Yet another weird SF fan
 I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?Go to first entry

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 Yet another weird SF fan

### Three Years Ago …

… we were debating the propriety of police wielding pepper spray.

I think I prefer that to tanks and machine guns.

### Possible Reactions to a Transhumanist Malthusian

Possible reactions to a transhumanist Malthusian:

• Incredulous stare.
• You cannot use the Ring!
• Wouldn't potential transhumans be able to solve a trivial little problem like providing enough food?
• Transhumanist Malthusian? Is that anything like a square circle?
• This is the sort of thing that gives transhumanists a bad name.
• I have suggested that transhumanists and bioconservatives bury the hatchet … in their common enemy, the Malthusians. Transhumanist Malthusians might interfere with that.
• A transhumanist Malthusian is a technical optimist until he/she/whatever realizes that means agreeing with some conservatives.

### Absurd Logo Design

The person responsible for “I♥NY” has designed a logo for global warming. I already thought the “I♥NY” symbol was inane. This one's worse.

Apparently, he trusts mainstream science when it comes to whether there has been global warming but not when mainstream science says the damage (if any) is probably minor. It's another case of “All hail the experts! … as long as they agree with us.”

### The Trouble with Looking up a Phrase and Thinking You Now Know What It Means

According to The Wall Street Journal:

UP AND OVER: People gather in a park in Madrid as a perigee moon, or supermoon, rises Sunday. The phenomenon occurs when the moon is near the horizon, making it appear larger and brighter than usual.
Sigh. No.

### More Random Thoughts on SWAT Teams and Camouflage Uniforms

Unlike many of my fellow wingnuts, I think there just might be a place for heavy weaponry in riot control. Unlike the statists, I also think that heavy weaponry should be available for private citizens. A pistol might be useful in dealing with a an individual criminal but if you're suspected of being a mad scientist and the villagers are storming your castle, you might want a few cannon. Cannon are likely to be far more useful in repelling a riot than in starting a riot.

In other news for libertarians, a Congressbeing has introduced a law to ban body armor. As I've mentioned before, a common statist response to “Your government program is interfering with X” is to try to create a government program to do X. This proposed bill is the statist response to “gun control keeps criminals from being shot.” If criminals being shot is so good, they reason, we must pass a law to ensure they can be shot. Maybe the SWAT teams are simply the results of the statist interpretation of “more guns, less crime.”

I'm also starting to have second thoughts on the advisability of camouflage uniforms even for soldiers. Civilian clothing is forbidden to soldiers in combat in order to keep civilians from being targets. The custom of wearing camouflage uniforms ensures that trees become targets.

### A Question about SWAT Teams

Why do they wear camouflage uniforms?

Are they trying to fit in in with the inner-city? Maybe we should tell them that “It's a jungle out there” is a metaphor. A real camouflage uniform for the inner city would look like graffiti, peeling paint, and reinforced concrete leaking rust.

### A Quote from The Yeoman of the Guard

The recent news about Robin Williams reminded me of the following quote from the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Yeoman of the Guard:

Cause? Have we not all cause? Is not the world a big butt of humour, into which all who will may drive a gimlet? See, I am a salaried wit; and is there aught in nature more ridiculous? A poor, dull, heart-broken man, who must needs be merry, or he will be whipped; who must rejoice, lest he starve; who must jest you, jibe you, quip you, crank you, wrack you, riddle you, from hour to hour, from day to day, from year to year, lest he dwindle, perish, starve, pine, and die! Why, when there's naught else to laugh at, I laugh at myself till I ache for it!

### A Suggestion for Nativists

If the EPA can devise a figure for the social cost of carbon (with my comments here, there, and yonder), then I'm sure nativists can devise a figure for the social cost of immigration. It might be as underwhelming as the social cost of carbon.

The closest approximations I've seen appear to be similar to “cap and trade” instead of calculating a dollar amount of damage.

### They're Ba-ack!

The squeegee men are back! There is an obvious solution: Make it legal to run them over. Another possible solution: razor-sharp windshield wipers.

I suspect they were inspired by the government.

### Question about “Inconstant Moon” by Larry Niven

The characters realized there had been a massive solar flare when the moon became spectacularly brighter. If the sun became hotter in “Inconstant Moon,” its light (and thus moonlight) would be bluer.

Why didn't anyone in the story recall the phrase “once in a blue moon”? They might have realized this had happened before.

On the other hand, there are other reasons for a blue moon.

### Avoiding Embarrassment, Part II

As I've said before, many leftists are embarrassed by living in a nation where schools have to be partly funded by bake sales. They found a solution: They're banning bake sales, this time at a federal level.

By the way, how is this supposed to be enforced? If this law is enforced by withholding subsidies, the Enlightened Ones (at least while reacting to the Halbig decision) are now on record as saying they can't do that.

I tried reading the regulations in question and I can't figure out how it was supposed to be enforced against a state government unwilling to go along. As far as I can tell, it's a matter of “If a State government does not fulfill our requirements, we will require them again.” There's a strong possibility the people in the current administration simply don't know how to deal with people who disagree with them.

This may be connected with the leftist refusal to admit that government is a matter of force. In LeftWorld, governments issue commands and everybody obeys. (This also explains the current foreign policy or lack thereof.)

### A Suggestion for Israel

According to solar-energy enthusiasts, we can power the world by paving a small amount of desert. We can start by paving the area within a few miles of the Gaza Strip. The border of the Gaza Strip is 30 miles long, so the area within six miles would be 180 square miles of solar panels.

I think that would be enough to power Iran.

### Why the Decline?

Differences between male and female preferences might explain a low percentage of female computer-science majors. It does not explain a decline. The current percentage of female computer-science majors is about half the percentage it was back when Reagan was president.

My theory, for whatever it's worth, is that women who are able to think logically are avoiding college so they don't have to associate with feminists.

### More Stuff Political Activists Say

Anybody who disagrees with us but can cite an actual fact is smart but unwise (seen here and there).

### An Important Quote for My Fellow Weirdos

The following applies to libertarians, socialists, monarchists, etc.:

“Meanwhile, as a delightful by-product, the few (fewer every day) who will not be made Normal or Regular and Like Folks and Integrated increasingly become in reality the prigs and cranks which the rabble would in any case have believed them to be.”—C. S. Lewis in Screwtape Proposes a Toast

### A Note on the Cloward–Piven Strategy

Maybe the activists on the Other Side act like they don't know what capitalism is because they aren't aiming at capitalism.

The “Cloward–Piven” strategy was not aimed at infidel libertarians or conservatives. It was aimed at moderate liberal heretics. It was devised in the aftermath of the 1964 election by people who thought the right had been permanently discredited and could be ignored. For example, in the same era we see a liberal looking at radicals and a radical looking at liberals.

In addition to the failed attempts at crashing capitalism I mentioned earlier, there was also the attempt to crash “red” state governments by only providing subsidies to state governments willing to set up state exchanges. This backfired so badly that the mendacitors are now insisting they didn't mean it. It discredited liberals but not libertarians. We also see the alleged border crisis, which might crash the alliance between state governments and unions that holds “blue” states hostage. Again, it looks like it will discredit liberals but not libertarians.

### Bluff and Fold

2012 leftists: “We've got you by the [deleted]. You must set up state exchanges or else.”

2014 leftists: “We were just kidding! You took us seriously?”

In other words, the current administration is applying the same tactics in domestic policy as in foreign policy.

### If Smart Money Buys Brand X …

If smart money buys Brand X, there are two potential conclusions:

• If this is a challenge to capitalist economics, we must save people from themselves by forbidding them from shopping at Whole Foods.
• Only people shopping at Walmart should be allowed to vote.
I also noticed some absurd reactions in the comments to the article. For example:
This story goes against all of the Friedmanite and Austrian economic ideology which presumes that consumers will always make the most informed choices and markets operate with perfect information.
No. We merely assume that consumers are better informed than politicians.

Another absurd comment:

So "national branding", it turns out, is, more or less, another scam essentially, to fleece those who are least able to discern value. The only (cheap) solace here is that many of them must be Tea Partiers, but alas, more of them struggling working poor.
According to stereotype, Tea Partiers are more likely to shop at Walmart whereas liberals are more likely to shop at Whole Foods. As I have said before, it's the left-wing businesses that are spherical trusts.

### Limits to Immigration?

According to Ben Horowitz:

An excellent constraining principle when planning your budget is the preservation of cultural cohesion. The enemy of cultural cohesion is super-fast headcount growth. Companies that grow faster than doubling their headcount annually tend to have serious cultural drift, even if they do a great job of onboarding new employees and training them.
If we apply this to immigration, we can see we must set a quota of no more than 300 million immigrants this year … and 600 million next year ….

### “I Sent You a Rowboat”

Let's see… The US government is going bankrupt due to a lack of children. A horde of children arrive on our doorstep and we're supposed to expel them?

It looks like God sent us a rowboat but we're refusing to get in.

### Stuff Political Activists Say

You can find examples of the following bulshytt on both sides of nearly any political debate:

• Our side isn't ruthless enough but their side plays hardball.
• We can't trust the government and therefore need more of it.
• All hail the experts! What? They disagree with us? Then … QUESTION AUTHORITY!
• If you want to defend someone's rights you must be prepared to take care of them for life.
• The social or economic groups currently associated with their side are parasitic on the social or economic groups currently associated with our side.
• The other side is deliberately pursuing unhealthy policies in order to kill off the surplus population.
• Yes, we have a crackpot or two on our side but we have them under control. Their crackpots are running the show.
• The other side is full of ignorant morons who refuse to find out anything about contrary opinions. We are thereby relieved of any responsibility to find out anything about the other side's opinions.
Sigh.

### Why Judges Sometimes Make Sense

Most government people get their names in headlines by doing things. Judges get their names in headlines by stopping the government from doing things. This gives egomaniac judges (and the top people in any field will be egomaniacs) an incentive to restrain government. You can think of the judicial branch as BuSab.

### Jonah Goldberg Asks a Nasty Question

Jonah Goldberg asks a nasty question:

What would the debate look like if the trends went in the opposite direction? What if most of these immigrants (legal and illegal) were likely to be Republicans in the near and middle term? Would the libertarian arguments for treating labor like any other economic good gain more traction on the right? I think so. Would liberals suddenly realize that they are undermining the economic standing of many African-American and working class Democrats? Almost surely.
If an emergency evacuation of Israel becomes necessary, the current administration will suddenly make an about face on immigration law enforcement. (It's already starting.) It will be the Elian Gonzalez case on a large scale.

I've noticed it's us libertarians who call for repealing immigration laws. Liberals want them on the books but unenforced right now. I think they're holding them in reserve in case potential conservatives want to immigrate.

### The Mexican Border and Future Thrillers

Since Modesty Blaise was based on an 8-year-old refugee traveling by herself, will the children at the Mexican border star in thrillers written in 2034?

### Reining in Bureaucrats

Controlling the Obama appointees (behavior described in The Wall Street Journal) in the Rubbio/Christie/Ryan/Paul presidency may be a problem. We had better start the “battlespace preparation” now. We will need our version of WikiLeaks (we can use the results of the mainstream WikiLeaks but we might need more). We will have explain that letting the public know what unelected bureaucrats are doing is not “snitching.” We will also have to think of other cliches the Other Side might come up with.

One thing we must beware of is encouraging our politicians to be verbose. The more they say, the more chances they will have to say something absurd.

### Of Course There's a Resemblance

I'm sure that nearly everybody online has seen the image comparing Holly Fisher to a jihadi mom (discussed here).

The woman on the left is an ally in the present fight against mandatory contraception coverage. (I don't think I would agree with the political opinions of her great-grandparents.)

The woman on the right is the great-grandmother of people who will fight to keep circumcision legal. (I don't think I would agree with her political opinions.)

The difference is time.

BTW, does this mean the anti-Hobby Lobby people are racists?

### Fermat's Last Theorem and Set Theory, Part III

After noticing that the incomprehensibility of the results of expressing Fermat's Last Theorem in set theory rivals that of machine code, I wondered if it's possible to write a compiler in $$\mathrm{\TeX}$$. It's possible to write a Basic interpreter in $$\mathrm{\TeX}$$.

### Scientific Mistake vs. Scientific Mistake

The latest spin on Hobby Lobby is that their claim that the four birth-control methods they don't cover sometimes act as abortifacients is a scientific mistake. When we look at the data that's supposed to prove it was a mistake we see that only one of the methods has sound evidence that I could locate that it is not normally an abortifacient. (On the other hand, only four pregnancies were prevented and that isn't enough to ensure that the levonorgestrel pill never acts as an abortifacient.) In the other direction, the Copper IUD looks very suspicious:

When used as emergency contraception, the Cu-IUD could also act to prevent implantation, due to copper's effect of altering molecules present in the endometrial lining. Id. However, studies show that the alteration of the endometrial lining prevents rather than disrupts implantation. Id. at 304.
In other words, at best they can show that Hobby Lobby should have refused to cover only one of the methods under dispute.

Speaking as a libertarian, I also hold they have the right to refuse to cover medications for no reason whatsoever. It is not the State's business what they cover.

### Fermat's Last Theorem and Set Theory, Part II

The expression of Fermat's Last Theorem in terms of set theory is up in the form of a $$\mathrm{\TeX}$$ file, a pdf file, and an html file. Warning: The html file uses MathJax and is very slow. As a bonus, I also threw in Goldbach's Conjecture.

Addendum: I found and corrected a typo in the files.

### Three Quotes

But the June 26 photo of the 8-year-old boy apprehended while crossing the border broke my heart. Can anyone imagine the agonizing decision his parents had to make to send their child on such a risky journey? The only thing more disturbing is the politicization of this humanitarian crisis.
From Keith Burgess-Jackson
If Alan Shapiro wants the boy to stay in the United States, he should adopt the boy. He has no right to expect the rest of us to pay for the boy's upkeep. We have enough trouble taking care of our own.
From a much-retweeted attempt at a snarky comment on Hobby Lobby:
UPDATE: you can drop off an unwanted baby at a Hobby Lobby and they'll raise it

### Activities That Even Leftists Find Sleazy

A few weeks ago, I speculated that the IRS destroyed emails as part of “covering up activities that even leftists find sleazy.” More recently it turned out that that IRS is targeting open-source organizations the same way they target Tea Party organizations. Hmmm…

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