Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Telephone Telepathy

Today I was pulling out my phone and was just about to call my wife. The phone rang and it was her. Sometimes I accidently turn my phone ringer off or leave my phone in the car and I go to call my wife and see that I just missed her phone call. This kind of thing happens to me a few times a week which is way more than probable. And it doesn't happen with anyone else.

At other times I will be thinking about something and out of the blue and my wife will start talking about it. When that happens I usually tell her to stop reading my mind -- and it happens a lot. The only other person that I share this kind of connection with is my youngest daughter but it occurs much rarer.

It seems that my wife and I have some unexplained connection outside the realm of the five senses. Does anyone else experience this with a significant other?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Trolling Pharnygula

For some stupid reason I have developed an unhealthy interest with PZ Myer’s Pharyngula blog. It all began when two of my blog entries became the subject of his criticism. I posted replies at #136 and #293 but they were both ignored by him.

I have been tempted to post a lengthy response to his criticism but it’s kind of a waste of time to argue with someone who insists on misrepresenting you and who won’t respond. I did write one blog entry relating to his statement about LINES and SINES but it is hardly a rebuttal. I just wanted to clear up one misconception commonly held by those with only a superficial understanding of software. That blog entry is

Repetitive Seqences Don’t Imply Junk DNA.

If you are visiting from Pharyngula you will probably be most interested in the following posts:

Expelled From Pharnygula

10 Penny Experiment

Thermodynamics and Evolution

Entropy versus Evolution

Fabricated Evidence of Evolution at Balboa Park’s Museum of Man

Professor Neil Strickland vs Pharyngula

The Probability of Information

The Probability of Information - Part 2

The Probability of Information - Part 3

Genomicron -- Simulates mutation and natural selection of genomes

Onion Test -- Answered

Related to the Evolution versus Intelligent Design are the following blog entries about junk DNA. These are the ones that PZ Myers criticized. Since I don’t read intelligent design literature I didn’t realize that junk DNA was at the center of the Evolution versus Intelligent Design controversy until after I had written it. I was simply writing from my perspective as a software engineer.

Junk DNA is a Myth

Most DNA is not junk

You may be interested to know that I am not a Christian, nor do I practice religion in any way. So why did I write these blog entries? Well, I was at work on contract at Microsoft and my office mate made some snide remark about people who believe in Intelligent Design having the equivalent of an eighth grade education. I had pretty much kept my thoughts about this to myself for more than ten years but for some reason I decided to pipe up and said I was one of those people. He said “you’re fired”. He was just kidding, but it reminded me of some of the shit I had to put up with when I was a Christian. Even though I have drifted away from Christian belief my thoughts about evolution haven’t changed so I decided to explore the topic again. Maybe you will be the one to change my mind, but if your best argument is to call me stupid or tell me to “go read a book”, then fuck you. (I didn’t say that. My alternate personality did ;-).

While PZ is gracious enough to allow me to comment my dissenting opinions on his blog he tends to ignore me for whatever reason. Maybe he wants to stay above the fray give his minion hordes debate practice. Who knows? Anyway I have decided to debate a few of them.

Intelligent Designer vs Kel
I think Kel is interesting to talk to because, like me, he is a software developer. This discussion deals with computer simulations of natural selection like Richard Dawkin's Weasel program. In this discussion I point out why these algorithms don't prove anything meaningful about evolution.

Intelligent Designer vs BobC
The psychology of internet debate is kind of interesting. People tend to make all kinds of assumptions about the other persons tone of voice, their feelings and character. When I see this going on I suspect that the person making these assumptions may be projecting their own tone of voice, feelings and character onto the other person. We all project to some extent and it takes quite a bit discipline not to. Unfortunately for BobC I decide to make an example of him. This debate starts off with BobC making a projection at #4 and I call him on at #6. In #65 the truth comes out. BobC isn’t the only one projecting in this exchange. Check it out.

To any Pharnygulites in Seattle (or visiting Seattle). Feel free to contact me for some coffee, friendly debate and a walk around Green Lake or the University of Washington.

Contact Randy Stimpson

A smart person could guess my email address. Someone already has but I will give you some hints. My mail provider is gmail. My email address also includes my first and last name seperated by a period. All emails sent to me are considered confidential and I will not parade them on my blog.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Barak Obama welcomed in Germany

I have always wanted to take a vacation in Europe but for two reasons I haven’t. First of all – I don’t like feeling stupid and like a typical US citizen I only speak English fluently. I don’t want to be walking around Europe like “Hey, I’m a dumb American – can you speak English to me”. Secondly, US behavior has been very narcissistic, especially during the Bush administration. That makes it somewhat embarrassing to be an American. I don’t want to be the recipient of rudeness because of my country’s narcissistic foreign policies. Hence, no trip to Europe is on the horizon.

However today there is hope that one of the obstacles to a European vacation may go away. When speaking in Germany today, Barak Obama was welcomed with cheers instead of the jeers and sneers that Bush receives. That’s one more reason to vote for Obama. If Obama wins I might get to enjoy a European vacation. I hope that doesn’t sound too narcissistic. ;-)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Will the United States Fall to a Cyber Attack?

Let me start by saying that I am not happy about software development being off shored to India and other countries. Such off shoring has probably affected the income of software developers like me by 10s of thousands of dollars per year. But that’s the way the ball bounces. And maybe some of that money is in the hands of people that need it more than I do. I am still living comfortably so I don’t have anything to cry about.

On the other hand, it’s just plain stupid to have some types of software developed off shore because it is a threat to [United States] national security – and I am not saying that because my income has taken a hit -- its just plain true and I am wondering why no one is talking about it? It wouldn’t be hard to for an enemy of the United States to infiltrate a software development firm in India and insert some code that could be exploited in such a way as to cause significant damage. Actually I once accidently wrote a method that could be exploited to great harm. Luckily I was able to fix the mistake before someone had a chance to exploit it. But that means that an infiltrator doesn’t even have to write a single line of malicious code. All they have to do is look for a blunder by another software developer that can be exploited. Believe me there are plenty of those. I once spent 3 months making mindless changes to Microsoft Windows software swapping out exploitable functions calls with ones that couldn’t be exploited.

So given this information – why are banks like Washington Mutual off shoring the software development? That is scary. Al-Qaeda’s strategy is to bankrupt the United States. So far they seem to be doing a pretty good job and they haven’t even killed very many of us. They don’t deserve all the credit though because they are getting tons of assistance from George Bush. But then why should they get even more help from a pack a greedy CEO’s that are willing to jeopardize national security for the sake of more profit?