Paper Man (2009) -quick film review

quick review:  

Image

3/5 stars.  decent movie. i really like the genre of quirky introverted personalities trying to figure out the meaning of life (aka “how to be happy and help others in this too”).  this movie started off very confusing and things start to make sense only near the end.  before then it isn’t known why a grown guy is wanting to hang out w/ a teen at his house (later it is shown that he didn’t really know why either at the time).  So throughout the movie i felt it deserved 2 stars (which i rarely rate a movie).  at the end there was enough meat in the dish to bite off, chew on for a minute and digest.  since i was able to take something away from the movie (some morsels of knowledge about human relationships) i bump it up to 3 stars.  in netflix i gave it four just so that it won’t shy from suggesting more movies of this ilk my way.  and that, is the reason for this post- it was inspired by the fact that i didn’t feel quite right rating a movie higher than it deserved and then not explaining myself.

Quotes Roundup- Fall- Winter 2010

Anatole France:

An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.

Eliezer_Yudkowsky:

Reality has been around since long before you showed up. Don’t go calling it nasty names like “bizarre” or “incredible”. The universe was propagating complex amplitudes through configuration space for ten billion years before life ever emerged on Earth. Quantum physics is not “weird”. You are weird.

Steven Novella:

Questioning our own motives, and our own process, is critical to a skeptical and scientific outlook. We must realize that the default mode of human psychology is to grab onto comforting beliefs for purely emotional reasons, and then justify those beliefs to ourselves with post-hoc rationalizations. It takes effort to rise above this tendency, to step back from our beliefs and our emotional connection to conclusions and focus on the process. The process (i.e science, logic, and intellectual rigor) has to be more important than the belief.

Arthur C. Clarke:

Sometimes I think we’re alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the idea is quite staggering.

Carl Sagan:

In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

Galileo:

Long experience has taught me this about the status of mankind with regard to matters requiring thought: the less people know and understand about them, the more positively they attempt to argue concerning them, while on the other hand to know and understand a multitude of things renders men cautious in passing judgment upon anything new.

Goethe, 18th/19th-century German poet, novelist, playwright and philosopher:
You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.

Thomas Paine:

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.

Martin Gardner:

Biographical history, as taught in our public schools, is still largely a history of boneheads: ridiculous kings and queens, paranoid political leaders, compulsive voyagers, ignorant generals – the flotsam and jetsam of historical currents. The men who radically altered history, the great scientists and mathematicians, are seldom mentioned, if at all.

Randall Monroe (Author XKCD):

You don’t use science to show you’re right, you use science to become right.

Mark Twain

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Bertrand Russell

There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.

From Sara Robinson, explaining perfectly the entire reason for the faux controversy over the “ground zero mosque”:

Conservatives can do without a god, but they can’t get through the day without a devil. Their entire model of reality revolves around the existence of an existential enemy who’s out to annihilate them. Take that focal point away, and their whole worldview collapses into incoherence. This need is so central to their thinking that if there are no actual enemies around, they’ll go to considerable lengths to make some (or just make some up).

Sir Winston Churchill:

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.

William Osler:

One special advantage of the skeptical attitude of mind is that a man is never vexed to find that after all he has been in the wrong.

Fred Brooks:

You can learn more from failure than success. In failure you’re forced to find out what part did not work. But in success you can believe everything you did was great, when in fact some parts may not have worked at all. Failure forces you to face reality.

Unknown:

The best substitute for brains is silence.

John Cleese:

The really good idea is always traceable back quite a long way, often to a not very good idea which sparked off another idea that was only slightly better, which somebody else misunderstood in such a way that they then said something which was really rather interesting.

kim hebert:

homeopathy is like paying to watch your body heal itself.

Samuel Butler

The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore.

PZ Myers, on burying his bible:

And so I have. I have treated my copies of the Koran and the Bible with greater respect than they deserve.

Right now, the pages swell with moisture, the fibers separate and the chapters turn into pulpy masses. Bacteria bloom and their colonies expand; fungi flourish and their hyphae infiltrate and convert cellulose into spores. The ink runs as nematodes writhe over the surfaces, etching the words with slime and replacing the follies of dead men with the wisdom of worms. The roots of flowers and grasses will fumble downwards to embrace the decaying leaves, and the roots of trees will impale the volumes laterally. Given only a little time, the madness will be reduced to compost.

At every instant in this gradual process of degradation, the books are being improved and given greater value. And with my decision to discard the poisonous symbols of past ignorance, I became a little more free.

J.B.S. Haldane:

My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.

Quotes Roundup- Spring-Summer 2010

friends, these are my most recent biannual quotes i have read and enjoyed; please comment if you also enjoy.  :)

Thomas Paine (via froggey):

Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.”

Goethe:

Nothing is worth more than this day.

Peter Walker:

The supreme arrogance of religious thinking: that a carbon-based bag of mostly water on a spec of iron-silicate dust around a boring dwarf star … would look up at the sky and declare, ‘It was all made so that I could exist!

H.G. Wells:

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race”

Bertrand Russell:

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

Neil deGrasse Tyson:

The stars in the universe far outnumber all the words ever uttered by all the humans who have ever lived.

Aldous Huxley:

At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religous or political ideas.

Brennen McKenzie:

If you try to picture a pack of Chihuahuas bringing down and savaging an elk, the impact of thousands of years of artificial selection is obvious.

John Cage:

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.

Bob McCue (oh, how i heart mister mccue):

The most satisfying aspect of parenthood so far has been witnessing my children come into their own as adults. Becoming friends with these surprising human beings is as fresh as life gets. In this and so many other ways, life is sweet. I am a lucky guy who spends most of each day feeling grateful.

R. Feynman:

Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.

Gerald Massey

They must find it difficult, those who have taken authority as the truth, rather than truth as the authority.

Arthur C. Clarke (in his Third Law of Prediction):

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

John Erskine

Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing.

Richard Dawkins:

Hydrogen is a tasteless, invisible gas – and if you give it enough time, it will turn into people.

Anon:

Every morning I wake up on the wrong side of Capitalism.

something to ponder on the fourth of july

Which of the following is more inclusive and better represents the ideals of maximum freedom as outlined in the US constitution? (h/t)

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under the gods, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under no God or gods, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
Interjects that the person must adhere to a monotheistic belief system. Interjects that the person must adhere to a polytheistic belief system. Interjects that the person must not adhere to any theistic belief system. Does not interject any presuppositions about religion. The person is free to believe whatever they want.

Happy Independence Day, y’all. As the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

I invite you to read that quote 1nce more. Have fun today. :)

Global Warming Resources

the science is too complicated to understand, unless you are a climatologist, so we need to put our trust in where the scientific consensus is at right now.  and the consensus is that ever since 1750[1] there has been a constant yearly increase of man-made global warming.  other questions about GW such as predicting the effects and future ruin of the earth is not known and one can have their own opinion about that part of the issue.

many articles here are authored by dr. steven novella, of the sgu.  he is my favorite science educator and skeptic on the planet.  he’s the closest thing to a “prophet” for me here on the earth.  i recommend listening to his podcast weekly.

articles on climate change:

“And in the end we have to trust scientists that they were able to detect a global warming trend of 1.5 degrees C since 1880, on the backdrop of all the local and short term fluctuations. I do trust the consensus (NASA can send out a probe and hit Saturn, so they have earned some trust) and I have not heard any arguments that I find compelling to distrust it. But I also understand why many in the public find it difficult to trust.”  (from article:  NASA – Last Decade Warmest on Record)

Scientific Consensus, Climate Change, and Vaccines

videos:

http://cogitatute.blogspot.com/2010/05/climate-denial-crock-of-week.html

Dylan Ratigan vs. Glenn Beck good explanation of climate change

Bill Nye:Those who think Historic Snowstorm disproves Global

other great links showing the consensus amongst climatologists:

Is there a scientific consensus on global warming? (probably the best site with quick-access info)

Scientific Consensus on Global Warming | Union of Concerned Scientists

Is there a scientific consensus on global warming?

climategate:

The Climategate Fiasco

hope that helps!

1.  IPCC. (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis (summary for policy makers), IPCC.

SANDY, UTAH

Photo by R. Scott Lloyd
John Gee speaks to FAIR Conference audience on “the Larger Issue” pertaining to the authenticity of the Book of Abraham. Click for bio of FAIR Conference speakers

While critics of the Church often challenge the authenticity of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, they attach more importance to it than Church members do themselves, a Latter-day Saint Egyptologist said Aug. 6 at the annual conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR).

Such critics lose sight of “the larger issue,” said John Gee, an associate research professor of Egyptology at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU.

“The book of Abraham is true,” said Brother Gee, author of A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri, at the end of his presentation. “I think it can be defended. I think it should be defended. But it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of either apologetics or research or the scriptures.”

Brother Gee said that in many cases the argument about the Book of Abraham has become so complex that even some of the sharpest critics lose perspective and fail to be consistent in their contentions.

“We cannot afford to lose sight of the big picture,” he said.

He offered a few rules for “apologists,” a word that in this context means defenders:

First, it is not necessary to refute every statement by a critic. “The critic may be wrong about a point, but if it is not central to the argument, one can often let it slide.”

Second, not every argument or point is worth defending. “Even widely held opinions do not need to be defended if they are mistaken,” he said.

Third, truth is not well-served by a bad argument. “We apologists make no claims to perfection, either in ourselves or our arguments, so it is simply better to let go of bad arguments.”

Fourth, though God knows everything, “we do not and cannot,” he said.

“So if what is most important needs to be defended, what are some of the things that need to be defended?” he asked.

He suggested six: God exists; Jesus Christ is His Son; God talked and still talks with men through the power of the Holy Ghost; Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the world; the Atonement is available to those who trust Jesus, turn from sin, make and keep sacred covenants, and follow the course throughout their lives; and the Book of Mormon is true, an authentic record of God’s interactions with actual ancient people.

“Now, we may be called upon to defend smaller points than these, but if these six things are not true, there is no point in the rest,” Brother Gee said.

“Now where is the Book of Abraham in this?” he asked. “It isn’t. The Book of Abraham is not central to the restored gospel of Christ.”

To illustrate, he said that of all the scriptural citations in general conference since 1942, the Book of Abraham has been cited less than 1 percent of the time. Most of those citations are the seven verses in Abraham 3:22-29, which tell of the pre-mortal existence.

“This is what we as Latter-day Saints care about,” he said. “It is what is important.”

The critics may regard that as vain superstition, he said, “but they seem to deem it not even worthy of attack. What they attack is simply not important to the Latter-day Saints.”

He said that is not to say Church members can or should forego the Book of Abraham, “but simply to give an idea of its relative importance. It is more important than some things and much less important than others.”

Brother Gee gave these summary points:

“First, the arguments about the Book of Abraham have become so complex that even the best and brightest of critics end up arguing unwittingly in favor of the LDS position. “The Document of Breathings made by Isis is not the Book of Abraham, and most Latter-day Saints have never claimed it was,” he said. “Can we agree on that issue and move on?

“Second, the critics do not deal with the issues arising from the Book of Abraham that Latter-day Saints care about. In that sense, their approach is legerdemain and bait-and-switch.

“Third, how the Book of Abraham was translated is unimportant. The Church does not stand or fall on the Book of Abraham.

“And fourth, regardless of how the Book of Abraham was translated, it is a remarkable document that tells us more about Abraham’s day than Joseph Smith could have known.”

He concluded: “These larger issues overshadow the often petty issues that we deal with as apologists, and it is high time we paid attention to the larger issue.”

where did we come from, why are we here, where are we going?

Correspondence between me and my auntie ____ (9 feb. 2009).

From my auntie:

Markii, I was thinking about you over the week end.  I have 3 questions I’d like to ask you and am looking forward to hearing from you!

One.  With your new knowledge I was wondering
.  What do you believe you were doing or where were you before your sojourn on earth.

2.  What is your purpose on earth?

3.  Where do you believe or think the human race will go when we die?

Thanks  love you so much.  Auntie ____

My response…

thanks for the e-mail, ____.  i’ll do my best to answer below…

One.  With your new knowledge I was wondering
.  What do you believe you were doing or where were you before your sojourn on earth.

that’s a great question!  many people have tried to solve it, but i think it’s unsolvable.  i do not know where i was before my sojourn to earth.  i don’t know if i even “was”, or existed.  it is possible that our consciousness we now enjoy only recently matured and came to be as our minds physically developed during childhood.  i find this to sound more plausible than the idea that we are hundreds or thousands of years old human beings with that many years of learning and education behind us and yet here we only know that which we learn here.  is our older and wiser self sitting dormant in our mind while the two-year old biological self now learns to eat food and drools applesauce out of his mouth/nose?  and a middle-aged person who was mentally fine can have a car accident or disease in the brain and lose many motor and thinking skills, and many times even having a complete change in their personality and habits [click link to left, and 'save as', to hear mp3 on this] as a result?  a car accident or mental disease affects the tissue and neurons in the brain which then change how a thousand year-old sentient behaves/acts?  to me it seems more logical that there is a machine, but no “ghost in the machine”. Continue reading

How to: Report on a “boring” science news story

watching the local tv nighttime news, there was a 90-second story on the spirit being stuck.  they continued saying it’s been stuck for about a year.  they said they’re going to let the solar panels charge until the weather warms up and then give it another go to free it.

this left my friend laughing at nasa’s news update: “wow, so the news is that spirit is stuck…and that it’s been stuck for a year?  …umm ok, thanks for the update, nasa!”.

i told him that i thought mainstream media just doesn’t get science news items done right, and that there’s probably a clearer, more interesting story behind the announcement.

well today i checked phil plait’s blog feed and wow!  my man knows how to take a science news item and make it easy for the layman to understand.  and instead of leaving us confused (like the news report), he leaves us excited for more!

spiritIn a press conference yesterday, NASA and JPL scientists announced that the Mars rover Spirit is stuck. The little-spaceprobe-that-could has been trapped in the sand near a crater called Troy for almost a year now, and for that time has been doing little or no science; instead, engineers have been trying to figure out how to get the rover unstuck. After all that time, NASA has decided to throw in the towel. Martian winter is coming for Spirit, and they are now focusing on getting it positioned so that it can survive the coming drop in temperature.

Three notes:

1) This doesn’t mean Spirit is dead! If they are able to get it set up to survive the winter (mainly by tilting it toward the Sun so the solar panels can collect energy) then once its revived it will still be able to do plenty of science from where it is. After all, it’s a laboratory sitting on another world. I imagine there’s lots of stuff the scientists can do with it.

2) Emily Lakdawalla, as usual, has the details of all this on The Planetary Society blog, including some evidence-based speculation that it’s NASA calling the shots here and not JPL, which controls the rover.

3) We have to remember something rather important: when the two rovers (Opportunity is the other, which is still running fine on the other side of the planet) landed on Mars, they had a planned operational lifetime of 90 days.

That was in January 2004.

In other words, Spirit has been on Mars for over 2200 days, and even counting when it first got stuck, it still ran well for more than 20 times it’s nominal lifespan. Cars these days have a standard warranty for 7 years; how’d you like yours to run for 140 years?

So for me, while this news is not great, it has to be put in context: Spirit is one of the most successful NASA missions of all time. And its sister, Opportunity, is still running like a champ. I hope I’ll be doing as well when I’m 1400 years old.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech