Monthly Archives: November 2015

Proof of God

I’m not educated on this topic, so this is probably quite sophomoric to those who are.   Here are 3 pieces of circumstantial evidence that God exists.

  1. Science and nature. Not “the beauty of a tree,” although that is also quite compelling, but rather the way science describes nature. Specifically, math. The way that math works is so perfect, it can’t be random. I defy you to look at the Central Limit Theorem and not see God’s work. Another example would be fractals.   
  2. Consciousnes beyond the self. Almost everyone experiences this at some point with other people. Performing music with others, group meditation, cheering for a sports team with a crowd. Some people experience it alone, or in nature.  But almost all of us feel it. The case can be made that this is specifically described in the Bible as God’s grace, or the Holy Spirit, or the peace of God which passes all understanding.  Obviously groupthink and crowd mentality can cause bad things to happen. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I am sure that God is in the symphony.   Jon Rappaport has some interesting thoughts on this topic which pretty explicitly do not involve any God.  I guess it doesn’t have to be God, but certainly it counts as a higher power in a 12 step program. 
  3. The epiphany / conversion / enlightenment experience. This is a core tenet of Christianity.   It’s easy to find an evangelical who will tell you the story of how they were saved. St. Paul, Ben Carson, Jim Carrey. These people are sincere, and not stupid. Some describe an event which immediately and permanently changed their life trajectory.  Others describe something more fleeting, but which they now strive to  build toward.  This is not a universal experience (just ask Donald Trump).  But it is real, and I would present it as evidence of God as well. Also, this is the only one of my examples that points clearly  to a benevolent rather than an indifferent God. 

Good vs. evil, free will vs. destiny,  etc. are beyond the scope of this post. I don’t feel it’s necessary to understand all that in order to believe that there is a god. In fact, I think only hubris could lead a person to think that they could even begin to understand.  That’s a huge problem with religion. People want answers, and religions provide them.   I prefer to start with God, assume benevolence or at worst indifference, and go from there. 

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Feminism, again

This is in response to Chris Bodenner’s post at the Atlantic (this quote is from a reader):

The reason that a lot of people like myself don’t self-identify as “feminist” is because a lot of feminists (not all) self-identify as skeptics of the notion that there are any essential differences between men and women. Given the way these differences have been exploited by men to subjugate women, I have a lot of sympathy for these feminists and their mode of feminism. But my sympathies don’t mean that men and women are not different. They are—not totally different, not fundamentally different, but essentially different—in their essence.

Caitlin Jenner reminds us of this truth.

To me, as a hell-yeah feminist, Caitlyn Jenner is the exact reason for feminism, and a perfect justification of it.  Biological women and men are obviously different, so any argument that does not account for that fact is fundamentally flawed.  To me, transgender women actually strengthen the feminist argument.  Because the point is this:  everything that humans are or do that can be measured has a probability distribution which can be separated by male and female (and lots of other ways), and in all cases those distributions overlap.  Even the case of childbirth has overlapping distributions.  Since the outcome is binary, it is not the classic bell curve, but all men fall in the “cannot” category, while not all women fall in the “can” category.
It’s not meaningful to say that women and men are or should be indistinguishable by whatever measure, or that there is or is not some fundamental or essential difference.  That just doesn’t matter.  Each one of us is different from the average human as well as the average man or woman.  It’s all about the individual.  As a feminist, I don’t care what sex a person was born, and I don’t care what sex they identify with.  The point is that as far as economic and other opportunities go, Feminism should seek to protect each and every individual; the average is irrelevant.
Celebrating (or decrying) differences between the sexes is really just an intellectually lazy way of celebrating/decrying differences between individuals, by grouping those individuals by sex as the easiest and often most common and obvious distinguishing characteristic.
And how can a person make the argument that men and women are indistinguishable, and at the same time make the argument that women and men should be separated to protect the women?  What?  I’m not even going to click the links to get to the bottom of that one.  My own personal intellectual sloth, I guess.
I wrote a blog post about the whole math thing, and it has data about the overlapping distributions in the specific case of math aptitude:


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Obamacare for 2016

Recap:  My old, pre-Obamacare plan was grandfathered for one year, 2014, with its normal 6 or 7% increase.  My  premium went up from 2014 to 2015 by 40%, with a slight decrease in deductible.

For 2016, it’s going up another 40%, with another slight decrease in deductible.  A cheaper plan with higher deductible is available from another insurer.  However, that plan has a VERY limited provider list.  I want my insurance to cover a catastrophic event, meaning, if I were to have some unusual and/or life threatening condition, I want to be able to go find the best care available, not just the best care in network.  I’m willing to pay more for out of network services (which is what happens with the plan I am buying), but the cheaper plan does not cover them at all.    Even the cheaper plan was an increase of 23%.

Highmark/Allegheny Health and UPMC are immoral organizations.  It’s beyond me how they can do what they are doing and still be considered tax exempt.  It must be very hard for the sisters of St. Joseph to watch their healing creation be turned into a profit center.  I hope they are able to take the money they got from it and use it to another good.

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More Gut Bacteria Research: This time with Cancer treatments

From New Scientist:

How well a cancer treatment works might depend on what’s living in your gut. Two studies in mice have shown that gut bacteria can influence the effectiveness of treatments for cancer.

Drugs such as ipilimumab, which is given to people with advanced melanoma, work by activating the immune system to help it fight cancer.

Some people who take the drug experience inflammation in the gut. This led Mathias Chamaillard at the University of Lille, France, to wonder whether gut bacteria might be interacting with the drug.

To investigate, Chamaillard and his colleagues gave ipilimumab to mice that lack bacteria in their gut. The drug wasn’t as effective at treating cancer in these mice compared with mice with normal gut bacteria. The effectiveness of the drug also decreased when the normal mice were given antibiotics to wipe out their gut bacteria.

Faecal samples revealed that ipilimumab caused a decrease in two types of bacteria, Bacteroidales and Burkholderiales, in the gut. Replenishing these microbes in both sets of mice restored the efficacy of the drug.

There’s more; click the link.

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Chris Stapleton + JT = magic

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Aircraft carrier jet fuel

The headline to this article is misleading, to say the least, and I’m late to the party here, but it’s still an interesting development.  Next up:  tanks that run on human waste.

The U.S. Navy Just Announced The End Of Big Oil And No One Noticed

Source: | Original Post Date: April 12, 2014 –


Surf’s up! The Navy appears to have achieved the Holy Grail of energy independence – turning seawater into fuel:

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.

So, what this really means is that the nuclear reactors powering the ships will also power the equipment that makes this fuel, because conservation of mass/energy.  It’s not displacing fossil fuels in other ways, it just means they don’t have to carry it around with them, but can make it as needed.  Still interesting.

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Technical Analysis

Saving this post from David Stockman purely for future reference.  Will set myself a reminder and come back to this March 1.


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