After the Day 1 fajitas for dinner, we are hoping to spend the next day as a layover day, with lots of hiking, perhaps fishing (water level allowing), and lounging in a nearby hot-springs. My plan, all things going the way I would like, is to do very simple breakfasts that don't need much preparation or clean up. But since we are hopefully doing a layover day that first morning, I thought we'd do something a little more involved. So here are the proposed breakfasts:
Friday, April 29, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Sparky and I have several tents, but for extended rafting trips, the tent we used to use was pretty crappy. It was something cheap we found on Sierra Trading Post, and it had two really good things going for it: 1) no sleeves to run the poles through (all clips), and 2) it was quite roomy (10'x10') and tall enough for either of us to comfortably stand up in. However, you get what you pay for, and after several uses, it developed a large hole in the seam where the floor connected to the wall.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Monday, January 25, 2010
This is a video from 1993 of some rafters running the Green Wall on the Illinois River in Oregon: lots of carnage. Most water I've ever seen on the Illinois too. I like the second raft (2:50ish): another example of what happens when you hit big waves with no momentum.
Hat tip to Will Volpert who found it
Posted by dogscratcher at 9:27 AM
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
So I watched a lot of the men's final: Federer vs. Del Potro. Federer did not play his best match. He served poorly, towards the end he mis-hit a lot of balls, it just wasn't one his best efforts. Del Potro played very well, but the thing he did that I think won the match for him seems counter-intuitive.
Federer could have still won the match even playing what was for him, sub-par tennis, except Del Potro somewhere in the third set figured something out that seems to have escaped just about everyone else. What he did, was he slowed his first serve down.
Federer is known as one of the best returners in tennis right now. But this is because he doesn't really do a lot with his return: he typically (especially on first serves), just blocks the ball back in play down the middle of the court.
From his perspective, as long as he doesn't hit the return poorly, he can out-groundstroke just about anyone on the planet. When guys are bombing in 130 mph serves, this is usually enough: just seeing those balls coming back is frusterating enough, knowing that they then will have to trade groundstrokes with arguably the best player in tennis history to win the point is downright disheartening.
Rafael Nadal has long taken advantage of this "weakness" in Federer's game through happenstance: Nadal doesn't use his serve to hurt his oponent, he simply uses it to start the point with the expectation (well deserved) that he will be able to out-groundstroke just about anyone on the planet.
So Del Potro slowed down his first serve because Federer typically doesn't attack first serves. This raised his first serve percentage to well over 70 percent during the last two sets, and got him a lot of balls in the middle of the court so he could dictate the point.
By raising his first serve percentage, Del Potro gave Federer a lot fewer second serves to attack, and in my opinion, this is what won him the match.
Federer in my opinion needs to be just somewhat more aggressive on his return game, both first and second if he is going to beat Del Potro or Nadal consistently in the future.
Unless he just plays out of his mind like he did in the semi against Djokovich.
This is one of the best (and ballsiest) mid-match adjustments I've ever seen at the pro level (especially without a rain delay to permit coaching), and Del Potro richly deserves his win.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I'm pretty sure I'm not explicitly anti-catholic: if people want to believe that a cracker turns into human flesh in their mouth, I think they have that right. On the other hand, I'm generally against the oppression of any class of people, institutionalized pedophilia (or any pedophilia for that matter), and I pretty much think global over-population is the elephant in the room that most people seem to be ignoring. So here is 25 minutes of Penn and Teller and their take on the church.
Apparently there was some sort of copyright problem. Sorry, it was funny. So instead, here is a video by Louis CK that is most certainly anti-catholic:
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
Friday, December 12, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Philster left a comment on the last post, and my reply has grown to the size that it deserves it's own post (for size, not for content).
The Philster writes:
Dude! I love how you call him out on a fundamental misunderstanding (mischaracterization?) of the scientific enterprise, then apologize for possibly rambling. Iron fist, velvet glove technique.To which I inanely reply:
I really don't want to alienate him: it really is probably me who has it wrong, but I'm not sure where my reasoning has gone off the rails. This seems to me to be something that was pretty well thrashed out by David Hume a couple of centuries ago. Not the pedagogical part, but the understanding that science isn't going to produce knowledge that is "true" in an absolute sense of the word. Mind you, the logical positivists may have tried to revive the notion, but they're pretty much all dead anyways.
I've been feeling pretty good recently epistemologically speaking, but I'm discovering a disturbing post-modernist streak running around the Anthropology department, and now this. Can't we all just get along? Can't we just accept that while there may not be any absolute truth to be found in the world, the methods of and tools of science can and are working to get us vanishingly close?
I've heard arguments that science shouldn't be a privileged source of knowledge (from the post-modernists), but what other source of knowledge is nearly as reliable? Is self-correcting? Doesn't presume to be absolute? And probably most importantly, what other source of knowledge is so spectacularly successful in producing information that allows humans to manipulate and predict empirical reality? For good or ill, science is the schema that works.
Even the "false" (to use Slater's terminology) science of Newtonian mechanics works so well that using it alone we can build machines that have flown to Mars. Maybe it isn't strictly true, but those are some pretty good results for a theory that is "false." I'll take that kind of false any day over the "truth" derived from other methods. But that's just me.
I am however reminded of a couple of XKCD comics:
As I understand it, that's a graph of the microwave background radiation that permeates the universe. The solid line is the curve predicted by Einstein, and the dots that are hard to see because they are mostly obscured by the line are the observed values.
And this one that I'll just link to.
So I was over in the Philosophy department at the University of Idaho trying to ask a couple of questions about the Philosophy of Science in regards to Post-modernism last Friday afternoon. Of course I should have realized that no one philosophizes on a Friday afternoon, so literally, no one was there.
Don't know if he'll respond, but apparently, I am way out of the loop as far as both Epistemology and the Philosophy of Science goes.
I happened to come across your article, “How to Justify Teaching False Science,” and was wondering if you could help me understand your position better. Your background in Philosophy is obviously much superior to mine, and I certainly have not kept up with the recent literature, but it seems to me that the thrust of your argument is in fact based on a false premise.
While I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion (if I understand it correctly) that what should be taught K-12 should be much more concept, historical and method laden in regards to science rather than theory laden, I disagree (I think) with your emphasis. I think (and I think you do too), that science education should be more concentrated on teaching students how to think scientifically rather than what to think.
However, I think science education should be much more focused on the epistemological limitations of the scientific endeavor, which in my opinion would make the question of the truth/falsity of any scientific theory moot. Therefore, I would dispute your premise that “Newtonian mechanics is a false scientific theory.”
A scientific theory cannot strictly be “false,” because epistemologically, no scientific theory can be strictly said to be “true.” While there are many scientific facts that for all intents and purposes can be said to be true, the theories that attempt to explain them are always conditional.
In one of your footnotes you state (with qualifications) that, “I assume here (for simplicity) that these best theories—general relativity and quantum mechanics—are true theories, when they cannot both be. Maybe neither is. It does not matter much for my point. They are both at least contenders for truth.” Earlier, (pg 528) you state, “Cosmologists do not ask about what the universe was like 10 billion years ago in hopes of discovering some practical use of that knowledge in our society.” It seems to me that both these statements illustrate a fundamental misunderstanding of what the limitations and goals of the scientific enterprise are.
In the first case, the misunderstanding is in the idea that any scientific theory will be true. Because any scientific theory is based on a logically inductive method, it will never establish absolute truth: all scientific (empirical) knowledge is therefore contingent, not necessary. All scientific theories are open to Popperian falsification (by definition) and in my opinion should be viewed as tentative explanations, rather than unconditionally accurate reflections of reality.
In the second case, I disagree that the motivation of cosmologists in this instance, and historical scientists in general, is simple curiosity. I think the scientific endeavor is fundamentally pragmatic and utilitarian: it seeks knowledge that is or at least potentially will be in some way practically useful. While these applications may not always be obvious, or even arguably useful, that is the ideal. In this example, cosmologists try to determine the nature of the universe 10 billion years ago not simply because they are curious, but because what they can learn about the universe then does have practical implications now. They look at the nature of the universe in the past because that can help them test how accurate their current theories are. If their current theories match up well with the historical data, this adds strong evidence to their views on the current nature of the universe as well as their theories’ predictive power about the future of the universe.
Speaking of Newtonian mechanics specifically, I think the most persuasive reason to teach it to secondary students has more to do with the math. In all cases in physics, the math that is used to support a theory is based progressively on the math used to buttress the theory that came before. So without the math developed by Newton to describe his mechanics, the theory of Relativity couldn’t be adequately operationalized. Likewise, the math that underlies Quantum mechanics was built on the math developed in Maxwell’s equations. The math that supports (according to some) String theory is built on the math of Quantum mechanics, etc.
This progression almost makes it necessary to learn the mathematics of Newtonian mechanics to have any clear understanding of Relativity in the same way that learning the basics of addition is necessary to learn multiplication.
In regards to the idea (Bauer’s) that scientific literacy does or does not aid in helping people answer policy questions, I think the most reliable information available should be used to inform one’s opinions. But again, my understanding is that science provides only conditional descriptions of what “is.” At least ideally, this information is itself value neutral (perhaps a naïve view) and as such cannot be “good or evil.” To ask it (science) to provide “oughts” is of course to commit the naturalistic fallacy.
In conclusion, in my view, science renders information that at best models reality in a Platonic sense. We can’t truly know the nature of reality, but science can and does deliver knowledge that is at least conditionally reliable. In this sense, Newtonian mechanics is fantastically reliable within certain parameters. Reliable enough to send a person to the moon and bring them back (alive). But this knowledge is, as I’ve noted, always tentative and conditional.
With every “iteration” of science, the models reflect better and better what reality is like, but as with any ideal, a perfect reflection will never be achieved. In this sense, no theory is “true.” But with every iteration, the reflection comes closer to the ideal. This view is both pedagogically utilitarian and optimistic in that it does accurately reflect the epistemic realities of science and also illustrates that there will always be scientific work that needs to be done since the models can always be made better.
Thank you for your time, and sorry if I rambled,