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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Assessing the Threat of Cyber Terrorism

A while back, the notorious terrorist organization Al Qaeda called for an “electronic jihad” against the United States. This video is almost unheard of in the European Union outside of the UK, but it seems to have caused quite some fear in the United States. The worries range from a general low-key anxiety to full-out fear that the end of civilization is close. So, what’s the true threat of “Cyber Terrorism”?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Burden of Set Theory

The christian fundamentalist school book series A Beka Book is advertised, among other things, with the following:

“A Beka Book provides attractive, legible, workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory.”

… wait a moment. Set theory and “burdened?” “Modern?” 1874 is not exactly what I’d call “modern,” but then I’m a computer scientist so my views on “modern” and “old” are somewhat skewed. But “burdened?” Set theory is one of the most fundamental theories of mathematics and important pre-requisite for most higher-level stuff. So. Uh. What?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Science and Truth

Adapted from Vadim Kurland (originally posted to Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve recently read some people rant about how science and only science gives us “the truth” about the world. This belief seems to be quite common in fundamentalist atheist circles. As a scientist, I find that sad, because it’s wrong. I’d go as far as “science does not care about truth.” Let me explain.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review: Winter’s Bone

Winter’s Bone
Why no real cover?

In Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, 16-year-old Ree Dolly has to tend her mentally ill mother and two pre-teen brothers all by herself, as her dad has been gone for a while now. One day, she learns that he put his house up for his bail-out, meaning their house will be gone if he doesn’t show up for court. Ree decides to set out and find him.

Wow. Just … Wow. The setting is a contemporary rural area with most people living in isolated houses, strong family bonds, and a lot of individualist strength. A reality completely beyond the grasp of most city-dwellers like myself. There is no blame and no arrogance in the book. Personal tragedies and daily suffering are described as simple reality, often not even particularly highlighted, just a mention in passing. An incredible book.

If you happen to feel too good and like to face some sobering reality, this is just the book for you.