Tuesday, December 7, 2010

El Greco: Fresco-bomb

The tradition of photo-bombing goes back to El Greco, where he would paint himself into "historical" scenes looking sarcastically at the viewer, as if to say... "This never really happened"



My mate Andy and I decided this was perfect for captions.





Needless to say, you may come up with your own... let's make us a meme.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Caution

From Pharyngula

In Scotland, a football referee joked about the Pope on email. He apparently passed along this image


Someone complained, the ref was fired. Sigh.

So there's a call to inundate the Scottish Catholic Office with Pope jokes. I'm doing my small part by posting. Keep the meme alive, you don't get to have someone fired for criticizing pedophile priests and those that cover up for them (The Pope)... well not, at least, without it blowing up in your face.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Profound discoveries don't make any difference.

I had this idea when listening to a debate about morality. The religious proponent was suggesting that without God, moral chaos will ensue.



Immediately it is evident that this is not the case, otherwise there would be a section of our society; atheists, running around causing a world of trouble and we don't see this at all.

You would think that discovering that the world is not designed and controlled by a super-intelligent being would have massive implications for things here on the ground.

But it doesn't. Non-believers act just as morally as believers and seemingly without any extra strain or cognitive dissonance.

Look at other examples. The best example of profound discoveries making no difference would be the discovery that the world is not flat and that it travels around the Sun rather than the other way around. When Copernicus and Galileo fought to expose this truth there was a perception that this was going to literally turn the world on its head. But the same everyday forces of nature didn't change, of course they didn't, we didn't go flying into the sky, or fall off the face of the earth. Everything continued as usual.

Another example that really gets me is Quantum Theory. The strangeness of Quantum Theory is astounding and yet it has been demonstrated to be real and has been used to make predictions of extraordinary accuracy. The discoveries of Quantum Theory include seemingly paradoxical positions, for instance, that something can be in two places at once, that observation of an event can affect the outcome and that the activity of quanta is wholly indeterminable.



But does this suddenly mean that we can (as the makers of "What the Bleep do we Know?" would have you believe) live in parallel with multiple selves, that we can be in two places at once, and affect the outcome of events with our minds, like we're living in a video game?

No.

Sorry folks "The Secret" is no secret, it's bullshit. Quantum Physics is called "Quantum" Physics because it describes the nature of quanta and only has effects at this scale of the physical universe. What is astounding about Quantum Physics is how order arises out of the interactions of unpredictable units. Once there is a large enough body of these unpredictable units their actions as a group become predictable, they have to adhere to the general rules governing physics and then we have what we appreciate in our day to day lives as "reality".

There are numerous other examples, for instance, if we one day discover that we have no free will (some hold the position that we have already discovered this) will we stop making "choices"? If the world is determined, should we all sit around and do nothing? If consciousness is an illusion, will we immediately pass out?

No. Everything will continue as usual.

So why do profound discoveries make no difference?

The reason for this is because profound discoveries usually refer to foundational principles or properties of the world. But we don't build our knowledge from foundational principles or properties, we infer foundational principles from our everyday experience and immediate knowledge of the world.

So, what happens is, even if we have inferred an incorrect founding principle, and held it for centuries - that founding principle is based on our everyday experience and not the other way around. When that founding principle (or axiom) comes into conflict with our everyday experience, new complex amendments are made to the founding principle in order to accommodate the immediate reality of our experience.

I would posit that this is why our religions have so much content. Each contradiction begets a new caveat, so, instead of having one principle and a simple demonstration of its truth, we have, in the case of the Bible, a book of over a thousand pages, then we have hermeneutic frameworks to interpret those pages, eschatology, apologetics, theology, theodicy not to mention the thousands of different sects of Christianity which allow a circle of continuous contradiction and explanation to continue ad infinitum.

When one discovers that no God actually exists, they are left with everyday reality, the same everyday reality they were in before. They realise that biblical injunctions to love thy neighbour and not steal or lie have perfectly good everyday practical applications. After all it is because they have everyday practical applications that that they were written into the Bible in the first place.


Basically my point is that the baggage that surrounds our presuppositions about the way the world works misleads us when it comes to discovering a new foundational principle or property. It takes time, but the change of a foundational principle subtly changes the meaning of all the baggage that surrounds it, until it finds it's way back to reflecting our everyday experience of the world.

Anyway, that brings us full circle. I'd be keen to hear other examples of profound discoveries that don't change anything in the comments section.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I finished a painting, but I can't show it to anyone... I've been told by my dealer. But I'm going to live life on the edge and let you see this very small section of a cloak, just cos I like it and require constant recognition.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Animal Labour


It has taken some time but I expect to get a lot of mileage out of Darwin's new trick.

Has everyone met Ray?



He begins with his characteristic sleepy tone "well, by 2020 we'll have computers that are powerful enough to simulate the human brain..."

Conrad Wolfram.



I promise not to get too obsessed, but this talk was really good.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ask Wolfram Alpha

I just asked Wolfram Alpha if God exists it answered...

"I'm sorry, but a poor computational knowledge engine, no matter how powerful, is not capable of providing a simple answer to that question."

Very diplomatic Wolfram, but we know what you really think!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Fabricator



Check out this 48 hour film by the folks at the Electric Pink Company (otherwise known as a portion of the AV department at The Learning Connexion along with others.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Arty Farty Post


I've vowed to draw for at least half an hour every day and am posting the results on Facebook

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Open Letter to Willie Jackson concerning Brian Tamaki

This letter to the editor is concerning Willie Jackson's recent article in the North Shore Times "Preying on Tamaki" which I thought was pretty idiotic, as you will probably gather.


Willie,

If you are so ashamed by the New Zealand media (of which you are a part) why is it you are not investigating these "real crooks" yourself? Rather than becoming an apologist for Brian Tamaki under the assertion "he's not as bad as those other ..... guys"

Let's take the following statement:

"Clegg & Co finance director Brian Clegg was recently sentenced to a year’s home detention for providing false information to prospective investors .......... A year’s home detention for ripping off poor and vulnerable Kiwis to the tune of $15 million is a disgrace."

I can only imagine one logical conclusion is intended by this and that is that Clegg has been treated unfairly! Because there is another white collar criminal out there who "provides false information" to his "investors" every day and has ripped off the most "vulnerable Kiwis" in New Zealand "to the tune of" about ... "$15 million" (or at least with a personal income of 1 million a year is getting to that amount very quickly) and he hasn't been held to account at all, his name is Brian Tamaki.

But, though this would be the logical conclusion to draw from your statement and the facts, I don't think this is what you intended to say.

And I'm guessing also when you stated that:

"he’s turned around thousands – gang members, criminals and the worst of the worst in our society?"

... that you weren't meaning to support the notion that "Tamaki is a modern-day Adolf Hitler" who, of course, also turned around many street kids and gave them direction with the Hitler Youth and recruited gang members, criminals and other violent thugs to his service as well.

No, of course you were assuming that an ideologue recruiting thugs is a good, charitable and christian thing. Well, sorry Willie, history disagrees with you.

And this is the main reason Tamaki is newsworthy, because not only does he extort money from the poor and vulnerable but he does so with an ideology of divisiveness and separatism, in that he encourages Destiny's members to ignore and reject dissent or argument, intolerance, shown most evidently in it's homophobic, "enough is enough" campaign, and imperialism, in that he makes various claims of taking over New Zealand politics. His ideology also leads him to act in a ridiculous and often disturbing fashion which also makes for good news stories. So, he's not just a crook Willie, give him more credit than that, he's a white collar, bigoted, imperialist, messianic crook. That's what leads people to compare him to Hitler, that's what makes him a threat to society, that's what makes him interesting, not just the fact that he extorts money from the poor by lying to them.

But even if he was just a run of the mill white collar criminal, this is still no reason for you to make excuses for him.