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

Neoreactionary Society and Dysgenics

On the one hand, neoreactionaries believe in reviving the traditional society (with a hereditary aristocracy and the ability to execute heretics) that governed much of the human race for the past ten thousand years. On the other hand, they also believe in eugenics, especially for the purpose of increasing brain power. On the gripping hand, the traditional-society era also saw shrinking brain sizes. For that matter, brain sizes having been coming back up in the less traditional society of the past few centuries. Wait a moment …

I'm not sure why the shrinkage occurred. Is it because the most successful men were Pointy-Haired Bosses of yesteryear? (ObSF: the Sooners in Brightness Reef by David Brin) Is it because the brightest people were burnt at the stake?

If neoreactionaries argue the same way leftists do, they will no doubt claim that traditional society wasn't traditional enough.

Did This “Study” Actually Exist? The Answer

The study discussed here (from there) turned out to exist. I still cannot find the actual publication but the reference seems detailed enough for it to exist.

As far as I can tell, there does not seem to be a control group in the study. In addition, there were several dietary changes and they may have focused on on irrelevant ones. Changes in micronutrients sound more plausible than changes in food additives. After all, the students would later go home and eat Twinkies but the school meal might have been their only meal with real food. One of the authors was later involved in a study that did have a control group and found that micronutrients are important.

I won't more than mention that, if I recall correctly, the use of mind-altering chemicals was dropping rapidly in New York City at the time. Maybe second-hand toke had an effect.

I have started a log at Ask for Evidence but their system appears to be down now.

The Latest in Ignorant Paranoia

The NRC got around to releasing the radiation readings for Florida produce in the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdown over three years later and low-information environmentalists are going nuts:

Fukushima fallout on vegetation in South Florida exceeded gov’t notification limit by over 1,000% — Nearly triple the highest level reported anywhere on West Coast
First, the notification level is not the same as the danger level. It merely means it's enough to be reasonably sure it's out of the ordinary. Second, it's only the I-131 level that was extraordinary. The total radioactivity was within the normal range. For example, the highest radioactivity level mentioned in the article was 1,220 pCi/kg whereas bananas have 3,520 pCi/kg and brazil nuts have up to 12,600 pCi/kg. Third, it went away in a few weeks.

It's not enough to know what's going on in the event you're looking at; you also have to know what else is going on.

Speaking of low-information paranoid activists …

The news that the violators of a social contract in restraint of trade will now have the opportunity to pay Social-Security taxes is being misinterpreted by the Other Ignorant Army as implying that the aforesaid competitors will get Social-Security benefits immediately, even despite the fact that there is a ten-year delay (the deferred action on immigration might get past the courts but attempts to get around Social-Security law certainly won't) and even despite the fact that immigrants tend to be young.

By the way, some nativists claim the immigrants are coming over to go on welfare and some claim they're taking our highly-skilled jobs. There should be a debate between the two sides but somehow I doubt if there will be one.

Explaining the Ferguson Riots

There's only one explanation of why the reaction to a slightly-dubious grand-jury decision was to loot stores and burn down neighborhoods:

This story is emblematic of something I've noticed seems increasingly common in the 21st century---political movements that appear exceedingly stupid.
On the other hand, it appears that this was stupidity imported from outside Ferguson.

Come to think of it, this might explain why the prosecutors waited until nightfall to announce the decision instead of announcing it in narrow daylight. (In November, daylight isn't broad.)

Two Bulshytt Claims

• That “white people” will never riot. Wrong.
• That law enforcement would never shoot a “white” person for no good reason. Wrong.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

If it was time to sell Google a few years ago, was it time to buy Google more recently?

On the other hand, I noticed they were much quieter about this than the initial announcement. (I only heard of it quite recently.) Maybe they're embarrassed at being sensible.

An IQ Speculation

What if looking down on others raises IQ? That might explain the odd swings in measured IQs for different groups.

If we could just get everybody to look down at everybody else, then that would raise everybody's IQ! Except then we would be smart enough to realize how silly that method is and then become dim again.

Maybe that's why the Flynn effect might have leveled off…

Dance, Puppets, Dance …

It should be obvious to the meanest intelligence that the purpose of the proposed amnesty is to ensure that people in the Republican base say things that can be spun as racist. Dance, puppets, dance …

Meanwhile, one possible way to defuse this (besides charging admission) is to give the “green light” to immigration from areas with people who are particularly supportive of capitalism. The top three are Vietnam, Bangladesh, and South Korea. Promoting immigration from Vietnam will also help make Democrats look like idiots.

How to Avoid Being Too Partisan

1. Pick a couple of issues you feel strongly about, one on each side. When you're too close to being a partisan, remind yourself “There are the people who are wrong about X.” Picking two issues will prevent you from being partisan on the other side, in case you switch. It might even be helpful to pick four issues, two where each side is wrong about the facts and two where it's wrong about the morals.
2. Make sure you read something on the Other Side regularly, preferably from people you have something in common with.

Immigration Amnesty and the Contraception Mandate

The contraception mandate may have been inserted into the "Affordable" Care Act in order to provoke opposition. The game plan was quite simple:

1. Tell low-information voters that Republicans hate s*x.
2. Add a preposterous mandate for something used while doing you-know-what.
3. Wait for Republicans to oppose it.
4. Claim that opposition is evidence for Step 1.
5. Get re-elected.
Alternative possibility:
1. Tell low-information voters that Republicans hate s*x.
2. Add a preposterous mandate for something used while doing you-know-what.
3. Wait for Republicans to go along with it.
4. Let the Republican base get disgusted enough to stay home.
5. Get re-elected.
Both of these were avoided when Republicans backed over-the-counter birth control. It was in accordance with current Republican principles and disproved the initial claim.

The immigration amnesty might be an attempt at the same strategy:

1. Tell low-information voters that Republicans are racists.
2. Issue an executive decree of dubious constitutionality.
3. Wait for Republicans to oppose it.
4. Claim that opposition is evidence for Step 1.
5. Get re-elected.
Alternative possibility:
1. Tell low-information voters that Republicans are racists.
2. Issue an executive decree of dubious constitutionality.
3. Wait for Republicans to go along with it.
4. Let the Republican base get disgusted enough to stay home.
5. Get re-elected.
The Republicans will have to come up with a plan that is in accordance with current Republican principles and disproves the initial claim. One suggestion: Charge admission to the US. Hand over \$1000 (is that a reasonable amount?) and you're on the way to citizenship.

A Few Thoughts on Net Neutrality

At first, I thought the net-neutrality controversy was about the standard left-wing line that we can bring the millennium by passing the right regulations. That turned out not to be what it was about. They're saying it's a matter of stopping a horrible situation.

My second thought was they were talking about real problems. Leftists sometime identify real problems (e.g., stagflation in the 1970s) and propose absurd solutions. I thought that was the matter here. That turned out not to be what it was about either. They're saying they want to keep the current system.

As far as I can tell, they're assuming that all good things come from regulations and if the present unregulated system is good it must be due to the regulations yet to be passed. The future regulations will be so beneficial that their good effects extended back in time.

I must admit they have a dangling shred of evidence for potential exploitation: the Comcast vs. Netflix controversy. OTOH, it would be more believable if the same people hadn't been recommending the same policy for years. OTGH, it sure looks like Netflix was a much bigger violator of the Internet spirit (one content provider hogging 30% of the bandwidth?).

Query: If net-neutrality regulations are passed, how long will it take for them to be repealed?

Hmmm…

GMO potatoes might prevent cancer. This is almost as good as the news that beets have more anti-oxidants after being microwaved.

Evidence for the KOK Hypothesis

There appears to be more infrared light in the universe than can be accounted for by current theories:

Prof Jamie Bock from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one of the report's authors, described the extragalactic background light (EBL) as "kind of a cosmic glow".

"It's very faint - but basically the spaces between the stars and galaxies aren't dark. And this is the total light made by stars and galaxies during cosmic history," Prof Bock told the BBC.

Earlier measurements from rockets and satellites had shown that there was more fluctuation in this background than the sum total of known galaxies could explain.

At least two proposals were made to account for the extra light: it might come from very early, distant galaxies that formed when the universe was much younger, or it might come from stray stars outside galactic boundaries.

There's also the possibility the light might come from civilizations in apparently-empty parts of the universe.

Bug Facts

Gamergate ants have an odd habit

Even feminists don't do this:

Or consider the gamergate ants, whose females capture a male and snip off his genitals during copulation. They discard the male's body, but his severed genitals continue to fertilize for an hour.
Eeeewwww!!!!

Parents of infants might prefer this

In some species of hymenoptera, the larvae have a lack of a habit:

[The larvae] are also unable to defecate until they reach adulthood due to having an incomplete digestive tract, presumably to avoid contaminating their environment.

Spiders can apparently build webs in six dimensions

According to a British newspaper:

Experts estimated there were around 35,176 spiders per cubic square metre of space.

Whatever Happened to …

… the “big data” that was supposed to ensure Democratic dominance? Did “gamergate” alienate the programming community? Did the programmers spend the last few months sabotaging the effort? Did they try to arrange for the get-out-the-vote people to call conservatives? That would explain many of the phone calls I received …

Sigh

The Mickey Kaus explanation of the recent election reminds me of how the Village Voice covered a conservative victory in a Swedish election. I had thought it was a rejection of absurdly-high taxes but the Village Voice attributed it to the Socialist support for nuclear energy.

The lesson of the comments at the Instapundit thread on the above is that statists never accept that Big Government has been rejected. Any attempt to reject Big Government is interpreted to mean a rejection of the isolated attempts at limiting government by the losing side.

As for whether this election means Republicans must turn nativist: In 2008, the Republicans nominated a pro-immigration candidate. The resulting loss was attributed to that. In 2012, the Republicans nominated someone more neutral. It didn't work.

Not THAT Nuts!

Okay. Libertarians are supposed to be eccentric but the Libertarian Party candidate for State Senate in my district is just plain nuts.

Does this mean I have to vote for that hack Marcellino?

I'm Considering a Boycott

I'm considering a boycott of Lightlife and Smart Balance for bowing to modern superstitions about GMOs. There are other candidates that I'm looking at.

It's possible to make a case that GMOs “aren't necessary.” If a business rejects GMOs on that ground, it's as though they had a mouse infestation problem and controlled it by acquiring brown cats, yellow cats, and gray cats. (Black cats aren't necessary.) Black cats might not be necessary to control mice, but if they're excluded, one might wonder what other superstitions are being taken seriously.

Besides, such a rejection implies they're selling to idiots.

What If Math Is Politicized?

After reading about the politicization of absolutely everything, I've wondered what might happen if mathematics is politicized. Is the Axiom of Choice libertarian? Is the Axiom of Determinacy part of the regulatory state? Is the Power Set Axiom fascist? (It's a collectivist axiom that treats the individual points on a line as part of an amorphous blob that is given without regard to the points that make it up.)

On the other hand

Meanwhile, it looks like Ezra Klein ended the essay with an attempt to inspire fear on the Right. Please recall the Left tried to get Phil Robertson fired. They failed. They had earlier tried to get Rugh Limbaugh fired. They failed.

Addendum: Since the context of “amorphous blob” was not present in the Google search, I'll include it below:

… set theory with $$\mathsf{V}=\mathsf{L}$$ does not take the continuum as an amorphous blob whose existence is provided by the power set axiom. … What is emphasized here is that the abstract power set axiom is the basis of Zermelo set theory, while the notion of transfinite ordinal number is the basis of constructible set theory. … It is in questions concerning the axiom of choice that these two approaches begin to differ. If one is to put his faith in an amorphous blob, why should it be well-ordered. Alternatively, if the real line is something which arises from faith in transfinite iteration, there had better be a definable well-ordering.
Points just want to be free!

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