The Treehouse Blog

Archive for December, 2005

Thoughts on Intelligent Design

by on Dec.21, 2005, under Philosophy, Politics

In case you’ve missed it, there has been a bunch of fuss lately about a local school district requiring its biology teachers to read a statement on intelligent design to “balance” the teaching of evolution. This went to federal court which decided that such a statement was in violation of the separation of church and state.

This never made sense to me. Evolution describes a “how” of creation – a means by which life as we know it was brought into existence. Intelligent design describes a “why” of creation – meaning rather than means. They are orthogonal topics, without the ability to be contrasted or balanced as the school board allegedly attempted to do. The Dover School Board was nothing short of incompetent in trying to shove these things together. Intelligent design itself might not be a religious endorsement, but its forced usage in this context certainly would seem to be.

There are still things that should be included in a discussion of evolution, though. Irreducible complexity should at least get a footnote. Irreducible complexity is a concept that doesn’t intend to disprove evolution, but rather to state that there are still things that cannot be explained completely with current theories. The most important concept that can be taught in science is that science changes, and that no theory is above some measure of criticism and doubt. Science isn’t (or shouldn’t be) concerned with facts or truths, but with best explanations and predictions of observations. There are probably cases where you should remind your science teachers of this.

In situations like this, extremes get the coverage. There are many that consider the term evolution to be sacrilege when used in any biological sense. There are others that have their hand on the speed dial for their lawyer every time they think God might be inferred in a classroom. Both are stupid. It might be unfortunate, but it’s definitely a greyscale world, not black-and-white.

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OpenSky here we come…

by on Dec.10, 2005, under Radio

Several years ago, the PA state government began deploying a proprietary trunked communications system… and encouraged County governments to use it. Since it’s proprietary, the governments are locked into the price structure of a single vendor (brilliant! bravo!) and radio enthusiasts like me won’t be able to use our scanners to listen in (at least, not anytime soon). I’m a big fan of government transparency and openness… and this is moving in totally the wrong direction. All isn’t immediately lost however. Even if fire and ambulance dispatch is handled with OpenSky staring on June 1st, 2006 as this article says, it sounds as if paging will still be simulcast on traditional FM frequencies so that voice pagers, sirens, and scanners can function without an upgrade. It seems that radio geeks aren’t the only ones concerned… just listen to those fighting fires.

And while I’m ranting… Since this system is IP based, how long will it take before a laptop in a state cop’s car contracts a virus because he installed an unauthorized Wifi card, and cripples communications state-wide? Consultants won’t go hungry cleaning it up, that’s for sure.

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by on Dec.04, 2005, under Happenings, Linux, Networking

No structure here… just some random goings-on:

For the last several kernel updates for FC4, my DVD sharing using GNBD hasn’t worked. I guess those special ioctl()s aren’t getting translated over or something. And NFS or SMB sharing an encrypted DVD just doesn’t do anything good at all (ignoring the fact that NFS seems really sucky with the latest FC4 updates). So, after months of not being able to watch DVDs, I gave up, and bought a USB drive cage to attach a DVD drive to Oak. Works perfectly. Despite performance issues and cabling evilness, I still can’t completely rule out a stack of USB drives RAIDed as a bulk storage solution, especially with all of the device mapper coolness in Linux. Too early to be thinking of that, though, as the computer storage fund hasn’t matured yet, despite the fact that Oak is at 99% capacity.

As Doug has mentioned, Asterisk and VoIP is still pretty neat. I’ve setup a teliax account, since they have pricing like nufone with a whole lot of rate centers worth of DIDs (they’re essentially a Level3 reseller). So, we just need to get some VPN’ing set up. I’m in desperate need of some UT, and I think VPN might be a useful substitute for a LAN party this winter.

My grandfather (on my Dad’s side) has been in the hospital on and off for more than a month now. Currently he has pneumonia, is very weak, and not entirely coherent. Your prayers would be appreciated for what could be a difficult Christmas season for the family.

Things at Ship are going fairly well. I did shoot myself in the foot with the “ip arp inspection” feature of the Sup720 this week though. Does 15 pps of ARP traffic seem like a good default threshold for shutting down trunk ports to you? Me neither. Of course, I asked that question after two ports had been err-disabled. Hopefully Tim and I will get to do a real test of some VMPS soon, too.

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December 2005


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