Monday, March 31, 2014

Presuppositional apologetics nuclear bomb.

Hey all,

So last week I was thinking about presuppositional apologetics a bit.  If you are unfamiliar then check out the wiki on it here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presuppositional_apologetics 

In essence, it is a class of arguments (typically from the Abrahamic traditions like Christianity and Islam) that want to suppose some "facts" as a basis for argument.  The great failing of this method of thinking is that it is founded in circular reasoning (the "answer" supposes itself in the argument).

One YouTube video that I watched (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGM5JM5A0E0) basically called out how it's become almost silly to debate or argue with presuppositionalists with any experience because things seem to quickly break down into a race to be the first one to invoke solipsism, thus rendering both arguments null (since we can't seem to be sure of anything).

I agree with the principal of the topic.  As soon as someone invokes solipsism we are all "caught" in a solipsistic loop of no one being able to get out of.  If I can't know anything for sure, then how can you.  I think that (as the speaker in the video points out) it results in a zero sum game that no one is really supposed to win.

I, however, think that there is a way out of the solipsistic hole.  I think that the arguments can move back to what is functional over what is possible, then this doesn't have to be a true impasse.  Solipsism doesn't have functional value beyond possibility.  In fact it rarely reaches into probability, and never seems to work itself into observation.

Solipsism, from wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism, is the idea that we can't prove anything outside of ourselves.  While this may or may not be true, it lack function in the real world.  If I truly believe that the only thing I can prove is my own mind, then why stop at red light?   Why not try flying unaided?  Why not spend every last cent you have on decorative bakeware and velvet cat paintings?  The answer is rather silly seeming to all of these questions and that is the point.  All of those actions will have consequences that are not beneficial.  Our combined experience in the "world", as much as it is subject to falsification, trickery, illusion and phenomena, is still reliable enough be useful in predicting outcomes of events as we experience them.  AND that experience, by comparison to others, seems to be shared and equally relevant to them.  Thus our senses and experiences with those senses have been shown to be trustworthy, as well as the quantitative experiences of others (such as we can both use a ruler to measure one foot, for example, and it would end up being (with a relatively small margin of error) the same thing.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Smartphones for early 2014

Good evening, people.

So I think I missed my two a week post last month.  I wanted to do something big, but I just never got around to doing any of it.

So in the mean time there was some news on the smartphone front last month, mainly the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S5.  And I'll have to say, like most of the blog/tech news sites, I was a bit underwhelmed by it.  HTC jumped right on that sentiment with ads for their new hero phone, the HTC M8 (or the new One, whatever they call it on release).

Before I go into the top phones for the Spring/Summer of 2014, I want to get out of they way that there won't be an iPhone 6 until at least the fall/Q3 2014 at the earliest.  There will likely be a format change with likely a larger display (though I doubt it will exceed 4.3 to 4.7 inches) and likely have a "bezel-less" design to try and keep the width as small as possible for "easier" reach via you thumb.  It will likely have a synthetic sapphire screen, and it may end up with a slightly different shape to the home button, with an updated fingerprint scanner.  But that's a ways off still.

So anyway, I have to say that while I was disappointed by the S5 announcement.  It missed on all of the big specs that were rumored to be true about it, from screen size and resolution, RAM, processor, camera, build materials, and user experience.  It did, however, come with a fingerprint scanner.  But I have to say that while the specs were far less than expected, it still seems to exceed the other major releases that are coming out this Spring, in the HTC One/M8 and the Sony Experia Z2.

But it's not just this factor that is important to remember.  This is the Samsung Flagship phone.  It will sell in the tens of million units.  It's still an impressive phone and it's on par with the "expected" level of processor, RAM, memory and materials that we should expect at this point in time. I would even say that rumors of the "prime" and "premium" versions are nothing more than speculative.  I would be more likely to believe that either the Galaxy S6 or the Note 4 are more likely to sport the rumored features of the devices.

So check out here a speculative post on IDT for a spec rundown.  They seem to believe that a superior version of the S5 is likely (though I disagree) and  they throw in the LG G3 with some rumored specs that I don't suspect we will see in time for that release (the Qualcom 805 being the only one I'm willing to grant it, thought a 2k screen that's larger would be easier and cheaper to manufacture) but I'd push the G3 off till well after the supposed June release, not till at least late August or early September to be more in line with the fall releases of the Optimus/G line of phones as well as the uptick cycle of phone sales.  But the longer they hold off on that the more likely they will be to have some of those spec actually on the device.

And while gadget spam is rampant on the S line of Galaxy phones form Samsung, they are all specialized version of the basic device.  They are not technically superior in more than a single aspect.  So the idea of a "high end" S5 coming out later in the year is almost silly, unless it pops on the scene in less than 6 weeks of the main S5 release (though every week after means a smaller and smaller chance), unless the device is only offered off contract to limit sales because there is little reason to think that Samsung could maintain production of such a high end phone for the masses.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

-SR

Edit:  I changed my estimate on the next iPhone to 4.7 inches after hearing that the saphire screens that Apple ordered are all spec'd for "5 inches" diagonal.  Max size would be no more than 5 inches provided the screens did not need to be altered during production.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

GMO and "science" paranoia

Hello, hello!

The other day I was at work and had a rather heated (but unemotional) argument with a co-worker of mine who was reading an article that called non-GMO (genetically modified organism) food that is grown "traditionally"  the 'frenimy" of organically grown foods.  The arguement they were making is that people see GMO as the "bad guy" so food that is non-GMO (but grown traditionally) is thought of as better/safer than GMO but cheaper than organic (which costs more to grow/raise often due to lower yields). 

My take on it was that people need to stop complaining about GMO's, as genetic modification is not the problem  There has yet to be any peer-reviewed and replicated science that shows any harm or even indication of harm based the the gene modifications of the (in particular) plants, they have been around for 30-40 years, and there is substantially no difference between GMO and more traditional hybridization/controlled selection.

The problem is not the organisms themselves, it's the process by which those (in particular) plants are grown where ANY sense of problem arise.  We should not be be talking about GMO's per se, but the process by which any and all foods are brought to the table.  Making GMO the "bad guy" mistakes the plant for the process and unjustly vilifies it.  We should be talking about overuse of glysophate herbicides and neonicotinoid insecticides and (insert other agent here) instead of what is done in labs to create plants (or animals) that make them more or less susceptible to insects/weed/disease/temperatures, etc.  But frankly, even this evidence is weak that any of it is problematic at this point.

It's like talking about guns being banned in the US, instead of regulating their use or ownership we would just ban them altogether for everyone including the military and police (because then no one can steal them from the police/military and if no one has guns then why do the police/military need them).  It's irrational to try and completely ban guns (aside form the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution - which I'll post my thoughts on someday) because there are scenarios where people would use them lawfully (hunting, law enforcement, the military, "feeling" safer, self defence and the like). 

My co-workers response to me was 'If you don't want people to blame GMO's or use the term then you know what, go start a blog and talk about it there.  Try and get people to use the terms you want them too and stop arguing with me about it.  It's the term people use to talk about it.'.   So... 

Now, if I'm wrong, can someone point me to some "good" science that supports GMO's as a problem where it's not a problem with the "process" of growing them?  Send me links in the comments and I'll take a look so we can discuss it. 

-SR