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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The Former Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse:
Someone who used to be sane (formerly War)
Someone who used to be serious (formerly Plague)
Rally 'round the President (formerly Famine)
Dr. Yes (formerly Death)

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Other interesting web sites:
Aspies For Freedom
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Day By Day
Dihydrogen Monoxide - DHMO Homepage
Jewish Pro-Life Foundation
Libertarians for Life
The Mad Revisionist
Piled Higher and Deeper
Science, Pseudoscience, and Irrationalism
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Yet another weird SF fan

Friday, May 28, 2004

The Greens Have a State, Why Not the Purples?

Ilya Shapiro, a Purple American, who prefers a Blue-state lifestyle and Red-state politics, is planning to move to Washington DC. I'm not sure that's the solution. I thought Washington's politics are even more unanimously Democratic than Manhattan's. You can certainly find more Republicans within walking distance in most parts of Manhattan than in Washington.

On the other hand, Green Americans, who prefer a Red-state lifestyle and Blue-state politics, can move to Vermont.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Circular Reasoning and Obesity

The following theory on the origins of the “obesity epidemic” (seen via Boing Boing) is a bit circular:

A recent paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition argued that the poor tend toward greater obesity because eating energy-dense, highly palatable, refined foods is cheaper per calorie consumed than buying fish and fresh fruits and vegetables.
In other words, the poor are consuming more calories because they're looking for more calories. If they were looking for cheap foods, they would get fresh fruits and vegetables. The assumption is that if a groups of people is doing something, they cannot be blamed.

But wait, there's more:

At the Oldways conference, Foreyt noted that 80 percent of African-American females are overweight, and that Hispanic women were the second-heaviest group. "The last to fatten will be rich white women," he observed.
There's an alternative explanation for the first-mentioned fact from Baldilocks (a black woman with a shaved head):
Nothing cracks me up more that seeing another black woman with hair straightened and weaved to a fair-thee-well, perfect-manicured hands, perfectly-pedicured feet, perfectly made-up (and usually pretty) face and weighing two hundred and fifty pounds. There’s a reason many black women are fat: they’re too afraid of napping up that hair with a little sweat.

In 1900 This Made Sense

According to Steven Weinberg (seen via the AnalPhilosopher):

With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.
A century ago, that made sense. Today it requires ignoring the history of Communism.

Speaking of Hair …

Wigs aren't the only things that can be made from hair (seen via Boing Boing):

Shanghai. (Interfax-China) - The Chinese government has shown an unusually high level of concern as a result of a bold media exposure towards a scandal in which human hair was used to make soy sauce. The government has now ordered an immediate inspection of all domestic food seasoning plants before the end of January.

China Central Television (CCTV), the state television station, first raised public worries over the quality of domestic soy sauce by uncovering a substandard workshop in central China's Hubei Province, where piles of waste human hair were found. The hairs were treated in special containers to distill amino acid, the most common substance contained in soybean sauce.

Human hair is rich in protein content, just like soybean, wheat and bran, the conventional and legally accepted raw ingredients for the production of soy sauce.

I suppose this hair product is also unkosher.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I Thought This Was a Computer-System Command and It Really Is One!

At work, while examing some files that will eventually produce a computer manual, I noticed a command KEYSTUCK. I thought that was a command for keyboards and now it finally has documentation. Will the printer software have the commands JAM_PAPER and SMEAR_INK?

Okay, so it's intended for a simulation system that also simulates what happens when things go wrong …

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Why Can't Jewish Ladies Wear Hindu Hair?

The phenomenon noted by Tunku Varadarajan is not limited to Hinduism and hair. Jews are also forbidden to drink Catholic wine. A substance used by another religion, especially if it is sufficiently different to count as idolatrous (at least as far as Jews are concerned), is forbidden for Jewish use.

There is an extensive discussion of this on soc.culture.jewish.moderated.

Logic and the Department of Motor Vehicles

I recently had to go to an office of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my non-driver's ID card. It's possible to renew a driver's license by mail but the non-driver's ID can only be renewed in person. It makes a little bit of sense to insist on the latter in today's society because of the possibility that a terrorist might use the ID card. In that case, it does not make much sense to allow driver's licenses to be renewed by mail. A terrorist can get a driver's license almost as easily as a non-driver's ID.

It's a logical theorem: A and B imply A. In this case, if a card can be used as an ID and the card can be used to drive legally then the card can be used as an ID. The Department of Motor Vehicles disagrees. Apparently, the geniuses at the Department of Motor Vehicles think that a card that can be used to drive legally cannot be used as a plain ID. I'm reminded of tests of the average citizen's understanding of logic. A substantial fraction of the population think “Joe is a computer programmer and a nerd” is more probable than “Joe is a nerd,” even though the first implies the second.

I won't do more than mention that they only checked my Social Security card and the picture on the old ID card (to see if I'm still bald, I guess) … or that I had to wait an hour and a half to do something that only took a few minutes … or that a terrorist with a driver's license can trasport a car bomb …

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Fat Terrorists?

According to the latest conspiracy theory (seen via Boing Boing), there are enough anomalies in the alleged Berg decapitation video to make some people suspect it was faked. For example,

34) "Terrorists" were fat
Several of the men in the film were fat by Iraqi standards. If they were Feyadeen or Mujahadeen, they probably have been living underground since the first days of the occupation. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been shown on news stories as they have marched and demonstrated. One would be hard pressed to point out a single fat man among these thousands.
On the other hand, see the fearsome iraqi militia and an even more fearsome terrorist leader.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Revenge for Rachel Corrie?

It should be obvious that this web site is a pathetic attempt on the part of leftist loons to get back at us neo-cons for all the insulting remarks made about Rachel Corrie. There are some significant differences:

  • The “dumbest soldiers” knew they were doing something dangerous; Rachel Corrie thought that being Western would make her immune.
  • The “dumbest soldiers” were doing something in the real world; Rachel Corrie was merely threatening something that would elicit an emotional reaction.
  • The allies of the “dumbest soldiers” are asked to mourn; the opponents of Rachel were asked to mourn.
  • Treating Rachel Corrie with disdain will discourage future human shields; treating the “dumbest soldiers” with disdain will have no effect.

Besides, if someone who thought of herself as a liberal became an activist for the right of local idiots to keep the “wrong” people out of their neighborhood, there's clearly some kind of intellectual defficiency going on.

Did Abu Ghraib Re-elect Bush?

One of the most promising Democratic hopes was that an apparently-harmless protestor at the Republican National Convention would get beaten up by a cop. After the Abu Ghraib fiasco every cop will remember that the cameras are running. Voters might even blame Democrats for wimpy behavior by cops.

There's also the possibility that a protestor might get beaten up (or worse) by a delegate. According to New York Magazine:

So the show will go on, but to what end? All the protesters have different answers. Dobbs hopes the protests at the RNC will be viewed as a referendum on the Bush presidency and the Iraq war. Cagan believes that successful demonstrations—peaceful and massive—will bring in new activists to “help build a broader global-peace and social-justice movement.” The Reverend Billy romantically dreams that his Ninth Symphony will, in some miraculous fashion, reveal to “all consumers how 9/11 has been used to sell the war.” Sellers hopes that “disciplined, well-organized protests” will improve the public image of progressive movements, while other direct-action advocates like Jamie Moran merely aim to “annoy the living crap out of delegates,” with little regard for what happens next.
I don't know how that will play in swing states.

On the other hand, The Enemy is afraid of live cameras, so maybe I'm making too much of this.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I Just Received the June Issue of Reason

… and the next time I go outside and look up, I intend to smile, because I'll be on Candid Camera.

For the benefit of those who haven't heard yet, NPR discussed the cover (it doesn't look like it's on Reason's web site yet):

As subscribers pull the June Reason magazine out of their mailbox, something about the issue should look familiar. The magazine published 40,000 individualized covers displaying an aerial photo of the subscriber's home and the surrounding neighborhood.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Trees Do Cause Pollution!

Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan attracted widespread ridicule for pointing out that trees also cause pollution. He was, of course, right.

When we look at green plants in general, we should also consider the oxygen holocaust of two billion years ago. It was a much worse example of poisoning the entire biosphere than anything today. The cyanobacteria started releasing a toxic waste known as oxygen that poisoned nearly every anaerobic species. The oxygen had other effects. It converted ammonia into nitric acid and hydrogen sulfide into sulfuric acid. It removed greenhouse compounds from the atmosphere and caused an Ice Age. The oxygen also changed the chemistry of uranium compounds and enabled uranium to become concentrated enough to start at least one natural fission reactor.

We had acid rain, climate changes, and nuclear waste all as a result one single selfish species.

The real message is that anything you try ridiculing Dubya about today will be defended by us “reactionary crackpots” a few decades from now.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

When the Left Reinvents Conservatism

The article mentioned in the preceding post was a special case of a leftist realizing something that many conservatives already knew and pretending he discovered it. The best example was Serge Lang vs. Samuel Huntington, in which Lang criticized Huntington using the same reasoning that Hayek used without admitting that a libertarian had preceded him. For a more recent example, see the discovery by critics of copyright extension that “international standards” are a way for a subset of each nation to make an end-run around criticism. It's what we right-wing unilateralists were trying to warn them about.

I Know You Are But What Am I?

Fafblog attempted to extrapolate a ban on the “morning-after pill” to other issues:

So the FDA has decided that the mornin after pill is not gonna be sold over the counter. This is yknow a huge step backwards for women's health and for contraception and the prevention of abortions. But it is a huge step forward for what we at Fafblog like to call the "rights of the unconceived," which is just a few short steps from what we are really lookin forward to which is the rights of the inanimate.
There are two problems with this.

UPDATE: James Lileks used a similar idea in his latest Backfence column:

There's something wrong about a card from the dog, and I say that as someone who would have bought such a thing five years ago. It's like a Mother's Day card from a lamp, or the furnace.

Another Effect of the Abu Ghraib Fiasco

It will make enemy soldiers less willing to surrender.

Meanwhile, the Other Side is dumb enough to make our side fight more fiercely. According to an AP story:

BASRA, Iraq - A senior aide of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told worshippers during a Friday sermon in southern Iraq that anyone capturing a female British soldier can keep her as a slave.

The aide, Sheik Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli, also called on supporters to launch jihad, or holy war, against British troops in this southern city.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Who's Next?

First, it was fetuses. Then it was the brain-damaged

I suspect the definition of brain-damaged might change with trends in legal fashions.

Cultural Stereotyping …

… found here.

This Shouldn't Be Dangerous

It's too easy to ridicule. (Seen via Accidental Verbosity and Weekend Pundit.)

After we track dihydrogen monoxide, we can then get started on sodium chloride, nicotinic acid, etc.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

American Dominance in the Sciences

Gene Expression points to an article on how the U.S. is losing its predominant position in the sciences.

We'll just have to topple another system and create another bunch of talented refugees.

Red States, Blue States, and IQ?

Gene Expression and Matthew Yglesias discuss a table that purports to show that Democratic states have higher mean IQs than Republican states.

I smell an odor of bullsh!t arising from this. In the table cited, there's over a 90% correlation between mean income and mean IQ. I suspect it's something made up out of income statistics with a little scatter added.

As for why states with high incomes went Democratic … It may be that the middle-class majority in rich states are prejudiced against their wealthier neighbors and the middle-class majority in poor states are prejudiced against their poorer neighbors.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

In two apparently unrelated research projects, scientists have developed superintelligent mice and schizophrenic mice.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Explanation for Prisoner Torture in Iraq

We're just being multicultural (seen via Transterrestrial Musings).

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