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
 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Question about a Demand by New York University Protesters

Protesters at New York University are demanding (seen via TheDemands.org):

Rededicate Library from Elmer Holmes Bobst, a known anti-Semite; removal of Elihu Root’s name from the School of Law Scholarship for being an advocate of US Colonialism; renaming of the Fales Collection of English Literature within Bobst, as Fales family fortunes can be traced to colonial slavery. Rename these for POC or people of marginalized communities in the US who have been leaders in activism and advocacy of oppressed groups, OR leaders of equal style and caliber from the Global South.
Will renaming the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library to the Yassir Arafat Library be acceptable?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Pilgrims vs. Political Correctness

The Huffington Post has adopted a pro-pilgrim position this year. I doubt if it will last.

There is a defense of the pilgrims from a standard leftist viewpoint, even in years without a refugee “crisis” from Martin Ripa on Usenet:

If the Indians did owned the land, they were rich ultra-reactionary pigs and were deservedly expropriated by poor workers and peasants. Remember, the property belongs to those who need it.

If the Indians did not owned the land, then there was no theft.

Even by capitalist standards defending landlords is questionable:
“The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community.”—David Ricardo

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

An Odd Reaction to a Cell Phone Upgrade, Part II

Yesterday someone asked if the new cell phone I got a few years ago came from the Smithsonian. If I had my slide rule handy I would have been tempted to hit him with it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Does Marion Nestle Read This Blog?

When I posted One Reason We Need Government-Free Science, I wondered if someone on the statist side would use similar arguments against private funding of research. It's happened.

On the other hand, funding from a private business can be countered by funding by its commercial rivals … except that, according to Professor Nestle:

As for Monsanto and the organic food industry, both “recruit scientists to speak on their behalf, [but] Monsanto has far greater resources,“ says Nestle.

On the gripping hand, out here in the real world, Monsanto's revenue is US$ 15.9 billion and the sales of organic produce amounts to $39 billion.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Two Types of People Control

One side of the political spectrum reacted to the recent Paris attack by saying it's time for common-sense gun control. They would be more believable if they hadn't reacted to nearly any news by saying that it's time for common-sense gun control.

The other side of the political spectrum reacted to the recent Paris attack by saying it's time for common-sense border control. They would be more believable if they hadn't reacted to nearly any news by saying that it's time for common-sense border control.

Both sides are ignoring the fact that they're advocating people control. They're pretending that they just want to control something abstract or inanimate.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

More on Terrorists and the Refugee “Crisis”

As far as I can tell, the people behind ISIS are attempting to become so broadly hated that they will eventually be fighting everybody on Earth. They plan to put themselves in such a position that they can only be saved by a miracle. Maybe they're trying to force God's hand. (ObSF: Jamethon Black in Soldier, Ask Not by Gordon Dickson)

Of course, Syrian refugees aren't analogous to 1930s Jews; they're analogous to 1870s Catholics.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Few Questions about the Recent Terrorist Attack

In view of the fact that the recent attack was staged from Molenbeek, Belgium, a town with a very high unemployment rate and recently run by a left-wing nutcase mayor for a couple of decades, we should ask the following questions:

  1. Did any of the attackers have jobs? Preparing for such an attack must be rather time consuming. This won't be the first case of a connection between unemployment and terrorism.
  2. Was there any involvement on the part of traditional leftists? A generation ago, such attacks were usually carried out by Communists. (The rest of the time, they were committed by Irish nationalists.)
  3. We can continue with other questions: Could the attacks have taken place in an area where even a small fraction of the people were armed?
  4. Were the suicide vests a necessarily-temporary tactic? As I've said before, “Suicide bombing is an essential part of the Enemy's strategy. It's needed to convince us that deterrence won't work. (Deterrence played an important role in defeating the Soviet Union and they don't want a repeat.)” On the other hand, when Israel was faced with a plague of suicide bombers, they did not give in and eventually the Other Side ran out of people willing to exercise their right to self-detonation. It is, after all, very hard to recruit experienced suicide bombers.
  5. Was the apparent involvement of refugees a red herring? Carrying out such an attack requires an in-depth knowledge of the area and a refugee just off the proverbial boat would not have that.
In other words, counteracting such attacks might just be a matter of free the guns, cut the dole, and keep an eye on the anti-capitalist nutjobs.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Climate Change and Terrorism and Search and Replace

At Ed Driscoll at Instapundit is comparing the response to climate change and the response to terrorism and speculating that the responses of the mainstream media were produced by search and replace.

I'd be more inclined to take the people advocating emergency action to stop the climate-change crisis seriously if it weren't for the fact that most of the proposed actions (e.g, prohibiting “wasteful” devices) were advocated by the same people for years.

It's also a bit odd that people who usually congratulate themselves on opposing the Establishment are so much in favor of more regulations.

I'd be more inclined to take the people advocating emergency action to stop the terrorism crisis seriously if it weren't for the fact that most of the proposed actions (e.g, prohibiting “dangerous” immigration) were advocated by the same people for years.

It's also a bit odd that people who usually congratulate themselves on opposing the Establishment are so much in favor of more regulations.

Yes. There is much to be said in favor of writing using search and replace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Rule of Thumb on Immigration

Nativists occasionally assert that a high rate of immigration is an unprecedented experiment. On the other hand, the US immigration in 1907 was 1.5% of the population. So … maybe we can admit up to 1.5% of the population each year. That's more than the current rate of immigration to Europe during this refugee “crisis.”

A potential problem: The above rule of thumb implies that the 2003 Iraq invasion was the 2003 Iraq immigration. This is oddly low for a successful invasion.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Brooklyn—the City of Light

In the early days of New York City, one of the proposed city plans included a plan that resembled what was eventually done with Paris:

Mangin laid out a pastiche of grids, of varying densities, at acute angles to each other, sensitive to natural contours.
That's what happened in Brooklyn. As far as I know, nobody has seriously called Brooklyn “the City of Light.”

The plan that didn't happen in NYC (but did happen in Paris) was an instance of a common phenomenon: A centrally-planned system that tries disguising itself by imitating the superficial aspects of an unplanned system. (ObSF: The Rediscovery of Man in Cordwainer Smith's SF)

Sunday, November 08, 2015

One Reason We Need Government-Free Science

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article by Matt Ridley (also see comments by Derek Lowe and ORAC) on the advantages of avoiding government-subsidized science.

One very important reason is that there is a suspicion that government-funded scientists are toeing a “Party Line“ and shading their research in politically-acceptable directions. For example, when the Koch brothers paid for the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study of global warming, the fact that it showed there has been global warming over the past few decades was far more believable than a similar study from the EPA.

The global warming fanatics have not been that eager to quote the Berkeley Earth study. Apparently, they would rather not give any credit to right-wing zillionaires. Their revealed preference is that class warfare has priority over “saving the planet.”

Thursday, November 05, 2015

A Possible Downside to Legalizing “Drugs”

According to Tom Trinko, leftists tend to be occasionally anti-authoritarian as a result of the illegality of some of their favorite substances. Does that mean legalizing said substances will make them even more authoritarian? On the other hand, legalizing drugs might make them less likely to vote.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Is Jumping to Conclusions an Olympic Event?

For some reason, a recent interview with Bill Gates has conservatives outraged.

If you read the actual article, you should notice that he's mainly recommending a combination of subsidies for increased energy research, longer patent protection for energy technology, and a carbon tax. If the carbon tax is based on the IPCC's average of peer-reviewed studies, it's $43/tC. That's 12¢ per gallon of gasoline.

In other words, the actual recommendations are compatible with capitalism. I'm dubious about the need for subsidized energy research on the grounds that such subsidies frequently increase costs and it's unnecessary if the other two steps are taken but that's a quibble.

Conservatives can identify nine out of five actual examples of socialism.

 
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