28/10/2011

It’s the dumbing, not the dumbness

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:26 am

Same story on climate change as the graph a couple of posts down, but the Daily Show’s focus is on the media’s reporting of that study. Or rather, non-reporting.

http://www.salon.com/2011/10/27/koch_funded_global_warming_proof_goes_unnoticed/singleton/

It’s heartening, in a weird way: I tend to ascribe the level of ignorance on climate change to the populace sticking its head in the sand… but perhaps the media’s shovelling of the sand is more culpable.

26/10/2011

It’s too easy to forget…

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:11 am

…how recent this stuff is.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/10/25/grace-under-pressure/

Sure, the technological advances this story highlights are amazing enough… or the good science that got done without certain technologies, through sheer hard work.

But it’s the social advances that are most striking, within the working lifetime of one woman.

I’d say half the members of my quantum class this semester are women.

21/10/2011

Not surprising, still gratifying

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:39 pm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15373071

via Tim Minchin

Dawkins and Craig

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:04 pm

I don’t always agree with Richard Dawkins – in fact I agree with him far less frequently than with many other people – but on this one he hits the nail on the head:

http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/richard-dawkins-william-lane-craig?code=AQDeP3jT76-LVt-bmNLELDMWFwbdDdLs0Rive-jX43ulVmsBoe9dYkPeyQ5DPAEjw6R8H7IXexphtNJOeYqb2qOx3I2cEjeH3UO1JlEaLmlCfyBK9XL3UYgouijNn9-IZBgukwVUuWEe4ZB1T8GYR3Wukb5xl5GUt8wuSYSfokk61JV8HYhhlQ_9Cgqr3wKrCEY#_=_

William Lane Craig is an odious oxygen thief and ought to be shunned by anyone with a functioning moral compass. I’d love to see a large number of Christians stand up and decry his comments.

19/10/2011

David Mitchell (as usual) gets it very right

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:48 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKUPUznJZoE

16/10/2011

Science and Politics

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:26 pm

It’s not *necessarily* the case that those on the right politically have to be anti-science: indeed, conservatism has typically supported science. This is a very disturbing trend.

http://www.salon.com/2011/10/15/the_republican_war_on_science_is_un_american/

13/10/2011

The 53% and the American Dream

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:36 am

Excellent ‘open letter’ that explains a lot of my own goals and dreams and ideals, albeit in the American context. But many of the same issues are played out in Australia, although we do better on health care and the social safety net.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/12/1025555/-Open-Letter-to-that-53-Guy

Hard work is in many ways a good thing – I’ve certainly done my share, in jobs from cleaner to timber-yard worker to builder’s labourer, to teacher and professor. But work-life balance is also a good thing, and a determined race to see who can do the most work for the least return serves no-one.

11/10/2011

Artificial Scarcity – Gaming, Economics and Eternity

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:13 am

I’ve almost finished playing through, for the 5th time or so, the game Far Cry 2. It’s set in a wartorn African country, and is incredibly immersive to play.

Like a number of other recent games, it includes a weapon degradation system. That is, weapons wear out when used. It happens much more quickly than in real life, but the aim is partly to model reality.

The other part of the aim is to force the player to buy new weapons, which adds challenges of finding the money and also means having to travel to a weapon shop.

It adds an extra level of challenge to the game, and while it’s frustrating sometimes, I think they’ve made the right call. While having unlimited resources in a game (and there may well be cheats that allow it to happen, but I haven’t looked) might seem like fun initially, in the end it’s just tedious. There ends up not being any struggle, any challenge… any reason to play.

Thinking it through, the same may well apply economically.

This is not an argument for poverty, please don’t misunderstand me. I definitely believe everyone should have access to the necessities of life. I don’t believe that others’ poverty is necessary to give meaning to my relative wealth.

But having something to work for and strive for is part of what makes life meaningful.

Here’s the tricky bit, but also the freeing bit: we need to realise that the scarcities are largely artificial, and the system requires them.

It means technology can never deliver a want-free utopia, since it’s not a real problem of scarcity but an artificial one.

But when we realise this, it means we have more control than we thought we did, both of what we want (or think we need) and of the rules of the game.

It means there are ways, or ought to be, of working toward ensuring that the necessities of life are available to all.

Makes me think about the promise of heaven, too. Would an eternity with no scarcity be something to be desired?

Water hazard

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:53 am

10/10/2011

Weak Measurements

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:40 pm

Only for the very brave.

Here’s a paper I wrote for my course, about the concept of ‘weak measurement’ in quantum systems. http://www.bravus.com/weakmeasure.pdf

In that paper I mention an objection to the original paper by Leggett. That would be Nobel Prize Winner Sir Anthony Leggett. Here’s a lecture by him on weak measurement:

3/10/2011

Yet more on science and faith

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:40 am

Haven’t even read this myself yet: storing it here until I get time! Sounds interesting though.

http://life.salon.com/2011/10/02/how_science_and_faith_coexist/

2/10/2011

About Music

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:19 pm

Novelist (not comedian) David Mitchell interviews musician Brian Eno.

http://entertainment.salon.com/2011/10/01/david_mitchell_brian_eno/