6 Matches, 4 Triangles

Use 6 identical matchsticks to create 4 equilateral triangles. The solution does not require you to break any matches.


Dinesh is Freaking Me Out

Dinesh D'Souza's blog is freaking me out. A couple of his recent articles, "How Atheists Celebrate Christmas" and "Why Atheists Are Such Lousy Debaters" are full of slanderous (at worst) and silly (at best) ad hominem attacks:

Drunk: "... Hitchens reaches for his glass with the same alacrity* that fundamentalists reach for the Bible."

This undermines Hitchens's arguments.... how, exactly?

Drunk and silly: "...[an atheist Christmas is] bitter guys making sophomoric jokes and staggering out of the room inebriated."

That's why I like it so much. I can't think of a better combination than bitter guys, sophomoric jokes, and inebriated staggering! No matter what time of year!

Scared: "... these guys are scared to debate me."

Scared? Umm, no; I don't think so. In The Devil's Chaplain, published a few years before The God Delusion, Dawkins includes a series of letters that he exchanged with the late Stephen J. Gould. Although those two didn't agree on everything, they did agree on this: debating creationists gives creationists an undeserved legitimacy. News for you, Dinesh: Dawkins was quite settled in this position long before you started tugging on his shirtsleeve. Here's an excerpt from a letter that Gould sent to Dawkins in 2001 (boldface mine):

...we have the advantage [over creationists] that evolutionary scientists don't need the publicity that such debates can bring. In the unlikely event that a significant argument should ever emerge from the ranks of creationism/'intelligent design', we will be happy to debate it. Meanwhile, we shall cultivate our evolutionary gardens, occasionally engaging in the more exacting and worthwhile task of debating each other. What we shall not do is abet creationists in their disreputable quest for free publicity and unearned academic respectability.

* Good word though. "Like it, centurion; like it, like it."**
** D'Souza thinks Monty Python is sophomoric. And not in a good way.


"Can Atheists Be Parents?"

Did you see this article in Time magazine recently? Very chilling. An atheist couple in New Jersey adopted a baby though an agency, brought her home, and expected the required final approval from a judge to be a formality. Not so:

In an extraordinary decision, Judge Camarata denied the Burkes' right to the child because of their lack of belief in a Supreme Being. Despite the Burkes' "high moral and ethical standards," he said, the New Jersey state constitution declares that "no person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience." Despite [the baby's] tender years, he continued, "the child should have the freedom to worship as she sees fit, and not be influenced by prospective parents who do not believe in a Supreme Being."

The Burkes were ordered to send the child back to the adoption agency. The case is headed for the New Jersey Supreme Court.

I'm on tenterhooks.

Thanks to Mittal for the link.

[Update 2008-02-15: Darren has pointed out that this story is, um, 37 years old...just like me!! You'd think I'd be old enough to check the date of an article before mindlessly passing it on, wouldn't you? Oops!]


Here's a puzzle that my friend Kevin sent me.*

You have five jars of pills. All the pills in one jar only are contaminated. The only way to tell which pills are contaminated is by weight. "Good" pills weigh 10 grams while "bad" (contaminated) ones weigh 9 grams. You are given a scale and can make just one measurement with it. How can you tell which jar holds the contaminated pills?

Here's the answer to a follow-up question I had; it may help you:

Q: Is the scale a balance scale?
A: No; it's a regular kitchen scale that tells you how many grams something weighs.

* Kudos to Mark for solving this in about 30 seconds.