Palm Sunday 2001 
A few thoughts on items I have read in the news: 
- Sex Education.  I have no particular problem with people wanting a "no 
sex until you're married" party line, even if it's not very 
realistic; adults try to tell kids all sorts of things -- "eat your 
vegetables", "say no to drugs", "do your homework" -- that they didn't 
(and still aren't) doing in their own lives, but wish they had.  What I 
object to is lesson plans where =nothing=else= is taught.  Now I may be 
erecting a straw man, in that I don't have any children who are in a sex 
ed class, so it may be that kids are getting good health info in addition 
to the moral instruction, but from what I understand, many of these 
abstinence-only programs do not include any information on contraception. 
Okay, people.  Let's say one is assuming that =eventually= most of these 
kids are going to get married.  At what point are they going to be taught 
the facts of life?  Are they just supposed to figure it out by trial and 
error?  Just telling kids "wait until you're married" gives them no help 
once they're married.  If they decide to fix this situation by requiring 
sex ed & family life classes of those who wish to get a marriage license, 
then I rescind my objection.  Of course, almost noone would do such an 
absurd thing, because many of the people applying for said licenses know 
perfectly well about sex, because of that trial-and-error thing I 
mentioned earlier. 
It would be really neat if people would teach accurate info about 
sexuality, fertility, relationships, etc.  If one could use the basal 
temp. method to have girls past menarche figuring out their fertile times, 
I think that would really get people more comfortable with their bodies, 
and make people think about the amount of control they have over their 
Books as evidence:  in the NYTimes today, they have an article about 
bookstores being subpoenaed for records of books various people have 
bought.  If you remember in the little Starr dig for evidence, he 
looked for records that Monica Lewinsky had bought "Vox", a book about 
phone sex.  I just have to wonder, if someone ever tries a lit search on 
me (or just peruses my shelves), what suspicious info would they latch 
onto?  Hmmm, lots of 19th century British authors -- ha HA! Anglo-philic 
tendencies!  She may be a spy for the U.K.!  As well, redundancy in 
books... 3 copies of Godel, Escher, Bach, 2 copies of Metamagical Themas, 
2 copies of Mansfield Park, 2 copies of Sense & Sensibility!  Some must be 
dummies containing explosive materials, marijuana seeds, or microfilm!  An 
alarming number of books in multiple languages - Pooh books in English and 
Latin, Orson Scott Card books in English and Japanese, and =gasp= The 
Little Prince in English, French, Esperanto, and Japanese!  Something very 
odd indeed is going on here....  They must be code books of some nature to 
further her trade as a spy.... 
"Intelligent design" arguments: So there's been this "other" brand of 
creationism, much more "reasonable" than it's 7-day-creation-hardliner 
cousin.  I think at this point, non-specialists have got to realize they 
can't possibly grasp the complexity of concepts that have been developed 
as part of that grand edifice called evolutionary theory.  People only 
remember catch-phrases, most of which are extremely inaccurate -- for 
example "survival of the fittest" - a supposed truism.  Actually, it is a 
tautology if one defines fitness =by= survival.  However, it is not the 
"most fit" specimens, or "most fit" species that win the game - it is 
those that reproduce, and more specifically (sorry about all these special 
words), the ones that produce children that reproduce, and so on and so 
Do not try to bring up thermodynamics or statistical mechanics to me.  You 
simply do not understand them.  You may have a PhD in Physics, I tell you, 
you understand those 2 topics above as well as you understand randomness, 
which is better than most people but still missing an essential 
piece.  There are two mathematical topics I think =no= human has 
sufficiently wrapped their brains around and those are infinity and 
randomness/probability.  Both concepts go against the brain-symbols which 
we grow up with - one cannot talk about infinity or randomness until one's 
brain has pretty much been completely developed - at that point, one's 
tendencies to categorize, hypothesize, etc. has taken over.  That is why 
superstition, phobias, stereotypes, etc. are so hard to get rid of - the 
prediliction of the human mind to induce causes from experience.  Science 
is a way to systemize this induction, and to avoid spurious cause-effect 
relationships.  For a statement to be science, it has to be "testable" in 
a certain sense -- it doesn't necessarily mean that one needs to be able 
to do experiments on a particular idea (astrophysics fluorishes just fine, 
even though most of its subjects are trillions of miles away) - it means 
one should be able to "falsify" the claims somehow. 
So how is evolutionary theory science, and "intelligent 
design" isn't?  There are a myriad of ways that evolution theory (as it 
stands now) can be shown to be false, though almost all 
"falsifications" that have occurred before are actually ways previous 
parts of the theory are amended - for example, based on all sorts of 
different evidence, people went away from the "primordial 
soup" explanation, to more cemented life formation ideas - such as being 
developed in crystalline substrates near vents in the seafloor (there are 
vents in the sea floor where the continental plates are 
separating).  However, saying that "God" stepped in with his cosmic thumb 
and snuffed out various species, or developed others directly, is not a 
testable proposition.  =Anything= is proof of such a statement.  There is 
absolutely no difference in viewing the world in the normal 
cause-and-effect one always has and deciding that the entire universe was 
created 10 minutes ago, and everyone has been given a false memory of 
everything up until now.  The existence of a supernatural God is not 
something that can be empirically tested. 
Besides, even more than not understanding randomness, you also do not 
understand information theory.  So don't even start with me. 
In other news, I went to the Union Square Barnes & Noble yesterday (where 
I got a book on my favorite topic: randomness, and another book on a 
minorly favorite topic: the Japanese language); I went up to the Crafts 
book section on the 4th floor as per usual, and the way the books in the 
Art section were laid out really disturbed me -- on the tables, and on 
display, the books were organized =by=color=.  One table were books with 
black covers, one table was white, one table was red.  Up on the wall 
display, there were three groups - red, yellow, and blue.  It was very 
disconcerting to me.  One is so used to things in bookstores and grocery 
stores being organized by meaningful category - it would be like the 
cereals being organized by font on the box as opposed to how much the 
cereal companies paid in "shelf fees" (yes, there's "payola" in the 
grocery biz.  Just ask Coke & Pepsi about it). 
It's just so wrong. 
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