Bioanalytical Recap

Back on December 10, the Ship of Fools had its final performance of the Fall 2005 semester, performing at Bioanalytical Systems‘s holiday dinner. I’ve been lazy putting this write-up up (by which I mean, actually writing it), and Ryan and Benji have long since beaten me to the punch.

But why would I let something like that stop me?

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Time Well Spent

From my laptop’s system logs earlier today:

Dec 31 17:59:59 kryten kernel: Clock: inserting leap second 23:59:60 UTC
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Drunk Girl

(Editor’s note: I originally started on this post last night, but Firefox gleefully threw it away thanks to an accidental page navigation when I was two-thirds of the way through. Let’s try this again….)

I know I haven’t been posting much lately on what’s going on in my life. I’ll try to rectify some of that by writing about some of the more interesting events of the past month or so.

We’ll start off with the story of Drunk Girl.

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Quote of the Week #72

Every sect as far as reason will help them, gladly use it; when it fails them, they cry out it is a matter of faith, and beyond reason.

– John Locke

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The Meh on Christmas

The whole “War on Christmas” inanity the right-wing pundits have been pushing lately is begging for an A Christmas Carol parody treatment. I’ve been meaning to write one, I really have, but in between last week’s finals, the rush to get my SELinux stuff in shape for the final paper deadline, and actually wanting to take a break here and there during break, I haven’t gotten around to doing it.

If you’re looking for something to do, go ahead and run with the idea. Heck, I’ll even get you started with an outline:

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Merry Kitzmas!

Christmas Kitzmas came early to Dover this year, as Judge John E. Jones, III has released his ruling in Kitzmiller v. DASD today. Here’s a sample (emphasis added):

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions. The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

The ruling couldn’t have been better if it had been written by the plaintiffs themselves!

Quote of the Week #71

Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.

– Edsger Dijkstra

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In Defense of Evolution (Again)

In last Thursday’s edition of the The Exponent, Andrew Buesking replied to my response to his response to an article published a month ago. Got all that?

Since it’s nearly the end of the semester, The Exponent isn’t accepting any more letters for publication. Thus, I’ll resort to responding to his points below, in the hope that he, or anyone else following this discussion, will be able to find it. But at least now I won’t be limited to 300 words!

Here goes:

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Quote of the Week #70

When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.

– Justice Harry A. Blackmun, in Lee v. Weisman (1992)

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Simplifying Occlusion-culling Ray-tracing Photorealistic Perspective-warping Graphics

Suppose you’re a CS graduate student who just accepted a job in Chicago that starts next week, but you’re scheduled to give a presentation on your final project in Graphics. You’re not even sticking around until the end of the semester. What do you do?

If you’re Scott “Klaus” Parker (simultaneously a new recruit and retiring member of the Ship of Fools), you don’t let not caring get in the way of presenting your work on Simplifying Occlusion-culling Ray-tracing Photorealistic Perspective-warping Graphics. This presentation has everything: stock photography, meaningless equations, MS Paint “screenshots”, a mysterious red arrow added by the projector, and some Asian kid who mistakes the video camera recording the presentation for a headrest!

Spelling = The

The Indiana State Museum currently has a Lord of the Rings movie exhibit (apparently the last stop on the exhibition’s US tour). This past Saturday Chuck, John (Freshman, not Cowboy), and I went down to see it. The trip also afforded us some time to visit elder Fool Josh.

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Quote of the Week #69

There is, in fact, only one “right” protected by the Bill of Rights — the right to be free from government control over any of our behaviors or decisions, unless government has specifically been given the power to exercise such control.

Sheila Kennedy

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