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

### Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If we combine the PETA motto “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy” with the high kill rate at PETA shelters, we get …

People who will do anything for the disabled except let them live.

### A Note on Nomad Planets

If nomad planets are 100,000 times more common than stars, we can expect the nearest one to be around 1/10 of a light year away. At a speed of 0.1c (which may be doable using Orion thermonuclear starships), we can get a probe there in a year.

In other words, deep space is within reach.

### If “a Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy”

If we combine the PETA motto “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy” with the high kill rate at PETA shelters, we get …

### They Still Haven't Updated

Several years after it became obsolete, leftists are still claiming us wingnuts believe “life begins at conception and ends at birth.”

While I'm at it, the essay in question starts out by claiming that we wingnuts believe corporations are people. Such a claim is another clear indication that the author doesn't have a clue about the beliefs of us wingnuts

### Santorum Fell for Leftist Propaganda

Rick Santorum apparently fell for the leftist claim that education makes people more secular. When I tried looking for actual evidence that might back up such a claim, the closest approximation turned out to be this article. I noticed two things: 1) Most types of college had much less loss of faith than 62%; 2) the greatest percentage of students who said they were no longer “born-again” Christians was in Catholic colleges. Maybe it was less a loss of faith than a transition to a slightly-different faith. (On the other hand, the same researcher published a more recent article that might have other data … but it's hidden behind a pay wall.)

I won't more than mention that Charles Murray has apparently found evidence that more educated Americans are more religious.

### Friday, February 24, 2012

The #RowlingForAdults hashtag appears to be making its way around the Twittersphere. I recall seeing several examples in The New York Times Book Review some years ago.

### Meanwhile on IO9…

Annalee Newitz explains the dangers of giving the state a monopoly on paying for medications that affect reproduction.

That might not be what she intended.

### Taking Graphs a Little Too Far

The graph here resembles those here.

### Why the Claim That Rich People Have Higher Moral Standards Sounds Odd

My guess is that the people of lower-class origin that upper-class people are acquainted with are those climbing out of the lower classes. (Their opposite numbers—those falling out of the upper classes—can be found at any Occupy Wall Street rally.) The upwardly-mobile are likely to be even more “uptight” than those already at the top.

If I recall correctly, C. N. Parkinson wrote an essay on this topic (“La Ronde” in The Law of Delay). I'll try looking for it.

### This Explains So Much…

If you ever wanted to know what those bureaucrats were smoking, Washingtonian (seen via Reason) tells you. This explains, for example, why the Federal standard for radioactive iodine in drinking water is 1/1000 of the radioactivity of bananas. (I noticed the marijuana dealer mentioned in the article who only used organic ingredients.)

### Traditional Liberals vs. Current Liberals

According to traditional liberals, birth control should be between a woman and her doctor. According to current liberals, birth control should be between a woman, her doctor, and someone else's wallet.

### Update on Kale

Cthulhu's vegetable tastes okay in an omelet, but I still prefer broccoli florets.

For more non-Euclidean food, see Vi Hart's discussion.

### A Theory about the Contraception Mandate

It's Charles Murray's fault. When Charles Murray pointed out evidence that the white lower classes that some people imagine to be the mainstay of the Republican party are acting more in accordance with what used to be called the new “morality” than the upper classes, I suspect that many Democrats reacted by saying “They should be voting for us!” This was followed by their standard strategy of treating the expected results of personal decisions (i.e., not bothering to use birth control) as Someone Else's Fault. The obvious next step will be to try to connect not paying for contraception to the nefarious designs of the “1 percent.”

### Fake? Accurate? Neither?

There is reason to believe that at least one of the emails recently leaked from the Heartland Institute was written by someone who sounded entirely too much like a caricature of “climate denialist.” It's possible that that they really were written by such a caricature. A large fraction of college students graduate believing with a perfect faith that fossil fuels are likely to melt an icecap or two and that becoming a climate-denialist flack is a job suitable for conscienceless scoundrels. Some of the people believing in that claim are such conscienceless scoundrels who then try to get jobs as climate-denialist flacks and a few might even succeed.

I'm sure that the think tanks have screening procedures to keep people like that out but they might not always succeed.

If you want examples of similar phenomena, you may recall that the campaign against drug re-importation was run by people who thought it was their job to defend an oligopoly. For another example, there was a lunatic on parts of Usenet who actually believed left-wing conspiracy theories about the triumph of Turbo-Capitalism but decided he wanted to ruthlessly claw his way to the middle. People like that actually exist and might be at work here.

### I Don't Think This Is Kosher

In the latest news about the state takeover of everything:

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs - including in-home day care centers - to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
Milk and meat are not permitted at the same meal according to Jewish tradition. At the moment, Jewish day schools are granted exceptions. If the contraception mandate goes through and is allowed by the courts, then we will be one election away from a system where violations of the laws of kashrut become mandatory.

### Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are Devoted to Religious Freedom

Alternet proved it.

I won't more than mention that the defenses of Catholic teachings that Alternet approves of are a matter of establishment of religion whereas the defenses that Alternet disapproves of are a matter of free exercise.

### A Common Assumption on the Left and Its Contrapositive

I'm sure my fellow wingnuts have encountered people who point to the alleged benefits of a large-scale government program and claim that there is no way those benefits can be provided privately. The apparent assumption is that if something isn't run by a government, it can't be done on a large scale.

The contrapositive of that is: If something is large-scale, it is run by a government. That, in turn, means large corporations or religious organizations are governments. In other words, if your employer doesn't provide, for example, free condoms and if it is large enough for its condom purchases to count as “large scale,” then a government has banned contraception. As another example, in LeftWorld the Citizens United ruling means that governments that we have little control over are allowed to mess around in our political system. All this nonsense fits together.

By the way, why did the spell checker flag “contrapositive”?

### A Mysterious Lack of Scandals?

It's quite common for defenders of traditional values to be caught in extramarital affairs or popping pills of dubious legality. For some reason, such scandals appear to be much rarer for abortions. (There were only two instances here and I'm sure they were thorough.) Maybe we uptight reactionaries really do take abortion more seriously than mere vices.

A corollary to the above: You can't blame the pro-life movement on hatred of pleasure.

I've also noticed the pro-choice people using anecdotes of pro-life activists having abortions. For some reason, such anecdotes rarely have any backing.

### A Possible Consequence of the Contraception Mandate

According to The Wall Street Journal:

The HHS rule prohibits out-of-pocket costs for birth control, simply because Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's regulators believe no woman should have to pay anything for it.
In other words, this puts us one election away from a regime that can shut down anonymous purchases of contraceptives any time they want. It won't matter if the courts say that you have the right to anonymity in this case … not when a list of names of purchasers can appear on ConservaLeaks (based in nuclear-armed Iran, of course) any time.

### This Could Be Turned into a Video Game

If the Elsevier boycott were turned into a video game, would it be called “Angry Nerds”?

Addendum: For some reason, I wrote the above without realizing that the anti-SOPA campaign was a clear example of Angry Nerds in action. Some people have a firm grasp on the obvious. I don't.

### Buildings, Corporations, and Ems

The recent case of a woman who said she wanted to marry a building (discussed here) was intended to make a serious point: that only human beings could have rights and, more specifically, that the possession of rights also included the right to marry other beings with rights. (The second point is part of the basis for gay marriage.)

What does this imply about the rights of ems? A person made of atoms could not possibly marry a person made of bits. A century or two from now, the criticism of corporate rights might have echos in debates on em rights. (ObSF: Valentina by Joseph H. Delaney and Marc Stiegler)

I won't more than mention extraterrestrials, yet.

#### But wait, there's more…

According to Fark:

While we're all distracted by the Republican primary circus, the Koch brothers quietly collect $100 million,$60 million of it from them personally, to defeat Obama in November. Thanks, Citizens United
The Citizens United decision was about corporations spending money on political campaigns. If tycoons spending money on political campaigns was due to the Citizens United decision, that means tycoons are now classified as corporations. If corporations don't have human rights that means…

The Unicode symbol for “Pile of Poo” is &#x1F4A9; or 💩.

### A Brief Note on the Komen Foundation vs. Planned Parenthood

Wait 'til next year!

### Geeky News

The latest version of the Safari web browser now has MathML support.

### “I Wish I Had Spent More Time at the Office”

The above phrase might have been Dr. Richard Olney's last words.

### If Non-Euclidean Geometry Is a Sign of Cthulhu…

…then kale is the Vegetable Not To Be Described.

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