Saturday, January 21, 2012

Interesting Historical Article on Diets

Europe has been sticking to this Calories-In Calories-Out / Calorie counting theory since 1850, even though it works against human psychology and requires people to starve themselves to work.  William Banting wrote a book that would have stopped this mandness, but unfortunately for obese people everywhere, the calorie counting theory had gained traction and even though Mr Banting lost weight easily on his low-carb diet without needing to exercise, he was just dismissed without getting the attention he deserved.  Gary Taubes recently took up the banner and put some better science behind it.  I agree with Gary on a basic level, but his diet just doesn't seem very balanced.  His obsessive avoidance of carbs results in very little vegetables, and we need that fiber to keep going (sorry, bad pun).  However, his basic point that obesity is linked mostly to insulin and over-indulgence of carbohydrates seems to ring true to me.  True, calories-in does match calories-out, but that assumes the body has no control of this.  For myself, when I eat extra fat, I get hotter, and when I eat less, I put out less heat, so my body seems to have a set-point weight. 


Saturday, May 09, 2009

God and the Turing Test

I don't remember how I got to thinking about this, but I've been thinking about how a person comes to a belief in God, and I think the atheists are coming at the problem in the wrong way. To say that since I haven't actually seen God's face, God does not exist, is like saying I believe your computer is an intelligent being just because I've heard its voice. Computer Scientists know that intelligence is more interesting than that, and much more difficult to pinpoint. A very smart computer scientist came up with a test called the Turing test, where if a person that interacts with the computer can't tell that it isn't another person, then the computer program has reached artificial intelligence. I think the process of reasoning that God exists needs to follow the same lines as that persons search for intelligence in a computer program. God isn't a thing that can be touched, just like intelligence isn't a thing that can be touched. What I'm really trying to say, is that us computer scientists can only prove that a computer is "intelligent" through a relationship with that computer. We relate, and if we can't tell we are not relating with another intelligent being, then we must be relating with an intelligent being, even if that intelligent being happens to be artificial. The scientist just begin with a leap of "faith" that allows the "relationship" to start. We have to keep talking to allow the Turing test to work. What if we apply this test in a relationship with God? Just like above, we need to start with a suspension of disbelief, so that the relationship can be tested. Perhaps God is like an intelligent software program with no hardware requirements? (I know I'm lisping here... because God is much more, but perhaps you can start there...)

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Candidate Matching Results

68% John McCain 64% Mike Huckabee 60% Chris Dodd 58% Tom Tancredo 57% Mitt Romney 57% Ron Paul 55% John Edwards 54% Hillary Clinton 54% Bill Richardson 52% Joe Biden 52% Barack Obama 51% Rudy Giuliani 49% Mike Gravel 49% Fred Thompson 41% Dennis Kucinich 2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ron Paul 2008

I'm lovin' the Libertarian slant of this guy... FREEDOM!!!!!

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Execution of a Teenage Girl

On August 15th, 2004 a 16-year-old girl was hanged in a public square in Neka, Iran, a small industrial town by the Caspian Sea. Her death sentence was for crimes against chastity. Her name was Atefah Sahaaleh. The only evidence against Atefah was her own forced confession. Atefah railed against her judge in court for its unfairness, but this was her undoing. Judge Haji Rezai, who was also the local mullah, prosecutor and head of the city administration, personally obtained permission from Iran's Supreme Court to execute her, and put the noose around her neck himself before she was hoisted on a crane jib arm to her death. Using undercover footage, eyewitness accounts and drama recontruction, this film tells an unforgettable story of the life and tragic death of an ordinary teenage girl under Iran's mullahs.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


So those color choices a couple of posts back... that is what I chose for my new condo. I'm moving this weekend. Packing tonight, first trip tomorrow (GR to Holland!). Much thanks to a good friend from work for tomorrow's trip.

Then an old friend is borrowing his dad's pickup and I can move my queen-size bed (its a monster, but my feet still hang off the edge... I sleep diagonally... thanks to my dutch heritage.)

Gotta pack.

(I'll be offline for a bit during the move, but I doubt I'll let that last too long.)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Soul as Software

What if soul is software? If the soul is software, then it can be much more integrated with the rest of the human body. Software includes functions, data, and configurations. The soul would then include skills, memories, and personality. Software is infinitely malleable, and the same would then be said for the soul. Ever new memory would change a soul. Every new skill would add dimensions to the soul. Harmful happenings could cause the personality to change. If the soul is software, then immortality could be implemented by a perfect backup system. Every skill, memory, and personality quirk would have to be backed up for the soul to be recreated at resurrection. Immortality would then be a sort of data integrity guarantee. Perhaps then the transfer of a soul to heaven is simply an awakening of the backup copy, as the primary copy disintegrates into electrical noise. In this case, heaven could be a sort of cold storage of the tape backups, or a reunion of the saints, in some sort of temporary memory, or a time for reflection on the life that has been stored. Resurrection would be a download to new hardware, and a chance to add new experiences to the ones already stored. Comments?

Soul as Supernatural Other: What about Memory?

See my earlier post on the soul. For the purposes of this discussion, I am assuming that the soul is a supernatural thing, separable from the physical dimension. If the soul and body are separate, where are memories stored? Are they stored in the physical body, or in the soul. I don't think all memory is stored in the soul, because if the soul contained all memory, then Alzheimers would be different. Alzheimers patients are not soul-less people. They are simply people that have lost memories. If all memories were stored in the soul, then the act of losing memories would involve the loss of contact with the soul. If memories are stored in the physical body then this opens up some interesting possibilities:
  1. Memories and computer data are only different in their storage medium.
  2. Memories can be erased by removal of parts of they physical storage medium.
  3. Destruction of the physical storage medium causes permanent loss of the memory/data unless a backup copy is made.
  4. Without a physical storage medium there is no memory/data.
When we apply these computer data principles to the human soul, we see some interesting conclusions emerging:
  1. The disembodied soul (upon death) has no memory (or at least loses some memory)
  2. We can't remember each other in heaven.
  3. The dead soul does not have state, and thus has no concept of time.
  4. The resurrection means so much more, because a soul without a body is actually missing something.
I assume that God keeps a backup copy of our memories... Perhaps that is what is meant by the final judgment - the soul was temporarily experiencing the results of their lives on earth, but at ressurection reunites with the body, and remembers all the sins of their life, and then God can lead them through them all, and give them their final review. (By the way, I doubt their will be a wait before the final judgement. God is infinite in processing power, so the final judgement probably happens in a massively parallel fashion.)

Soul and Consciousness

I am reading a book by William H. Calvin called "How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now" (It is part of a Science Masters series), and Calvin is talking about human consciousness. I am a Christian, and am firmly convinced about the idea that the soul is immortal. However, given this new data, I may have to change how I percieve the soul. I always thought of the soul as an other element. This is supported by C.S. Lewis's strong metaphysical construct of the difference between Nature and the Supernatural. This sort of thinking brings one to believe that the mind is like a radio for the soul... or perhaps a spiritual access point from which the soul can retrieve information, and through which it can interact with the external world.... but... What if the soul is like software. Software is not something separate or magical, but more a configuration of ordinary atoms into an idea that can then be transferred to another set of ordinary atoms unchanged, and still the same software. Then, perhaps when God says the soul is immortal, he means that he is taking an incremental backup of our soul's software, so that the data can then be transferred back into another body. There is the obvious problem that comes with software.. which is that it can be copied... but no sense confusing the issue... I think however, that we don't have to choose between the two. I think the will is more than mere matter, but the soul is not human unless it is in contact with a physical body. This brings up another interesting question... Is memory stored in the soul or in the body?