Month: November 2008

Using Your Real Name Online

Posted by – November 20, 2008

I’ve been using handles for years, the most prominent being DarkkInferno, which as morphed to “Darkk Inferno” to just plain “Inferno” as of late.  I decided upon this username for many reasons, shortly after I took my first year or so on the Internet.  Up till then I used many other handles while I freqented the ANSI BBS community around at the time.

How one could imagine me...

How one could imagine me... although I'd advise against it.

Handles were sort of an old school thing, everyone had one.  It was to ensure privacy and security (through obscurity mind you) of your online activities.  However today, handles are seen as a bit strange, and perhaps childish or at worst only used by cyber criminals and online child predators.  It’s a sad state of affairs, especially when harvesting people’s information and stealing their identities is such an epidemic right now.

However, over the years I have carried on an argument with myself on whether I’d prefer using my realname online, or stay with a handle.   I have tried it both ways, but inevitable waivered back to using a handle.  I think this is mostly because I’m still young and my opinions seem to change quite frequently, and unfortunately some opinions of mine (especially my open atheism) seems to cause some knee-jerk reactions.  The things I may say on this blog, or in forum communities, may translate into a company choosing not to hire me as the interviewer who Googled me decided that I’m a heretic, or not a good person because of my lack of faith.  So for the last few years I’ve been happy with the fact of using a username, and keeping my name relatively free from the Internet.

Things have changed as of a few months ago though, as it turns out I have some relative who has the same name as I do, the only difference (as far as I can tell, is our middle name).  This is most unfortunate because it’s a rather uncommon name, which is why when I EgoSurf, it comes up with his results.  It’s not too bad, but he seems to be running a personal servant business, where he takes out people’s trash and cleans dishes or something.  Not exactly something I’d want to show up on a google search for myself.  So I’ve been tempted to rebrand all my sites, domains etc to using my full real name to prevent such problems, and infact make my results much more relavant.

I’ve even tried emailing my name twin about this problem, or even if he minds the fact that I do rebrand and storm Google (perhaps we could have agreed on both using aliases or different spellings of the name online) however I have received no replies to any correspondence, and I’m not even sure what branch of the family he hails from in order to track him down this way (my Dad’s family is socially distant to say the least).

It’s an interetsing problem I’ve been thinking over, I’m not sure of the right course.  Although I’m thinking I’d rather not get a job because of my belief and openness than I would be to not get the job because of someone else using my name.  Besides it may be a good thing, as the company that would choose not to hire me because of my openmindedness and ability to use science and reason to make an educated decision, wouldn’t be a company I’d probably want to stay at very long anyway.

Time Paradox Fun

Posted by – November 17, 2008

I’m sitting here on a Monday night watching Back to the Future (Three disc set!), thinking about how I don’t tend to blog as much as I’d like.  I think this is mostly because I want to generate good content, but then again, this blog is for me.  So I’ll write about what I want.  So what better to discuss than my favourite time paradoxes!

Grandfather Paradox

The Grandfather Paradox is a paradox that I think everyone has thought through as a simple thought experiment on time travel.  It’s a good argument and can pretty much apply to any activity you intend to do in the past with your time traveling delorean.

Suppose a man traveled back in time and killed his biological grandfather before the latter met the traveler’s grandmother. As a result, one of the traveler’s parents (and by extension, the traveler himself) would never have been conceived. This would imply that he could not have traveled back in time after all, which in turn implies the grandfather would still be alive, and the traveler would have been conceived, allowing him to travel back in time and kill his grandfather. Thus each possibility seems to imply its own negation, a type of logical paradox.

All You Zombies

My all-time favourite paradox is one from a short story “All You Zombies” written by Robert Heinlein.  I strongly urge you to read this short story, preferably before you read a summary below, although not necessary.

A baby girl is mysteriously dropped off at an orphanage in Cleveland in 1945. “Jane” grows up lonely and dejected, not knowing who her parents are, until one day in 1963 she is strangely attracted to a drifter. She falls in love with him. But just when things are finally looking up for Jane, a series of disasters strike. First, she becomes pregnant by the drifter, who then disappears. Second, during the complicated delivery, doctors find that Jane has both sets of sex organs, and to save her life, they are forced to surgically convert “her” to a “him.” Finally, a mysterious stranger kidnaps her baby from the delivery room.

Reeling from these disasters, rejected by society, scorned by fate, “he” becomes a drunkard and drifter. Not only has Jane lost her parents and her lover, but he has lost his only child as well. Years later, in 1970, he stumbles into a lonely bar, called Pop’s Place, and spills out his pathetic story to an elderly bartender. The sympathetic bartender offers the drifter the chance to avenge the stranger who left her pregnant and abandoned, on the condition that he join the “time travelers corps.” Both of them enter a time machine, and the bartender drops off the drifter in 1963. The drifter is strangely attracted to a young orphan woman, who subsequently becomes pregnant.

The bartender then goes forward 9 months, kidnaps the baby girl from the hospital, and drops off the baby in an orphanage back in 1945. Then the bartender drops off the thoroughly confused drifter in 1985, to enlist in the time travelers corps. The drifter eventually gets his life together, becomes a respected and elderly member of the time travelers corps, and then disguises himself as a bartender and has his most difficult mission: a date with destiny, meeting a certain drifter at Pop’s Place in 1970.

Jane's Family Tree

Jane's Family Tree

The question is: Who is Jane’s mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson? The girl, the drifter, and the bartender, of course, are all the same person. These paradoxes can make your head spin, especially if you try to untangle Jane’s twisted parentage. If we draw Jane’s family tree, we find that all the branches are curled inward back on themselves, as in a circle.  We come to the astonishing conclusion that she is her own mother and father! She is an entire family tree unto herself.

Phantom Time Hypothesis

It proposes that there has been a systematic effort to make it appear that periods of history, specifically that of Europe during Early Middle Ages (AD 614–911) exist, when they do not. Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence.

Another really crazy thing to read up on when you got a minute, is the Phantom Time Hypothesis which is the idea that through some crazy number shuffling and conspiracies by the Catholic Church and other people and organizations the year is really closer to 1700 and the dark ages never really happened.  Crazy stuff, but extremly interesting.

And lets not forget the Time Travel article on Wikipedia, lots of great stuff.

I Love PBS’s Nova TV Series

Posted by – November 13, 2008

For those of you who have never heard of the science-based show that airs on PBS, Nova is the end-all of all science shows.  I’ve known about it for years, and even watched several as a kid but didn’t start really appreciating it until about a year or two ago.

Nova's Logo

Nova's Logo: A Symbol for Quality Science Television

I think the reason why I’m drawn to it so much, is the fact that they give you a lot of information, perhaps too much at times, but they do so without a bias.  I think I really fell in love with Nova when I saw their episode on “Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial“.  I had just started to really begin getting into Religious Studies, watching the Atheist Experience every Monday before work.  This episode was right up my alley, and was more than a great test for bias in ideaology, scientific method and investigation or dogma and ignorance.

When it first started, and they discussed Intelligent Design, they made it seem like Dogma (which is is) but they didn’t counter any of the arguments, although it would have been easy.  I began to question the nondiscriminatory unbiased nature of the show I had come to expect, but decided to stick it out as I was curious if maybe I was on the wrong side of the fence on the issue and could learn a thing or two (in case I was being the one who was bias).  In the end though after 30-45 minutes or so, they began to expose all the flaws that really broke the failed hypothesis of Intelligent Design (Most of which were in the courtroom as to remain on topic as you could devote a lifetime to debunking Intelligent Design and it’s genre of false science).  My ‘faith’ in the show was restored.

This was a serious turning point for me, as I started an automatic recording of the show on my DVR.  I’ve seen every episode since the November showing.  Everything from Fractal mathematics to Bose-Einstein Condensates.  I owe a lot to this show in just this small amount of time.  The best part being that it’s on PBS a Non-profit Broadcasting network, who accepts donations!  Unfortunately I haven’t had any spare cash to donate as of yet, mostly because my life is in a bit of a bind with me trying to figure out my overall goal in life, and trips to see my wife’s family but this is another story.

If you haven’t seen the show, or for whatever reason you haven’t been watching it as religiously as I have, I urge you to pick it up.  You can even watch their shows online if you can’t get them on TV and I’m sure you can get torrents of them (which I may do to see back-episodes).

There is so much about this show that I enjoy that I know I’m rambling quite chaotically.  For insatnce during the show on Hugh Everett‘s son called “Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives” they talk about how Mark Everett has all these boxes in his basement with his father’s things he’s never gone through.  They show them digging through some boxes, and on the bottom right, they invite you to view some original documents by visiting PBS.org which I’ve linked to here.

Nova is a great way to gain at least a basic knowledge of almost any topic.  They give you the tools and instructions to increase your knowledge on said topic, if you feel you want to, and its non-profit and seemingly unbiased.  I can’t think of anything better.  Good job guys, keep up the good work.

Also, don’t be afraid to search for Nova on Google Video, for some great stuff!