the blog fantastic

Book Review: Ancillary Justice

I had been wanting to read a good “hard sci-fi” book for some time, then heard the Hugo award had been given out. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie was the recipient.

SPOILERS: not so much spoilers, but I talk about themes. If you’re like me and prefer going into it knowing absolutely nothing, then stop reading this and just know that I recommend it as a good read. I thought quick, I read it on a Kindle so can’t get a real grasp of the length, so maybe it was big but was so good I read it quick. Regardless, I recommend.

Ohio Creationism Bill

State representatives introduced a bill in Ohio that would allow the teaching of creationism in science classes.

Back at It

I took a week off after being at a point I can call my Lisp interpreter clasp finished. Now I’m starting a series of small projects to learn front end development. I’m calling it n-days.

All but Finished With Clasp

I’m all but finished with my Lisp interpreter written in C, clasp. The big milestone I got to with it is I’m able to define variables of lambdas and can evaluate those lambdas. This is enough to write Newton’s method of calculating square roots.

It’s not done. I still have to implement the cars and cdrs and such to process lists. I know, I can’t call it LISP if there’s no LISt Processing. With lambdas done I feel I’m through the most difficult part, I have a good idea of how to do the rest and it won’t be as much work. I’ll run into bugs for sure, but not as many as I had with define and lambda.

I do feel it’s well enough done that I can talk a little about it’s development.

Local Creationism

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I’ve heard people talk of the Creation “Museum” saying it was in Ohio. “That monument to ignorance isn’t in MY state!” I would respond. Well, it isn’t but I had no idea if there wasn’t another in my state. A quick search revealed there was one. The Akron Fossils and Science Center.

With the recent Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate bringing creationism into the spotlight again, the Akron center put out a few posts about it starting with one about their thoughts on it.

What I’ve Been Up to: C and Lisp

I read feeds and news sites to find interesting posts or projects. This leads to an exponential explosion of links causing the act of “reading” to be reduced to “mark to read later.” Realizing my ability to consume content is limited to a serial fashion that can not feasibly keep up with this fractal procession of content, I’ve adopted the heuristic of “just pick something.”

With this, I pick one thing and stick to it. I’ve violated this already since I’m really working through two things at the moment: the programming languages C and Lisp.

What I Think About Math

I recently talked with Jeremy Paul of Theater Ninjas about their upcoming production of C∅dΣ. They want to know people’s thoughts on things like computers, software, and math. So here’s some of my thoughts on math.

Finally Done With This Garbage

I don’t know if I committed to posting once a day in the new year, but if I did then I already failed by missing yesterday. I make up for it with an early additional post of what wasted my time not allowing me to do anything else yesterday.

I found the creationist book Creation: Remarkable Evidence of God’s Design by Grant R. Jeffrey in the science section of a used book store while I was looking for Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True. I thought it was funny there was a creationist book right by an evolution one so I bought both. I had the intention of going through the entire book Creation and mark every misunderstanding, fallacy, god-of-the-gaps, or other usual creationist bad arguments.

But I couldn’t, there was just too many that I would have just highlighted the entire book. So instead I read through it and made comments in the margins. The book is under 300 pages with large type, spacing, and margins, so wasn’t hard to get through in two evenings while writing notes in it.

Jeffrey is an apologist, so that basically means to make fancy arguments that your particular religion is real (usually Christianity) but those arguments fall flat if you actually think about them. Apologetics starts with the conclusion that their god did it, then try to say how that fits reality. You see this in the very first paragraph where he states that statements in the Bible are scientific. Right there he also admits that he doesn’t understand the processes of science, it doesn’t involve just accepting something written thousands of years ago.

The book tries to show how scientific discoveries disprove evolution and show evidence of design. The entire thing is an exercise in irony as the methods that made those discoveries are the same ones that lead us to accept evolution. If you accept how one scientific discovery was made, you should accept others made the same way.

He is at least honest when he says if you accept evolution then you reject the literal account of biblical creation, and if you don’t accept one thing in the Bible as literal then how can you be confident of anything else? You can’t, nor is there reason to, so good reason to just chuck the whole thing. But of course he wants to hold onto his premise so he’ll throw out any evidence to the contrary.

You can tell he already has the conclusion he wants because in all the arguments it isn’t just a vague intelligent design. No, it’s specifically the Christian god. He never gives a reason that it can’t be Zeus or Odin.

He also tries to show how the Bible totally said things that we only now are discovering with science. There’s usually two types of things in the Bible that make people say it is totally scientific. The first is it’s something so obvious that they already knew, like when he claims the Bible knew blood was important to life. Any bronze-age butcher or murderer knew that.

The other type of statement are the vague ones. The problem with these are they are so vague you could say they mean anything. It could have also meant something that ended up being wrong. The problem is you have as much reason to think it meant one thing as another person saying it means another. And the amount of reason for both is none. You must prove that it means what you think.

Note how only now saying it talked about something once science has validated. With that he is bowing to authority of science.

One funny claim was that the Earth orbits in a perfect circle. Of course we know the orbit is an elipse that goes from 91 million miles from the sun to 94.5 million miles.

I think I’ll purge my brain of this garbage by reading Coyne’s book now.