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, October 31, 2004

Look at What I Missed!

I'm on the Fabiani Society's mailing list and received an invitation to a round-table discussion last Wednesday but I didn't feel up to going. (I'm starting to suffer from election burnout.) According to Ace of Spades:

In attendance were Kathryn Lopez of NRO, Robert A. George of the New York Post (I believe), and John Fund of the Wall Street Journal.


But the real news was Fund's report of a conversation he had with a Democratic consultant, whose name, he said, we'd all know. He didn't say the guy's name, but he said he had spoken to him in the green room during the taping of a recent show.

Fund asked what he thought of the election, and this man said, "Off the record, I think Kerry just might lose." But he then continued (paraphrased): "That doesn't mean it's over, though. Democrats will protest and fight so strongly that Bush won't have a win even if he wins. We will obstruct so much that this country will be ungovernable by Christmas."

I'd like to know how they can manage that. Most of the privately-owned guns are in “right-wing” hands and, come to think of it, most of the publicly-owned guns are as well. They can try calling a general strike but the working class is no longer overwhelmingly-Democratic and unions are increasingly toothless. (In other words, there will be plenty of strikebreakers.) They can try calling a strike of upscale professionals but some professions are more liberal than others.

I suspect we can survive a strike by artists, actors, humanities professors, and lawyers.

Besides, they already promised to disrupt the Republican Convention and failed.

Addendum: I just remembered that Democrats were predicting a “long hot summer” full of urban riots if Reagan was elected. Somehow, the riots never materialized.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

How Should We Think of Early Embryos?

I have encountered some skepticism about whether an embryo immediately after conception should be regarded as a separate human being. On one hand, it is preposterous to think that a fetus is an inanimate object a minute before birth but a full human being a minute after birth. On the other hand, some people cannot believe that a single cell can have rights. On the gripping hand, there is no clear dividing line.

The question of whether a fetus is a human being can be divided into two separate questions:

  1. Is the embryo part of a human body?

    The answer is clearly yes.

  2. Which body?

    This is less clear. Fuzzy logic might be appropriate. You can think of the mother and child as two different beings with a fuzzy boundary in space–time. If you cannot believe that an embryo 1 second after conception is not a separate human being but an infant 23 million seconds later is a separate human being then maybe the embryo could be considered 1/23,000,000 part of a human.

    In that case, it would clearly be inexcusable to destroy over 23,000,000 one-second embryos.

Guess Who's against Bush!

It's David Duke:

The election is right around the corner and guess what, the American people once again have no real choice for President of the United States of America. No candidate is really worth the vote of one American but I can say without the least hesitation that no candidate deserves defeat more than George Bush, who is the clearest example of a traitor to the American people since the time of Benedict Arnold. The only President who I would say had out-treasoned George Bush was Franklin D. Roosevelt who, completely controlled by his Jewish supremacist advisors and financers, worked so intently to foment the Second World War, the most disastrous and terrible blood-letting in the history of European mankind in o, and the seminal event that has directly led to the rise of Israel, Zionism and Jewish supremacy over our government, media and culture in the postwar years.

You know you've entered Bizarro World when leftists and neo-Nazis are nearly indistinguishable.

Odd Author at the Math Archive

I noticed the following at the mathematics arXiv:

Title: Branch Rings, Thinned Rings, Tree Enveloping Rings

Authors: Bilbo Baggins, Laurent Bartholdi
Categories: RA Rings and Algebras (GR Group Theory)
Comments: 29 pages

Abstract: We develop the theory of ``branch algebras'', which are infinite-dimensional associative algebras that are isomorphic, up to taking subrings of finite codimension, to a matrix ring over themselves. The main examples come from groups acting on trees. In particular, we construct an algebra over the field of two elements, that is finitely generated, prime, infinite-dimensional but with all proper quotients finite, has a recursive presentation, is graded, and has Gelfand-Kirillov dimension 2.
From: Laurent Bartholdi [view e-mail at the arXiv]
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2004 10:52:08 GMT (36kb)

Does George Soros Observe the Sabbath?

The “bear raid on TradeSports was apparently on hold for the past day.

On the other hand, maybe we reactionary crackpots are just paranoid and it's only a coincidence.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Why American Jews Still Vote Democratic, Part II

If the “missing Republican problem” among Jews is due to Republicans converting out (as I theorized earlier), that might explain the increasingly pro-Zionist nature of American Christianity. They might have forgotten that God is One Person, but they haven't forgotten Israel.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

How Did They Run Ventilation Systems in the Old Days?

James Lileks wonders:

I had to buy air filters for the house this weekend. There's a central fan that moves the air around. Why, I have no idea. When the house was built 90 years ago, people had to move the air around the old-fashioned way, perhaps by filling balloons upstairs and emptying them in the basement. Or they hired neighborhood kids to be "zephyr boys," running around the house flapping leather wings.
I thought they used draft animals back then.

Disclaimer: The same pun can be found in Tatja Grimm's World by Vernor Vinge.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Red Sox Technologies?

Start up your fusion-powered aircars! “Wait 'til next year” is no longer needed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Is It Racist to Say That Bush's IQ Might Be Higher Than Kerry's?

John Tierney (one of the The New York Times token conservatives) recently reported on Steve Sailer's analysis of the candidate's IQs. Apparently, there's evidence that Bush's IQ is slightly higher.

The really fascinating reaction comes from leftists. According to Captain Normal:

Dubya is Smarter than Kerry---and he don't cotton to no race mixin', neither


Normally we'd just dismiss this as typical neo-con "Everyday is Opposite Day" bullshit and move on.


Steve Sailer writes for a rabid xenophobe website, and Prof. Gottfredson is bankrolled by an organization dedicated to "race betterment" for those "deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution."

That is the true face of the far-core right, the Taliban wing of the modern GOP---white power assholes and their willing thralls in government, media, and the blogosphere.

Had Captain Normal actually looked at Steve Sailer's site, he would have seen numerous criticisms of Dubya and his neo-conservative allies:

Am I writing this because I am biased against one candidate?

No. As a conservative Republican concerned by the President's Invade-the-World / Invite-the-World policies on Iraq and immigration, I've certainly criticized Bush more than I've attacked Kerry.

It must have been a strain for Steve Sailer to admit that someone who supports increased immigration could have a high IQ. In any case, racists have had a long-standing antipathy to the Bush family.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Why Are There Signs Saying “Bush Song”?

And why are they all in German?

I can't think of any other reason why they say “Bush Lied” …

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Liberals and Abstinence

Some liberals believe that abstinence can help solve problems:

MONTEREY, Calif. (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Monday that his speech backing President Bush at the Republican Convention in August resulted in a cold shoulder from his wife, Maria Shriver, a member of the famously Democratic Kennedy family.

"Well, there was no sex for 14 days," Schwarzenegger told former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta in an on-stage conversation in front of 1,000 people.

Not Again!

It looks like we'll go through a repeat of The Judean People's Front vs. The People's Front of Judea again. (In case you need some background, it was covered in the documentary Life of Brian.)

If the Red Sox Win the World Series …

… will the “Red Sox technologies” become profitable?

Idiots vs. Idiots?

Which side of the political spectrum has stupider supporters?

It appears to be a tie.

On the other hand, the intelligent people on our side can explain why the questions are irrelevant.

Update: There's more commentary from David Bernstein and Kaimi Wenger.

Seems Like Old Times

I haven't encountered reactions like this since the days when I walked out on pot parties … in the 1970s … at Stony Brook.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Two Theories on Why American Jews Still Vote Democratic

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy is asking (here and here) why American Jews still vote Democratic. I have two theories about that:

  • First, the two mysteriously persistent Democratic ethnic groups (blacks and Jews) were reliable Republican in the late 19th century. It might simply be a matter of “They won't fool us again.”

  • Second, according to this study (Exhibit 7 on page 27), only 13% of both religious Jews and agnostics of Jewish descent are Republicans but 40% of Jews who have converted to other religions are Republicans. They have been subjected to the propaganda campaign that there's something Jewish about modern liberalism and they have responded. This isn't even limited to the United States.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Is Team America Legal?

After considering the way my fellow reactionary crackpots have embraced Team America: World Police, I suspect some Democrats will claim it's an illegal Bush campaign commercial.

A Theory about Theories

As a general rule, any theory that is explained with many words in all-caps is probably worthless.

Come to think of it, I didn't see any other entry in that blog with more than one word in all-caps outside of titles.

A Pleasant Surprise

Speaking of astronomy … I recently attended a lecture at Hayden Planetarium on the President's proposed space policy and encountered no Bush bashing or even heckling.

In a possibly-related story, the Red Sox won a game against the Yankees.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Stereotyping Conservatives

Dawn Eden is criticizing the tendency of leftists to sterotype conservatives—in particular, the “religious right.” I'm most annoyed at the tendency to assume that the religious right is limited to Christians.

I have frequently found that I'm mistaken for a Christian. I am not the only Jew to have encountered this. This is particularly serious since the supposed unanimity of Jews on the topic of abortion is a way to evade the Holocaust analogy to abortion and is a way to pretend that a pro-life policy violates the First Amendment.

I suspect that the most important reason for this apparent unanimity is that many pro-life Jews have left Judaism. I have read of an analysis of pro-life activists which found that far more were raised as Jews than are still Jewish. There are also the actual examples such as Dr. Laura, Lew Lerman, Bernard Nathanson, etc.

There's a very simple way for Dawn Eden to help remedy this …

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Is the Left Trying to Stop Medical Research?

If the Left succeeds in nationalizing medical care, it will probably shut down private medical research. There is a strong possibility that the Left might also try to shut down public funds for alternatives to abortion. After all, abortion will look horrible after it becomes obsolete.

This might seem completely paranoid, until we consider Dawn Eden's encounter with James Watson:

I was introduced to the gaunt, aged legend by another scientist, who proceeded to tell Watson about his biomedicals company, which funded work in the genetics field.

Watson interrupted him: "Is your company geared towards research or service?"

The scientist paused for a second, taking in the unusual question. "Research," he answered.

"That's the problem with these companies today!" the Nobel laureate erupted. "Everyone's doing research in genetics and nobody's doing service. Because it's too controversial"—he sneered—"to help mothers so that they can give birth to healthy babies."

This is a truly odd attitude for a researcher. Apparently, it's much better to keep killing defective unborn children in the name of good health than to find other ways of ensuring healthy babies.

Two More Notes on Sukkot

According to the prophet Zechariah (14:9):

And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
In other words, Trinitarianism has to go. The only way for it to survive is if it's watered down into something resembling the Musaf Amidah on Rosh Hashanah. (During that prayer we Jews pray to God as king of the universe, to God as the recorder of all deeds, and to God as revealed by miracles and prophecies.)

The description of Jesus entering Jerusalem in the New Testament looks interesting to us Jews. According to St. Matthew (21:8-9):

And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
Cutting down branches? Shouting Hosanna? That's what we do on Sukkot. Do Christians celebrate Easter at the wrong time of year?

Did Palestinians Kill Christ?

A few years ago, I wasted lots of time arguing with antisemites on Usenet. They would first claim that Jews killed Christ and then complain about the plot for Jewish world domination detailed in the Book of Deuteronomy. Many of them sounded like ignoramuses trying to imitate fundamentalist Christians and failing. In retrospect, it looks like they were Muslims out to stir up hatred between Jews and Christians.

We can play a similar game. We can look at the major Jewish communities of 2000 years ago and try to identify their descendants. The Jewish community of Mesopotamia became the ancestors of the Jews of the Muslim world. The Jewish community of Rome became the ancestors of the Jews of Europe. (Digression on Roman Jews: The Jewish prayer Nishmat has been attributed to Saint Peter. At the time Christians were merely an eccentric Jewish sect similar to Chabad.) A large part of the Jewish community of Palestine stayed in the area and eventually converted to Islam.

In other words, the descendants of the crowd shouting for Jesus's blood in the Gospels are Palestinians, which means … Palestinians Killed Christ!

Well … yes, that's preposterous but it's no more preposterous than much of their propaganda.

But wait, there's more. If Muslims try reminding Christians of traditional Jew hatred, they might also remind them of traditional Islam hatred. For example, in 1213, Pope Innocent III declared Mohammed to be the Antichrist. (Mohammed might be deceased but his soul goes marching on, so to speak.) If they succeed in reviving Christian bigotry, it won't stop with Jews.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Magic and Larry Niven Stories, Continued

I had somehow forgotten that Niven had written a couple of stories (“What Good is a Glass Dagger?” and “The Magic Goes Away” in The Time of the Warlock) about an evil magician using necromancy to acquire magical powers from murdering people.

Should Cathode-Ray Tubes Use Hilbert Curves Instead of Scan Lines?

Since the following idea has attracted favorable attention, I'll repeat it here:

One standard to change is that of using scan lines in TV. If the electron guns scanned the tube in a Hilbert curve, either the broadcaster or the receiver could double the potential resolution while remaining compatible with the old resolution at the other end.

Monday, October 11, 2004

A Brief Note on the Afghanistan Election

It looks like the minor parties in Afghanistan have studied us. They know precisely what buttons to push to get sympathy from American liberals.

Hmmmm… Are they trying to influence our election by driving up the moonbat turnout?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Judaism, Magic, and Larry Niven's Science Fiction

In Deuteronomy 18:9–11, there's a mysterious set of injunctions:

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.
Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
This brings up two questions: 1) What do they mean by “magic”? 2) Why are they associating it with human sacrifice?

It's a well-known principle that any sufficiently-advanced form of technology is indistinguishable from magic. We should instead examine the question: Under what circumstances should sufficiently-advanced technologies be prohibited? The Deuteronomy quote clearly means that technologies that require human sacrifice should be prohibited. (I recently blogged about a pre-technological example of the same phenomenon.) In particular, organ transplants that require somebody to be killed (instead of dying naturally) are out.

Larry Niven wrote numerous stories and novels in a society in which condemned criminals are used as a source of transplant organs (e.g., “The Jigsaw Man” in the collection Tales of Known Space, the novel A Gift from Earth, and the collection Flatlander). That might not sound like such a bad idea … except that the slippery slope produced a society in which exceeding the speed limit became a capital crime or organs could be taken from someone who hadn't been convicted yet.

Embryonic stem cell research is another example of this. The restrictions on publicly-funded stem-cell research authorized by the current Administration is an attempt to ensure that no fetus is aborted for the purpose of providing stem cells.

Another example of banning “magic” technology

There's a well-known Biblical passage (Exodus 22:18) usually translated as: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” It can also be translated as: “Thou shalt not suffer a poisoner to live.” Apparently, it bans a type of poisoning that most people would not classify as murder because otherwise the law would be unneeded. Selling abortifacients fits.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Is Yucca Mountain Safe?

There's a discussion in the comments to this post on Assymmetrical Information on the safety of nuclear waste depositories. In order for a waste depository such as Yucca Mountain to be unsafe the following assumptions must be true:

  • There is no safe dose of radiation.

  • We should consider the effects for the indefinitely-long future.

  • Currently-impermeable barriers cannot be trusted.

If all of those are true, we must use up dangerous natural uranium as soon as possible. Each uranium atom will eventually release 50 MeV of radiation if it isn't split. The fission products will release half that.

There's another reason to use nuclear energy. It will save oil that should be reserved for the far more important purpose of tarring and feathering environmentalists.

Addendum: I just realized I blogged this before. On the other hand, there's P.D.Q. Bach's motto: “If something didn't sound right the first time, say it again louder.”

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Science Fiction and Islam, Continued

Warning: the following will only make sense if you've read Gordon Dickson's Childe cycle books

Last month, I mentioned that today's Muslims resemble the “Friendlies” in Soldier, Ask Not by Gordon Dickson. Yes, I know they sound like Fundamentalist Protestants but they act like Muslims. (On the other hand, Dickson was the co-author of “Undiplomatic Immunity” in the Hoka series which mentioned that the planet Bagdadburgh was an originally-puritanical Scottish–Arabic colony and presumably involved a merger between Calvinists and Muslims.)

In particular, the character Jamethon Black was not a fanatic himself but he was reluctant to believe that his religion was led by fanatics. A generation later, the non-fanatics had learned to distinguish themselves from the fanatics. Right now, moderate Muslims are just starting that process.

But wait, there's more. In Soldier, Ask Not, the character Tam Olyn comes to the same conclusion as Anne Coulter—that those fanatics must be eliminated. In The Final Encyclopedia, the Friendlies that Tam Olyn tried to destroy turn out to be essential to resisting the takeover by the Others. I suspect that Muslims wil be essential in the future although I'm not sure how.(Maybe they'll be last-ditch resisters of a tyranny that hasn't been invented yet.)

Sunday, October 03, 2004

My First Pro-Life Demonstration

Today, I spent over an hour holding a sign at Stand up for Life, part of Life Chain Sunday (seen via Meira Online (seen via Jews for Life)).

A few comments:

  • When I mentioned that I'm Jewish, some of the other participants seemed impressed. (The bad news is that means we Red-Sea pedestrians are rarely found at these events.)

  • Some of the drivers in the cars passing by honked in support. I noticed several of them giving a thumbs up. On the other hand, I saw at least one driver giving a thumbs down. To my great disappointment, I did not see anybody give us the finger.

  • The average age was older than I had expected. I thought that more people who might have been legally aborted would show up.

  • The signs were in both English and Spanish. Theocons are not paleocons.

How Republicans Can Get the Jewish Vote

A few months ago I posted that there's enough Hollywood influence on Jews that Republicans could get the Jewish vote by nominating Ben Stein. There's a long list of Hollywood Republicans at Gene Expression. They can field lots of candidates.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Curmudgeon Must Live in a Jewish Neighborhood

The following incident was probably caused by the first day of Sukkot:

There’s a flat, straight stretch of divided highway, starting not far from my house, which is part of my commuting route. Long Island being the traffic nightmare that it is, even at the early hour at which I travel (5:30 AM), that road is usually quite full. Hundreds of cars go clipping along at 65 MPH while their drivers attend to such last-minute needs as shaving, toothbrushing, or checking their investments in the Wall Street Journal.

Not today. By some coincidence, everyone in the area slept late this morning, except for your humble Curmudgeon.

There was no one else on the road. The darkness was a blanket of peace. By another coincidence, the road had been resurfaced only a few days before; the humming of the tires against the asphalt was a perfect, smooth hum, a single low cello note played by a bow of infinite length. I was doing what I was meant to do, in an appliance perfectly mated to its application, under conditions that could not have been better.

You don't have to be Jewish to benefit from Judaism.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.

Chinese Celebration of Sukkot?

According to John Derbyshire, there's a Chinese holiday that coincides with the first day of Sukkot:

The Derbs (including Boris) just came back from our annual moonlight walk. This is a Chinese thing: on the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month you celbrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. This involves eating some special foods (notably moon-cake) and going out to "appreciate the moon" (_shang yue_) and recite appropriate poems. The proper day was really yesterday, but the sky was cloudy last night, so we put it off till tonight. The moon was exceptionally fine, full and bright in a clear sky. There are no street lights out here in the sticks, so we strolled through the argentine moonlight, followed by our moon shadows. Lovely.
According to the prophet Zechariah, eventually everybody will celebrate Sukkot. It looks like the Chinese have a head start.

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