Berkeley CSUA MOTD:2005:August:12 Friday <Thursday, Saturday>
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2005/8/12-15 [Politics/Domestic/President/Clinton] UID:39103 Activity:low
8/12    I'm surprised this hasn't already been posted, but:
        A military intelligence unit (Able Danger) identified a cell of the
        9/11 highjackers a year before 9/11, but was blocked from passing
        the info on to the FBI by Clinton Administration attorneys.  Even
        more surprising, the 9/11 commision was apparently never briefed on
        this, although their staff was informed.,2933,165268,00.html (NYTimes)
        \_ You know, this really isn't a partisan issue.  It's probably a CYA
           issue.  Gorelick was criticized for conflict of interest because of
           the "wall" memo during the commission, but stayed on.
           \_ Canadian Yachting Association?
              \_ Cover Your Ass
           \_ Doesn't that seem like it would cast more doubt on the value
              of the commision report?
              \_ Absolutely.  And that was the reason people objected to
                 Gorelick's remaining on the commission.  It seems like they
                 should have another commission to investigate the first one.
        \_ Who cares? Yeah Clinton messed up, but BUSHCO didn't do a bang
           up job either.
           \_ Who cares?  The commision set up to fully investigate the
              circumstances leading up to the greatest terrorist attack on
              American soil ever completely misses the single failure that
              could have prevented the attack, and your response is, "Who
              cares?" Perhaps you'd rather talk about Mrs. Sheehan?
                 \_ What difference does it make NOW? So Clinton didn't
                    take action to prevent 9/11. So what? We already
                    knew that Clinton didn't care, otherwise he would
                    have acted after USS Cole.
                    If this info was SO important, why didn't they give
                    it to BUSHCO? There was a 6-8 mo window.
                    We need to get past the blame game and start dealing
                    w/ the real problem which is that a large portion of
                    the world is out to bring down democratic civilization.
                    \_ 12 October 2000, USS Cole. A Yemeni court charged
                       six people with carrying
                       out the October 2000 bombing.(The USS
                       Cole bombing occurred one month
                       before the 2000 presidential election,
                       so even under the best of
                       circumstances it was unlikely
                       that the investigation could have been
                       completed before the end of President
                       Clinton's term of office three months
                       six people with carrying out the October 2000
                       bombing. The USS Cole bombing occurred one month before
                       the 2000 presidential election, so even under the best of
                       circumstances it was unlikely  that the investigation
                       could have been completed before the end of President
                       Clinton's term of office three months later.
                          They moved _quickly_.  PP is a dumbfuck.
                          \_ I'm not talking about lame prosecutions.
                             They should have struck AQ and struck them
                             hard worldwide. But they didn't.
              \_ While people should care, I don't think it's realistic
                 for the FBI to be briefed on every possible threat that
                 the U.S. as a whole comes across. In 20/20 hindsight it's
                 always easy to blame someone, but let's face it, during
                 the Clinton administration terrorism wasn't a real big
                 priority for either the public or the government. Should
                 it have been? Probably, given that the WTC had been
                 unsuccessfully attacked before and muslim terrorists
                 blew a big hole in the side of one of our military ships,
                 but since the collapse of the USSR we just didn't really
                 care all that much. I mean, for crying out loud, we
                 half-heartedly gave our tacit approval to the Taliban
                 government even when it was obvious that it was extremist,
                 backwards, and violated human rights left and right.
                 So the whole thing is like crying over spilt milk. No
                 administration is going to be able to prevent all future
                 threats to this country because essentially we're always
                 fighting yesterday's wars.
                 \_ While it's true that the FBI cannot take all threats
                    seriously, Able Danger knew that these guys were real
                    terrorists, and tried 3 times(!) to get the the
                    info to the FBI with a request to break up the cell.
        \_ Pentagon lawyers != Clinton administration attorneys
           \_ Read farther in the Fox article.  I'm a little wary of the
              quote myself, but that's what the guy says. -op
              \_ It's pretty clear to me it's Pentagon lawyers, and his logic
                 is, since they were there at the time Clinton was in charge,
                 ergo Clinton administration lawyers
              cares?" Don't you think you're taking partisan cynicism a
              little far?  I never said Bush was great, but that's a big
                 \_ I'm disinclined to believe that Pentagon lawyers would be
                    concerned "about the political fallout that occurred after
                    Waco ... and the Branch Davidians."  That sounds more like
                    administration than Pentagon.
                    \_ Yeah, even if administration lawyers weren't involved,
                       I'll go along with it being consistent with the
                       pre-9/11 philosophy of having a wall in regards to
                       passing intelligence between the military and domestic
                       pre-9/11 philosophy of making it difficult to pass
                       intelligence between military and domestic security
        \_ Any bet that Weldon will die within the year?
           \_ Well, you know suicide is very common in these sorts of high
              stress situations....
           \_ Sure. I will bet you any amount you care to wager. -ausman
        \_ Right wing column claiming Gorelick was warned that 'the Wall'
           would cost lives:
           \_ Good article.  Clinton-appointee Mary Jo White was right:
              Not having a wall when it comes to terrorism was the better
              password  postyuck
2005/8/12-15 [Transportation/Bicycle] UID:39104 Activity:nil
8/12    Some info on bike trailers:
2005/8/12-15 [Recreation/Computer/Games] UID:39105 Activity:nil
8/12    Anyone have a download of the video of the baseball players smacking
        into each other.
        \_ which baseball players?
        \_ (Mets site; not for the faint of heart)
2005/8/12-15 [Science/Biology, Science/GlobalWarming] UID:39106 Activity:high
8/12    I'm not sure I understand the ID argument. Here is the way that I
        see the argument: at the moment of the big bang the fundamental
        constants could have taken on any set of values, however the vast
        majority of these sets would not give rise to life, so the prob.
        that the constants have the values necessary for life is so small
        that it couldn't have occurred w/o intelligent intervention.
        Isn't this the same as saying that the odds that I have the winning
        lotto ticket is so small that if I were to win the lottery it was
        b/c my mom rigged it for me?
        I don't understand why it is more plausible that there was intelligent
        design than the fact that we just got lucky?
        \_ ID is a crock of shit. Why it should be discussed at all is merely
           an indication of how pervasive religion still is in modern U.S.
           society. It's a waste of everyone's time, especially the
           scientific community if they have to address it, and it causes
           the general populace to ignore more important issues like
           health care, social security, stem cell research, and who's
           going to win the World Series. To discuss ID or any other half-baked
           psuedo-science crap is just a waste of everyone's time. It has
           nothing to do with science, and everything to do with pushing
           a political and religious agenda. If this topic were to be
           brought up in any other developed country, the proponents would
           be laughed off the stage. None of what ID says is new, it's merely
           rehash of the same old arguments that religious zealots have
           been proposing ever since the Scopes trial.
           \_ I don't believe in ID, but if it science had all the answers,
              there wouldn't be an ID.  When your religion of science has
              all the answers, you'll be in a better position to call people
              names.  If this topic were to be brought up in any other
              developed country, they'd shoot it down in favor of their
              local version of Creationism.  Give a definition of "developed"
              that doesn't directly include "doesn't believe in ID" and
              we'll go from there.  A real scientist should welcome a debate
              like this.  Real scientists question everything.  Real scientists
              can back up their claims and aren't afraid to drop the false
              ones.  There is no such thing as wasting the time of the
              general population.  That is why we have things like the World
              Series in the first place.  Bread and circuses.
              \_ Science will never have all the answers; science is a
                 continual process of discovering new questions.  Physics,
                 for example, was once believed to be nearing completeness,
                 with only a few minor problems like black-body radiation to
                 work out; those problems led directly to quantum mechanics
                 and the realization that we may never know what's really
                 going on.
                 But ID has no place in a scientific debate.  Essentially,
                 ID is "well, science hasn't answered all the questions
                 about evolution, so it must be magic!"  -tom
                 \_ Maybe science won't have all the answers because there
                    really is some sort of Divinity?  Maybe there really is
                    magic.  Until proven otherwise, magic is just as good
                    an answer as "well there is a scientific explanation,
                    but...."  That's no different than Faith.  And frankly,
                    who cares what the general population thinks anyway?
                    Quantum mechanics *is* magic as far as 99.99% of people
                    are concerned.  An explanation people can't understand
                    is no different than telling them "its magic, read this
                    book about this carpenter and don't worry about it".
                    \_ It depends on what your definition of magic is.  If
                       the population at large thinks that today's curable
                       diseases are cured because God wants them cured, they'll
                       wonder why we need to support the NIH.  If they think
                       that they're cured by magic, but all magic is discovered
                       by magicians who have phd's in subfields of magic like
                       biochemistry, and who need to do magic research that
                       has to be well-funded, that wouldn't be so bad.
                       It is, as you say, roughly the current situation.
                       All this is orthogonal to the ID "debate", however,
                       since ID has nothing to do with either science or
                       philosophy.  It's politics, pure and simple.
                    \_ I think you're a good argument against Intelligent
                       Design.  -tom
                       \_ Thanks for participating.  You added so much to
                          this.  I'm not sure why you bothered posting.  I'm
                          sorry if my offhand thoughts were too deep for you
                          to respond with anything more than a personal
                          attack.  Perhaps we should discuss biking for you
                    \_ The problem for me is that there are some answers
                    \_ The problem for me is that maybe there is an answer
                       out there waiting to be discovered.  Putting every-
                       thing down to a rigged deck and leaving it at that
                       seems lazy to me; if you stop asking questions before
                       even beginning to look at the problem, there's no way
                       you're ever going to find any of the answers.  There
                       may be other things at work in the creation of the
                       universe than an all or nothing "the physical constants
                       allow for life" or they don't.  Perhaps, as someone
                       mentioned a couple days ago, the constants change over
                       time.  Perhaps if one changes, the others change to
                       compensate.  Or perhaps there are processes involved
                       in the big bang that push the constants into certain
                       patterns, and in the creation of any universe they will
                       always wind up creating conditions conducive to life.
                       This science is so young, there's so much more room for
                       new things to discovered.
                       If we automatically assume a guiding hand and stop
                       there, there's no way we'll ever find real evidence of
                       that guiding hand.    -sax
                       \_ I find it a bit odd to have a changing constant.
                          I don't automatically assume a guiding hand.  As I
                          said, I don't believe in ID, but there remains no
                          disproof or proof of Divinity as yet.  Going back
                          further than the origin on life on this planet to
                          the origin of the universe itself (since you mention
                          that), I find the Big Bang no more convincing than
                          "God did it in 7 days", or "it was magic" or "it was
                          always just there".  What preceeded the Big Bang?
                          Where'd all that energy/stuff come from?  How long
                          was it there?  What is "time"?  The Big Bang sounds
                          just like "it was magic" to me.
                          \_ There seems to be some amt of proof that the
                             speed of light and the fine structure constant
                             are changing:
                             There is at least 1 theory that says that nothing
                             preceded the big bang. The big bang was a quantum
                             tunneling event where the void tunneled into
                             The big bang isn't magic - it is based on
                             observations re the rate of expansion of the
                             universe and on the cosmic background radiation
                             for a start. My understanding is that GR also
                             requires it.
        \_ Why do you want Baby Jesus to cry?
        \_ ID does not address big bang, or the origin of life. ID only
           talks about refuting evolution. So, I can understand why
           you are confused.
        \_ Not it's not the same.  -- ilyas
        \_ No it's not the same.  In order to avoid having to assume God you
           would have to assume an infinite number of completely unobservable
           entities (parallel Universes).  God is a pretty expensive assumption,
           but at some point you have to wonder if the cure is worse than
           the disease. -- ilyas
           \_ This is the dumbest and most specious argument ever proposed.
              The next thing you're going to tell me is that in order to
              avoid believing that Crusty the Clown exists the bumble bee
              must would have to be aerodynamically desgned in order to
              fly. I mean, seriously, if you want to pick a philosophy to
              dick around with, try Liebnitzian monadism before going back
              to a Judeo-Christian monotheistic doctrine which doesn't even
              have a fun and whacky premise that you can chew the fat on
              during lunch breaks.
              \_ I think it's spelled 'Krusty the Klown', williamc. -- ilyas
           \_ (Q1) Is the argument something like:
                   (a) The set of values a given constant can take is an
                       infinite set AND
                   (b) ONLY 1 particular set of values of the constants
                       gives rise to life as we know it THUS
                   (c) The overall probably of this particular set occuring
                       is basically 0 THEREFORE
                   (c) ONLY external intervension could result in this
                   (d) ONLY external intervention could result in this
                       particular set.
                   But this is based on at least 2 unproven (afaik)
                   (1) that the set of values that a given constant can
                       take are infinite and unchanging AND
                   (2) ONLY 1 particular set determined at the outset
                       can give rise to life
                   I sucked at math, but I remember that stuff gets really
                   wacky when you are dealing with infinities - couldn't
                   there be an infinite set of values for which life could
                   \_ I don't assume (b).  I merely assume the set which
                      gives rise to life is much smaller than the general set,
                      which is reasonable, I think.  Most constants will not
                      even give rise to chemistry let alone life.  If two
                      sets are infinite, there is a well defined way to talk
                      about their sizes, developed by set theorists.
                        -- ilyas
                      \_ If you don't assume (b), then I don't get it at
                         all. If there might be more than 1 arrangement
                         of the values that the constants could take in
                         order to give rise to life, why is intelligence
                         required to chose our set?
                         It seems more (or at least equally) plausible
                         that the values randomly happened to be ones
                         that gave rise to life.
                         Any books/urls you might recommend re infinite
                         sets comprehensible to a total dumbass?
                         \_ Well, you need to learn about 2 separate issues.
                            The first is how one infinite set can be 'smaller'
                            than another infinite set.  For instance the set
                            of all natural numbers is smaller than the set of
                            all reals.  Mathematicians say that a set A is
                            smaller than set B if there exists a 1-1 function
                            from A to B.  Actually there are 2 generalizations
                            of the conventional notion of 'less than' for
                            infinite sets.  The first I just discussed, the
                            second says A is smaller than B if 'you can add
                            1 a bunch of times to A to get B.' Any basic set
                            theory book will discuss this.  The other issue is
                            how to spread a 'finite amount of butter'
                            (probability mass) over an 'infinite amount of
                            bread' (infinite set).  For this, you need to
                            understand measure theory.  That is a little
                            harder because you also need some real analysis.
                              -- ilyas
              (Q2) Why do we need an infinite number of parallel universes
                   in order to explain the values of the fundamental
                   constants? (Please see below)
                   (Q1.1) Even if you play exactly 1 game of lotto, the game
                          has to have a result right (ie each ball has to
                          take on a value)?
                   (Q1.2) The prob. that a particular arrangement will
                          result is VERY small, BUT non-zero correct (we
                          are here, thus it has to be non-zero)?
                   (Q1.3) If the prob. is non-zero then this particular
                          arrangement could have occurred naturally right
                          (ie the product of pure chance rather than by
                   (Q1.4) So why is it more likely than not that the outcome
                          was b/c of selection rather than pure chance?
                   \_ Well, even if there is only one Universe, and even if
                      there is no 'intention' involved at all, and even if
                      there aren't any parallel Universes at all, then the
                      there is no 'intention' involved at all then the
                      constants we have could certainly have arisen by blind
                      chance.  However, this is even harder to swallow than
                      the similar claim that something like a bacterium can
                      arise from chemistry given a long enough span of time.
                      With the constants, they would have to have assumed their
                      values 'instantaneously' before time even existed per se.
                        -- ilyas
                        \_ There could also be some reason why the constants
                           are the way they are, that has nothing to do with
                           the idea of a creator; there may be meta-forces
                           which tend to cause the constants to be the way
                           they are in our experiential Universe.
                           In any case, positing a creator does not solve
                           the problem of why the universe is the way it is;
                           it only begs the question, why is the creator
                           what he is?  -tom
                           \_ There could be.  There could be 'meta-forces.'
                              At this point though, you are countering one
                              unfalsifiable claim with another.  Didn't you
                              just say science was just a way of discovering
                              more questions?  So now you say positing a
                              creator 'begs more questions,' as if that was
                              a bad thing. -- ilyas
                              \_ The difference between tom's meta-forces
                                 and the old one is that you might actually
                                 figure out whether they exists and why.
                                 With the old one you are left with nothing
                                 useful. You can never figure out what he/it
                                 is made of or why something is the way that
                                 it is or what made him.
                                 \_ A rose by any other name.  Tom's
                                    meta-forces is just another label slapped
                                    onto something we fundamentally do not
                                    understand, and never will.  How do you
                                    know those 'meta forces' lack intention?
                                    Intention obviously exists in the world
                                    (us), why the strong bias against it on
                                    'larger scales.'? -- ilyas
                                    \_ Maybe because every mysterious force
                                       that people once thought was caused
                                       by the intention of some deity turned
                                       out to have a scientific explanation
                                       instead.  The god-worshipers have never
                                       once been right in thousands of years
                                       of human history; why should we assume
                                       they're right now?  -tom
                                       \_ Well, we are now talking not about
                                          'God' per se, but whether some force
                                          has intention or not.  Science has an
                                          extremely poor track record of
                                          showing intention in _anything_ by
                                       \_ I think scientific explanations by
                                          necessity will not involve
                                          consciousness or intentionality
                                          because those phenomena seem poorly
                                          understood, and difficult, maybe
                                          impossible, to approach empirically.
                                          So of course scientific explanations
                                          will not involve 'minds.'  Whether
                                          'minds' actually exist in the world
                                          is a question I am not sure how to
                                          approach.  Saying things like
                                          'science never came up with a 'minds'
                                          explanation, so 'minds' do not exist!'
                                          is silly.  An emerging theory of
                                          intention and consciousness from
                                          empirical science is something I am
                                          looking forward to.  So far, I have
                                          seen things like 'reductive
                                          materialism' which don't really
                                          address any of the mystery of minds.
                                          There are some 'descriptive' things
                                          being tossed around, like 'the
                                          neural correlates of consciousness.'
                                          Again, cataloguing physical events
                                          that correspond to internal events
                                          is both plagued with difficulties,
                                          and leaves many things unexplained.
                                            -- ilyas
                                          \_ A mind is a processor of sensory
                                             information (and emotions/feelings
                                             that may be generated by non-
                                             conscious coprocessors), that
                                             makes decisions. I don't really
                                             see huge issues with the theory
                                             of conciousness; to me it's a
                                             matter of scale. It does get
                                             confusing trying to pin down the
                                             physical aspects. But I don't
                                             see any fundamental problem that
                                             would require supernatural
                                             explanations. As for intention
                                             applied to the universe at large,
                                             again I don't see the reason to
                                             suppose that is true given how
                                             little we understand about it.
                                             As Tom points out, this kind of
                                             assumption generally turns out
                                             to be wrong. And since it raises
                                             more questions about the nature of
                                             that intention it is a more
                                             "expensive" theory to assume. (I
                                             know you probably disagree there
                                             but I'm not as skeptical about
                                             the "unsolved problems" as you
                                             appear to be.)
                                    \_ I disagree with the "never will."  It's
                                       possible that at some point people will
                                       be able to examine the conditions which
                                       gave rise to the big bang.  Or create
                                       other universes to see how they work.
                                       In the long term this continuing
                                       scientific examination will have a
                                       positive influence on human quality of
                                       life. cf. Pasteur questioning
                                       assumptions about illness and creating
                                       vaccines.  cf. Einstein challenging
                                       Newtonian physics, leading to quantum
                                       mechanics and all sorts of helpful
                                       technological innovations.  Cutting the
                                       funding at "we can't explain it yet, so
                                       there must be a benevolent higher being"
                                       is in the long term hurtful to humanity
                                       at large.
                                    \_ What do you mean by intention?
                                       Do you mean that there is some
                                       intention behind the current
                                       state of affairs OR that each
                                       person acts out of his/her
                                       own intention?
                                       I'm not sure I can buy either
                                       claim. I don't really see any
                                       proof of either.
                                       \_ So you think humans lack intention?
                                          Do you yourself lack intention?
                                            -- ilyas
                                          \_ I can't really convince myself
                                             that there is anything more than
                                             chemical/mechanical stimulus
                                             response involved in what is
                                             generally termed intention.
                                             I also can't convince myself
                                             that something intended for us
                                             to be here - the dinosaurs
                                             would probably still be "ruling"
                                             the earth if not for a big rock
                                             falling out of the sky. If we
                                             were supposed to be here, why
                                             let the dinosaurs have at it
                                             for millions of years? Just so
                                             we could have some nice birds
                                             and gas for our hummers? Surely
                                             there is a more efficient way.
                                             \_ There could very well be
                                                nothing more than chemical
                                                mechanical stimulus response
                                                involved.  This does not mean
                                                intention does not exist, it
                                                obviously exists.  You are
                                                equating a physical
                                                implementation of intention
                                                with the impossibility of
                                                intention.  Or, to put it
                                                another way, you are
                                                concentrating on describing
                                                physical events and making
                                                an intuitive argument that
                                                there can be no 'floating
                                                ghost' associated with these
                                                events somehow.  I am fairly
                                                convinced of the existence of
                                                the 'floating ghost'
                                                corresponding to myself.
                                                 -- ilyas
                                                \_ I don't get it. If it
                                                   is all just some chemicals
                                                   moving around in my head,
                                                   then where the heck is the
                                                   "floating ghost"?
                                                   The sense of "I" seems to
                                                   me an illusion created by
                                                   the chemical rxns in my
                                                   head that makes it easier
                                                   for the body to survive.
                                                   \_ "If the functioning of
                                                      the computer is just
                                                      electronics, then where
                                                      the heck is software?"
                                                      See Goedel/Escher/Bach
                                                      for the relevant
                                                      discussion. -- ilyas
                                               \_ There's a nice discussion.
                                                  Why would you think there is
                                                  a "floating ghost" there? The
                                                  idea appears to be absurd.
                                                  Clearly people and animal
                                                  minds are affected by brain
                                                  \_ There clearly _is_ a
                                                     floating ghost.  I don't
                                                     really understand what
                                                     you mean by 'consciousness
                                                     is an illusion.'  It has
                                                     none of the properties of
                                                     an illusion, it's more
                                                     correct to say we don't
                                                     understand what
                                                     relationship exists
                                                     between physical events
                                                     and qualia.  I should
                                                     clarify that when I say
                                                     'floating ghost' I do
                                                     not mean that I am
                                                     a Cartesian dualist,
                                                     merely that the human
                                                     internal world is a real
                                                     thing, just like software
                                                     state is a real thing.
                                                       -- ilyas
                                                     \_ software state isn't
                                                        a magical ghost. I
                                                        don't know what you're
                                                        going on about.
                        \_ I see, this is just an application to science of the
                           general trend to equate improbability with God. Oh
                           thank God, by a miracle I survived this plane crash!
                           \_ People don't have good intuitions about very
                              small probabilities.  I think the way quantum
                              mechanics works, pretty much _anything_ can happen
                              with some positive probability.  However, if you
                              look at our macroscoping world, it's very
                              predictable, and random things don't happen.
                              Improbability always leaves you some wiggle room
                              to say things 'just happen,' but given the way
                              low probability events work in practice, you still
                              have some explaining to do.  Surviving a plane
                              crash is not even in the same ballpark as
                              instantaneous bacterial self-assembly. -- ilyas
                              \_ Who is claiming that a bateria self
                              \_ In the world of living things, random things
                                 seem to happen all the time. Meteors hit,
                                 storms arise, water pools in some cave giving
                                 rise to a unique creature, etc. Your existence
                                 as opposed to some other combination of egg
                                 and sperm is almost impossibly unlikely if
                                 you look at what had to happen from even that
                                 first "magic bacteria". And even though
                                 crash survival isn't all that low probability,
                                 or winning the lotto, there are loads of
                                 examples of people believing it was divine.
                                 I was just pointing out the fallacious mode
                                 of thought. I think it's pretty safe to
                                 assume that bacteria didn't spring into
                                 existence fully-formed. As for the constants,
                                 well they are observed. It would be like
                                 using the improbability of events leading up
                                 to your birth as proof that someone designed
                                 you to happen, to say that someone had to
                                 design the constants to support life. Maybe
                                 there are many universes and life is in the
                                 one that supports it.
                                 \_ Sigh.  You didn't even read this entire
                                    thread, did you?  Anyways, there is so
                                    much circularity and repeated arguments
                                    here that I am stopping, I think. -- ilyas
                              \_ Who is claiming that a bacteria self
                                 assembled? AFAIK, the components of
                                 bacteria came from even simpler forms
                                 of "life" like rna or its precursors
                                 which may self assemble.
                                 Also, my understanding is that given
                                 enough time every improbable event
                                 can occur, so something like rna could
                                 have come into being on its own given
                                 several hundred million years.
                                 \_ No simpler form of of independently
                                    replicating life than a bacterium is either
                                    known or postulated.  The claim about
                                    constants spontaneously taking on 'nice
                                    values' is even less probable than the
                                    bacterium-from-nothing claim, which is why
                                    I brought it up.  If you claim there is
                                    something between bacterium and nothing
                                    I invite you to tell me what that something
                                    is and how it reproduces. -- ilyas
                                    \_ Your claim is false.  Other reproducing
                                       things as simple as molecules have not
                                       only been postulated, but have been
                                       shown to exist.  In your brain, it's
                                       possible for a protein to spontaneously
                                       fold in a certain undesirable way.
                                       This protein can then catalyze other
                                       proteins to fold in the same undesirable
                                       way, in the environment of your brain.
                                       Similarly, molecule chains which self
                                       replicate in the "primordial soup" of
                                       the early Earth have been postulated.
                                       \_ A prion isn't alive, and a prion is
                                          almost certainly not on the
                                          evolutionary path between nothing
                                          and bacteria.  Read what I actually
                                          said. -- ilyas
                                    \_ What about (s/r)RNA?
                                       \_ RNA is a molecule that can reproduce
                                          in the right chemical environment.
                                          So is the claim nothing -> RNA ->
                                          bacterium? -- ilyas
                                          \_ The way I understand it it is:
                                              basic elements -> organic non-
                                              replicating molecules -> RNA ->
                                              DNA -> protocells -> { Bacteria,
                                              Eukaryotes, Archaebacteria }
                                             Something had to come before
                                             bacteria b/c mitochondria (which
                                             is present in all bacteria iirc)
                                                \_ False.  Mitochondria are
                                                   not present in all bacteria.
                                                   Mostly (exclusively?) in
                                             were originally a separate form
                                             of life.
                                             \_ The problem with this picture
                                                is that:
                                                (a) at the RNA/DNA stage,
                                                things don't 'eat' each other,
                                                so there is no natural
                                                selection.  This means, things
                                                had to get pretty complex in
                                                a random way without the
                                                shielding of a cell wall.
                                                (b) Nobody knows what
                                                protocells look like, even
                                                without any burden of
                                                falsifying evidence. -- ilyas
                                                \_ RNA/DNA don't have to eat
                                                   each other for NS to work.
                                                   If one form of RNA replicates
                                                   faster or is more robust
                                                   to environmental conditions
                                                   than other forms its copies
                                                   will gradually win out over
                                                   other versions.
                                                   I agree re proto-cells, BUT
                                                   clearly a bacterica is not
                                                   the simplest form of life
                                                   b/c it is an amalgam of at
                                                   least two separate more
                                                   primitive life forms:
                                                   some sort of cell and what-
                                                   ever mitochondira was before
                                                   it was incorporated into
                                                   a bacteria. And even mito-
                                                   chondria is pretty complex,
                                                   meaning it came from something
                                                   more basic.
                                                   The problem w/ going back
                                                   that far is that anything
                                                   that primative probably
                                                   (1) didn't get fossilized
                                                   or (2) got killed by newer
                                                   forms of life and isn't
                                                   around anymore.
                                                   My problem w/ saying that
                                                   the big guy just put it
                                                   together, is that it tells
                                                   you nothing. You can't/don't
                                                   know why he did it, or how
                                                   or how he knew how to do it,
                                                   &c. It also leaves open the
                                                   question of where the big
                                                   guy came from and who made
                                    \_ You're seriously saying that there isn't
                                       even a hypothesis about life simpler
                                       than a bacteria?  Have you read Paul
                                       Davies' "The Fifth Miracle"? -emarkp
                                       \_ I am sorry, I haven't read Davies'
                                          book.  What is his theory, other than
                                          'life came from archaea deep
                                          underground.'  -- ilyas
               \_ and then I want to ask what this has to do with evolution?
                  It's like saying, "I don't know whether my car was made in
                  Detroit or not, therefor I shouldn't eat any sandwiches
                  today."  Regardless of whether there was any higher power
                  at work in the creation of the universe, evolution is a
                  theory whose tenets are demonstrable.
                  \_ If the debate is soley over evolution/natural selection
                     then I don't understand why there is a debate at all b/c
                     natural selection has been demonstrated.
        \_ this debate is kind of like those mysterious circular patterns
           that appear overnight in cornfields.  some people tried to find
           the answer to what created them in some natural phenomenon,
           while others tried to find out if it's some jokers who created
2005/8/12-15 [Science/GlobalWarming] UID:39107 Activity:nil
8/12    Oopsiedoodle! (yahoo! news)
        "Atmospheric researchers studying global warming have sought for years
        to determine why readings taken from weather balloons didn't show the
        same increases as readings on the ground. The difference has fueled
        skeptics of global warming.
        "Now, researchers at Yale University say exposed instruments on the
        balloons may be the problem."
        \_ Full paper is in
        \_ Basically:  Ground readings showed increasing temps.  High-altitude
           readings from both weather balloons and satellites showed
           decreasing temps.  Therefore, there was global cooling, since
           the satellite and weather balloons were more accurate.
           However, it turns out that the weather balloons in the past
           registered too hot because of poor shielding from direct
           sunlight.  The new weather balloons are built correctly and register
           the correct temperatures.  This was interpreted to mean:  Past,
           hot; now, cool; therefore cooling.  However, with the correct
           understanding, temperatures measured by the balloons show increases.
           What about the satellites?  Another research group found a mistake
           in the analysis of temp measurement.  The revised calculations show
           that the satellites are measuring a temperature increase.
           Three new studies in Science.
        \_ amazing with what alacrity Science publishes these results but
           ignores Mann.
Berkeley CSUA MOTD:2005:August:12 Friday <Thursday, Saturday>