Monday, January 30, 2006

I just had to post this...


Our governor, Mark Sanford, accidentally swallowed his own foot when talking about evolution Sunday. The sad thing is that he probably has no idea how little he understands the issue. Someone please remind me to look for material on evolution to post under "Recommended Reading" to help kill the invalid objections, especially when made by people who do not understand what they are saying. I’m getting visions of posting a bounty for objections to evolution that are 1) not based on naïve interpretation of Genesis, 2) not misunderstandings of evolution or science, and 3) not intellectually dishonest. On the downside, since I do not have money, the bounty would be paid in surplus paperback books. On the upside, since last I heard no such objections existed, all the objections being brought forth these days being invalid, I could probably offer anything as a bounty (such as a live elephant) and never have to worry about paying up. Enjoy or be scared or something.


1 Shevat 5766 * 30 January 2006: Inane Answering Machine Day

Hello. You have reached Aaron’s blog. Today you’re getting a bunch of stuff that was sitting around on my desktop. I hope you don’t mind.Since tomorrow is Escape Day, there will be no weird thing, since I will be escaping from the daily posting and Bobby Awesome has phoned claiming to have been kidnapped by a “radical hippopotamus supremacist group allied with the Illuminati and Tux the Linux Penguin” who refuse to let him near a computer. Until next time, enjoy, and happy new month.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

29 Teveth 5766 * 29 January 2006: National Puzzle Day


Last night my car refused to start, with the oil, battery, and "check engine" symbols lighting up. I had to call AAA to tow it home. After we got home, my car started up just fine. Go figure.

Today’s weird thing is “In-Utero Surgery Offers Hope”. Enjoy.


Friday, January 27, 2006

27 Teveth 5766 * 27 January 2006


I would like to note that no stuffed animals were actually harmed in the making of yesterday’s weird thing.

Today’s weird thing is something Barry forwarded to me, included below. Enjoy.


The Amazing Talking Dog

A guy is driving around Tennessee and he sees a sign in front of a house: “Talking Dog For Sale”. He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a Labrador retriever sitting there. “You talk?” he asks.

“Yep,” the Lab replies.

“So, what’s your story?”

The Lab looks up and says, “Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running. But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.”

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

“Ten dollars,” the guy says.

“Ten dollars? This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?”

“Because he’s a liar. He never did any of that stuff.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

25 Teveth 5766 * 25 January 2006: Opposite Day/Robbie Burns Day


Weird news:And finally, today’s weird thing is “Maine Deadbeats Pay Back Strip-Search Cash”, which my sense of justice finds poetic. Enjoy.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

17 Teveth 5766/17 January 2006: Pluto weirdness


Various news:Today’s weird thing is “Pluto celebrates anniversary”. What is so weird about this story almost a year old is that the other day I found out that when the Hayden Planetarium decided their exhibits would not list Pluto as a planet anymore, they actually got hate mail from children. Enjoy.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

15 Teveth 5766/15 January 2006: Personal Firewall Day/Hat Day


Since tomorrow is National Nothing Day, there will be no weird thing of the day tomorrow.

Today’s weird thing is something so bizarre that I knew very quickly it had to be a weird thing of the day: “Wound Up Over Windmills”. This is an article about people being paranoid over windmills, a non-polluting, renewable method of collecting energy. Go read the article to find out what kinds of improbable claims they are making. No one would believe it if I said it. Enjoy.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

12 Teveth 5766/12 January 2006: National Clean Off Your Desk Day


Worthy cause of the day: Political Action: Stop Corruption First.

I know we had a National Clean-off-your-desk Day on Sunday, but today we get the non-hyphenated version. (I do not invent holidays and quasi-holidays. I just report them.) In celebration of this quasi-holiday, today I am cleaning off my desktop again. (I have to do this regularly anyway. It is way too easy for weird stuff to accumulate there.) Enjoy.


PS: Anyone wishing me to invent holidays or quasi-holidays, let me know. I may consider it and even make a game out of whether I can pass off fake holidays and quasi-holidays as if they are real ones.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

11 Teveth 5766/11 January 2006: National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day


I have accumulated way too many things on my desktop, and so today you are getting them all. I’m also giving you one non-news item at the end.Today’s weird thing is something so bizarre that I knew very quickly it had to be publicized quickly: “Scanner music”. Trust me: you want to proceed immediately to this hack and see this video. Enjoy.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

10 Teveth 5766 (fast day)/10 January 2006


Since it is a fast day, in place of ordinary weird things, I am posting a list of religious questions I have devised. This should give you some idea of my theological thinking. Do no be surprised if you know the answer to none of them; none of these are trivial or common knowledge. If you cannot read Hebrew where it is used, you are unlikely to have the answer, so do not worry about it. If anyone knows the answer to any of these questions, I would be very appreciative.


Is there any religion other than Judaism which claims a mass revelation (i.e., the number of people to which a deity reveals him/herself simultaneously is greater than one, preferably much greater than one)?
(Note 1: At least one reference is required, preferably at the verse level.)
(Note 2: Religions claiming to supersede another religion cannot simply claim the mass revelation of a religion they claim to supersede. Likewise, religions claiming that another religion is merely a corrupt version of them may not claim the mass revelation of the religion they claim is a corrupt version of them.)

דּברים כ״ה י״ט: וְהָיָ֡ה בְּהָנִ֣יחַ ה֣׳ אלה֣׳ךָ ׀ לְ֠ךָ מִכָּל־אֹ֨יְבֶ֜יךָ מִסָּבִ֗יב בָּאָ֨רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֽ׳־א֠לה׳ךָ נֹתֵ֨ן לְךָ֤ נַֽחֲלָה֙ לְרִשְׁתָּ֔הּ תִּמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לֹ֖א תִּשְׁכָּֽח׃
תּהִלּים קמ״ה ז׳: זֵ֣כֶר רַב־טֽוּבְךָ֣ יַבִּ֑יעוּ    וְצִדְקָֽתְךָ֥ יְרַנֵּֽנוּ׃
הֲישׁ גִּרסת תּנ״ך אשׁר נִמצא בַּפּסוּקים הָאלּה הנֻּסּח ״זֶכֶר״ ולֹא ״זֵכֶר״?

Why is the ordering of תּנ״ך from בּבא בּתרא י״ד ע״ב never used?

How can one distinguish experimentally or observationally whether one lives in a universe with free will or one where everything is strictly predetermined?

Is there any religion which claims the existence of more than one uncreated deity?

The soul is probably not a separate enitity from the brain because all of a person’s mental functions are demonstrably exorably linked to the brain. If they were not, brain damage would not affect one’s mental functions at all. Is there any empirical evidence to the contrary?

According to those who believe in reincarnation, the soul after death may resurface in another body. Given that there is no empirical evidence that anyone has memories from a past life, what do these people believe survives between lives?

Can anyone provide any useful suggestions for getting around the problem of confounding effects in testing the just-world hypothesis?

If the Documentary Hypothesis is true, there should have been groups which did not accept the redacted Torah but clung to J, E, P, or D. Is there any record of any such group ever existing?

Some religions deify nature or natural phenomena. This is problematic since the natural world gives every indication of being not sentient but rather purely mechanical and thus not suitable for worship. How does one realistically circumvent this problem?

Theism is in principle demonstrable, since empirically demonstrable prophecy is conceivable. However, what can an atheist do to demonstrate that no god exists? Even if one is convinced based on the structure and workings of the universe that no material deity exists, (so far as we can tell), we are not empowered to observe anything outside our own physically reality. Therefore, how can one distinguish experimentally or observationally between atheism, deism, covert panenthesim (immanent theism), and covert transcendent theism?

Monday, January 9, 2006

9 Teveth 5766/9 January 2006: National Static Electricity Day


REMINDER: Tomorrow is a fast day commemorating the siege on Jerusalem.

Today’s weird thing is “Raiding the Icebox”, which is all about a plan for the US to invade Canada. (I cannot make something like this up.) Enjoy.


Friday, January 6, 2006

6 Teveth 5766/6 January 2006: Apple Tree Day


Today’s weird thing is something from Emily’s collection, included below. Enjoy, and Shabbath shalom.


Why ask why?

Why do you need a driver's licence to buy liquor when you can't drink and drive?

Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?

Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?

Why are there flotation devices under plane seats instead of parachutes?

Why are cigarettes sold in gas stations when smoking is prohibited there?

Do you need a silencer if you are going to shoot a mime?

Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?

How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work in the morning?

If 7-11 is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, why are there locks on the doors?

If cows laughed, would milk come out of her nose?

If nothing ever sticks to TEFLON, how do they make TEFLON stick to the pan?

If you tied buttered toast to the back of a cat and dropped it from a height, what would happen?

If you're in a vehicle going at the speed of light, what would happen when you turn on the headlights?

You know how most packages say "Open Here". What is the protocol if the package says, "Open Somewhere Else"?

Why do they put Braille dots on the keypad of the drive-up ATM?

Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Why is it that when you transport something by car, it's called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it's called cargo?

You know that little indestructible black box that is used on planes, why can't they make the whole plane out of the same substance?

Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on the radio?

Do you have more of these?? Send'em in.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

5 Teveth 5766/5 January 2006: Bird Day


Political news: Ariel Sharon had a stroke and is now in an induced coma. Since he will probably not be in any condition to govern when and if he wakes up, expect a change in power dynamics in Israel politics.

Today’s weird thing is the Grand List of Fantasy Cliches. Enjoy.


Wednesday, January 4, 2006

4 Teveth 5766/4 January 2006: Trivia Day/Tenis Day


I’d celebrate today’s holidays by sharing some tennis trivia, but I don’t know any.

Today’s weird thing is “The World’s Smallest Car”. (Somebody in a molecular physics lab has been having fun.) Enjoy.


Tuesday, January 3, 2006

This is a test entry to see whether this blogging application I downloaded actually works.


3 Teveth 5766/3 January 2006: Fruitcake Toss Day/Festival of Sleep Day/Drinking Straw Day


Political news: “2,990 attacks during 2005 'truce'”. By the way, Israel did not agree to any truce with any Arab group, so calling what the Arabs did a “truce” is not correct. It was a unilateral ceasefire which existed in name only.

Strange story Barry mentioned: “Cat Calls 911 to Help Owner, Police Say”

Today’s weird thing is the Portable Rotary Cellular Phone. (Go figure.) Enjoy.


Monday, January 2, 2006

2 Teveth 5766/2 January 2006: Hanukkah, day 8


Today was supposed to be the day that I reported the winner of The Weird Thing of the Day Dune Fantastic Religion Contest. However, it turned out that all the entries were made by fictional characters. I therefore appointed a panel of fictional judges to determine a winner, and they chose the Bellman’s “The Mystery Religion of Agatha Christie”. This caused a great uproar among the contestants, as there was no such entry. Fictional detective Sherlock Holmes has been called in to investigate what went wrong. If I can get appropriate PR, I may try redoing the contest again at a future date.

And now for the final installment of my list of religious fallacies. People are especially encouraged to prove anything in the “Probable” section is not a fallacy.

Islam, including its relations with other religions:
“All Jewish claims about Palestine/Israel (including claims on the Temple Mount) are false and utterly baseless, while all Muslim/Arab claims are true.” (Arab/Muslim misconception)
“Allah is an idol.” (An American general in the wake of 9/11)
“Europe would still be in the Dark Ages if it was not for the beneficent influence of Islam.” (Euro-Arab misconception)
“Islam is a black/African religion.” (Popular American misconception)
“Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.” (Muslim misconception and popular American misconception, voiced by the news media and George W. Bush)
“Islam is older than Judaism and Christianity.” (Muslim misconception)
“Islamic terrorism is the result of injustice against Muslims at the hand of non-Muslims.”
“Jews and Christians corrupted their scriptures.” (Muslim misconception)
“Muhammad ascended to Heaven from Haram al-Sharif/the Temple Mount.” (Arab/Muslim misconception)
“Peace is only possible under the beneficent rule of Islam.” (Muslim misconception)
“The Satanic Verses are a Christian fabrication.” (Muslim misconception)
“There is a Palestinian people, language, and culture.” (Arab/Muslim misconception)
“There used to be a country of Palestine until the Jews took the land away from the Arabs.” (Arab/Muslim misconception)

“Cloning should be banned because someone might use it to create an evil clone army.”
“Dissecting animals is evil.”
“Experimenting on non-human animals is evil, even if it saves human lives.”
“Genetic engineering is intrinsically evil.”
“It is wrong to ‘play God’.”
“People have a right to an unedited genome.”
“Reproductive cloning is intrinsically evil.”
“Therapeutic cloning is intrinsically evil.”

“Anything which can be used for evil should be banned, no matter how much good it can do.”
“Being modern is a value.” (Popular American misconception)
“Following a particular religious practice (e.g., becoming a priest, praying) will fix a real or perceived problem (e.g., illness, being homosexual).” AKA “Jesus is the answer.” AKA “Islam is the answer.” (Mary Baker Eddy, founder of (the deceivingly named) Christian Science, and her followers; men who become priests and monks to control unwanted sexual desires. Suggested by Barry with alternate forms suggested by Sheikh Yabouti)
“I know that Judaism/Christianity/Islam/etc. lacks spirituality, even though I don’t know much about it.” (Jews in the USA and Israel who get interested in Buddhism or Hinduism without bothering to learn anything about Judaism)
“It is good for children to believe in Santa Claus/the Easter Bunny/the Tooth Fairy/etc.” (Popular American misconception)
“It is OK to ignore deities and worship angels or saints.”
“Religion is for children only.” (Popular American misconception) • ESAOF: “Religion is for old people only.” (Popular American misconception)
“Technologically primitive people are more ecologically friendly than technologically advanced people.” (Popular American misconception)
“The clergy do not mind being overworked or being disturbed by their parishioners at odd hours.” (Attitude displayed by inconsiderate Jews and Greek Orthodox Christians)
“The Constitution of the United States must be treated as scripture.”
“The environment/the Earth is more important than humans are.” (The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement)
“The gods of other religions are Satan, demons, or other evil sprits.” (Christianity)
“The human body or anything else natural is perfect.” (Philosophers, creationists)
“Traditional/New Age medicines are better than scientific ones.” (New Age misconception)
“We have a God-given right to smoke, regardless of how much damage it does to our bodies or how much it hurts and annoys other people.” (Tobacco companies and inconsiderate smokers)

“Atheism is provable or proven.” (Militant atheists)
“Long ago everyone on Earth belonged to a single matriarchal culture.”
“My religion has been conclusively proven to be true.” (Urban legends wandering the Internet)
“Pantheism (deification of the universe), deification of any mortal lifeform, and deification of any part of nature are plausible.” (Pantheism, Zoroastrianism)
“Reincarnation is plausible.” (Dharmic religions, Qabbalah)

Enjoy, and happy Hanukkah.


Sunday, January 1, 2006

Curriculum vitae

Aaron Solomon Adelman
אהרן שלמה בן שאול יוסף אדלמן

• BA in computer science, Yeshiva University, 1994
• PhD in epidemiology at the Medical University of South Carolina, expected summer 2006

Research interests: Currently cancer epidemiology, willing to work on other interesting problems, such as diseases of unknown origin, and thus gain a broader knowledge.

Statistical programs familiar with: SAS, Egret, R.

Languages spoken: English (native), Hebrew (functional reading, limited listening and speaking), Aramaic (some)

Adelman, A.S., McLaughlin, C.C., Wu, X.C., Chen, V.W. & Groves, F.D. (2005). Urbanisation and incidence of acute lymphocytic leukaemia among United States children aged 0-4. Br J Cancer, 92, 2084-2088.
• Adelman, S.J., Adelman, A.S. & Pintado, O.I. (2003). On the relationship between the mercury-manganese stars and the metallic-lined stars. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 397, 267-273. [Note: This is an astronomy paper because I did some statistics for my father, an astrophysicist.]

• Adelman, A., Groves, F. & Sinha, D. (2003). Residential mobility and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL): a case-control study. In American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 157. pp. S8. (Presented at SER 2003.)
• Adelman, A., Groves, F. & Sinha, D. (2003). Residential mobility and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL): an ecological study. In American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 157. pp. S9. (Presented at SER 2003.)

• Adelman, A.S., McLaughlin, C.C., Wu, X.C., Chen, V.W. & Groves, F.D. (2005). Urbanization and incidence of acute lymphocytic leukemia among United States children ages 0-4. In American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 161. pp. S102. (Presented at CSEB-SER 2005.)

• Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society
• Society for Epidemiologic Research

1 Teveth 5766/1 January 2006: Hanukkah, day 7/Gregorian New Year's Day


And now for today’s selection of religious fallacies:

Judaism, overlapping with Christianity:
“Christianity can be true even if Judaism is false.” (Misconception Charles Darwin had serious trouble with)
“Delilah cut Samson’s hair.” (Stanislaw Lem’s The Cyberiad, a Christian calendar depicting Biblical scenes with naked people in them)
“It is OK to jointly celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas or add Christmas practices to Hanukkah.” (Assimilationist American Jews)
“Jesus qualified as the Jewish Messiah.” (Christianity)
“Jews do not convert to Christianity because Christians have been so cruel to them.” (Martin Luther)
“Judaism has the same values as Christianity except it doesn’t hold by belief in Jesus as the Messiah.” (Popular American misconception)
“Messianic Judaism is Judaism.” (Christian missionary lie)
“Since the names of the persons of the Trinity can be translated into Hebrew, the Trinity is a Jewish concept.” (Idiot on-line)
“The English are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes.” (Anglo-Israelites)
“The Jews of the Bible were Africans.” (Taxi driver in New York City during the 1990s)
“The name of the queen who visited Solomon was ‘Sheba’.” (Popular American misconception)

Names of Christian groups and movements:
“Baptists” (John the Baptist was not a member of this group. Furthermore, they have no monopoly on baptism.)
“Evangelicals” (They have no monopoly on the Gospel (Evangelion).)
“Pentecostals” (They have no monopoly on the holiday of Pentecost.)
“The Catholic Church” (“Catholic” means “universal”. If so, it ought to be the only church.)

“Christians are cannibals.” (Romans)
“Divorce is permissible.” (Protestants)
“Jesus spoke the English of the King’s James Bible.” (Ignorant Christians)
“Jesus was a Christian.” (Ignorant Christians)
“Jesus was born on Christmas.”
“Jesus was well-known in his own time.”
“Quotes from the Hebrew Bible in the New Testament are quoted as written and in context.”
“We can rely on The Da Vinci Code.”

Enjoy, good month, and happy Hanukkah.