Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A Most Wonderful Thesis

I spent a small portion of last night and today reading what is allegedly a thesis. This particular thesis belongs to everyone's favourite tax evading creationist nutjob, Kent Hovind. At an astounding 102 pages, it robbed me of a good couple of hours or so of my life, but I don't begrudge it since it is one of the most amusing articles I have ever set my eyes upon. I do get the feeling, though, that Mr Hovind had no intention of launching his comic career with the submission of this particular document.

The thesis was submitted as a requirement to obtain the degree of philosophiae doctor, again, allegedly. It was handed out (and yes, that phrase does seem the most appropriate here) by the institution of academic excellence, Patriot University. Particularly amusing are the images of Learning HQ.

The thesis is reminiscent of a ten-year-old's book report. Of course, one would perhaps expect a higher standard of writing from a child nearing secondary school age. At the risk of breaching copyright, I must inform the reader of the first sentence that appears in the main body of text:
"Hello, my name is Kent Hovind."
Yes, that is right. It really does get you on the edge of your seat. There was no way I was going to put it down after that. The rest of the "thesis" is written in a similar manner. The sentences are short and sharp. Much of the thesis is concerned with giving information on historical figures whom Hovind feels have for some reason gone out of their way to reject the obvious existence of his God and in describing them he informs us of one thing per sentence in the form, "He was...". This gets rather tedious extremely quickly. The number of spelling errors is horrendous. The same applies to the grammatical errors that render this almost unreadable. He has also taken a liberty with the "information" that he has provided. One fairly amusing example was the lifespan of Voltaire (a man whose name got the joy of losing an 'e'). Voltaire lived to be eighty-three - a respectable age for a man in the eighteenth century. For some reason, Hovind let him live to be in the region of 104. Upon writing that down, I would personally double check my numbers since I know that in that time living past your centenary year was extremely rare.

Ignoring all the mistakes of this nature, the other stupidities present themselves rapidly. He repeatedly informs the reader that evolution is a religion, not a science, because there is no empirical evidence. What he really means is that he does not understand evolution and calling it a religion lowers it to the level of his belief system, allowing him to consider it an even playing ground. There are several attempts at demonstrating that the earth can be little over 6,000 years old. He has, of course, linked both fascism and communism to evolution. He has also gone out of his way to inform us that the term evolution (which in the context should mean biological evolution) is used by "evolutionists" to maintain that the universe started 13.72 billion years ago from nothing - an impossibility, surely! Of course, in reality the theory of evolution is only useful at looking at progress after abiogenesis. I'm rather quite surprised he did not take any time to complain about gravitationalists like me.

The mistakes are plentiful, and I certainly found myself chuckling away at the whole thing. The best part, though, is the one that appears both here and in all the talks he did:
"Evolution is a religious faith... What I am upset about is the fact that their faith is being taught as science in the public school system at my expense as a taxpayer. That upsets me greatly!"
 What is it you are in prison for again, Kent?

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Sometimes it's nice to see some progress around the world. Following on from Sweden on April 1st, and Iowa on 3rd of April, Vermont is going to legalise same-sex marriage. It will be legal as of September 1st.

Hopefully more states will follow suit.

Peace, Love, Unity

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The Approaching Curve

Again, it has been a fair amount of time since I last said anything (and after making the statement that I intended to update often, which has clearly been shrouded in doubt). In that amount of time I have finished another semester of physics-related fun. I managed to cover three experiments, and write a report and give a presentation on one of those (Crystal Identification using a Transmission Electron Microscope ;) ), as well as survive around 80 lectures.

Now, the time has come for me to study religiously. In retrospect, I should have done a hell of a lot more studying throughout the courses in order to relax a bit more now. Trying to cram 9 courses into a month is a ridiculous task, but one I will have to take on.

The title of this particular entry is loaded with allusions. The name itself is taken from a song by the band Rise Against. In my mind a curve has the image of - as well as a change in direction - a challenging obstacle that has to be passed to get to a destination i.e. the exams looming over this otherwise quite appealing springtime. It also alludes to the minimum (or maximum) of a parabola, which is etched in my mind at the moment as I study both time-independent and time-dependent perturbation theory, with my very good friend simple harmonic motion appearing all over the place as a powerful example.

It turns out that Advanced and Relatavistic Quantum Mechanics is a hard subject to master. The basic principles behind it are fairly straightforward, and I'm sure that anyone with a basic understanding of quantum mechanics could understand the ideas with ease. Using it is a completely different situation altogether, and one I fear I may not manage in time. And then there is General Relativity. That's somewhat easier for me, which is good, but it's still taking a lot of time to cover all the ground that I need to.

Other things that have been going on in recent times include an interview with The King Blues and another with Justin Sane of Anti-Flag and Johnny 5 from The Flobots. The former is already up at the We Control Tomorrow website, and the latter should be up very soon - hopefully tomorrow. As soon as all this uni stuff is finished for another academic year I'm going to get cracking on making a website. It'll be a huge feat, considering I have done nothing of the sort before.

Other than that, there is a chance I'll be doing more research this year. Again it'll be with the Particle Physics Experimental Group at the University of Glasgow, although this time I'm hoping I'll be able to do a computer-based piece of research with aims of whittling down the mass of the Higgs Boson (~114GeV is the prediction by my potential supervisor), rather than more detector-based research, since there is too much solid state physics involved in that for my liking.

I may well increase the frequency of posts here by introducing more posts about the things that are pissing me off. For example, the recent ignorant claims of the much revered Pope Benedict XVI. The very suggestion that condoms are not only ineffective, but put you at a greater risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, is one that should send a wave of disgust through the world. How anyone can let their superstitions bring potential disease and death on the world is beyond me. This problem is even worse when you realise that this imbecile actually influences many people around the world, especially in places like Africa where AIDS is rampant.

I'll keep my eyes peeled for this sort of nonsense and update accordingly. Until then...


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

First post this year....

Yep, it certainly is. I have been a little absent from posting in the last 4 weeks or so.

Christmas and New Year were fairly quiet affairs and for the majority of my time off university I was working. It wasn't all bad, and when I get my pay in a couple of weeks it'll really pay off.

I returned to university again on Monday. So far I'm more motivated than I was before Christmas, which may well be down to the fact that I feel these courses are more my style. They mainly oriented around relativity and nuclear/particle physics. The only additional course is Mathematical Methods II, which seems alright and gives me more of a foundation to deal with the maths in the other courses.

The exams, although not imminent, are not really all that far away. If my plans to get an A are to succeed then I really need to put all the work in now to keep on top of the current work and understand it as well as go over last semesters courses and understand them fully. It's really last semesters stuff that I'm most concerned about. I don't know any of them all that thoroughly, and I'll need to change that over the next few weeks. I have this weekend off so I might use that as a catch-up for last semester.

I'm feeling rather ambitious just now too. I want to write music and I want to have a band sorted out. I would also quite like to try my hand at writing this year perhaps, although that would probably best be left until after the exams in May.

On the band front I am a tad worried. I have some very good friends that want to start a band but their musical abilities are either very very limited or they have other priorities. I wouldn't want to disappoint them by forming a band elsewhere, but simultaneously I'm concerned about what I can achieve if constrained in such a way. I see a deadline of about 18 months down the line to get a band sorted out and get some touring in. Seems like quite an ambitious timescale, but near the end of this year I will likely be thinking about PhD positions in different institutions and may well actually be applying.

I also inadvertently said to two separate friends of mine that I would start a band with them at different times. Unfortunately both of them have intentions of playing (almost) the same instrument. This is a problem I'm not sure how to solve. I desperately dislike disappointing friends. Should maybe play it by ear - no pun intended.

In separate news, it's only 6 days until the new President of the USA is inaugurated. That may well bring a lot of news, and could prompt me to publish one of my rant blogs should I feel it's warranted. Although as stated in previous posts Obama was the man I thought was best for the job. Of course, he is still a politician so all eyes should be on him throughout his leadership.

I think I'll leave it at that for the time being and go do a little bit of studying. There's lots to learn and understand and so little time in which to achieve that.

Until next time,
Peace, Love and Unity.

Friday, 12 December 2008


Does everything feel a tad futile? At this point in time I could really do with skipping forward a couple of months. Maybe by then I'll feel awesome again. I don't think that the terrible weather is helping matters either - just making things seem more miserable.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Biblical Mistranslation

I was talking at work today with a female colleague who is a Christian. She wasn't aware of the very famous biblical mistranslation - the one concerning a virgin bearing a child.

In the hope of enlightening a few more people in this issue, here is a brief overview of how this came about. You can get a better description if you do a little search online or in books, including information on the exact words in question. It also really helps if you can read both Hebrew and Greek, but of course it's not essential in order to understand.

Basically, there was an intermediate step between the Hebrew translation of the bible and the English translation - into Greek. In the process of being translated - from Isaiah - 'young woman' was translated to the word that usually does mean virgin. The gospel-maker Mark then used this translation for the book in the New Translation, and gave birth (no pun intended) to the virgin birth myth.

If you find a decent modern bible you'll find that in Isaiah it talks of a child being born of a young woman, whereas in Mark it talks about a virgin.

That is our lesson for today. Enjoy.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Looming Presidential Elections..

The US Presidential Elections are flying towards us. I'm not American so I will clearly not be voting, but this is actually important for the whole world. It could be potentially quite frightening, but that depends on the outcome really.

I would love to get inside the head of someone who votes Republican. I can only assume they have a screw loose. Let's face it - it's riddled with fascists, and there are certainly many fascist supporters. That is something I find rather alarming.

That's not to say that the Democrats are the perfect choice. They clearly have policies that I don't agree with, and I'm going to focus on one in particular in a minute, but they are the only reasonable choice for a safe world. I read a blog quite recently that was written by Justin Sane of the band Anti-Flag - a great inspiration to me - and he was talking about his decision back in 2000 to vote for Nader. To him that was the most reasonable choice and who could blame him? It probably was - Bush or Gore? That's wasn't a great choice it was felt, but he says he wishes he'd voted Gore. This time round he's not going to make that mistake, and will be voting for Obama. Again, not because it's the perfect choice, but because it's the only real choice any person with a brain has. By voting for Obama (regardless of whether you think he's the best choice, but always better than McCain) you counter the votes for McCain. Let's face it - it'll be one of them getting in and you are best off voting for the one who is far far less dangerous.

Who are these people that vote Republican? And exactly where is it that they store their brains? Must be in a jar in a freezer somewhere - put away in storage until a time when they think they can make use of it. Consider the policies. Against abortion - taking away the right for women to choose what happens to their bodies. There are certainly cases when abortion is the right option. And adoption is not a reasonable solution. I'm assuming Republican supporters are prepared to adopt shitloads of unwanted children. All children should be wanted children. Against homosexual marriage - take us back to an earlier time when people were so ridiculously backwards that they believed homosexuality was wrong and unnatural. Don't be an idiot - of course it's natural, of course it's not contageous, and of course it's not dangerous for the continuation of the human race.

Then we get the ridiculous religious right. First of all, take you're archaic superstitions briskly out of the 21st century. Next - stop trying to get momentum for your ideas for legislation. Laws should not be made to suit you and your crazy religious nonsense. Laws should be made in such a way that they benefit everyone. If it doesn't harm another person, then it shouldn't be illegal. Love is fucking love. Get over this nonsense that only a man and a woman can be in love, or have a loving relationship. It's clearly not true. If you are at all homophobic please do us all a favour and remove yourself from the gene pool. Don't have children, and do not try to indoctrinate people with your homophobic ideas.

So, yes, if you are a Republican voter then I will simply assume you are a twat. Plain and simple. There's no excuse for voting for fascists. We've experienced plenty of horrible leaders in many different nations across the globe at different times and we don't need it again. Let's not make the mistake again.

Now the one thing that springs directly to mind on the issue of Obama. He's the only reasonable choice for president of the United States next, but a couple of hours ago I read something that made me a little disappointed. On the section of his website dedicated to the issues that are of concern he mentions faith. He mentioned faith alongside the issue of science. He talked about science being important, but that faith too was important. Since when was faith important or a good thing to have? It's simply not. What is faith? It's generally believing in something that you have absolutely no reason to believe in otherwise. If there is a reason to believe something then it isn't faith we are dealing with. I feel, therefore, that it is not wise to encourage faith.

America needs a nation of clever, enlightened people. Not a nation of idiots. The fact that the polls show that the candidates are so close most of the time demonstrates outright that there clearly are a lot of idiots in the country already. Fortunately they seem to form in groups and certain parts of the country seem to house intelligent people, while others house those that struggle to compete with toilet seats for the highest IQ.

This has really been one big rant and has focussed on attacking the Republicans outright, without a lot of justification. I have justification and I may focus on individual issues of concern over the next three weeks in the run-up to the election. If anybody happens to come and read through this and leave any comments, I may focus on those things individually.

Until next time,