

"Look, if you don't have a problem, stop sending me e-mail already! I
can't let a message go unanswered! Every time you send me a message,
I have to write back."

"Why do you keep responding? I can't close this ticket until you
haven't responded for at least 15 minutes. Please don't reply to this

"You're not getting this are you? I CAN'T stop or I'll lose my job."

"Well, I can't stop either."

"Don't write back."

"Shut up."



... and so forth ...


Woman Wins Turing Award

When a co-worker first sent this to me, I thought the point was that a woman has passed the Turing test, convincing the referee that she was not a computer! (or something like that. What would it mean if a human *failed* the Turing test?)


Following the obvious

Atheists refuse to believe in God for lack of evidence.

Well, to be hard-nosed about it, all there's evidence for is awareness and its contents. There's no way to tell whether the story told by the stream of images, smells, sounds, thoughts, and emotions that pass through awareness have any correspondence with any "external" reality.

Thoughts about "I" or "me" are just thoughts in the stream. They have no more evidence backing them up than any of of the other thoughts or impressions that flow through.

There's no telling where the objects in awareness come from -- they simply seem to arise, have their moment on the stage, and pass away.


"90 percent more energy than it consumed"

First I read it on slashdot and thought, "Surely they got the quote wrong."

So I went to Purdue's website and found the claim in the very words quoted on slashdot.

The idea of an electrical generator running off trash is great. I'd even settle for one that produces 90 percent of the energy it consumes. If we have a machine that produces 90 percent more energy than it consumes, we have a way of getting free energy and it's time to rewrite all the text books cause it sounds like Purdue has found a way to reverse entropy.

Commenters on slashdot hypothesize that this statement means that the electrical energy produced is equivalent to 1.9 times the energy injected into the system at the beginning in the form of diesel fuel. But the way it's stated in the original news release does sound like a violation of the second law. I like that interpretation better.


No offense

Why do people say "No offense" right after or before saying something offensive? As in, "No offense, but [fill in offensive tirade here]"? Perhaps if I say, "No gravity" just before I leap from the top of the Empire State building, I'll be able to fly.


Toward Totalitarianism: Reading Your Mail

According to the New York Daily News, President Bush has claimed the authority to open and read Americans' mail without a warrant. This claim was made in a "signing statement" on December 20, 2006, contrary to existing law as well as the bill he was signing into law.