To say that the universe exists is silly, because it says that the universe is one of the things in the universe. So there’s something wrong with questions like, “What caused the Universe to exist?” – Marvin Minsky
With all the celebrities passing recently, I thought I would identify a great mind that has also been silenced.
Marvin Minsky was a philosopher/mathematician/Computer Science educator at M.I.T., where he co-founded their Artificial Intelligence lab.
He made many strides in the fields of computer science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and the mind.
Minsky was also an atheist. Here is the New York Times article about his death, and here is his Wikipedia page. Both are worthwhile reads.
From The Atlantic:
“The NSA Speech: Obama Accepts the Logic of Staying Terrorized”
Minor appeasements, with no guarantee they will ever be implemented…
Terrorists want to change how we live, make us live in fear, and they have already achieved that and more through the disruption of our way of life than they could ever achieve through direct force of arms.
We could have fought back by refusing to give in, refusing to be scared, and refusing to give up one inch of freedom and civil liberties in exchange for a fool’s security blanket. Instead, our governments panicked and played into their hand.
Sadly, when you look at the fear that exists in modern Western society, the massive disruptions caused by all the security procedures, the cavalier disregard for personal freedoms and dissenting voices, and the domestic spying being done on Western citizens by their own governments, you realize the terrorists already won.
From the Movember Canada site:
During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in Canada and around the world. With their “Mo’s”, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives.
On Movember 1st, guys register at Movember.com with a clean-shaven face. For the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.
Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words, they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.
At the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their gallantry and valour by either throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous Gala Partés held around the world by Movember, for Movember.
Day 1 – the goatee is gone!
WordPress 3.3 was released today, apparently to great fanfare.
Of course, being an early adopter, I upgraded.
So far, I notice a toolbar with the most commonly used tools has appeared above my page… I like that! 🙂
That’s two major local employers in the past couple of weeks announcing sizable layoffs…
Irving Oil lays off 78 – New Brunswick – CBC News
Irving Oil (CBC Image)
If he were still alive, today would be Carl Sagan’s 77th birthday. Unfortunately, Carl Sagan died of pneumonia at 62 as a result of complications from myelodysplasia in 1996.
(Image from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/be/Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society.JPG/225px-Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society.JPG)
Carl Sagan was a voice for science and rationalism. He made science “cool” (much more so than the actors on the “Big Bang Theory” ever will), he knew how to bring science to people who might not otherwise understand such daunting concepts, and he entertained while he educated.
I remember watching “Cosmos” and being fascinated by all the interesting facts and information about the galaxy. His show, along with David Suzuki’s “The Nature of Things” were two of my favourite shows on television when I was growing up and learning about the world and the universe around us. Both men opened my eyes to new wonders every week.
I read Carl Sagan’s book “Contact” when it was published in the late 1980s and later watched the movie about the book “Contact”, starring Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey in 1997. “Contact” (the movie and the book) once again allowed Carl Sagan to teach and entertain.
As a staunch “non-believer” in religion of any kind (and particularly staunchly against religion’s influence on society), one of Carl Sagan’s quotes rings true to me. It explains quite nicely the fallacy of religions and allows me smile inside whenever someone “preaches” to me that I should/must believe in a god:
The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying… it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.
Unfortunately, in a world that every day seems to have more need of a calm, clear voice for science and rationalism, we can only wonder what else Carl Sagan may have accomplished if he were still alive and promoting science and rationalism over mythology and fear.
Sad day for his family first and the rest of the world next.
Steve Jobs saw things differently. I will remember Steve Jobs as a visionary and modern-day da Vinci, a man who could predict (or coerce) what the public wanted, a man who pioneered the concept of combining practicality and performance with elegance and style. He made products I use daily which make me want to be more productive and more creative. He pushed the competition to be better.
I had just watched the video of Steve Jobs presenting the WWDC 2011 Keynote the other day. He looked frail, and I had commented on that fact to a friend at the time. I guess it was a bit prophetic…
Grabbed this screenshot from www.apple.com
Antimatter Found Orbiting Earth—A First.
Now how long do you think it will be before some entrepreneurial snake oil salesman will offer an elixir of antiprotons, call it aromatherapy or ‘Anti-Herbal Magic’, and sell it to unsuspecting people as some crazy concoction to provide good health or as a weight loss product?!? 😉
Toronto Star endorses the NDP
While I prefer – and vote – a more centrist government approach (read Liberal), I have to agree with this opinion that the Liberal party have not been able to connect with voters *again* this time around. There are reservations across the country about their internal workings and a general belief they haven’t finished “cleaning house”. This has worried me throughout this election, because in my mind, Stephen Harper was a lame duck Prime Minister and his Conservative government should have easily been knocked out of power. But the Liberals just weren’t doing it.
Given that scenario, and despite the fact it does not change my voting decision in this election (the NDP has no chance of unseating the local Conservative MP, only the Liberal candidate has a shot), I can’t say I am upset by another, viable federal alternative to the right-wing leadership that has been marauding and vivisecting Canada from the PMO for the past 5 years. This may even be the catalyst needed to finally convince the old-boy network in the Liberal party to talk with the NDP about a formal merger of the two parties, much like the decimation and vote-splitting of the right forced the Progressive Conservatives to merge and become the Conservative Reform/Alliance Party (with an acronym like ‘CRAP’, you can see why they just went with ‘Conservative‘…). A resulting Liberal/NDP merged party should lie somewhere around the political spectrum of the Liberal Democrats of the UK. Still a little too left-wing for me, but definitely more palatable than a right-wing party.
As a former idealist (read NDP supporter), I honestly never thought I would see the day the NDP would be anything other than the ‘other’ party – albeit the ‘other party’ that had all the great ideas that have given Canada most of its best policies – and a great conscience while holding the balance of power in minority governments… In truth, they are a bit too idealistic for me and very naive, but some time with actual responsibility in Ottawa – potentially as the official opposition – instead of blind promises will likely temper that quickly.
At the start of this election, I predicted a Conservative minority, with the subsequent eviction of the three main party leaders, and possibly even Duceppe. I believe that would finally give Canada fresh, new faces at the helm. But Jack Layton’s surge seems likely to cement him in position for a while yet. I stand by my predictions on Harper and Ignatieff getting axed in the event of a Conservative minority, and I now add a more confident prediction that Duceppe will definitely get dumped after this election.
If this actually translates into votes on Monday – and not cause vote-splitting that hands Stephen Harper a majority – this election could indeed be historic. Another bonus? A federal surge for the NDP might also finally convince them that after 50 years, they no longer need the ‘New’ in their party name… 🙂
Just read a great article entitled “Voyager and the Will to Explore” about the two Voyager missions that are still going strong, lasting far longer than anyone ever imagined they would, and they are sending back information that we would have no other method of obtaining.
But the future of space exploration is in serious jeopardy, and a lot of the problem is the latest recession and subsequent Wall Street bailouts, which emptied government coffers as they bailed out criminal bankers.
When (it isn’t if, it really is when) we get hit by the next asteroid, or if global climate change makes things unbearable and we perish because of that first, our epitaph should read:
“Despite a demonstrated potential for greatness, this species, when it had an opportunity to push forward and explore ways to ensure its long-term survival, gave up power to a few who then gorged at the trough and undermined all by convincing them space exploration was too expensive.”