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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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Duct Tape Isn't for Ducts, after All

According to research done at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (seen via Instapundit and Jim MIller), duct tape is not an effective way to seal ducts:

“We tried as many different kinds of duct sealants as we could get our hands on,” says Sherman, of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division. “Only duct tape failed . . . often quite catastrophically.”

I shouldn't be surprised. A few months ago I tried using duct tape to seal the exhaust duct from my dryer when it kept coming apart. It didn't work as a sealant but it did succeed at attaching both parts of the duct to the wall.

The Fast of Gedaliah

Yesterday (September 29 or Tishri 3), I observed the Fast of Gedaliah, a fast in honor of Gedaliah and in dishonor of his assassins. Gedaliah was appointed governor of Judea after the Babylonian conquest. He was assassinated by the same type of nationalist bonehead who today blow up buses in Israel and NGO facilities in Iraq.

In other words, Jews have a solid precedent for calling those alleged “freedom fighters” terrorists.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Give this Man a Medal!

Recently, Abe Greehouse threw a pie in the face of Natan Sharansky (discussed on Little Green Footballs and Kesher Talk). He should be given a medal for that.

If Israel followed Arab standards (the response to humiliation should be sending out exploding idiots), they would blow up the entire Greenhouse family. The lack of such response demonstrated how trivial humiliation is. In gratitude for that, we should reward Abe Greenhouse by giving him a medal…

… followed by a boot in the head, a poke in the eye, and a pie in the face.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Yet Another Argument for Open Borders

According to a recent study (seen on Dissecting Leftism), Bosnian refugees showed more ‘Harm Avoidant personality traits’ than Bosnians who stayed home. Hmmm… Does that mean the refugees are more like Berkeley definition of conservative? Was the right-wing nature of the U. S. made possible by conservative refugees (in contrast to the leftists who stayed home)?

I also noticed instructions not to quote from the study without permission of the first author. This is an instance of how politically-correct academics (and otherwise-sane academics who are afraid of them) are far more dangerous to fair use than the DRM people.

Monday, September 22, 2003

A Scandal among Environmentalists

Whisper it: The late Garrett Hardin had four children.

If People Should Not Decide on War Unless Their Lives Are on the Line …

… then the decision to go to war should be made by a panel consisting of bond traders, NYC firemen, and Pentagon civilians.

Is There Really a Luck Gene?

There's evidence (seen via Fark).

Communication Problems

The e-mail storm continues. If you want to send me e-mail, send it to 73512 dot 1416 at compuserve dot com.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

The Storm Hit on Thursday

I mean the e-mail storm. A virus somewhere is spewing out enormous numbers of e-mail messages and I'm getting a hundred or so per hour. My e-mail box is overflowing with the nonsense. In the unlikely event that you e-mailed me something, it might have gotten lost in the pile and you shouldn't assume I saw it.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

They're Back!

Those posts from March that I complained about reappeared once I republished everything with the new blogger.

Anti-Imperialism the Old-Fashioned Way

In the comments on a post on the BrothersJudd blog, Paul Cella said:

I bet there were some nasty anti-Roman tracts and conspiracy theorizing in barbarian Germany -- or, better yet, in the formerly great Greek lands -- back in the second century.
One of the anti-Roman rants is still in print. You may have heard of it. It was called The Revelation of St. John the Divine.

Al Franken and Dr. Laura

Al Franken has come up with a reason Dr. Laura should not convert to Christianity.

Spread the Meme: No Torture Chambers Were Stopped When Clinton Lied

On the other hand, Bush's “lies” were more a matter of exaggerating the evidence for a plausible theory. This is similar to Al Gore's exaggeration of the evidence for a global-warming emergency On the gripping hand, “No torture chambers were stopped when Gore exaggerated” sounds underwhelming…

Global Warming Is a Joke

At first sight, the case for global-warming hysteria seems air tight. If we continue to pump carbon dioxide into the air at a rate greater than the biosphere can handle, it's likely to warm up the globe a bit. There is the minor problem that we are extremely unlikely to continue using 19th-century technology of fossil fuels for long. In view of the relative harmlessness of nuclear fission, the only good reason to avoid it is that solar might be better. In either case, fossil fuels will be obsolete soon. I'm reminded of Mark Twain's extrapolation of the shortening of the Lower Mississippi:

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

Are We Too Cautious about Everything Nuclear?

According to an article in The Washington Post, we are:

I was recently invited to observe and offer advice during a revealing drill, spearheaded by the National Academy of Engineering, that tested how well information might be communicated to the public if a "dirty bomb" exploded in Washington. As I watched the interaction of real-life government officials and media decision-makers, I was struck by a glaring discrepancy: The rules for radiological emergencies are wholly inappropriate for such an event. They can change a relatively harmless incident into a life-threatening emergency. These rules apply not only to dirty bombs but also to any casualties involving nuclear power plants or their fuel.
Were the standards for radiological safety written by Arabists intent on removing competition for OPEC? They make nuclear reactors far more expensive and make cut-rate terrorism practical by turning a harmless release of radioactivity into an excuse to evacuate a city.

Besides, radioactivity might even be helpful.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

A Fbeele Aempttt at Ecinsuxg Seillnpg Maeiksts

From David Harris' Science & Literature (that seems to be nearest thing to an “authoritative” source):

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, olny taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pcleas. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by ilstef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Let's see if this pertains to painters of pantries done in loco parentis.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

On the Other Hand, Let's Not Call Them “Suicide Bombers”

The term “Death Eaters” is far more appropriate.

It Looks Like the Flypaper Has Stopped Working

It's been a week since any US soldier has been killed in Iraq but the suicide bombers are back in Israel. Apparently, the other side's biggest loons have escaped from Iraq.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

How Intellectual-Property Rights Can Go Wrong

There's currently an active discussion on intellectual-property rights on Samizdata. Abuse of intellectual-property law is one of the few real weak spots in libertarianism. Intellectual property rights would clearly be a good idea in a perfect world, but when administered by imperfect governments they can be obstructive.

That sounds familiar somehow…

Meanwhile we can carry out a worst-case analysis. (We already have a taste of that in Scientology.) Ideas can be patented forever. Words can have a copyright. Potentially embarrassing information counts as a trade secret. Most important of all, “look and feel” can be patented. Anyone who wants to complain can be arrested for the illegal use of other people's concepts. They can't even make up their own terminology since that would violate someone else's patent on the look and feel of liberty. (Libertarians to liberals: You thought we were just brain-channeled drones unable to think of the above possibilities. Nyaaaahhhh, nyaaaahhhh, nyaaaahhhh, nyaaaahhhh, phphphphtttt!!!!)

One way to look at intellectual-property rights is that they have to be discovered instead of being dreamed up a priori. A society that can export its ideas has a good claim to be using a better approximation of the True Axioms of Property Rights. (I'm using exports to measure the worth of a society's ideas since any society can claim they have better ideas but exporting ideas means people in other societies also agree.) For example, you can make a case that Finnish ideas are better for computer software but American ideas are better for pharmaceuticals.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

This Looks Suspicious

According to a recent study, IQ has greater heritability in the upper classes than in the lower classes. On the one hand, I have no evidence against this. On the other hand, it is oddly convenient for the left. Now they can maintain their status as anti-racists while simultaneously ridiculing Dubya for an allegedly low IQ.

To make matters worse, they took away one of my favorite cute remarks.

This study could use the same treatment that the Berkeley study of conservatism got. Someone should turn it upside down, shake it, and see what falls out. It might even turn out to make sense after all.

UPDATE: John Ray has started.

Monday, September 01, 2003

I Was Cleaning my House Today …

… when I found a copy of The New York Times of April 15 with a headline: End of ‘Major’ Combat, Fall of Tikrit, Anxiety Over Syria.

So if anybody tells you that the word “major” was inserted recently, they're blowing hot air.

 
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