Yet another weird SF fan


I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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jhertzli AT ix DOT netcom DOT com


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The Former Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse:
Someone who used to be sane (formerly War)
Someone who used to be serious (formerly Plague)
Rally 'round the President (formerly Famine)
Dr. Yes (formerly Death)

Interesting weblogs:
Back Off Government!
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Debunkers Discussion Forum
Deep Space Bombardment
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Sedenion
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Shtetl-Optimized
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The Speculist
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Tools of Renewal
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Other interesting web sites:
Aspies For Freedom
Crank Dot Net
Day By Day
Dihydrogen Monoxide - DHMO Homepage
Fourmilab
Jewish Pro-Life Foundation
Libertarians for Life
The Mad Revisionist
Piled Higher and Deeper
Science, Pseudoscience, and Irrationalism
Sustainability of Human Progress


























Yet another weird SF fan
 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Trump vs. Agreements

Let's look at how Trump treats agreements. Trump:

  1. Pays little attention to the Constitution.
  2. Is willing to ignore treaties.
  3. Regards defaulting on bonds as an option.
  4. Has gone bankrupt several times.
  5. Is now on his third wife.
In other words, he regards agreements as simply irrelevant. Other politicians occasionally break their word. In Trump's case, it is a rule.

The only question is whether a State of the Union address from President Trump will include “How could you believe me when I said ‘I love you’ when you know I've been a liar all my life?” On the other hand, it might include “And, dear friends, if I'm elected, I'm all right, Jack—screw you all!”

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Downside of DNA Memory Storage

DNA memory storage has a potential downside. It might escape into the wild and recombine with bacterial genes. I'd hate to come down with a bad case of SQL.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

“Punch Back Twice as Hard”

Apparently if you tell people to punch back twice as hard, the different factions of your followers will start punching each other.

Maybe that isn't something to imitate.

On the other hand, maybe Bernie should have said “Vote your conscience.”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Differences between Trump Supporters and the Globalists/Neocons/Establishment/Whatever

  • Both sides are concerned about foreign menaces. The Globalists/Neocons/Establishment/Whatever (GNEW) are concerned about foreign governments. The Trump supporters are concerned about foreigners underselling Real Americans.
  • Both are concerned about invasions. The GNEW are concerned about armies with guns shooting people. The Trump supporters are concerned about invasions of nannies, landscapers, and contract programmers.
  • Both sides believe there are limits to government. The GNEW believe those limits are set by a series of agreements such as constitutions or treaties. The Trump supporters believe those limits are set by imaginary lines on a map.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Public-Opinion Poll

“We're conducting a short public-opinion poll on current events. If you are registered to vote, please press 1.” I press 1.

“Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the Obama administration? Please press 1 for favorable and 2 for unfavorable.” I press 2.

“Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton? Please press 1 for favorable and 2 for unfavorable.” I press 2.

“Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump? Please press 1 for favorable and 2 for unfavorable.” I press 2.

“If the election were held today, who would you vote for? Please press 1 for Hillary Clinton and 2 for Donald Trump.” I press 3.

“I'm sorry that was not a valid response. Please try again. If the election were held today, who would you vote for? Please press 1 for Hillary Clinton and 2 for Donald Trump.” I press 3.

“I'm sorry that was not a valid response. Please try again. If the election were held today, who would you vote for? Please press 1 for Hillary Clinton and 2 for Donald Trump.” I hang up.

A Few Notes on Trump vs. Cruz

Who's doing the half-time show?

To the Trump people: Cruz spent much of his career being called a bigot or a crackpot. Did you think a boo or two would faze him?

The wicked flee when no man pursues (Proverbs 28:1). Cruz did not come out either for or against Trump. He ended by taking about conscience. The fact that Trump supporters took that as being against Trump says something about their consciences.

The claims that Cruz destroyed his political career sound familiar.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Most Annoying Part of the Trump Movement

The most annoying part of the Trump movement is the propensity of Trumpkins to accuse any critic of Trump or his presumed policies of being the sort of leftist who just wants to fit in. For example:

Looks like even Reason contributors are worried about not being invited to the right cocktail parties.
OTOH, libertarians are anti-social malcontents. Not being invited to parties is a reward.

Along similar lines, they will accuse libertarians of being stoners. Speaking as a libertarian who hasn't used drugs, I find that very annoying indeed … especially since I used to walk out of parties when they started handing out “funny cigarettes” … in the 1970s … at SUNY @ Stony Brook. Admittedly, it doesn't take much to get me to leave a party.

The worst part is when they accuse conservatives who have been called names by leftists for years of being afraid of being called names. That would indicate that the Trumpkins are not exactly people who have been following conservatism.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Social Science Done Right

File at eleven…

There's a common technique in psychological research: Researchers give the experimental subjects fabricated data. Much of the time, the subjects refuse to believe it. This is classified as irrational behavior.

There is a paper that avoids this problem. Instead of assuming that justified skepticism is irrational, they test for gullibility. As a bonus they also use a large sample size and look at more than one end of the political spectrum. Maybe this should embarrass the social scientists treat skepticism as irrational of use small sample sizes or look at just one end of the political spectrum.

In case you were wondering, they find gullibility all over.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Different X Each Time

I would take warnings that antibiotic X is last recourse and bacteria are becoming resistant to it more seriously if it weren't a different X each time.

I would take warnings that corporation X is eliminating all competition more seriously if it weren't a different X each time.

I would take warnings that nation X is overtaking capitalist America more seriously if it weren't a different X each time.

I would take warnings about the dangers of immigrant group X more seriously if it weren't a different X each time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Counterexample to the Bayesian Truth Serum

The Bayesian Truth Serum looks like one of the best possible ways to get judgments that avoid the problem of “groupthink.” There's only one minor problem: Groupthink isn't the only human failure mode.

According to the Bayesian Truth Serum, the most reliable judgments are those that are more common than people expect. (The expected common judgments are those caused by groupthink.) The most recent cases of that are the Trump movement and Brexit. I'm not sure about Brexit, but the Trump movement is an example of something recommended by the Bayesian Truth Serum that does not reflect good judgment.

The Trump movement avoids groupthink but it is an example of System I thinking. It follows the instinctive premises present in each human mind.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

How to Stop Homophobia

It's quote simple. According to Jay Friedman, a taste for spices is incompatible with homophobia. According to J. Klinesmith, T. Kasser, and F. T. McAndrew, touching guns causes people to use more spices. All we have to do is provide more more gun licenses.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

What Is America? Part II

Ideally, America is a place where you get to make your own decisions instead of having them made for you by either your neighbors or a bureaucracy. In particular, it's a place where you have the right to not bake cakes or take photographs for people whose lifestyles you disapprove of.

On the other hand, one political party wants regulations that say you MUST make some deals and the other wants regulations that say you MUST NOT make some deals. Everything not forbidden is compulsory.

Also see Part I.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Anti-Inductive Phenomena and Baire Category

I've mentioned on occasion that markets are anti-inductive. There is a connection between anti-inductive phenomena and one of the more apparently-useless branches of mathematics: point-set topology.

You can think of real numbers as sequences of digits. It turns out that the set of real numbers corresponding to anti-inductive sequences is a dense Gδ point set, i.e., the complement of a set of first category.

Maybe someday we'll also find a use for the Banach–Tarski paradox.

Monday, July 04, 2016

What Is America?

Ideally, America is a place where you get to make your own decisions instead of having them made for you by either your neighbors or a bureaucracy. In particular, it's a place where you have the right to hire foreigners, rent to foreigners, buy from foreigners, and sell to foreigners.

I have to mention that latter point because some people regard those rights as some kind of giveaway to the foreigners.

Addendum: Part II is up.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Neil deGrasse Tyson Has a Bit of a Point

Neil deGrasse Tyson's suggestion for the constitution of Rationalia

Earth needs a virtual country: #Rationalia, with a one-line Constitution: All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence
has come in for mostly justified criticism on the grounds that some political controversies are about values rather than beliefs.

On the other hand, some people make the opposite mistake. For example, Donald Trump and supporters think the free-trade controversy is a matter of some people being disloyal to America rather than believing free trade is better for Americans. (As for the actual merits of free trade… From a factual point of view, it has not caused a decline in American manufacturing. From a theoretical point of view, every dollar sent overseas come back eventually.)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

What Brexit is About

It is a matter of locally-sourced, artisanal government. Does this mean I have to hate it now?

On the other hand, the proposal for the UK to join the US reminds me of the following line from The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: “If you're sick of one version, we push you into the other.”

On the gripping hand, national governments serve a very important purpose: They protect the world from each other.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Anti-Anti-Trump Rhetoric and Other Controversies

There's a common trope on the anti-anti-Trump side: that it's bad idea to call the other side “idiots.” (This was earlier discussed here.) If calling people “idiots” is a bad idea … How are we supposed to characterize opponents of nuclear energy or GMOs?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Why Use Negotiated Agreements Instead of Unilateral Free Trade?

Any democratic nation that tries unilateral free trade will find it's opposed by people who think of trade as a giveaway to foreigners. In order to prevent that, we use negotiated agreements instead. Most voters are willing to accept the possibility of gaining from exports to the other side (until they stop trusting governments).

In other words, when Donald Trump and allies criticize NAFTA or TPP on the grounds that the treaties involved are a bureaucratic boondoggle, they are offering to rescue us from a problem they caused.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Few Comments on Brexit

Judging by the effect of Brexit on the pound, Britain has just voted itself the low-cost producer of nearly everything.

“Which is better—to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away or by three thousand tyrants one mile away?“—Mather Byles

Question: Is the Brexit vote for or against free trade? The Brexit supporters seem to disagree.

Addendum: I forgot to add that a year ago, I would have applauded this. Now …

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What Kind of World Are We Going to Have When These People Graduate?

What kind of world are we going to have when students who have been protected from American traditions graduate?

In view of the fact that Trump did better in “blue” states and in view of the fact that Trump supporters are very well informed on the latest antics of Social Justice Warriors but have only a superficial grasp of free-market economics, maybe what we'll get is President Trump.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

R-Selection, k-Selection, and Politics

There's a common theory that left-wing ideologies are correlated with r-selected genes and right-wing ideologies are correlated with K-selected genes. This is rather dubious, at least as far as the present line-up of American politics is concerned.

The current home of left-wing ideologies appears to be among descendants of Puritans whereas the current home of right-wing ideologies appears to be among descendants of Borderers. The conflict may seem strange considering that both groups started out as Calvinist. On the other hand, the Puritans were obviously K-selected and the Borderers were obviously r-selected. Maybe the theory made sense back in the days of Andrew Jackson or William Jennings Bryan.

My earlier comments on this can be found here.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Labels I Would Like to See

This product is bottled water. If you can't figure out if it's gluten-free, maybe you could ask someone on the staff of the group home.

This product contains ingredients obtained from genetically-modified organisms. If you demand an explanation, we will send a team of experts with the IQ, common sense, and social skills of Sheldon Cooper to explain it. For a small consideration, we could arrange for a Cliff Clavin analog to meet you at the bar of your choice.

This product is vegan cat food. This is NOT a cruelty-free product because an attempt to serve this to a cat will be painful to at least one animal, probably you.

Friday, June 17, 2016

What Species Would Become Dominant on Earth If Humans Died Out?

Raw Story is asking the above question. There are many possibilities. What if they all became sophonts?

You could have beavers and otters running seaports. The dolphins might try to have a selective breeding program to develop hands (if it works, the dolphins could join the beaver–otter partnership). Increased competitive pressure from the cetaceans might require cephalopods to develop intelligence. Inland, you might find squirrels and raccoons. Fithp-like elephants might form the military class. Parrots could become the radio announcers (if they haven't done so already).

Politics in this world would be even more tribal than in ours. To take just one example: Would beavers seek an alliance with squirrels or an alliance with dolphins? Is rodent solidarity more important than aquatic solidarity?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Two Notes on the Orlando Terrorist Attack

  • Some massive terrorist gun attacks are by Muslims and some aren't by Muslims. Every last one of them is in a “gun-free” zone.
  • Judging by their choice of targets, Islamic terrorists really really hate unarmed Westerners. Maybe we should stop provoking them.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Note on Elon Musk's Obsessions

On the one hand, Elon Musk wants to put a colony on Mars. On the other hand, Elon Musk also believes we live in a simulation.

What if sending human beings too far away triggers a buffer-overflow bug?

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

I No Longer Care

After years of being called bigots many conservatives don't care.

I must have a fast reaction time. After just months of being called a “cuckservative,” I no longer care.

PS: We're used to being called names.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Who Are the Rioters?

There have been riots at Trump rallies. I have an important question: Who are the rioters? The most plausible groups don't overlap much:

  1. Illegal aliens and their relatives.
  2. Sanders supporters.
  3. Black Lives Matter.
  4. Trade unions trying to elect Trump.
The rioters are burning American flags and chanting “America was never great.” This sounds like any of the first three groups and may be even be done by the fourth group as part of a literally false-flag operation. In particular, this protester doesn't look Mexican.

Friday, June 03, 2016

In Defense of Climate Modelling

In a recent article, Megan McArdle points out that there are uncertainties in climate modelling and compares it to economic modelling. In defense of the climate modellers, there is a difference between the climate models and the economic models. The climate does not read papers studying it. The people composing the economic system do.

In other words, improved understanding of the climate might make it more predictable. Improved understanding of economics will be used by human beings to make the economy even more complex. This is a consequence of the fact that markets are anti-inductive. (The consequences of more phenomena becoming anti-inductive is explored in “The Law” by Robert Coates.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A Clarification

When I said that I want Ted Cruz to imitate Libertarians, I did NOT mean that he should strip at the 2020 Republican Convention.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Few Notes about the Libertarians

Not every Libertarian has smoked dope. I haven't. I believe in drug experimentation but I was in the control group. Before I was a libertarian, I thought it might make sense for the government to increase the size of the control group. I no longer trust it to do that.

The Libertarian Party has run pro-life candidates on occasion (1988 and 2004). It's important to recall that so we can argue with future statists who try blaming abortion on capitalism.

I must admit the Libertarian Party includes some nutcases. One of them has provided me with an incentive to lose weight. I don't want to look like that.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

So… It's Johnson

The Libertarians have nominated Gary Johnson. I can now vote for someone pro-open-borders and pro-deregulation. The bad news is we now have three candidates unwilling to apply FIW (Freedom I Won't) principles to gay marriage.

Could this be the Libertarian breakout year? If the Free State Project has had enough of an effect, could Johnson carry New Hampshire? According to Dante, the Ninth Circle is already frozen over.

More realistically, can the Libertarians do well enough to cause future President Cruz to adopt parts of our program?

 
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