The button that isn’t | Restricted Data
There’s no actual big red button to launch all the missiles. Interesting article on nuclear command and control.
(tags: nuclear icbm button war missiles)
Secular Solstice: Doing good for goodness’ sake – The Washington Post
The WaPo reports on secular solstice celebration. Sounds cool.
(tags: atheism religion solstice)
“Yer a Developer, Harry” – Programming Is Magic
How being a programmer is a bit like being a wizard. Via andrewducker.
(tags: magic programming spells software wizards)
A Poor Imitation of Alan Turing by Christian Caryl | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
The Imitation Game is pretty bad as history. Via HD on Facebook.
(tags: biography film review turing history war world-war-II)

He Said/She Said

Grim-meathook-future SF author Peter Watts's wedding vows: "And you and I are going to kick biological determinism in the balls." Aw, sweet.
(tags: wedding marriage biology monogamy)

Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity

"One might think that, once we know something is computable, how efficiently it can be computed is a practical question with little further philosophical importance. In this essay, I offer a detailed case that one would be wrong. In particular, I argue that computational complexity theory—the field that studies the resources (such as time, space, and randomness) needed to solve computational problems—leads to new perspectives on the nature of mathematical knowledge, the strong AI debate, computationalism, the problem of logical omniscience, Hume's problem of induction, Goodman's grue riddle, the foundations of quantum mechanics, economic rationality, closed timelike curves, and several other topics of philosophical interest. I end by discussing aspects of complexity theory itself that could benefit from philosophical analysis."
(tags: philosophy programming complexity compsci turing)

Does the future have a church? | The Briefing

What evangelicals think of the general decline in church attendance in the UK. Their churches are holding their own numerically but not growing, so becoming a smaller percentage of a growing population. However, they're doing better than other Protestant denominations, which will die out as their older members die off. Getting them while they're young is essential for propagating religion, and they worry about the lack of youf in the church. Social trends like cohabiting couples and single parent families are worrying because evangelical churches don't really know how to cope with those people so won't evangelise them effectively. Via the artist formerly known as nlj21.
(tags: church religion statistics christianity uk)

Kayonga Kagame Shows Us The World. Episode: Darkest Austria : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

A hilarious spoof on ethnological documentaries: an African TV team comes to the Austrian province to document the strange behavior of the natives… including the Feast of the Chicken. *
(tags: funnny anthropology ethnology)

Unequally Yoked: Guestblogging Challenge: Take the Ideological Turing Test!

A suggestion: if you want to show that you understand the other side's position, test whether you can be distinguished from a genuine advocate of that position in a suitably anonymous test.
(tags: philosophy debate turing)

Theodicy: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Nice metaphor for "solutions" to the Problem of Evil.
(tags: theodicy philosophy comic religion)

Distinguish – Butterflies and Wheels

Ophelia Benson on the Geert Wilders thing: "Nobody should be required to love Islam."
(tags: islam geert-wilders religion)

A field guide to bullshit – opinion – 13 June 2011 – New Scientist

"How do people defend their beliefs in bizarre conspiracy theories or the power of crystals? Philosopher Stephen Law has tips for spotting their strategies." A bit similar to my Bad Arguments stuff: Law has "everything is based on faith" as the so-called "nuclear option". An interesting article, might buy the book he's plugging.
(tags: religion science empiricism sceptism philosophy new-age)

A Turing Machine Overview

Someone has built this excellent mechanical Turing machine (OK, so it has electronics in the read/write head, but it's got real tape).
(tags: computers hardware programming software turing video algorithm history logic compsci)

YouTube – The Daily Mail Song

Shooting fish in a barrel,but still funny.
(tags: video music youtube funny satire humour mail news newspapers daily-mail dan)

The Other Journal at Mars Hill Graduate School :: Worshipping a Flying Teapot? What to Do When Christianity Looks Ridiculous by Randal Rauser

"Restoring Christianity's place as a live intellectual option requires not simply superior rational argumentation, but the restoration of a background framework in which Christian claims seem minimally plausible." One of the few worthwhile articles in The Other Journal's edition on atheism (the others being either Vogon poetry or articles about that nasty Dawkins fellow).
(tags: religion christianity atheism teapot)

I recently finished Andrew Hodges’s Alan Turing: the Enigma. The book is a definitive account of Turing’s life and work. In some places I found the level of detail overwhelming, but in others I admired the way Hodges uses his obviously extensive research to evoke the places and people in Turing’s life. The book is well worth reading for the perspective it gives on Turing, something which is absent from other, purely technical, accounts of his work.

Hodges portrays Turing as a man ahead of time, conceiving of the Turing machine as a thought experiment before the invention of the general purpose electronic computer, and inventing the Turing test when computing was in its infancy. Turing’s naivete was reflected in his refusal to accept what other people said could be done, but also in a lack of interest in the politics of his post-war work on computers and of his own homosexuality. A proto-geek, Turing was prickly, odd, and seemed to expect that the facts alone, when shown to people, would lead them to the same conclusions as he found.

Turing’s suicide is placed in the context of a move from regarding homosexuality as criminal to regarding it as a medical problem, and an increasing suspicion of homosexuals in classified government work. Hodges seems to conclude that Turing felt he had nowhere else to go.

You can’t help but wonder what else Turing might have accomplished had he not committed suicide. Greg Egan’s short, Oracle, is an entertaining what-if story, which also features a character very obviously based on C.S. Lewis. What if Turing had received help from a friend? It’s a pity that in reality there was no-one to lead him out of his cage.