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
 

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Gender Genie and Amy Richards

When I recalled my earlier post on I'm Not Sorry, I used The Gender Genie to analyze the Amy Richards article. The results:

Words: 1009

Female Score: 898
Male Score: 1187

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Curiouser and curiouser …

Why Insist on Government Funding for Embryonic Stem-Cell Research?

Deb asked:

I've been trying to figure this out, so I'm asking y'all to explain this to me: what is the big deal with embryonic stem cell research? I'm not asking this of those who oppose it, but rather those who think that Bush screwed up and the government should be funding it. Why is it so important that the funding come from the government?
Although I'm an opponent, I can think of three reasons:
  1. The first piece of expert advice is for the government to spend more money on experts.

  2. If there are any experts opposed anyway, we can always tell them the People have spoken (and tell the people the Experts have spoken).

  3. It'll be a handy excuse for nationalizing pharmaceuticals in another decade.

Friday, July 30, 2004

What If G. K. Chesterton Had Converted to Judaism?

The following pasage from Orthodoxy by Gilbert K. Chesterton:

This odd effect of the great agnostics in arousing doubts deeper than their own might be illustrated in many ways. I take only one. As I read and re-read all the non-Christian or anti-Christian accounts of the faith, from Huxley to Bradlaugh, a slow and awful impression grew gradually but graphically upon my mind--the impression that Christianity must be a most extraordinary thing. For not only (as I understood) had Christianity the most flaming vices, but it had apparently a mystical talent for combining vices which seemed inconsistent with each other. It was attacked on all sides and for all contradictory reasons. No sooner had one rationalist demonstrated that it was too far to the east than another demonstrated with equal clearness that it was much too far to the west. No sooner had my indignation died down at its angular and aggressive squareness than I was called up again to notice and condemn its enervating and sensual roundness.
reminded me of similar of a similar quote from “A Real Case against Jews” by Marcus Eli Ravage:

Not so many years ago I used to hear that we were money-grubbers and commercial materialists; now the complaint is being whispered around that no art and no profession is safe against Jewish invasion.

We are, if you are to be believed, at once clannish and exclusive, and unassimilable because we won't intermarry with you, and we are also climbers and pushers and a menace to your racial integrity.

Our standard of living is so low that we create your slums and sweat industries, and so high that we crowd you out of your best residential sections. We shirk our patriotic duty in wartime because we are pacifists by nature and tradition, and we are the arch-plotters of universal wars and the chief beneficiaries of those wars (see “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”).

We are at once the founders and leading adherents of capitalism and the chief perpetrators of the rebellion against capitalism.

Surely, history has nothing like us for versatility!

Why didn't Chesterton convert to Judaism? What he said about Christianity applies even more strongly to us Pharisees.

In possibly-related news, “Tom Paine” of Silent Running is recruiting.

Update: This is not what I had in mind.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

A Suggestion for Future Political Debate

Before posting about a topic that requires making decisions while uncertain, each of us should review the difference between Type I and Type II errors.

Is It Normal to Be Normal?

According to The Onion, there's more evidence that “in our society, we're not supposed to be obsessed with being normal”:

NEW YORK—According to a study published by the Popular Culture Research Group Monday, the majority of American citizens are out of touch with mainstream American society.

"We're not sure, at this point, whether this is a new trend or a continuation of an old trend," PCRG consultant Paul Van Lamm said. "All we know right now is that 70 to 85 percent of Americans are unfamiliar with, unaware of, or just plain don't care about what the American people are watching on television, seeing at the movie theater, listening to on their radios, wearing, rooting for, falling in love with all over again, or downloading."

Friday, July 23, 2004

A Prediction by Samuel Huntington

According to Samuel Huntington, continued Mexican immigration could turn the Southwest United States into another Quebec. That would be annoying. That means it will become a declining backwater with low birth rates and a consequent inability to get a separatist agenda passed. On the other hand, we could live with it.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Why Is This Abortion Different from All Other Abortions?

Amy Richard's recent abortion has attracted so much criticism because it threatens to drive a wedge between the two groups that keep abortion legal. In addition to the fervent feminists there's also a wishy-washy group that approves of some abortions but not others. They require two conditions to accept an abortion:

  • First, the details of the abortion must be kept at arm's length. Actually making a decision about which fetus to keep is inexcusable. It would have been far more acceptable to scrape out all three or let the “doctor” make the decision.

  • Second, the purpose of the abortion should be either acquiring or keeping a more normal lifestyle. For example, raising a handicapped kid is abnormal so it's acceptable to do them in. It's abnormal to either give birth at twenty or remain a virgin at twenty so an occasional abortion is needed to reconcile those. On the other hand, an abortion for the purpose of not shopping at Costco is right out.

    There's the additional complication that, in our society, we're not supposed to be obsessed with being normal so objections to abnormal behavior must be disguised.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

A Possibly-Relevant Quote

From Chapter 13 of The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey:

Carradine had not been gone more than twenty minutes when Marta appeared, laden with flowers, books, candy, and goodwill. She found Grant deep in the fifteenth century as reported by Sir Cuthbert Oliphant. He greeted her with an absent-mindedness to which she was not accustomed.

“If your two sons had been murdered by your brother-in-law, would you take a handsome pension from him?”

“I take it that question is rhetorical,” Marta said, putting down her sheaf of flowers and looking round to see which of the already occupied vases would best suit their type.

………

“Of course, I'm only a policeman,” Grant said. “Perhaps I've never moved in the right circles. It may be that I've met only nice people. Where would one have to go to meet a woman who became matey with the murderer of her two boys?”

………

“Now would you play her?” Grant asked, remembering that the understanding of motive was Marta's trade.

“Play who?”

“The woman who came out of sanctuary and made friends with her children's murderer for seven hundred marks per annum and the right to go to parties at the Palace.”

“I couldn't. There's no such woman outside Euripides or a delinquent's home. …

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The War–Abortion Analogy

Okay. Abortion is analogous to war … and aborting a couple of fetuses because one prefers to live in Manhattan instead of Staten Island is analogous to blowing up school buses because one prefers to live in Palestine instead of the Gaza Strip.

I supposed if abortion weren't legal, Ms. Richards would become a displaced person in a refugee camp on Staten Island living off the UN's mayonnaise for feminist rants program and training her two disposable kids to become suicide bombers.

Update: A horribly-accurate analogy.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Dry Run vs. Dry Run?

I'm sure everybody in the blogosphere has heard about an apparent dry run by Islamofascist terrorists by now. I suspect our side has also had a dry run of anti-terrorist tactics. We were probably calibrating the proper dose of a knock-out gas.

Pro-Terrorist and Pro-Abortion

Let's see … One part of the Left insists that being “humiliated” by Israelis is an acceptable reason to kill Israelis; another part of the Left insists that having to go shopping at Costco is a reason to kill fetuses. In both cases, lifestyle trumps life. I suppose we shouldn't be astonished.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

More on Consensus

Back in February, I posted on the correlation between decision making by consensus and utter nonsense and also on Communist tactics in taking over organizations. The loons planning protests at the Republican Convention this summer helped me realize there's a connection.

If an organization insists on making decisions based on consensus and also on getting things done, the ultimate decisions will be made by those still standing after everybody with interests outside the organization has gone home. In today's society, that means semiprofessional activists get to be in charge.

If the organization uses majority rule, they can put a time limit on meetings and let people with lives have a say as well.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Another Discrepancy in a Cover Story

An anti-American twit recently whined:

9) As a japanese hindu, I and world impartially witnessed apologies and regrets by arabs for 911, Al-qaeda, offered public debate. Osama and Saddam both offered public debate. US dismissed all of that. The hindus, zen buddhists, atheists, communists, arabs, muslims, filipinos, hispanics, native genocided americans, native genocided australians, reject aplogies with the oppressive US and anglo-saxon race.

How many Hindus are there in Japan? Do you think this twit heard that Buddhism is common in Japan and doesn't know the difference?

Discrepancy in Cover Story

An ISM activist has been barred from Israel. She is quoted as saying:

"As a Jewish person, I strongly believe that the only way to achievepeace and security for everyone is to dismantle the wall and theoccupation," Spector said. "I have been appalled for a long time bythe human rights violations carried out by the Israeli government,often in my name."
Since when do real Jews call themselves “Jewish persons”?

Where Are the Usenet Kooks of Yesteryear?

The following kook classic was posted back when men were Real Men, women were Real Women, and kooks were Real Kooks:

From: Robert McElwaine 
Newsgroups: alt.destroy.the.earth
Subject: GAIA--Mother Earth--ENRAGED!
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 02:53:23 +0100
Lines: 64
Message-ID: 
X-NNTP-Posting-Host: sawdust.cvfn.org
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII



                          GAIA--Mother Earth--ENRAGED!

               Most astronomers, geophysicists, and other scientists
          think that stars and planets are only physical objects.  But
          our Sun and at least the first eight planets of our Solar
          System are the bodies of CONSCIOUS LIVING INTELLIGENT BEINGS,
          or levels of DIVINITY.

               Our Sun is a conscious living intelligent being called
          "Sol" (among other things), and the "primitive savages" who
          worship(ped) the Sun are/were NOT quite so ignorant and
          superstitious as we have been led to believe.

               Mother Earth is a CONSCIOUS LIVING INTELLIGENT BEING
          called "GAIA".  Until recently She has been TOLERATING the
          human creatures infesting Her skin.  But She is being RAPED
          and ABUSED in many ways--air pollution, water pollution,
          ground-water pollution, landfill pollution, toxic waste
          dumps, radioactive waste dumps, strip mining, dam building,
          atom bomb testing, etc., ETC..

               And now the rapid destruction of the Rain Forests is the
          LAST STRAW.  Mother Earth is ENRAGED!  And She has already
          begun throwing one HELL of a temper tantrum: increasingly
          violent and extreme weather, increasingly numerous and
          intense volcanic eruptions and earthquakes (10 times worse
          each year thru 1998), SINKING land masses, rising ocean
          levels, huge tidal waves, major pole shifts, etc..  MOST of
          the world's human population will NOT survive to the year
          2002, when the face of the Earth (the shapes of Her land
          masses, etc.) will be difficult to recognize.

               Most of Japan, northern Europe, and the western portion
          of the United States will SINK to the bottom of the ocean,
          like Atlantis did.  The Great Lakes will EXPAND and MERGE,
          and empty DIRECTLY south to the Gulf of Mexico.  Part of
          Atlantis will RISE east of Florida.  Similar things will
          happen all over the Earth.  All of this will lead to world
          economic collapse, and the POLITICAL BREAK-UP of the United
          States (like the Soviet Union did in 1991) starting in 1996.


               For more information, contact: Matrix Institute, Inc.,
          P.O. Box 336, Chesterfield, NH  03443,  1-800-628-7493, and
          ask for a free copy of their latest catalogue of audio and
          video tapes, "The Future Map of the United States: 1998-
          2001", and their monthly newsletter "THE EARTH CHANGES
          REPORT--The Survival Guide for the Nineties".


               UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this
          IMPORTANT Information is ENCOURAGED, ESPECIALLY to COMPUTER
          BULLETIN BOARDS.

                                   Robert E. McElwaine
                                   B.S., Physics and Astronomy, UW-EC

Vegetable Rights, Continued

According to the BBC, humans are close relatives of pumpkins:

It is a fact that 75% of our genetic make-up is the same as a pumpkin.

Although we like to think we are special, our genes bring us down to Earth. DNA is what ties the entire living world together. It may well account for the extraordinary diversity among organisms but it also serves to underline their common origins - we all evolved from the same soup of chemicals.

I think I'll have one over for Thanksgiving! (After all, we shouldn't discriminate on the basis of minor biological differences.)

Seen via The Corner.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Doe This Mean We Can't Use Worcestershire Sauce Any More?

The current owners of Tolkien's copyrights have trademarked the word “Shire.”

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

You Don't Have to Be Nuts to Be a Mathematician …

but it helps.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Disrupting Elections?

The lastest intelligence from Homeland Security indicates that:

A plot to carry out a large-scale terror attack against the United States in the near future is being directed by Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda members, senior intelligence officials said Thursday.

………

The planned attack is "an effort to disrupt the democratic process" before November's elections, Ridge said.

One possible goal is to disrupt elections in a “battleground” state. If the courts don't allow a rerun of the election or if they do and the new result is different, the losing party will be convinced the election was stolen. A President whose every move is opposed by soreheads is much more useful than even a standard liberal who clearly won.

Update: The controversy is already starting.

Why Moderates Are Hated

Liberal Republicans (e.g., Richard Nixon or George W. Bush) and conservative Democrats (e.g., Bill Clinton) are frequently hated to a much greater extent by the opposite party than more ideological politicians. I think I have an explanation for this.

Much of the antipathy to conservatives in “blue” states (or liberals in “red” states) is due less to disagreement than to the fear that conservatives/liberals will hand the nation over to THEM. (In blue states, THEY are usually unreconstructed racists who will revive slavery and burn crosses on synagogue or mosque lawns. In red states, THEY are far-left loonies who want to turn the streets over to the criminals.) Someone who believes in an ideology will be treated as an individual. Someone who claims to adhere to an ideology but does not follow through will be treated as not believing in it and therefore is on the wrong side only because of taking orders from THEM.

On the other hand, maybe that's just wishful thinking from someone who wants election campaigns to consist of politicians taking positions and trying to rationally convince the voters.

Maybe I'll try checking what the color of the sky is on my planet.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Oddity at TradeSports

According to the latest odds for political betting at TradeSports, the probability of the GOP retaining control of the Senate is 76.0%, the probability of the GOP retaining control of the House is 88.0%, the probability of the GOP retaining control of the White House is 52.2%, but the probability of of a Republican sweep (Republicans to retain control of Presidency, Senate & House of Representatives) is given as only 20.0%. If the first three probabilities were independent, the last should be 34.9%. Since they aren't independent, the probability of a sweep should be even greater.

Is somebody cooking the books?

Update (2004/07/11): The latest odds give a 33.0% probability for a Republican sweep.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Required Reading for the Election Season …

… can be found here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

A Mathematician Looks at Copyright Extension

There's a theorem in mathematical logic which says:

If a set Γ of sentences has arbitrarily large finite models, then it has an infinite model.
In other words, copyright extension can be forever … which is not in accordance with the Constitution.

Maybe copyright extension should have been fought on mathematical grounds instead of trying to explain the benefits of a “Creative Commons.”

Monday, July 05, 2004

Two Birds with One Stone

According to The New York Times, Jack Valenti is resigning as head of the Motion Picture Association of America to join an organization fighting disease:

To succeed Jack Valenti, 82, once an aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Motion Picture Association of America has chosen Dan Glickman, a former agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton and a Democratic congressman from Kansas, as its new chairman.

………

Mr. Valenti said he would continue to supervise the movie ratings system for the next nine months, until Mr. Glickman had become accustomed to the demands of his new job. After that, Mr. Valenti said he planned to work for a nonprofit organization that fights malaria and AIDS in Africa, and to provide political and cultural commentary for the CNN cable network.

In other words, we get rid of an advocate of extending intellectual property rights to a preposterous extent and put him in a field where there is a danger of insufficient attention to intellectual property.

I greet this with mixed feelings … of joy and relief.

The Latest Excuse for Ignoring Nuclear Power …

… allegedly comes from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

According to Geoffrey Lean, an official IAEA report claims that nukes can't possibly stop global warming:

The IAEA report considers two scenarios. In the first, nuclear energy continues to decline, with no new stations built beyond those already planned. Its share of world electricity - and thus its relative contribution to fighting global warming - drops from its current 16 per cent to 12 per cent by 2030.

Surprisingly, it made an even smaller relative contribution to combating climate change under the IAEA's most favorable scenario, seeing nuclear power grow by 70 per cent over the next 25 years. This is because the world would have to be so prosperous to afford the expansions that traditional ways of generating electricity from fossil fuels would have grown even faster. Climate change would doom the planet before nuclear power could save it.

The second scenario in the report, as summarized, does not make sense. If the world becomes more prosperous as a result of nuclear energy, that prosperity is due to being able to get by on less fossil fuel. It's also quite likely that fossil-fuel prices will rise in a high-demand scenario, so any expansion of energy use would be preferentially nuclear. In any case, it will take much longer than 25 years for global warming to become serious and we can expect various forms of nuclear energy to make fossil fuels obsolete by that time.

On the other hand, the summary on the IAEA's own website makes it clear that the two scenarios mentioned above are not the whole story:

To estimate nuclear power's full potential for reducing future carbon emissions, however, the calculations have to be done for scenarios in which nuclear power truly expands its contribution to world energy supplies, rather than contracts as in the IEA scenario. Our starting point is the long-term scenarios of the IPCC's Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES).5 Although these were not designed to explore specifically nuclear power or any other particular energy option, their objective of minimizing total long-term system costs leads to future expansions of nuclear energy very different from the IEA's projected intermediate-term contractions.

………

One reason that the SRES scenarios differ from the IEA is that they minimize total energy system costs looking ahead 100 years. They thus take greater account of the projected depletion of low-cost fossil fuels and give greater weight to longterm returns than do current deregulating energy markets---which form the basis for the IEA reference scenario. From the longer-term perspective of SRES, nuclear power is a more attractive investment than from the near-term perspective of the IEA.

I'm sure that semi-professional green loons will ignore the above, treat the claim that nuclear power cannot be a part of an anti-warming campaign as the Voice of Science, and cite that as an example of how conservatives are anti-science.

On the other hand, one lesson that my fellow reactionary crackpots should learn is that Establishment Science makes far more sense than the summaries given by non-scientific “intellectuals.”

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Flag.ps

The following should produce a PostScript version of the American flag:

%!PS
%%BoundingBox: 0 0 792 612
/w 792 def /h 612 def
/hh h 13 div def
/star { 0 x newpath moveto
1 1 5 { 144 rotate 0 x lineto } for fill } def
gsave
1 0 0 setrgbcolor
0 2 13 {0 0 newpath moveto w 0 rlineto 0 hh rlineto w neg 0 rlineto closepath fill
0 hh 2 mul translate} for
grestore
0 hh 6 mul translate
0 0 1 setrgbcolor 0 0 newpath moveto
/w w 2 div def
w 0 rlineto 0 hh 7 mul rlineto w neg 0 rlineto closepath fill
/x 15 def
1 setgray
/hh hh 7 mul def
1 2 11 {/a exch w mul 12 div def
1 2 9 {/b exch hh mul 10 div def gsave a b translate star grestore } for } for
2 2 10 {/a exch w mul 12 div def
2 2 8 {/b exch hh mul 10 div def gsave a b translate star grestore } for } for
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