Friday, April 28, 2006


I'm apparently slower on the news than most gamers, but you've probably heard this: Nintendo's given the official name for the Revolution: The Wii. I'll still probably get one, but I'll continue to call it the Revolution, sort of like what I do with my Gameboy DS.

[Obligatory jokes] Since I can't live without Zelda and Samus, you'll probably catch me playing with my Wii on a semi-regular basis. Personally, I wish I could find more local gamers to play with my Wii, but with the Internet, and the thing being wireless out of the box, I can probably play with my Wii with lots of people online. They'll probably have lots of websites devoted to Wiis, allowing for innovative new games you can play with your Wii. [/Obligatory jokes]

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Pointless Image

Being my teetotaler self, I don't know if it's actually true, but it might be. Via Michael Bains.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Very Good Math Versus Very Bad Math

Skimmed a little over MarkCC's blog for a bit, and I'm growing more impressed.

It seems one of his first posts points out, quite nicely, the faith-based nature of Fore Sam, so he's already off to a good start in my book, in addition to pointing out some bad math of anti-vaxxers in general.

He's also made quite a few really good posts about the bad math of Creationists. And he's apparently growing quite fatigued in regards to Dembski.

He's covered how Information Theory really works, though I still need to go over it a few times to get it in my head properly.

On the lighter side, he's had posts on Cellular Automata, including the ever-popular Conway's Game of Life, which has no relation to the boardgame, or at least none that I'm currently aware of, and the nifty-keen Wireworld. For some reason, I think Wireworld would make for a good setting in a puzzle game.

He also has a few posts I skimmed over briefly about the basic nature of math, which touched on Godel's Incompleteness Theorem and all that trippy stuff I'll need to devote some time to.

Sit. Stay. Good blog.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Rockstar's Mailbag #2 - Fun With Spammers

The following is a real e-mail exchange I had with a spammer. I think I laid it on a little too thick at the beginning...

[Enter spamming asshole through gmail]

I have a new email address!
You can now email me at:

Dear Friend, As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday. My name is MR.ALFRED OLA KISHAAN a merchant in Dubai, in the U.A.E.I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer. It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live,according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone(not even myself)but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focused on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that God has called me, Ihave willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as a few close friends. I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul so, I have decided to give also to charity organizations,as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E,Sudan and Malaysia. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and distribute the money which I have there to charity organization in Bulgaria and Pakistan, they refused and kept the money to themselves. Hence, I do not trust them anymore,as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them. The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of $12,000,000,00 that I have with a finance/Security Company abroad. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations.Please endeavour to reply me on email address.You shall receive 20% for your time and efforts.

God be with you.

Yours Truly,



[Rockstar responds]

Dearly mr. alfreadol3-0txo20134,

My name is Ryan Michael Whitmore, but I go by the name "Rockstar Ryan". But you can call me by my real name, Kevin.

I am sorry to hear of your liver cancer! Have you tried Homeopathy or Astrology? DR. JAMES RANDI is teh best in the world at both.

So you are rich but never generous? HAHA - HA! That is how Throm{what you call "GOD"[I am part of a small religious organization here in teh states(in Waco, TX)]} WORKS?!in mysteriousness! That is why Throm I am sent you to me when he called you to him! I am gernerous bich but not rich.

I would be happy to help you in your question to have Throm{[(GOD)]} accept your soul. Please tell me how I can help?


kEVIN "Rockstar Ryan" Frank

[This Fucktard actually wrote back to me...]

Dearest Beloved Kevin,

I am most grateful for your email,and I seize this opportunity to thank you for coming to my rescue and to also let you know that this transaction is a straight forward and legal transaction. I am somebody with a conscience. If this transaction was in any way illegal, I would tell you straight away so that you know what is involved and decide for yourself. But it is not like that at all, and you will later see and understand that.God tells me in my everyday prayers,that you are the chosen and right person to accomplish this humanitarian duty for God and humanity. I hope you were not too embarrassed by my first email to you since you do not know me. I had no option since my immediate and extended family have refused to distribute my funds because they want to keep it to themselves. I didn? know how to move the funds out and dispatched it to charity organizations, so I resulted to putting fate to test and making a random contact. I am communicating with only you at this moment with regards to this transaction. And I would not have any cause to do otherwise, except you state your intention to withdraw your assistance.Just like I stated in my first mail to you, this fund is presently in a security and holding firm. I cannot distribute these funds myself because of the following reasons: (1) I am under going medical treatment. It has defiled all forms of medicine, and right now I have only about a few months to live,according to medical experts (2) I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul and so, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations and churches, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I did on earth.It is for this reasons I am seeking for your assistance to stand as the beneficiary to the fund and retrieve it on my behalf and dispatched it to charity organizations. I may send to you some names of these organizations too. All the necessary documents required to get the Funds out of the security firm are in my possession and I will be sending them to you after we must have come to a conclusion and reached an Agreement. Note Before. I need you to give me your words that you will be very honest and straight forward with me when the money gets to you, So long as you can execute this Project successfully and help me dispatched it to charity organizations or set up one.
Thus, I would need you to get back to me on the following issues, (1) That you are in a position to be trusted as a God fearing person with such a large amount of fund and dispatched it to charity organization of your choice or set up one in my name. (2) That you are willing to contact the security company to discuss the terms of releasing the funds. (3) That you fully understand this transaction up to this stage and you are ready to proceed under\n these terms. (4) That you will keep this trust I have in you confidential pending when you have funds in yourpossession to distribute. As soon as I receive your reply that you are ready to proceed under these terms, then I will furnish you with all details including the company. But if you have any questions up to this stage, please ask and I will be more than happy to respond to them. And I will also send you all the necessary documentations to conclude this Project. Thanks for your mail, your mail has relieved me and I pray to almighty God with his infinite mercy to reward you. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it now. I want you to pray for me so that God would forgive me and be merciful to me and accept my soul. I will give you details of the charity organization which i want you donate the money to,please don\'t be worried\n about that.first i want to get the funds away from the security company,then youcan start the distribution to charity. I want you to know that what i\'m offering is a life time opportunity for you,and also for my wish to be carried out.

May God bless you,
Alfred ola kishaan",

[I responded]

Dearlyest betrothed KISHAAN ALFRED OLA alfredola30tx02@,,

I is extremely gladified that THROM IS telling you I am the right mand for the job. I look forward to donating the funds to the Battle of Little big horn ahead.

My lawyerd Hulk HOgans suggested that you are on teh level and I need to help you, but you have to please could YoU refer to [{(GOD ALLAH)]} AS ThrOM form now till death do us part.
(1) I am from THROm the MercILess that you can turst me with you monies. He told me at WREsTLEmANIA las year you was coming with me.

(2? THroM states that he wil let me donate all funds to the kingdom of Zamunda, teh Skeletor relief fund and Donald TRUMps.

I give you words with power taht I am mand for job. Please send me documnet so I can take all your money.

LOve in THroms,

Kevid "Rockstar Rayn" Frank St. Austin

"I just woopedur ass" - Austin 3:16

He has yet to e-mail me back...

And Let's Not Try "Rockstars' Ramblyngs"

A while back, Ryan told me we need to change the name of our blog. I'm not a rockstar, but I've contributed a fair bit to the blog, so I've been trying to think of a new name that'll fit all of us. Suggestions go in the metalic grey cylinder in the "Post a comment" link.

Who's a Good Math? Who's a Good Math? You Are!

MarkCC of Good Math, Bad Math, a blog in the running for a new regular stop of mine, takes on an old butchery of probability I recall from somewhere. He also cracks a few PEAR eggs... Does that even sound right?

Either Ryan's [hiney] gnomes exist, or they do not. Therefore the probability of either is 50%.

Yes, I self-censored. This dog's mouth is cleaner than that icky human's. At least in text format.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

All Your Chick Tracts Are Belong to Us

Just thought I'd pass this on, real quick. Haven't quite gotten the hang of typing essays every day like some bloggers, so I'll just direct you to stuff other people do, effectively rendering their efforts free slave labor for me. Special thanks go to c4ts of the JREF Forums.

For those of you wondering about my own parody, no cease and desists, yet.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Death in the Almost-Family

I would have spent today rallying the troops for a war on Easter or something, including a link to a particular episode of Robot Chicken, but this morning I was informed that a friend of the family died last night. He worked with my dad, and was one of those straightforward no-nonsense sorts us skeptics tend to appreciate. The last thing I remember talking with him about was his Xbox. Apparently, he was enjoying Star Wars: Battlefront.

UPDATE: He died in his sleep. The cause of death wasn't determined, and an autopsy wasn't considered worthwhile. Speculation about a blood clot came up, but I don't know about its validity.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Boo-yah! Or Whatever.

What a lucky coinky-dink: Went to the site to look for new comments (I MUST HAVE COMMENTS! GIVE ME COMMENTS!) and saw the site meter at the bottom at 19,999. Clicked, and it went up to 20,000. You should notice a spike and a bump in the site traffic: The first, on March 28th, was the day that Orac generously linked to my little parody, shortly followed by PZ Myers, one of the big men in the skeptical blog-o-sphere, and it just went crazy from there. I didn't expect such a big response. Apparently it's easier to become an Internet meme than I originally suspected. I thought I'd just get a couple chuckles, rather than spreading laughter across the world. Thanks go to everyone who linked over. The second bump was my gift to PZ Myers, originally posted, quite appropriately, on April Fool's day. Apparently the secret to success in skeptical blogging is to do anything and everything to catch the fickle eye of PZ.

Anyway, it's been fun being noticed, especially from a person like me who doesn't really demand that much attention (GIVE ME COMMENTS!) in meatspace. Then again, if I did attract attention in meatspace, I'd probably end up facing a tribunal of men in red coats wielding a dish rack and threatening to give it a turn.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bill Maher Actually Right for a Change

Bill Maher is the most inconsistent personality on TV. One day he is sounding off for personal liberties (good), and the next he is advocating for the anti-vaccination cult (bad). But one must call a spade a spade, and this time he definitely got it right. Says Billy:

Does George Bush remember that he put his hand on the Bible to uphold the Constitution and not the other way around? [applause] [cheers]

Yes! Yes! To every politician out there, keep this in mind - you put your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold The Constitution. You did not put your hand on The Constitution and swear to uphold the fucking Bible!

This stands as my retort to any elected official who trots out a book supposedly written 2,000 years ago by desert nomads to defend any position they might hold relative to abortion, same sex marriage, stem cell research, etc. - The Bible is a meaningless defense when it pertains to United States law. Thanks for playing, try door #2.

(via Snopes)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Rockstar's Mailbag #1 - Sylvia Browne

Ever since I posted the Rockstar classic Sylvia Browne is a Big Fat Idiot, I've received at least one e-mail or comment a day about my post. Some people are not really happy with my portrayal of their hero, like this anonymous commenter, whom I believe looks like this:


For those who don't want to make the click, here is their excellent rebuttal to my demolishing of Sylvia:

i am a beleiver in sylvia and i think that u r a big fat idiot,she makes perfect sense, but u believe wat u want


While the evidence would point to the fact that your 5'10" 180 lb. Rockstar is neither big nor fat, I could be an idiot. Anonymous commenter reveals her evidence:

Obviously your a negative person who doesn't care to believe in anything positive as Sylvia Browne.

Ah, I'm an idiot because I'm negative and "don't care to believe in anything positive". Well Anonymous, I do believe in sexual intercourse, and that's pretty damn positive. You should try some sometime. Finally, Anonymous asks this question:

If you don't believe in what she does, get the #@%$^& off her website and do something worthwhile with your lousy life instead of spending time putting her down.WHAT HAS SHE EVER DONE TO YOU!!!
So I am writing an open letter to Anonymous and the rest of the 40 year old divorced women's club who e-mail me to tell me I'm a loser. Put down the power crystals and read on.

April 1, 2006

Dear Sylvia Browne Fan Club,

It is with great sadness that I read you all don't like my blog. Really, there's lots of nice stuff in there. But I digress. The question I'd like to answer is: WHAT HAS SHE EVER DONE TO YOU!!

She's done nothing to me directly. The reason I don't like Sylvia Browne is that she convinces people like you, even with evidence to the contrary that I provided, that she has magic powers. That leads to irrational thinking.

You see, SBFC, If you believe that Sylvia has powers similar to Professor X even though there is no good reason to think so, what's to stop you from believing everything? You know, like astrology, homeopathy, bigfoot, leprechauns and invisible gremlins?

I don't know who you all are, but you could be my child's school teacher. You could be a police officer or a doctor or a judge. If you buy Syl's load of shit for no reason, what's to stop you from grading my child's test based on her "predictions" or because a magical elf that lives in your ass told you to flunk her? What's to stop Syl's magic from interferring with jurisprudence? It's even possible that you might consult a psychic when my fucking health is on the line. Take these herbs and your cancer will clear right up! Hell, why not?

That is why I point out this nonsense to you all. Maybe one of you will listen and tragedy in your life can be avoided. Now quit fucking e-mailing me and go back to the couch; Oprah's on in 5.

Your friend in Randi,



The Big Sylvia Browne Thread

Dogfight #1: Michael Behe

The following interview actually happened in my imagination (La-la Land adjacent):

We're here today with Michael Behe, one of the leading propeller heads of the Church of the Butt Propeller.

Woah! The theory of intelligent design is not a religiously based idea, even though devout people opposed to the teaching of evolution cite it in their arguments.

First, ID isn't a theory. It's unfalsifiable, and therefore untestable. It's not even a hypothesis because of that. Second, it's kind of hard to ignore the religious motivations. Judge Jones sure found a lot of that in the school boards.

The contemporary argument for intelligent design is based on physical evidence and a straightforward application of logic. The argument for it consists of four linked claims. The first claim is uncontroversial: we can often recognize the effects of design in nature.

I don't recognize any "effects of design" in nature. Everything I've ever observed can be explained by evolution and other naturalistic theories.

For example, unintelligent physical forces like plate tectonics and erosion seem quite sufficient to account for the origin of the Rocky Mountains. Yet they are not enough to explain Mount Rushmore.

True, but there's nothing in nature like Mount Rushmore: We know who designed it, how it was designed, and why it was designed. We have all the evidence behind the planning, building, and stated purposes. Life, however, was most likely "designed" by unintelligent evolution. We've been able to successfully apply evolution's principles for "designing" things for us, and it only takes a little speculation to come up with testable hypotheses about how particular features evolved. And even if we can't immediately think of a way something evolved, that doesn't mean it's impossible for evolution to account for it. All that first claim of yours is that some things "look" designed, but science is about going beyond first impressions.

Of course, we know who is responsible for Mount Rushmore, but even someone who had never heard of the monument could recognize it as designed!

Not really. If an alien beamed down to Earth, having never seen a human, he might think it's just erosion somehow leaving a bunch of strangely smooth surfaces. I think you're letting your prior knowledge of the human designers get in the way of your objectivity.

*Rolls eyes* Which leads to the second claim of the intelligent design argument: the physical marks of design are visible in aspects of biology. This is uncontroversial, too. The 18th-century clergyman William Paley likened living things to a watch, arguing that the workings of both point to intelligent design.

But that's a false analogy. Watches don't reproduce, like life does. Life can pass on traits and features that work, as well as build new ones through mutation and all those other genetic tricks.

For example, Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, once wrote that biologists must constantly remind themselves that what they see was not designed but evolved. Imagine a scientist repeating through clenched teeth: "It wasn't really designed. Not really."

How I mine for quotes? Just because some humans have the apophenia to see design doesn't mean it was designed. Science is about looking beyond first impressions, remember? If we stuck with first impressions, we'd all be hiding from Zeus and his magic thunderbolts of lightning, very, very frightning.

The resemblance of parts of life to engineered mechanisms like a watch is enormously stronger than what Reverend Paley imagined. In the past 50 years modern science has shown that the cell, the very foundation of life, is run by machines made of molecules. There are little molecular trucks in the cell to ferry supplies, little outboard motors to push a cell through liquid.

Using words like "machines" doesn't change anything. Human intelligence is sufficient to design "machines", but that doesn't mean that intelligence is required.

The next claim in the argument for design is that we have no good explanation for the foundation of life that doesn't involve intelligence.

Hel-lo-o! Abiogenesis. We've been able to create conditions where amino acids and such show up spontaneously. We may not have pegged down the Earth's initial conditions, but it's apparently far easier than you give credit.

Darwinists assert that their theory can explain the appearance of design in life as the result of random mutation and natural selection acting over immense stretches of time. Some scientists, however, think the Darwinists' confidence is unjustified. They note that although natural selection can explain some aspects of biology, there are no research studies indicating that Darwinian processes can make molecular machines of the complexity we find in the cell.

First, I imagine there are a lot more scientists out there named Steve would disagree. Second, just because your imagination isn't as good as theirs is no reason to give up and say "godoopsImeanthedesignerdidit."

Scientists skeptical of Darwinian claims include many who have no truck with ideas of intelligent design, like those who advocate an idea called complexity theory, which envisions life self-organizing in roughly the same way that a hurricane does, and ones who think organisms in some sense can design themselves.

Scientists like who?

The fourth claim in the design argument is also controversial: in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life.

There's no real controversy behind that claim: It's an argument from ignorance, and a call for surrender. You can't make an assertion based on lack of evidence. Thunderbolts of lightning, very, very frightning again.

It's important to keep in mind that it is the profound appearance of design in life that everyone is laboring to explain, not the appearance of natural selection or the appearance of self-organization.

There you go on again about appearances. If there is a designer out there, I thank him for not making you go into medicine.

The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious.

Then don't use its "obviousness" as evidence. Make a testable hypothesis and *gasp* test it!

Still, some critics claim that science by definition can't accept design, while others argue that science should keep looking for another explanation in case one is out there.

Oh, no! Straw Dog! Why! Why'd he knock you down so shortly after creating you?! The problem isn't with design, it's with you openly advocating laziness as the process to reach it. The reason we search for other explanations is because they have promise. Until you can come up with a way to test for design other than "it looks designed," ID shows no promise whatsoever.

But we can't settle questions about reality with definitions, nor does it seem useful to search relentlessly for a non-design explanation of Mount Rushmore.

For the former: Exactly, we can't redefine science to include "laziness" as a legitimate research technique. For the latter: You're right, because we have very strong evidence about the design of Mount Rushmore. Unless someone has an alternate explanation with even stronger evidence, we shouldn't waste time. Intelligent Design, however, is still at zero evidence. Until you can gather evidence beyond appearances generated by your lack of imagination, ID should not be bothered with.

Besides, whatever special restrictions scientists adopt for themselves don't bind the public, which polls show, overwhelmingly, and sensibly, thinks that life was designed. And so do many scientists who see roles for both the messiness of evolution and the elegance of design.

Just because the public is allowed to be lazy, doesn't mean that ID should be given any consideration. Personally, I'd like to remove laziness from the public with science education. Also... "many scientists?" Who? As for the "messiness" of evolution, well, that's opinion. I see evolution as very elegant, since it doesn't require the constant attention of anyone. I think it's time to end this interview, since you're spinning around in circles... with a radius of zero.

Uh... what's that sword for?
I told you I'd get you Behe's head on a silver platter. Sorry it took so long.
Special thanks to Skeptico for showing me some juicy gems of Behe's anti-wisdom.