7 Quick Takes (1/20/11)

--- 1 --- It's almost time for my new distance learning CS courses from Stanford to start up (yay!), so I definitely want to lead off these quick takes by linking to Wired's interview with Peter Norvig, who taught the AI course I took last term and works with Google to design self-driving cars. Wired: [H]ow useful is the Turing test?Norvig: I don’t like it that much, in part because I don’t care about the philosophy angle. I want to build something useful. We already know how to make hum … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (1/13/12)

--- 1 --- I bought girl scout cookies from a coworker this week, and now I'm wishing I had sprung for more than two boxes of Thin Mints.  You see, the Girl Scouts allowed a biologically male seven year old who identifies as a girl to join up, and now there's a proposed boycott.  Good for them for letting the kid in, and, have you ever heard a sweeter LGBT activism pitch than eat cookies for change?I was a Daisy and a Brownie, and I found the Girl Scouts mostly boring.  Instead of building ch … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (1/6/12)

--- 1 --- Tomorrow is Christmas in the Orthodox calendar and it looks like the British Heart Foundation people are aware of that fact and got me an early present!Send this video around.  TV has given everyone some really terrible CPR training. --- 2 --- And speaking of useful and exciting science, check out this one-way tube, designed by Nikola Tesla (yes, that Tesla).The little side spurs in Fig 1 redirect air or liquids back in the only direction of flow the tube permits. … [Read more...]

7 Christmas Traditions

--- 1 --- Hullo all and Merry Christmas!  I'm home with my family, looking forward to Chinese food and a movie.  It seemed like a fun time to share some traditions of my atheist family Christmas.--- 2 --- On Christmas Eve, some folks read "Twas the Night before Christmas" aloud as a family.  At my parents' house, we read David Sedaris's Santaland Diaries (his essay about his job as an elf in Macy's Christmas wonderland).  We pass the book along in turns, or when someone is laughing too hard … [Read more...]

7 Hitch Takes (12/23/11)

--- 1 ------ 2 --- I haven't read Hitchens's god is Not Great (though I did beat everyone else in DC to the library to grab Hitch-22 yesterday).  Possibly because of my age, I didn't learn about Hitchens in the context of atheism, I knew him as one of the people on the wrong side of the Iraq war debate.  Hitchens was a brilliant writer, but his didn't always marshall them for good cause.I didn't have any particularly strong feelings about Hitchens until I heard about his decision to be w … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (12/9/11)

--- 1 --- This has been a very transhumanist week.  First there was a question about whether we should want to be uploaded to computers and then a discussion of how conversion (and/or brainmodding) is a process of being born again, but the first step is dying.I've got one more transhumanist/identity post in the hopper for the weekend, but, in the mean time, you may want to head to the National Catholic Register to see some more discussion of the Douthat thought experiment that troubled me. … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (11/17/11)

--- 1 --- If you're only going to read one link I put in the Quick Takes, make it this one on the way an over-reliance on mice may be screwing up our understanding of human disease. Mark Mattson knows a lot about mice and rats. He's fed them; he's bred them; he's cut their heads open with a scalpel... Still, he never quite noticed how fat they were—how bloated and sedentary and sickly—until a Tuesday afternoon in February 2007. That's the day it occurred to him, while giving a lecture at Emory … [Read more...]