Archive for July, 2009

The Electric Universe(?)

Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:02 pm by SchrodingersFinch

Recently, I received this PM in response to my video Teach the NEW Controversy.

Have a read

It is only the scientists who fail or refuse to accept we do recieve energy from the outside that fail to understand how things like hurricanes & tornados really work.

Would be interestes in your thoughts on this.

My response:

First of all, I’m no expert in astronomy or atmospheric sciences, so I might not be the best person to comment on this. But since you asked, here’s my two cents.

I agree that the Sun’s heat alone can’t explain all the atmospheric phenomena, especially on the outer planets, since they absorb only a few percent of the sunlight that Earth does. You have to take into account several factors, some more important than others. For example: the size of the planet, gravity, rotational velocity, axial tilt, topography, internal heat, atmospheric density and pressure, composition and structure of the atmosphere, etc.

It’s true that we don’t yet know the precise mechanisms by which tornadoes and hurricanes form. However, I’m not exactly convinced by the article.
“Perhaps hurricanes, tornadoes, and even prevailing winds are electrical in nature?”
Perhaps, perhaps not. Rather than just speculating I’d like to see the hypothesis put to the test and read actual scientific papers on the subject.

In my opinion, the current models of the Earth’s atmosphere seem to work just fine. After all, they are constantly being tested by weather forecasts all around the world. If the kinetic model of weather is unsatisfactory to the proponents of the Electric Universe hypothesis, they should develop a new one. Then simply test it, for example, by using computer simulations. If the new model is better at forecasting weather (or better explains and predicts tornadoes and hurricanes) they could make a lot of money and use it to fund further research on the Electric Universe hypothesis.

I’m all for the advancement of science and technology, what are they waiting for?

– SchrodingersFinch

Some further reading if you’re interested:

An article about the winds on Jupiter
I believe this is the paper in question:

Dynamics of Jupiter’s Atmosphere

This is the first time I’ve heard of the Electric Universe hypothesis. The only thing I could find on Wikipedia is an article about plasma cosmology which I think is somehow related to it.

AndromedasWake, I would especially like to hear your thoughts on the Electric Universe/plasma cosmology. After all, you are the expert and the person who sent me the PM is your subscriber. Could you maybe comment on it on the BlogTV show?

Votebot Anatomy 101 – Part 2

Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:32 pm by CosmicSpork

Following on from Part 1 of my Votebot Anatomy 101 series of blog entries.

Some of the software that can be used in order to perform a Votebot attack is in my opinion quite expensive at around $100 a pop, I don’t have $100 to spare, and I certainly don’t want to line the pockets of the people who make the software, but from researching demo’s, videos, information on the web and my own knowledge of web technologies I will attempt to explain how a person might perform an attack and how the software facilitates this.

YouTube currently does very little to stop you from rating a video more than once in a given period of time. When rating a video a cookie is stored on your web browser with a list of videos you have rated (I believe this is also the same for when viewing a video), I’m not sure if this only stores the last video you rated or all videos you have rated in that session, the cookie is encrypted so the information contained is not easily viewable. If this cookie is deleted, or you rate a different video or your session times out and then come back you are then able to vote on that video again. (Whether the repeat ratings get counted I’m not sure of, but it would make sense that they are due to the massive number of ratings some people get during an attack. Even if the repeat ratings are not counted, it’s possible that with enough Sockpuppet accounts the same result can be accomplished.) It is possible however that YouTube may do some sort of throttling on ratings if there is a large number coming from one IP address in a short period of time, or at least, I hope they do.

From what I can gather, the majority if not all the software being used to perform a Votebot attack essentially acts the same way as a web browser but automatically performs the actions needed to add ratings to a video the way you would if you were doing it manually, only the software is able to skip certain steps, like viewing the video, which is why most of the time someone who has been attacked will see a disproportionate number of ratings to the number of views (for the more technically minded, the necessary POST parameters are sent directly to the URL used by YouTube’s AJAX scripts when the rating is clicked).

When a Votebot user decides to start an attack in its most basic form, they find a video they don’t like, copy the URL to that video and paste it into the software, set how many ratings they want to add to that video and the star rating they want for each rating added (depending on the software you can set a minimum and a maximum rating to randomly add a rating equal to/between those two values), then click a button and leave it running whilst it does its thing.


The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:07 am by Th1sWasATriumph

My inspiration for this particular blog is gleaned, unhappily, from a NephilimFree video. For those languishing in sweet ignorance, NephilimFree is a Youtube creationist who closely resembles something you might find hunkered under a stone. And for those about to accuse me of cheap adhom, don’t worry – the man would be as stupid and worrying if he looked like Brad Pitt and AronRa strapped together. It’s just so . . . so classic that he looks like everyone’s stereotypical image of the pale, overweight religious fundamentalist.

He made a brief allusion to moral absolutism whilst en route to some cataclysmically balls conclusion about evolution, offering it as a brief proof of God. His argument, and indeed the arguments of all moral absolutists are similar, went like this:

“We know it is evil to rape a baby. But how do we know? This inherent evilness must come from somewhere, it has to have been provided ERGO GOD DID IT HE BLOODY DID THA KNOWS”

Now, I may often make babyrape jokes, so I just want to assure you that I wasn’t making that example for lulz – his words, not mine.

The basic tenet of moral absolutism, (or moral objectivism\objectivity) henceforth referred to as MA to save me a great deal of tedium, is that certain things are universally known to be good or bad. To everyone. Popular examples are rape and murder. We all KNOW it’s wrong. William Lane Craig, that spectacularly fatuous but annoyingly eloquent apologist, made a similar argument when debating with the then atheist Anthony Flew.

This argument is, I need scarcely point out, the supremest ass.

For a start, NephilimFree fails to take into account that, whilst the majority of people would certainly regard the rape of a baby as morally repugnant, some people would not. Namely the people who go around raping babies in the first place. And this is completely ignoring hypothetical situations where the rape of a baby would save a great many people (I freely confess being unable to think of many such situations, but say you have a man who takes 20 people hostage and demands a baby to rape in exchange for the safe release of his hostages . . . is babyrape then still immutably wrong? How many people would have to die before the rape of one baby is outweighed by multiple murders? And so on.)

The world is not as starkly black and white as MA-ists would have us believe. There are clear trends that show what actions are, by and large, considered to be good or bad by humanity in general – but there is no standard, no consensus, no one list of good and bad that every single person could agree on. The shades of grey number into the practically infinite. The trouble is that MA-ists tend to – in fact, are quite naturally compelled to – see the moral compass from atop their own cultural magnet. Nephilim and WLC, to take my two examples, are both American Christians living in the hallowed grounds of the Western civilised world. I’m sure they would recoil in horror if lectured about the scarification rites of various tribal cultures and groups, which are by my standards barbaric. I’m sure they would be repelled, as I am, by the ritual cutting of Muslim children’s heads during Ashura. I would take such acts to be considered immoral more or less across the board, outside  the cultures that practice them – but there is no absolutism here. The people that perform such ritual incisement and scarification are not isolated sociopaths, they are merely operating from a different perspective that they consider to be entirely justified. Note that I’m not condoning such things in the slightest, just demonstrating that what we may call barbaric child abuse is a way of life to a large number of people.

Of course, I have to wonder how Nephilim and WLC regard circumcision. Personally, I find it abhorrent – the mutilation of a child’s genitals, against their will, in the name of some unprovable deity. I often wonder how the nation (whichever nation, mine is the UK) would react if news surfaced of some religious cult who, inspired by their scriptures, ritualistically cut off the left earlobe of all newborn boys. I imagine there would be outrage. However, circumcision is carried out en masse, every day, every minute – the forced removal of part of someone’s body. The only authority it has is antiquity, and of course that argument would lead us back to treating women like possessions (unless you’re in a religion where you already DO treat them like possessions, which saves time) and enslaving people who have a different skin pigmentation. Authority is no kind of argument, and it seems the only defence circumcision has – claims that it significantly improves health are bogus. The decision should lie with the individual, unforced by external pressure.

If two of the largest religions in the world practice genital mutilation, how can there be moral absolutism?

There can only be moral absolutism in small groups – probably the only way you could get a handful of people who would take identical stances on every single moral issue you could raise. Of course, I’m not talking only about things like rape, murder and mutilation. I’m talking about the little things, decisions on whether or not to lie\go home early from work\not do something you were told to do, and so on. I’m sure Neph would say that only the big issues matter, but if you’re talking about MA then you can’t have it just for the major issues. It’s not as if these absolute morals break down once you get into pettier concerns of lying and cheating. If one thing is absolutely right or wrong, everything has to be. So out of 100 people, 100 might agree that babyrape is wrong – but 26 might think it’s ok to steal to provide money for medicine (and 4 of them think it’s ok to steal just to provide money for themselves). 14 might think it’s ok to cheat on their partner. A further 7 might think homosexuals are sinful. 32 might have no problem with circumcision. And for every person who is ok with such a stance, you might have people who take the opposing view whilst doing something themselves that others consider to be immoral. And so on, and on, and on. The Pope, ensconced within his fortress of deceit, thinks that homosexuality is objectively wrong – and this man is the head of the Catholic church. Nice going, guys.

At best, there are trends. Some of the trends are stronger and more widespread, but none are immutable. I cannot think of a single thing that everyone would agree on as being completely and universally bad, something from which moral absolutism could be derived. I put this question to my girlfriend, and she suggested “Destroying the world?” Sadly I can imagine that you’d easily find someone to do it, if they had the chance.

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