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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jhertzli AT ix DOT netcom DOT com

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The Former Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse:
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Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Bad Spellers

Joan Jacobs and Rand Simberg are discussing bad spellers. (There was a similar discussion by Jane Galt last year.) In my experience, mostly on Usenet, bad spelling goes with an uncritical attitude in general. The truly bad spellers will come up with something that supports their ideology without bothering to check it. Apparently, spell checking goes with fact checking.

Friday, November 28, 2003

The Fish Have Insomnia

Scientists have found caffeine in the ocean. (Seen via Fark.)

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Free-Trade Sound Bites

In the real world, every dollar we send overseas comes back eventually.

When we send dollars overseas what happens to them? Do the Indians/Mexicans/Japanese/whoever use them as wallpaper? Do they use them as toliet paper? Do they burn them in huge bonfires and dance around shouting “We have jobs and you don't! Nyaah! Nyaaah! Nyaah! Nyaaah! Phphphphttttt!”?

A Hanukkah Gift for Anti-Semites

A Klein bottle hat:

A perfect gift for anyone with a zero-volume head. An important accessory to the one-sided mind. An essential headwarmer for your non-orientable friends who are temporarily immersed in our 3-dimensions.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Environmentalist Wackos in Traditional Religion

Preposterous leftist ideas in the guise of religion are not limited to watered-down religions or the fascist brand of Islam. For example, an Orthodox rabbi has absorbed a large part of environmentalist wacko propaganda:

The animal world instinctively respects natural demarcations. If, for example, wild animals leave the forest and begin to forage where humans have settled it is an indication that something is wrong with the ecosystem that should otherwise provide ample food for all the animals in the forest. When the ecosystem is healthy, wild animals tend to stay in the forest and avoid human habitation. In almost every situation of conflict and invasion, whether against animal or human, it is the human who confronts and invades, not the animal. The notion of animal conquest and domination does not exist in the natural world. It only exists in the fantasies of literature and movies.

First, not all wild animals are forest animals. The natural habitat of many species of animal is forest clearings. Those would be attracted to suburbs. Second, wild animals are likely to stay away from downtown areas, but that's not because downtowns are natural human habitats, but because the ecosystem is even more disturbed there. Third, studies of natural ecosystems have shown that ecosystems are naturally unstable with large population fluctuations. Fourth, if the “notion of animal conquest and domination does not exist in the natural world,” then the prey of carnivores are voluntarily handing themselves over to be eaten, a phenomenon which is not credible. (On the other hand, there are occasions when human beings have handed themselves over to be eaten.)

Most important of all, the “reasoning” involved is nearly identical to the claims that Palestinians become terrorists only because we invaded “their” territory.

I was looking into Orthodox Judaism as an alternative to Conservative or Reform Judaism (which sometimes seems like the Democratic Party at prayer), but I'm not sure if I'll bother …

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Why Do They Hate Us?

They have their reasons. (Seen via Fark.)

UPDATE: After considering the Jewish version of Nuts R Us, I thought I'd mention that the above post was intended as a joke.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Frame Watch: Inverted Totalitarianism

The latest feeble excuse for comparing Bush to Hitler is called “inverted totalitarianism.” It's a way to claim that, even if the current administration is acting exactly opposite the way the Nazis acted, that anti-Nazi behavior is also suspicious.

For example, in Weimar Germany, before the Nazis took power, the "streets" were dominated by totalitarian-oriented gangs of toughs, and whatever there was of democracy was confined to the government. In the United States, however, it is the streets where democracy is most alive--while the real danger lies with an increasingly unbridled government.
Translation: You can say what you want and go where you want in the US. The very fact that the government pays almost no attention to you is evidence of its totalitarian nature.
Or another example of the inversion: Under Nazi rule there was never any doubt about "big business" being subordinated to the political regime. In the United States, however, it has been apparent for decades that corporate power has become so predominant in the political establishment, particularly in the Republican Party, and so dominant in its influence over policy, as to suggest a role inversion the exact opposite of the Nazis'.
Translation: You are not only free at home but also at work.
At the same time, it is corporate power, as the representative of the dynamic of capitalism and of the ever-expanding power made available by the integration of science and technology with the structure of capitalism, that produces the totalizing drive that, under the Nazis, was supplied by ideological notions such as Lebensraum.
Translation: There is no difference in LeftWorld between exerting power over human beings and exerting power over nature.

The article continues along the same lines (the lack of calls for sacrifice is suspicious, the lack of mobilizing hate-filled citizens is even worse, and the lack of concentration camps is simply inexcusable). In related news, leftists will put ice cream on the stove to cool it off and cook food in the refrigerator.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Cut and Run?

The problem with the plan to turn the Iraq government over to Iraqis isn't that it's a cut and run, but that shrilly thuggish and blusteringly petulant twits will spin it as a cut and run. For example, consider this usenet post. In a paraphrase, future terrorist recruiters will claim “the brave resistance fighters chased the Americans away.” They might have obtained inside information about an announcement of a turnover and scheduled the recent intensification of attacks to grab credit for the turnover. I suspect future concessions will be preceded by similar campaigns.

UPDATE: Some of my relatives objected to the language in the Usenet post in question, so I had to remove the quote.

Faster than Exponential Growth

One of the commonest environmentalist cliches is that exponential growth will exceed any other kind of growth. Environmentalists will then go on to claim that population grows exponentially (unless they're put in charge, of course) and resources won't. I see no reason why economic growth must be limited to linear or other polynomial rates. It might even grow according to Ackermann's function (currently being discussed at The Corner) or even the Busy Beaver function.

The really annoying phenomenon is that environmentalists assume that anybody who disagrees with them hasn't heard of exponential growth.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Framing Left and Right

According to George Lakoff, the left side of the political spectrum has been much less effective at putting forth arguments than the right. My fellow reactionary crackpots have been skeptical about this on the grounds that there is no shortage of left-wing media outlets. He was not referring to a shortage of left media but to a shortage of ideas on the left. He then proceeded to prove it by recommending the “same old stuff” that was rejected.

Lakoff's mistake was a matter of assuming that voters are unfamiliar with leftist frames. Conservatives are sometimes confronted with people whose idea of conservatism is very wide of the mark. That's rarer on the left. When a leftist says he is in favor of, e.g., Iraqi self determination, we know what it means and reject it. When a conservative refers to American national interest, that is frequently mistaken for mere blood-and-soil nationalism.

If we look at left-wing ideas in terms of which ideas are new, we see there is a shortage. Since the 1970s, there have been only two big ideas on the left that would have seemed unfamiliar to a McGovern campaign worker.

  1. Open-source intellectual property.
    This isn't entirely a left-wing idea since many libertarians are also in favor of it. On the other hand, the leftist frame of open source is better known than the rightist frame.
  2. Anti-globalization.
    This was a gradual development. The left used to be in favor of international anything. By the 1980s, they were starting to advocate nationalist economics as well. The current tendency to treat globalization as an enemy is only a decade old.
    It's starting to fade as they realize they can capture the UN.

There are also a handful of old ideas that the left can claim have new evidence backing them.

  1. Environmentalism (chiefly global warming).
    Global warming is the only environmental issue which is both big, plausibly dangerous, and with some actual evidence to back it up. On the other hand, it can be used by the right in the form of being pro-nuclear.
  2. Abortion (chiefly stem cells).
    Abortion is tolerated because it is currently common. As biotechnology (improved contraception, artificial wombs, raising the age of puberty) makes it obsolete, it will disappear. Several decades after the last abortion has taken place, there will be a belated and unnecessary ban. (Even an anarcho-capitalist society is likely to be transparent and those old-fashioned enough to still abort will be known and shunned.) A few decades after that, the sort of history student who second guesses historical figures (someone who regards the existence of the United States as hypocritical since many of the Founding Fathers were slave-holders) will turn the high abortion rates of the turn of the century into some kind of a scandal.
    Stem cells are a potential way of preventing that. On the other hand, a great amount of research is being published on non-embryonic stem cells. There are, after all, more of them. I also suspect that many scientists would rather avoid the morally problematic just as most doctors would rather not be abortionists.
  3. Financial regulation.
    One problem with the leftist frame is that they usually oppose excess profits. The real scandal of the dot-com era (including Enron), wasn't excess profits but the disguised lack of profits.

As far as I know, that's it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Have American Men Been Feminized? Part II

I tested Kim du Toit's essay on The Pussification Of The Western Male on The Gender Genie. The results:

Words: 2755
(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 5368
Male Score: 4947

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!
I think there's a bug somewhere.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Fighting the Drug War

Pejman Yousefzadeh is asking for opinions on the War on Drugs (marijuana in particular). My opinion is as follows.

I don't think a suggestibility drug such as marijuana should be encouraged.

Common drugs are likely to be more dangerous than rare drugs. If someone uses a rare drug and ruins his life the damage probably won't go much further than that. If someone uses a rare drug and gets over it, he can always find out what he missed and catch up later. If “everybody” at some college uses the same drug and makes the same mistakes, they are not likely to be marked wrong for those mistakes. (Professors are reluctant to mark everybody in a class as wrong.) When they try to catch up later they will absorb each other's erroneous opinions. (Environmentalism explained!)

I suspect that marijuana might be particularly dangerous from the point of view of inducing groupthink. I have not had any direct personal experience but I have noticed that it is defended as reinforcing the approved habits in the social group of the user. In Victorian times it was supposed to suppress the sex drive. Recently it was supposed to do the opposite. When it was used by peace protestors it was a “peace drug.” When it was used by soldiers it induced foolhardy bravery. When it was used in areas with high crime rates it was a “killer weed.” If we put that together we can see that marijuana is a conformist drug—probably because of its ability to make people suggestible. (That might explain the thoroughness of the collapse of trendy drug use in the '80s. Once its use declined, the remaining users would start conforming to the new trend and stop.)

Drugs that are more likely to be used in crowds should be regarded as particularly dangerous.

It is essential to break the link between how common a drug is and whether it is accepted. There is a very simple way to do that: Declare that any drug whose use declines will be legalized. That will encourage drug users to keep their friends off the drug and will eliminate the “everybody does it” defense.

After the Libertarians have legalized all drugs, we can encourage university administrators to only expel students found using common drugs.

Real message: Even us hysterical anti-drug kooks can favor legalization.

Risperidal … Stat!

I recently received the following piece of e-mail:

Date: Sat, 1 Nov 2003 05:18:08 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Democracy !

Democracy socialism dictatorship capitalism etc. those are not basic political systems they are secondary systems.

There are only two possible basic political systems let's overpopulate the world to death creating wars starvation poverty crime etc worldwide or have a proper amount of people in the world, you know enough but not too many people where you don't create wars starvation poverty crime etc worldwide.

***       Which one is yours !       ***

Kill pope johnny for starving babies to death to make money from their pain and suffering by demanding everyone overpopulate the world to death then have the local priests stand up and say Look at all that starvation over there everybody Quickly give me money!

Kill pope johnny for overpopulating the world to death creating wars starvation poverty crime insanity abortion etc worldwide. Killing millions and millions of people and enslaving billions and billions of people in total dispair with his;

Come on now more more more just keep having more children NO BIRTH CONTROL! LOOK LOOK LOOK everybody look at all that starvation over there!

Quickly give me money!

If that was you starving to death you would want someone to give you something wouldn't you!


$1, $2, $3, $4, $5, $6, $7, $8, $9, $10 Here ALL you poor people here is $1 for all of you Jesus Loves ALL OF YOU ! Praise the Lord !

Now don't try saying there is too many starving people, or that overpopulating the world to death creates wars, starvation, poverty, crime, abortion etc. worldwide. That is not the problem the problem is that YOU are not giving me enough money to take care of all those good and wonderful starving people. That's the problem.

And no no no I don't pay taxes the money is for the poor.

Well got to go and build more churches in all the rich neighborhoods.

I am the pope !


No comment.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Why Do They Hate Themselves?

Why else would they do this?

Another Argument for Open Borders

Open borders will keep currently illegal aliens from being freeloaders:

Illegal aliens living in California can go to the state universities and pay only the in-state tuition, while native-born American citizens who live in neighboring Oregon or Nevada have to pay much higher out-of-state tuition to attend California's state universities. Apparently Mexico is not out of state.
Once those Mexicans are legal, they will become out-of-staters.

Friday, November 07, 2003

The Broadcast Flag and the War on Terror

One unwanted effect of copy restriction is that terrorists could conspire without ordinary people listening in. Right now there's a possibility their messages might wind up on Little Green Footballs the next day. Really effective copy protection might stop that.

Government agents could listen in but, even if we disregard those that apparently came from the Retief series, they probably couldn't keep track of the zillions of false positives.

Semiprofessional hackers could listen in, but <stereotype>they might sympathize</stereotype>

Thursday, November 06, 2003

It Was a Warning Shot

I don't think this was a mistake.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Communism Has Taken over Saudi Arabia

There is a shortage of sand.

Have American Men Been Feminized?

Yes, according to Kim du Toit. On the other hand, an army of girly men kicked the sorry butts of Real Men in Afghanistan and Iraq. On the gripping hand, maybe feminism has been masculinizing women rather than feminizing men.

An Effect of China's One-Child Policy

The one-child policy might end up filling the Chinese Army with Private Ryans. If all those only children are trained to regard themselves as irreplaceable, China might end up with an army of egomaniacs unwilling to fight.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Are the French our Allies?

Could be. According to an article in The Washington Post (seen via The Belgravia Dispatch):

BAGHDAD, Nov. 2 -- Saddam Hussein refused to order a counterattack against U.S. troops when war erupted in March because he misjudged the initial ground thrust as a ruse and had been convinced earlier by Russian and French contacts that he could avoid or survive a land invasion, former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has told interrogators, according to U.S. officials.
It looks like the French gave Saddam Hussein deliberate disinformation. They might be acting as triple agents—a pro-American nation pretending to be a pro-Arab nation pretending to be an American ally.

Besides, they are defnitely our allies in the other war for civilization going on at the moment—they know how to handle Greenpeace.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Oswald Spengler and The Onion

The following quote from Oswald Spengler (found in a comment thread on Gene Expression):

The final result is that endless industrious repetition of a stock of fixed forms which we see today in Indian Chinese and Arabian-persian art. Pictures and fabrics, verses and vessels, furniture, dramas and musical compositions--all is pattern-work. We cease to be able to date anything within centuries, let alone decades, by the language of its ornamentation. So it has been in the Last Act of all Cultures.
reminded me of an article in The Onion:

WASHINGTON, DC—At a press conference Monday, U.S. Retro Secretary Anson Williams issued a strongly worded warning of an imminent "national retro crisis," cautioning that "if current levels of U.S. retro consumption are allowed to continue unchecked, we may run entirely out of past by as soon as 2005."


"We are talking about a potentially devastating crisis situation in which our society will express nostalgia for events which have yet to occur," Williams told reporters.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

NARAL Will Have to Find a New Cliche

Soon, men will be able to get pregnant.

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