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
Sustainability of Human Progress

Yet another weird SF fan

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Diet Pepsi

In case anybody was wondering, I only had a can of Diet Pepsi at the blogger get-together.

Speaking of Diet Pepsi, many of the arguments used by Catholics and Fundamentalist Protestants against artificial contraception should also apply to artificial weight loss (e.g., saccharin, nutrasweet, sucralose, etc.). The purpose of sex is procreation and the purpose of food is nourishment. There's even a clear Biblical quote (Isaiah 55:2) against diet foods:

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
If cannibalism were a way to lose weight, we would have an analogy to abortion.

I once made a similar point in the other direction.

Hilbert Curves, Continued

I have put a sequence of approximations to the Hilbert curve on XBM Graphics.

Introducing XBM Graphics

I'm starting a blog for purpose of posting XBM graphics. (As far as I know, that's the only way have high-resolution graphics in inline html.)

Does Anybody Mainline Cheese?

There's evidence thatcheese is as addictive as morphine.

I'll believe it when I hear of pizza parlors being held up by addicts eager for a fix.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Update on Computer Troubles

The problems were caused by the mysterious deletion of /usr/bin/X11 from the PATH. I added the necessary directory to .bashrc, but I'm not sure how to add it on startup.

I'm using a two-year-old Lindows—now it's Linspire—system. It used to start up and load KDE by itself but now I have to start it in text mode and then type startx.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Stem Cells and Circumcision

Question: Can useful stem cells be extracted from foreskins?

More on Sharks

There's a possible clue about what a vegetarian shark might symbolize:

First came the fish bumper stickers, imported from the United States and pasted on cars by members of Egypt’s Coptic minority as a symbol of their Christianity. Before long, some Muslims responded with their own bumper stickers: fish-hungry sharks.


Emad, a Muslim, laughed when asked about the competing symbols but was unapologetic about the two shark stickers on his car.

The Christians had the fish so we responded with the shark. If they want to portray themselves as weak fishes, OK. We are the strongest,” said Emad, who would give only his first name.

They're so strong he won't give his name.

Would it make sense for the United States to adopt a speargun symbol?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Uh Oh

I tried installing the latest Firefox last night and broke the kde program. Now it's complaining about DCOPserver and I don't even know what DCOPserver is.

I have to post this using Lynx.

Update: I think the attempt to install the latest version of libgtk caused the problem.

This Is a Test

I'm trying to see if I can put graphics inside html. The following should be the TeX lion:

I have since moved the image to XBM Graphics.

Hey! It worked!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Next Alternative Lifestyle Sighted

According to Dear Abby, teenage girl is claiming to be a demon. Sure everybody else thinks she's nuts but that's merely evidence of society's intolerance. A century from now, Demon-Pride Parades will be regular events.

Spellling Kownts

I noticed a sign at a nearby supermarket announcing a series of lectures on healthy foods. One of the lectures will be about “Living with Celiac Disease (Glutton-Free Foods).” I suppose “glutton-free foods” are those not eaten on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Common Right-Wing Cliche

There's a common right-wing cliche that people in “red” states understand the “blue”-state viewpoint better than the other way around simply because they've been exposed to Hollywood propaganda. I disagree with my fellow loons on this issue. One way to check that is to see if equivalent movies on the right and left are equally well distributed.

Let's take two films that are works of fiction that were intended to be documentaries: Fahrenheit 911 and The Passion of the Christ. According to a a graph in The New York Times, all of the 50 highest-grossing theaters of Fahrenheit 911 were in blue states whereas the 50 highest-grossing theaters of The Passion of the Christ were in both red and blue states. It looks like the blue states are better exposed to red-state ideas (at least borderline nutty ones) than vice versa.

Lopsided Politics, Part II

While reading the paper on lopsided politics at Berkeley and Stanford, I noticed that assistant professors were less politically skewed than associate professors. That argues against the claim that the skew is due to discrimination. If it were due to discrimination, it would have gotten worse once the left had become more entrenched.

Monday, November 22, 2004

This Must Be Godless Capitalist

John Derbyshire had a visitor.

If this “swelling wave of knowledge” resembles an earlier environmentalist wave, we can expect:

  • A large number of soundly-established facts which require only trivial changes … most of which would have occurred anyway. (We probably would have gotten public sanitation, for example, even without epidemiology. After all, people prefer to move away from smells.)

  • An even larger number of apparent facts causing lifestyle changes which turn out to be baseless. (For example, much of what passes for modern morality was based on supposed Malthusian necessity.)

  • An enormous amount of preposterous cliches. The cliches are most firmly believed by people distant from science. Some of them are picked up by real scientists, who think that they're just using common sense.

Hmmm… I wonder if it's worth becoming the Julian Simon of this “wave of knowledge”…

Hilbert Curves, Part II

Last month, I blogged the following:

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.
Since that isn't very understandable to non-mathematicians, I'll try to translate it into English.

In the normal scan-line method, the electron beam will go to the end of a line before starting on the next. As a result, if the transmitter doubles its resolution, it will go through each line in half the time. That means the transmitter will broadcast the far edge of screen while the receiver is ready for middle. The receiver will show two copies of the screen, each half width.

If the screen is scanned by a Hilbert curve, the transmitter will broadcast a pixel from near the point the receiver is prepared for even if the resolution doubles. Doubling the resolution will not produce any large-scale distortion.

When the resolution is doubled, the order of the curve increases by one. Each order Hilbert curve (the top illustration here shows the first few orders of the Hilbert curve) has double the resolution of the preceding one. The curves from the second order onward will go through each quarter of the square in the same order; the curves from the third order onward will go through each sixteenth of the square in the same order; etc.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Population Density, Water, and Politics

There's a strong correlation between population density and voting for Democrats. I have also noticed a correlation between proximity to water and voting for Democrats. The “blue” counties tend to concentrate on the sea coasts and Great Lakes, and along the Mississippi and Rio Grande rivers. (Cf. John Tierney in The New York Times.)

Water may be a more important explanation than density. Low-density counties along the Mississippi often went Democratic. In North Carolina, the more-urbanized inland voted Republican and the more-rural seacoast voted Democratic.

James Lileks and C. S. Lewis

I just realized that some of the rooms described in Interior Desecrations by James Lileks sound like they might be the Objective Room in That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis.

We Reactionary Crackpots Are Getting Too Paranoid

A review of Shark Tale claims that it has a pro-gay agenda:

(AgapePress) - It is an axiom for many parents that, when it comes to teaching kids what they need to know, "It's never too young to start."

What happens when Hollywood applies the same axiom to teaching young people -- even children -- to accept homosexuality?

That appears to be the case in the DreamWorks animated film Shark Tale, released in theaters in October. While it won't take in the money of last year's Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, the DreamWorks story of life under the sea netted almost $119 million in its first 17 days in theaters.


Lenny, however, just doesn't seem to get it. At a public restaurant with his two boys, Lino tells Lenny: "I don't know how else to say this to you, Lenny. You see something, you kill it. You eat it. Period .... That's what sharks do. That's a fine tradition. What's the matter with you?"

A shark who isn't a killer is not "normal," and this deficiency in his son is starting to embarrass Lino. "I'm hearing things," he tells Lenny. "You gotta understand, when you look weak it makes me look weak."

The above sounds more like a Palestinian going against family pressure and refusing to be a terrorist than anything else.

Lopsided Politics on Faculties

I'm sure most of blogosphere has heard of the New York Times article on the extreme political skew of some university faculties. The two most common explanations are: 1) that right-wingers don't have the mental capacity to be a professor; 2) that hiring committees are discriminating against conservatives. I find both of those hard to believe. On the one hand, we see much less skew in people with advanced degrees who aren't professors. On the other hand, I haven't heard of enough examples of discrimination against conservatives.

Speaking as a Ph.D. who's not a professor, I think this is probably because leftists are more likely to be attracted to shaping “young skulls full of mush.” If you're going by “They say” instead of “It is,” it's of utmost importance to influence what “They say.” If you're going by “It is,” such influence is of secondary importance.

Local Funding of Embryonic Stem-Cell Research and Animal-Rights Activists

I doubt if localities that fund embryonic stem-cell research will gain that many scientists. The same type of politics that produces the funding will also attract animal-rights and anti-genetic-engineering activists. The activists will probably repel more scientists than the stem-cell bribes will attract.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Another Abortion–Terrorism Link

Dawn Eden points out that the abortifacient used by Women on Waves is extremely dangerous. I'm not surprised. The pro-abortion movement can blame any post-natal fatalities on abortion being illegal. I'm reminded of a comment from Dick Aubrey, one of Instapundit's readers:

I once observed, while in Central America with such a bunch, that if dead civilians were necessary to discredit US policy, dead civilians would be provided. Part--I speak as one with some formal training in hearts-and-minds--of the lefty war manuals deal with how to deke the government into killing their own people. The lefties always knew that if they killed civilians, all would be forgiven, if it were even noticed.

I have made a similar observation to my own church (PCUSA), modifying it to, "If dead babies are useful to Saddaam, dead babies will be provided." The point is that the folks who made such a big deal about the sanctions are directly responsible for making dead babies so valuable to Saddaam. Blood is on their hands. The blood of innocents.

If dead adolescents are needed to repeal abortion laws, dead adolescents will be provided.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Blame Canada!

One of most striking changes between the last two Presidential elections is the swing to the left of areas near Canada. (See the map at Patrick Ruffini's web site.)

There's a simple explanation. The stasist wing of my fellow reactionary crackpots has been warning about the possibility of Democrats registering illegal aliens to vote. They were right about that but they were wrong about which border to watch. It looks like Canadian illegals have had far more effect.

To quote from Canadian Bacon (directed by Michael Moore back when he was still funny):

The Canadians. They walk among us. William Shatner. Michael J. Fox. Monty Hall. Mike Meyers. Alex Trebek. All of them Canadians. All of them here.

Think of your children pledging allegiance to the maple leaf. Mayonnaise on everything. Winter 11 months of the year. Anne Murray - all day, every day.

Like maple syrup, Canada's evil oozes over the United States.

The Two Maps Explained, Part II

Gene Expression points to a couple of articles supporting my theory about the two maps.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

My Cat Is Planning to Register Republican …

… now that the Democrats have adopted a Pro-Puppy Platform:

The new platform eschews all attempts at walking the line on potentially controversial issues, and instead attempts to connect with what Democrats suggest are a set of "values all Americans can agree upon." This includes, and indeed is entirely limited to, a broad statement of support for "puppies, rainbows, and flowers."
On the other hand, that's clearly due to her racist prejudices against dogs.

I Know You Are but What Am I?

I usually use the above phrase while talking about leftists but right now it's more useful in response to Mark Krikorian:

The Wall Street Journal has a story today on a new report that finds that the tight labor market for nurses has eased because of a higher pay drawing more people into the occupation. Now how do you think that would have worked out if the president's proposed guestworker program had been up and running? He has called for opening every occupation in every part of the country to an unlimited number of foreign workers willing to work at any wage. Would nurses' pay have gone up or down? Would hospitals be giving nurses more flexibility in setting their schedules or less? Hospitals know the answer, which is why they are perennially at the forefront of efforts to increase the number of nurses imported from the Third World. As Adam Smith said, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."
Isn't he advocating a conspiracy to raise the price of American nurse's labor?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Uh oh

Katz's deli isn't kosher after all.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A Better Kinsey Comparison

Conservatives should not compare Alfred Kinsey to Josef Mengele. We should compare him to Dan Rather.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

A Suggestion for Mel Gibson, Ben Stein, Patricia Heaton, etc.

Meghan Cox Gurdon has suggested that some of Hollywood's token conservatives produce an anti-abortion film. One plausible plotline is two parallel movies: one in which somebody is aborted and the other in which the same person is born. You can think of It's a Wonderful Life (“One man's life touches so many others, when he's not there it leaves an awfully big hole.”) as an example. There are other anti-abortion techniques that could be used (portraying abortionists as cold-hearted or showing the visibly-human dead late-term fetuses) but I doubt if they can carry a film by themselves.

There's an objection we pro-lifers should deal with first. Saddam Hussein was almost aborted. We can deal with this on the sound-bite level (“Preventive execution? No thanks.”) or we can deal with this on the speculative level. (If Saddam Hussein had never existed, we might be in a nuclear war with Iran today.) We must be prepared for it.

Overconfident Leftists

Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing and BoingBoing's fans are getting paranoid about the right of pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control pills, sometimes even accusing the pharmacists of violating Constitutional rights.

At a first look, that's a pointless complaint. It's not a violation of the Constitution for a pharmacist to refuse a pill. Pharmacists are not normally government agents and it's always possible to go to the next drugstore.

At a second look, it's not so pointless. If the left gets into power and pushes through a single-payer medical program, pharmacists will be government agents with a monopoly. Apparently, the left is already planning what they'll do after they take over the country.

Explaining New Hampshire Election Results

According to Dale Amon, the fact that New Hampshire went Democratic shows it has been colonized by New York City. I disagree. If you look at comparative maps, you can see it's the rural northern half of the state that tipped from Republican to Democratic. It's actually been colonized by either Vermont or Canada.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Another Kosher Blog Bash

Meryl Yourish is making plans for another kosher blog bash on November 28th.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Which Regions Swung the Most?

After examining the data from Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, and comparing it to The 10 Regions of US Politics, I found that the two regions with the greatest swing were Northeast Corridor (where the Democratic margin decreased by 7.38 percentage points) and Appalachia (where the Republican margin increased by 5.59 percentage points).

Addendum: More complete data here.

I Won't Believe It …

… until they bury him with a stake through his heart.

Odd Phrase at the Dawn Patrol

I noticed an interesting phrase in Dawn Eden's discussion of the resemblance between the Theology of the Body and Jewish tradition:

At the wedding reception, I approached the rabbi and complimented his sermon. Then, remembering Dennis's optimism in the Theology of the Body's revolutionary power, I told him about the theology—and how impressed I was to see that there was a parallel in Jewish teaching.

In the course of describing the theology, I used the word "pro-life." As a result, the rabbi thought I was asking him about abortion—so he responded with his interpretation of Jewish law on that subject. (A detailed exploration of the topic is available on
The phrase “his interpretation” sounds like it was excessively pro-choice. She couldn't even use my standard response.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Behind Enemy Lines

I just realized that much of leftist rhetoric we've seen lately: insulting “red” states, taking about secession, exaggerating the liberalism of the “blue” states, etc. will have the effect of convincing us blue-state conservatives that we're behind enemy lines. I suspect they think that will make us surrender.

Some of them might have manipulated the exit polls on election day for a similar reason. They thought they could win if they could just make us despair. On the other hand, I followed the reactions to the polls at The Corner and the polls just made us right-wing crackpots put even more effort into getting out the vote. The exit polls might have even helped Bush carry Ohio.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Two Maps Explained

Sensory Overload has a couple of maps that purport to show the True Nature of Bush Voters. On “the Pre-Civil War Map, the red areas were slave states and the brown areas were territories open to slavery, while the green areas were free states and territories.” In a map of the 2004 election, the red and brown areas went for Bush whereas the green areas went for Kerry.

There's another explanation besides racism. American politics require a multicultural society to work right. The arguments of The Federalist Papers were originally intended for a multiregional society but they apply even more strongly to a multicultural society. Unicultural societies tend to become socialist.

In the mid-20th century, immigration was restricted. That meant the normally multicultural port cities (the heart of the green areas of the Pre-Civil War map) congealed into a white majority. That, in turn, produced powerful labor unions and runaway government spending in green areas. In the same era, the red areas had large black minorities and the brown areas had Native American minorities. That enabled them to retain their multicultural nature.

There is hope for the Democratic states. Immigration has revived and that might account for the swing to the right that we currently see in areas as disparate as Beverley Hills or Flatbush.

Monday, November 08, 2004

If the “Blue” States Secede …

… what would keep parts of said states from seceding from them?

One of the reasons for the proposed secession is that the blue states send more to the red states than they receive. I supect that it's only a few parts of the blue states that are responsible for that and they might secede in turn.

What would keep Wall Street from seceding from New York or Beverley Hills (where the Republican vote doubled in the past four years) from seceding from California?

There's a better solution to the money leak out of blue states. We can vote for politicians who will push through tax cuts for the rich. As Lacey Davenport's husband once said (as reported by Gary Trudeau): “Try not to forget we're rich.”

A Scandal Is Coming

The last three Republican Presidents to be reelected were damaged by scandals in their second terms. Reagan had Iran–Contra; Nixon had Watergate; and even Eisenhower had Sherman Adams. I see a pattern. I think the press might try for a repeat.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Judging by the Election Results for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc.

We reactionaries are …


I know it's childish but I couldn't resist.

Did Team America Nearly Carry Hawaii?

After all, Hawaii is closer to North Korea than the continental U.S..

Which States Swung Most?

After examing the data from Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, I made a list of the ten states where the Republican margin increased most (or the Democratic margin decreased most). They are:
StateAmount of swing
New Jersey9.6%
Rhode Island8.4%
New York7.7%
West Virginia6.5%
The list includes quite a few “blue” states.

Now let's look at the opposite: the ten states where the Democratic margin increased most (or the Republican margin decreased most). They are:
StateAmount of swing
D. C.3.9%
New Hampshire2.6%
It looks like the Northeast Corridor and Bible Belt swung right and the Northwest (both Pacific and Mountain) and northern New England swung left.

If Democrats Imitate Their Idea of Republicans …

… they'll be muttering about black helicopters and wearing aluminum-foil hats.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Michael Moore's Influence

I have reason to believe Fahrenheit 911 carried the cab driver vote for the Democrats.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

One Reaction to the Election

Advice for Democrats seen on Boing Boing:

Do not accept.

Do not waver.

Do not shut up.

Do not give comfort with your distress.

Be an unrelenting irritant.

Be a dumbass.

Right now, attitude is everything.

Isn't that the attitude that nearly lost the Republican edge in the House in 1998?

Brief Summary of Interior Desecrations

James Lileks has '70s derangement syndrome.

Actually, I wish it were possible to send a copy to myself in college in the 1970s. “Soon this horrible period will be over and people will laugh at the ‘former wave of the future’.”

The Nonsequitur Award Goes to …

Desmond Morris for the following example of inspired smugness (in an article discussing the recent discovery of the remains of miniature hominids):

In theory, the existence of Mini-Man should destroy religion, but I can already hear the fanatics claiming that he has been put on earth by the Devil simply to test our faith.
Errr… Why? Can't God create anything (or anybody) He wants?

It might be due to the supposed incompatibility between this discovery and atheist's fantasies about what religious people believe about souls:

They stubbornly continue to insist that we are some kind of special creation.

The arrival of "Mini-Man" is going to give them nightmares.

How can he be "semi-special"? That won't make sense. He can't very well have a semi-soul.

Why not? I already believe that fetuses have semi-souls. Why can't this be another example?

That Explains It!

If you wondered why the exit polls didn't seem to make sense, there's an explanation. (Seen via Fark.)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Indecision 2004

Should I vote for a far-right ideologue? Or should I vote for a nuanced pro-“choice” candidate?

In other words, should I vote for the Republican Howard Mills or the Conservative Marilyn O'Grady for Senator from New York. (It looks like Schumer's a shoo-in so I don't have to vote strategically.)

On the one hand, I agree with O'Grady and disagree with Mills on abortion.

On the other hand, the pro-abortion movement did not pop out of nowhere. Part of it came from the idea that United States is “full,” which also led to immigration restrictions. As a result, I'm reluctant to vote for an anti-immigration candidate.

On the gripping hand, O'Grady's website only mentions immigration laws as an anti-terrorism measure. I think that's forgivable. So … it's O'Grady for Senate.

As for the Presidential election, all I have to say is: Vote for the pinhead; it's important.

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