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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Small Sample Watch
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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
Sustainability of Human Progress

Yet another weird SF fan

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A Real Mass-Transit Program

According to Jane Galt, mass transit is not viable outside New York (I think this includes Hudson County, New Jersey), Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Clearly, the best mass-transit program would try to improve the economies of New York/Hudson County, etc. The simplest way to put more money into those areas is tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy.

You probably didn't know Dubya was such a supporter of mass transit.

Red vs. Blue

Steve Sturm is discussing the fact that “blue” states are subsidizing “red” states via the Federal government. This has been known for years and it was one of the reasons I began to realize that the world according to liberals does not always correspond to reality. There's even a simple explanation for it. Politicians from red states have put psychoactive chemicals into the water supply of blue states to get the voters there to vote against their best interests.

I can't think of any other reason people from New York or Massachusetts would vote Democratic.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

What Were Amalekites? Continued

I've received e-mail pointing out that Amalek was a grandson of Esau.

It should be obvious that we're dealing with somebody else by the same name.

On the other hand, maybe that just means Esau was also an extraterrestrial inserted into Rebecca's womb by the Masters of Krikkit. (“On the way back they sang a number of tuneful and reflective songs on the subjects of peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life and the obliteration of all other life forms.”)

In any case, while discussing dealing with Amalek we should use the traditional rules for debates that take place during the holiday commemorating a triumph over Amalek.

Maybe It Was a Coincidence

Traffic was only 3 on the first day of Rosh Hashanah but it was 7 yesterday (Yom Kippur).

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

This Sounds Almost American

According to the latest news from Japanese schools:

A team led by Agata questioned a total of 1,692 students aged nine to 13 in three different surveys from June 2001 to June 2004.

In one survey of 720 pupils, 27 percent did not know that the Sun sets in the west, while two percent explained the Moon's waxing and waning by choosing the explanation "the Moon has many shapes".

In another sample, out of 348 students asked to circle the correct statement to describe the Earth's orbital relationship to the Sun, 42 percent circled "the Sun goes around the Earth", while 56 percent picked the correct answer.

Only 39 percent correctly answered that the Moon orbits the Earth in the same way as man-made satellites.

If this happened in America, it would be used by one part of the political spectrum as a reason to spend more on education, by another part of the political spectrum as a reason to impose national standards, and by yet another part of the political spectrum as a reason to use eugenic immigration restrictions.

Monday, September 20, 2004

What Are Amalekites?

Luke Ford is discussing the Biblical injunction to wipe out the Amalekites on the Protocols. At first, the command looks like a violation of human decency and the lessons of Jewish history but there is an explanation.

Balaam described Amalek as “the first of the nations” even despite the fact that Amalek was not mentioned in the list of Noah's descendants. Clearly, the Amalekites are not descended from Noah. Since Noah was the ancestor of all humanity, the Amalekites aren't human. (According to some Jewish sources, extraterrestrials do not have free will. I doubt if that is true in general but it apparently applies to Amalekites.)

In accordance with the commandment, as humanity expands into space we must be on our guard and be ready to fight Amalek of Borg.

Resistance won't be futile.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

I Am Not Wearing Pajamas

I'm in a bathrobe right now. (Is this a violation of the blogger dress code?)

I Am Personally Opposed to …

… refusing to prescribe contraceptives.

The holocaust analogy has been overdone. Instead, maybe we should ridicule the “personally-opposed” slogan out of existence by applying it to everything.

Who's Trying to Control Whom?

According to Andrew Sullivan:

NOW, THE PILL: The increasing popularity of laws that allow doctors and pharmacists to opt out of certain practices or even certain kinds of patient is a worrying trend. It was designed in part by the religious right to prevent gay people from having access to good medical care, and also to protect doctors from being forced to perform abortions. Now, its effects are being extended to the birth control pill, which some believe can be a form of abortion. The slow and fitful attempt of the far right to control others' sex lives continues. If you approve, vote Republican.
The slow and fitful attempt of the far left (or, in Andrew Sullivan's case, far center) to control others' professional lives continues. If you approve, vote Democrat.

By the way, whatever happened to the “between a woman and her doctor” slogan? Has it been replaced by “between a woman and a court order”?

I Must Have Reform Jewish Readers

I noticed I got only three unique visitors on the first day of Rosh Hashanah but the traffic was up to a more normal nine on the second day.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

“Pro-Choice” Greeting Cards

Dawn Eden is collecting ideas for parodies of “pro-choice” greeting cards. My suggestion for Rosh Hashanah:

[Front of card:] Abraham wasn't allowed to sacrifice his firstborn
[Back:] Make sure you keep that right!

For the benefit of gentiles and Extremely-Reform Jews, the story of the near sacrifice of Isaac is read during Rosh Hashanah.

I'm Reminded of Terri Schiavo

Maybe leftists don't want to bring up this case.

On the other hand, maybe we “reactionary fruitcakes” should mention it.

On the gripping hand, maybe leftists will see why we're making such a fuss about Terri Schiavo. (First, they came for the brain-damaged …)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Baselines, xHeight, and IBM Executive Typewriters

After taking another look at the disputed memos, I noticed that the baselines of the w's were above the baselines of other letters. On the other hand, the tops of the appropriate lower-case letters (acegmnopqrsuvwxyz) were all at the same xheight. The latter is more important in view of the fact that repeated copying can cause pointed parts of letters to fade.

Just another brick in wall …

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Mushroom Cloud Seen over North Korea

For some reason, none of the news reports mention any radioactivity. The Chernobyl explosion was detected by an increase in background radiation so if it were a nuke we would be sure of it by now.

Income Inequality and Ill Health

According to an article on znet (seen via Stuart Buck):

In 2000 at the last Olympic fete, we were 24th while last year we were tied for 26th. Fifty-five years ago the US was in the top five and Japan had an even more shameful performance than we do today. Yet Japan, among rich countries, wins the gold in the Smoking Olympics. About 55% of Japanese males smoke, compared to 26% of American men. How do they get away with winning both Gold Medals? What is loaded in Japan's smoking gun?

What makes a population healthy are not the usual do's and don'ts that make an individual healthy. Smoking isn't good for you. But compared to other adverse health conditions, it isn't that bad. What is worse for a population than smoking?

Research has shown that status differences between the rich and the poor may be the best predictors of a population's health. The smaller the gap the higher the life expectancy. The caring and sharing in a society organized by social and economic justice precepts produces good health. A CEO in Japan makes ten times what an average worker makes, not the 531 times in the USA reported earlier this year.

If the gap between rich and poor produces ill health because the sight of a rich person stresses out the poor then …
… envy is quite literally a deadly sin.

On the other hand, maybe second-hand smoke improves health. After all, if we go by post hoc ergo propter hoc standards …

Be Vewy Quiet, I'm Spwaying Tabasco Sauce

According to Reuters (seen via Clayton Cramer):

Dutch farmers have devised a hot and spicy way to stop rabbits and rodents from munching their lettuce, carrots and wheat.

Spraying fields with the American sauce Tabasco sends the rabbits "three feet in the air" with shock and running for cover, said a spokesman for a local agriculture cooperative.

My cat used to steal food from the table until she ate a peppercorn. She stopped for a few months after that.

Maybe I should put another peppercorn on the table.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

IBM Executive Typewriters and the Possibly-Forged Documents

Gary Farber points out that IBM Executive typewriters had the ability to do proportional spacing. I'm still dubious about the documents. In my professional opinion (as a veteran of pre-word-processing publishing), if those documents had been done on an IBM Executive typewriter, each letter would be on a slightly different baseline.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Explaining “Godless Capitalist” of Gene Expression

It's quite simple. He was raised as a Hindu and, although he no longer believes in Hinduism, he still believes in caste.

In general, bits and pieces of a religion are likely to make less sense away from the religion itself than they do in context.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A Downside of Immigration

Most of the sensible Mexicans have come over here:

The most negative attitude toward the U.S. came from France, Germany and Mexico, where roughly 80 percent of those surveyed thought that the foreign policies of President Bush had made them feel worse about the United States.
What's the excuse of France and Germany?

Seen via The Corner.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Blogging The Classics

Better Living Through Blogging has suggested a new blogosphere meme:

Now it's your turn. UPDATE: No rules. Just find a classic line from a novel -- opening line or otherwise -- and modify it to reflect blogging and/or bloggers. Generic phrasing (blog or bloggers or blogging) is best, but exceptions can be made -- for instance, "Call me Instapundit" works because most bloggers have heard of him and visit his site, and the "I" is sort of alliterative because both Ishmael and Instapundit begin with that letter. Have fun - heck, maybe we'll turn it into a contest -- select the best entries, and then have a vote-off!

I see no reason to limit this to novels.
  • I blog, therefore I am.

    • Improved version: I link, therefore I am.

  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all bloggers are created equal…

  • It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an argumentative nerd in possession of a good computer must be in want of a blog.

  • Upon what meat doth this our Instapundit feed that he is grown so great?

  • In the beginning, Pyra created blogger and blogspot.

  • A microbe is which has no inbound links.

  • Art goes yet further, imitating that rational and most excellent work of Nature, man. For by art is created that great LEVIATHAN called the INTERNET, or WEB (in Latin, ARANEA), which is but an artificial man, though of greater stature and strength than the natural, for whose venting and expression it was intended; and in which the W3C is an artificial soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body; the blogger and other posters of facts and opinion, artificial joints; Google's page rank (by which fastened to the seat of the sovereignty, every joint and member is moved to perform his duty) are the nerves, that do the same in the body natural; the microprocessors and ISP connections of all the particular members are the strength; vox populi (the people's voice) its business; Unix geeks, by whom all things needful for it to know are suggested unto it, are the memory; data and programs, an artificial reason and will; uptime, health; downtime, sickness; and flame wars, death. Lastly, the RFCs, by which the parts of this body politic were at first made, set together, and united, resemble that fiat, or the Let us make man, pronounced by God in the Creation.

If This Happened in the United States …

… it would be regarded as a reason to adopt Canadian-style health care:

Vancouver — The family of a 22-year old woman who died at a British Columbia hospital threatened legal action yesterday in an attempt to show that emergency-room staff failed to properly respond when an uncle rushed in, frantically asking for help.

Single mother Jessica Peace was in the back seat of the car when Jim Roberts pulled into the emergency driveway of Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, outside Vancouver, two weeks ago. She had stopped breathing moments before.

Mr. Roberts asked for help. Hospital staff called 911 for paramedics to bring Ms. Peace into the hospital. "I believe if I had gotten help immediately when I pulled up, she would still be alive," he said yesterday.

Monday, September 06, 2004

But Seriously Now …

I've been trying to figure out what the study referenced in the preceding post was a parody of. I think it's a parody of this apparently serious (or at least solemn) study.

A Reason Why Intellectuals Lean Left

According to a recent study:

A five-year study run by Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction proves what many in the scientific community have always suspected: having children significantly lowers the IQ of both male and female parents.

Researchers at the Kinsey Institute began their study in 1999 by giving 200 married couples who were planning on starting families within the next four years Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests. By 2003, all but 27 of these couples had conceived.

Another IQ test was given to each set of parents successful in conceiving and birthing a baby six months after their child was born. These results were compared to the previous intelligence tests.

In every single one of the 173 cases, both parents scored at least twelve points lower on the second IQ test, with the majority of parents losing twenty or more IQ points.

This looks like it might be an involved joke, but it has supporting evidence from James Lileks:

… My wife was late, so she missed supper. Gnat and I were outside playing baseball when she got home.

Relieved of duty, I called the dog to my side and headed off for the nightly walk, thinking: what a wonderful life. How lucky I am. And if she’d been ten more minutes late I would have put my head through a brick wall.

It’s just different, that’s all. Anyone who’s home all day with a kid knows what I mean. Whatever train of thought you have is derailed every 45 seconds. That’s just how it goes. I’m lucky; when my wife comes home she takes over completely, and Gnat is in Mom-heaven. If my wife came home and plopped on the sofa, watched soaps or headed off to play golf, I think I would expel streams of hot liquid brain matter out of my ears. …

Aha! This finally explains why intellectuals lean left. They have fewer children and parenthood is one the strongest reasons people become more conservative.

That might mean there are former Malthusians who retained enough brain cells to realize their earlier opinions were utter nonsense. It also explains why teachers are one of the furthest left groups around. They have extra exposure to children (which removes critical thinking) but don't have an actual stake in them (which removes an incentive to be conservative).

There is the alternative theory that the researcher's calendars are five months off.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Have New Yorkers Gone Nuts?

Probably not. I am very skeptical about the reports about a recent poll:

On the eve of a Republican National Convention invoking 9/11 symbols, sound bytes and imagery, half (49.3%) of New York City residents and 41% of New York citizens overall say that some of our leaders "knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act," according to the poll conducted by Zogby International. The poll of New York residents was conducted from Tuesday August 24 through Thursday August 26, 2004. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of +/-3.5.

The poll is the first of its kind conducted in America that surveys attitudes regarding US government complicity in the 9/11 tragedy. Despite the acute legal and political implications of this accusation, nearly 30% of registered Republicans and over 38% of those who described themselves as "very conservative" supported the claim.


W. David Kubiak, executive director of, the group that commissioned the poll, expressed genuine surprise that New Yorkers' belief in the administration's complicity is as high or higher than that seen overseas. "We're familiar with high levels of 9/11 skepticism abroad where there has been open debate of the evidence for US government complicity.

Why should we believe a poll commisioned by some clown who claims there's been no open debate in the U.S.? For one thing, I'd like to know the complete wording of the questions asked.

A very important question about this news release: Was this a signal to attack? It looks like it was designed to say, “You hoo! Come and get us and we'll blame your enemies!”

On the other hand, it also looks like it didn't work.

Science Fiction and Islam

I just realized that “Friendlies” of Soldier, Ask Not by Gordon Dickson bear a striking resemblance to Muslims.

I'll probably expand on this in future posts.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Is Zell Miller a Fascist Dixiecrat?

Zell Miller's speech was a little-bit fascist in that he used “outsourcing” as a dirty word. On the other hand, that's even stronger among liberal Democrats. At least he didn't accuse capitalists who try to hire foreigners of being “Benedict Arnolds.”

As for the Dixiecrat accusation… It comes from people who probably think of The Battle Hymn of the Republic as Dixiecrat.

By the way, what's the proper term for people who think the worst of a speech delivered in an unfamilar accent?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Mathematics and Individualism

The Ten O'Clock Scholar is applying transfinite mathematics to morality:

The Needs of the One outweigh the Needs of the Many, if human life is considered extraordinarly precious and valuable, in a counter-intuitive result!

It's those who place some finite value on human life, that thus fall naturally into pure utilitarian calculations -- and this leads them to deeply anti-human results. Because if then something is Good for the Collective, then 49% percent of the people can be massacred with impunity by this philosophy!

And of course, that's exactly what happens.

But when a special sanctity is placed on human life, giving it essentially infinite value, then by the Cantorian arithmetic of infinities, losing a single life is an equally horrific tragedy as 100, both of infinite loss!
This can be taken even further. If each human being is a Proper Class, then it's an error to regard a human being as a member of a set. That means any kind of collectivism becomes impossible.

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