18 January, 2009

Must be ranting season. It happens when a body has nothing interesting, informative or even remotely entertaining to write about. I am working on a new piano composition, I swear.

So, the hands-free law has taken effect. Nobody can text and drive at the same time. Nobody can talk while holding the phone in the hand while driving. This hasn't stopped anybody. Saw somebody doing it just last Friday as I was crossing the street. Car inching up to the crossing, and I could look right in at the driver as she chatted on her cell phone. She did kind-of try to hide the phone while I was crossing right in front of her car. I gave her a knowing smile. Phone came right back out of hiding the second I was out of the way.

Not my point. I mean, I do understand the law. It isn't so much that it is hard to drive with only one hand. It can be tricky, but it can be done as long as everything is hunky-dorey. Now, get in trouble, and you're screwed. You just can't grip the wheel in an emergency with something in your hand. At least, it is easier to drop the phone than, say, drop your coffee.

So, I do understand why they would want to have a law.

What I don't understand is what they want to do next. No talking on the phone at all while driving. I mean, huh?

Doesn't make any sense to me for one very simple reason. I cannot figure out the difference between talking to somebody over a speaker phone or headset and talking to somebody else in the car. Really, I don't get it. The two are equally dangerous since talking while driving is talking while driving. Both phone and in-person talking distracts the driver from driving.

I'm not above apologizing to passengers for not talking to them more on account of needing to pay more attention to the road than their continued entertainment. I'm sure they appreciate the fact that I consider their continued living to be more important than their temporary boredom. Being dead is very boring, I'm sure.

So, really, why are they drawing the line at talking on the phone while driving? Are they implying that one's passengers are going to scream in the event of an emergency, bring the driver back around to the needs of not crashing into various objects, and thereby saving the day?

This causes the specter of doubt to raise his drug-addled head and look skeptically in my general direction whenever I contemplate such a notion.

So, yeah, I just don't get it. Driving and talking is driving and talking. I don't care under what circumstances and to whom one might be talking. If driving while talking is just as dangerous as drinking and driving, then it doesn't matter if the drunk is in your car or another.

I can only see one solution, which promptly causes the specter of doubt to throw-up.

Nobody should be allowed to talk in a moving car. I don't care who is driving. Talking is distracting. And, no radio. Music is distracting. Talk radio is distracting. Those guys on Car Talk make me laugh all the time while driving.

Which means we have to completely redesign cars. There should be a single control room for the driver, which cannot have music, radio or television of any kind. I would make the room soundproof if it wasn't for the fact that the driver needs to be able to hear the screech of tires if somebody should be desperately trying to avoid a spectacular wreck. Passengers? Oh, sure, you can have passengers, but they have to be placed in sensory deprivation tanks. One per person. You can't have the passengers communing one with another unless they develop telepathy on account of being sensorally deprived.

It's the only way. Just wait. The future approaches.

Or, as Samantha has said to me on more than one occasion, if you want people to stop wrecking their cars, make them walk.

19 January, 2009

Hey, as long as I am on a roll, right?

I've read that Apple Computers is ditching all of that copy protection stuff from music purchased at the iTunes store. It is also going to let other music players communicate with iTunes.

Now, I've got no strong opinion about this, but I understand that this news has made a lot of people very happy. The part of this I don't understand is when I hear how progressive Apple Computers is being by doing this, how wonderful they are, and how much they care about their customers.

To which, I've only got one thing to say.

Don't you remember about a year or so back when Apple lost that big court case or hearing or whatever it is that happens when the European Union is mad at you?

Apple isn't getting rid of copy protection stuff on music because they love their customers. They are doing it because the European Union is making them do it.

Apple wants to sell iPods and iMacs in Europe, and this is the only way it is going to happen. Or, continue to sell iPods. I can't remember the details off-hand.

I hear Microsoft is having similar problems. Something about needing to reveal their source code, which isn't a big deal for Apple since they went the open source route a few years back. Open source is a great way to save on development costs, by the way.

24 January, 2009

You know, one of these days I'm actually going to write about the status of my current musical composition. I might actually ramble on about my thoughts of the state of my musical inclinations. A bit of the reason I haven't is because I don't want to sound too much like I am whining on about the same-old, same-old thing. I would much rather find new things to whine about. In the meantime, I'm left with various and sundry rants about stupid stuff I hardly know enough about to sound like a complete and utter idiot. A perfect example would be some of last week's rather dubious contributions to society.

Here's to trouble.

I know better. I mean, I really know better. There is absolutely no point in spouting off on religion. It's a sure why to get people arguing at each other as if the other person is a wall to be taken apart brick by brick. I'm not going to change minds. I'm not going to impress anybody. The best I can hope for is to make people mad. Leaves me wondering what the point of rambling on over the topic might be.

I think it is mostly the idea of getting thoughts out of the brain, but I'm not sure. This is my version of screaming at the wall. At least, this version doesn't actually require getting in anybody's face. People actually have to seek this old little website of mine out and bother to read.

Anyway, I heard people arguing yesterday about teaching intelligent design in science class, and it really surprised me because I've never actually heard people arguing about it before. Sure, I've heard it all brought up in news stories and such, but it has always been sound-bites. Bits recorded for radio or television. It's never actually been real people in the middle of a discussion that suddenly degenerated into a shouting match.

I've never actually heard the clockwork orange argument used as part of an actual discussion in defense of intelligent design. Took me quite by surprise. Mostly because I don't think I've ever actually thought about somebody using the clockwork orange as a serious argument. Really, I thought it had been debunked.

Actually, they used a variation on the clockwork orange argument. They used the found a camera on the beach argument, which goes kind-of as follows. If you found a camera on the beach, you wouldn't assume it had just grown there spontaneously. You would assume that somebody had left it there and that somebody had built the camera in the first place. The immediate counter to this was that a camera is inorganic. The immediate counter-counter to this was that an eyeball is an organic camera.

To which, I say: you found an eyeball on the beach?

Took me about twelve hours to think of that witty rejoinder, by the way.

The problem with the clockwork orange argument is that it presupposes its own conclusion. There is a creator. The universe is so complex that it must have been created. The creator must have created the universe.

But, I digress. Okay, maybe a moment longer. What's the difference between an invisible gardener you cannot interact with or perceive the fruits of his gardening in any way and no gardener at all?

But, really, I'm not here to argue about faith. If memory serves, there is a chapter of The Faire Folk of Gideon in which Del Morgan kind-of summarizes my thoughts on the topic really rather well.

So, yeah, the whole thing troubled me and left me kind-of puzzled all the long evening and into the morning. Not entirely sure why. I think it was mostly the whole argument in and of itself. I mean, they really got into it, which is just depressing. Arguing just leaves everybody with a sore throat. Can't be helped. If people are going to argue, they are going to argue.

So, I was theoretically tossing and turning all the long night because I really wanted to say something on the subject. The problem being I don't really want to repeat what has already been said, and I don't really want to shout at the wall. Or, be shouted at in return. Oh, well.

In the end, I mostly agree with the guy who wanted intelligent design taught in science class. However, and this is a pretty darn big but. If intelligent design is to be taught in science class along with evolution. Not in place of evolution. Along side evolution. Then, it is of monumental importance that intelligent design be taught with the same level of passionate skepticism that is being applied to evolution.

If you want to emphasize the fact that evolution is only a theory, then you have to emphasize the fact that intelligent design is only a theory. If you want to point out the weaknesses of evolution, then you have to point out the weaknesses of intelligent design. You have to lay out the hypothesis. You have to lay out the arguments for as well as the arguments against, and most importantly, you have to show your work.

And, I do not mean state the fact that intelligent design is only a theory with a nod and a wink. I mean, really analyze it with the same passionate eye to debunking it with which evolution is being examined.

Because this isn't about the scientific definition of a theory. This is about logical, deductive reasoning. This is about thinking for oneself. This is about whether or not intelligent design is a wedge issue with the long-term goal of dismantling the scientific method and replacing it with one more in-line with acceptable religious doctrine.

You think I'm joking? Misunderstanding the issue? Go read 40 Days and 40 Nights by Matthew Chapman, which is a really awesome book on the intelligent design trial that took place a few years back in Pennsylvania, by the way.

Anyway, if enough people want bloody stupidity taught at school, then bloody stupidity is what we're going to get. And, really, that is it. I'm done shouting at the wall for now.

25 January, 2009

I just can't leave well enough alone. Even when I should know better. Even when I should quit while I'm ahead. Somethings, they just nag at me. They nag and bother, and they simply won't let me be. Yesterday's rant, for example. The clockwork orange refutation is nagging at me. It's nagging at me and nagging and simply won't let me be. See, the problem with my clockwork orange refutation is that it is overly complex and quite possibly wrong. Also, I thought of a much simpler refutation not long after posting yesterday's extended descent into madness.

The clockwork orange argument, which I didn't actually bother to include in yesterday's diatribe, is as follows. If you found a clockwork orange, you would assume it had been made because clockwork oranges are very complex objects that do not occur in nature. The universe is very complex; therefore, the universe was made.

The problem with this argument is quite simply that it is a false analogy. Yeah, shocking, I know. Can't believe I didn't tweak to this at any point before posting yesterday's rant. Anyway, the universe is not sufficiently like a clockwork orange for the conclusion. Or, to beat this even farther into the ground, you have taken a characteristic of the subset and applied it to the whole.

Now, I can be very stubborn, and I can have a hard time letting go of a notion once I have been so bold as to become enamored with it, which is a very long way of saying the problem with the clockwork orange argument is that it presupposes its own conclusion is still valid. And, just try to untangle that last sentence. Go on, I dare you.

So, the presupposition of its own conclusion is still a valid refutation of the clockwork orange argument because a clockwork orange and the universe do have one thing in common. They were both made.

Yes, this is the conclusion. Yes, this is the thing they have in common, which is false because something cannot be both the premise and the conclusion. This may actually be an instance of circular reasoning, but I can't remember. It's been too long since logic class.

There is actually kind-of a reason why I like the presupposition of its own conclusion refutation, but it's much too convoluted and makes sense only in my own little mind to get into here. So, I'll save it for the next time I want to sound like a complete idiot on my old little website here.

Anyway, I'm not done beating this into the ground.

I'm haven't been going over all of this to prove whether the universe was created or kind-of simply wound-up this way. I have been beating this point into the ground because the clockwork orange argument is a very poor argument in favor of intelligent design. Or, more specifically, the found a camera on the beach argument is a poor argument in favor of intelligent design since the found a camera on the beach argument was the one used in the intelligent design discussion I listed to on Friday.

I thought I answered the found a camera on the beach argument pretty well yesterday, but as long as I'm flailing away. If you found a camera on the beach, you would assume it had been left there by somebody because cameras are very complex objects typically bought at the store. The universe is a very complex object; therefore, the universe was left there by somebody.

This, of course, is a false analogy easily expressed with the simple statement that a camera is inorganic.

If you were then to say that an eyeball is a camera, what you have done is change the argument. Found a camera on the beach has been thrown out, and you are now arguing the following. Cameras are made. The eyeball is a camera; therefore, eyeballs are made.

The interesting thing about this argument is that the definition of camera has changed between the first and second sentences, and the definition of made has changed between the first and third sentences. Or, as I so succinctly put it, you found an eyeball on the beach? I'm not sure which logical fallacy this is, but I know it has got to have a name of some kind. They're always giving names to these things.

So, back to what little is left of my point. If you believe that the universe was made, you are welcome to it, but please do not use it as a reason to teach intelligent design in science class instead of evolutionary biology. That's all.

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