Monday, June 30, 2008

Excellent News

A few weeks ago, I decided to take my SAT II Subject Tests (they're basically standardized tests in certain fields). I took them in Math level 2 and Physics (they meet Caltech's requirements). And I have to say, I was extremely surprised when I saw those scores. The SAT II scores are just like a section in the regular SAT, 800 points. And, when I saw my scores in Math, it was..... 800.

And for physics... 800 also.

At least I can say that when I send in those scores to college, I won't have to worry about them being too low, heh.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I love the whole world

Sometimes the world gets so crazy that you start to lose hope. That is, until you see a commercial like this, to remind you about the good stuff in life. Along with war poverty and disease which seem inescapable no matter, there's also the wonder of nature and the universe; and science, pushing the boundaries of what we know.

(Heart tip to PZ)

And if you were wondering what yesterday's xkcd comic was about, this is it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How wacky ideas gain credance

Wallace Sampson over at Science-Based Medicine gives an overview of how fields once viewed as quackery have gained credibility over the last few years.

However, this process is something that's readily applied across the board in pseudoscience. From psychics to creationists, they all have managed to escape the label: "Bulls@$^" (except for those caught by Penn and Teller).

And the media, of course, isn't helping. As Sampson brings up, "objective journalism" does not mean presenting both sides. It means presenting the facts. And, of course, if both sides have a comparable number of facts (as in a genuine scientific debate: Is cancer genetic or environmental (or some combination of the two)). When one side generally has far more facts than the other (as is the case with pseudoscience), you don't give the other side equal time because they don't have equal facts. The point of "objective" journalism is to inform the reader to make his/her own opinion. You do that by presenting the facts (or the absence of them). Saying that there is no solid evidence for astrology is not biased, because it's true. Astrology is just as effective as asking your son how your day is going to go (except with more big words). To say anything else would be either straying for the facts, or downright lying. Saying "Astrology might have revealed why this person got a promotion" is a conjecture, not a fact. Likewise, saying "Astrology did reveal why this couple broke up" would be a downright lie, because Astrology has been shown to be as effective as chance through and through. But anyways, I'm not going to write too much now. Right now, I have about three posts partly-written that I probably should get working on. But, I hope you enjoyed this little rant by both Dr. Sampson and me (though his is far more persuasive).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Vacation

Hey everyone. I know I haven't posted anything for three weeks or so. But I've been sucked into some sort of black hole where all of my time has evaporated. But anyways, summer is here. Unfortunately, most of my summer plans have been shot down. I didn't get into the YESS program (those little punks better have a good time there without me!) But, that wasn't the only thing I had in mind. However, another blow arrived when it turned out that Dr. Guy would be too busy to have me at CENS this summer. So now, my options have really dwindled. All that I know I'll be probably be left with is volunteering at Children's Hospital, Los Angeles.

Anyways, I SHOULD have more time for blogging, but who knows what'll happen? The RSS reader on the N800 is not exactly working out. I don't like the fact that I can't only read unread feeds, and that once I look at a category, everything is marked read. I basically want something like Liferea. However, the liferea port leaves much less to be desired. It hasn't had much activity. And the libraries won't install on my N800 for some reason. And from the experience, I'm guessing that the maintainer at least temporarily ditched the project. Nibbles is more active, but it's still got a long way to go before it becomes a fully-capable feed reader. So, I'll probably stick to RSS feeds on my home computer (maybe VNC onto them), use the horrible reader on the tablet, wait for the reader to improve on the tablet, or just make my own reader. If I have more time than I need this summer, I could POSSIBLY accomplish the last one. Though, I wouldn't count on it.