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:
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Dihydrogen Monoxide - DHMO Homepage
Jewish Pro-Life Foundation
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The Mad Revisionist
Piled Higher and Deeper
Science, Pseudoscience, and Irrationalism
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Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Maybe Civilization Really Is Doomed

The Culture of Death just won the Oscar for Best Picture.

On the other hand, things could be worse. A Motherly Culture of Death won no awards.

Will They Also Ban Abortions of Nerd Fetuses?

A State Representative in Maine has introduced a bill to prohibit abortions based on the sexual orientation of the unborn baby.

I'm more interested in protecting nerd fetuses. There's even a recognized syndrome that amounts to extreme nerdiness. A genetic test might be next.

The Mainstream vs. Consensus Dichotomy … Again

Aaron Swartz has recently compared the lack of conservatives at Ivy League universities with the lack of believers in paranormal phenomena there (seen via Boing Boing):

Scary as this is, my preliminary research has discovered some even more shocking facts. I have found that only 1% of Stanford professors believe in telepathy (defined as “communication between minds without using the traditional five senses”), compared with 36% of the general population. And less than half a percent believe “people on this earth are sometimes possessed by the devil”, compared with 49% of those outside the ivory tower. And while 25% of Americans believe in astrology (“the position of the stars and planets can affect people’s lives”), I could only find one Stanford professor who would agree. (All numbers are from mainstream polls, as reported by Sokal.)

This dreadful lack of intellectual diversity is a serious threat to our nation’s youth, who are quietly being propagandized by anti-astrology radicals instead of educated with different points of view. Were I to discover that there were no blacks on the Stanford faculty, the Politically Correct community would be all up in arms. But they have no problem squeezing out prospective faculty members whose views they disagree with.

When we apply the mainstream/consensus ratio analysis to alleged paranormal phenomena, we see that Googling paranormal mainstream yields 89,600 hits whereas paranormal consensus yields 19,800.

In any case, the claim by my fellow reactionary crackpots is that a liberal consensus is squeezing out legitimate parts of the mainstream.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Offending Imaginary Conservatives

On Science and Politics, Bora Zivkovic is busy offending the imaginary conservatives in his head:

Then, PZ Myers of Pharyngula scares right-wingers by putting together their two bigest sources of insecurity: penises and evolution ( Apparently, size matters - in the opposite direction of what you think:
" hasn't been at all uncommon for female vertebrates to
be untroubled by the absence of a penis in their mates, and apparently have
preferred it that way."

That females do not select males according to the size of their bone (yup, bone, "os penis" in Latin) has been shown before here:\
(The original Pharyngula post did not mention politics.) Speaking as a reactionary crackpot, I don't give a piece of organic fertilizer.

I'm reminded of the controversy a few years ago about supposedly-declining sperm counts supposedly due to supposed pollution. That looked like an attempt at getting the stereotypical macho nutcase right winger to support environmentalism. In the real world, we didn't care.

Jews and the European Far Right

According to The New York Times, European Jews are starting to vote for far-right parties:

PARIS — A curious thing is happening in Belgium these days: a small but vocal number of Jews are supporting a far-right party whose founders were Nazi collaborators. The xenophobic party, Vlaams Belang, plays on fears of Arab immigrants and, unlike the prewar parties from which it is descended, courts Jewish votes. Perhaps 5 percent of the city of Antwerp's Jews gave it their votes in the last election.
This might look almost as preposterous as voting for far-left parties (the traditional political affiliation among non-traditional Jews) but the far right is better for the Jews in one respect.

The far right is more likely to help us pack.

The Brain Waves of Jello?

According to a list of facts so obscure that some of them were made up:

If you hook Jell-O up to an EEG, it registers movements almost identical to a human adult's brain waves.
I've seen this claim before but never a source. What would power those waves? If brain waves can come out of nothing, how would there ever be a flat EEG?

There were other preposterous statements on that list. For example:

If you gave every human on earth an equal portion of dry land (including uninhabitable areas), each person would only have an area equal to six ping pong tables placed together (27.5 square meters).
There are roughly 150 million square kilometers of land on this mudball. That's 150 trillion square meters. If they are divided among 6 billion humans, that comes to 25,000 square meters per human.

There are other criticisms (seen at the Fark discussion board).

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

If Evolution Is a Matter of Natural History …

… then it makes sense to treat it in the same manner as history.

For example, the claim that the patterns we see in history are due to Intelligent Design makes sense in a purely-religious context but not elsewhere. There's nothing wrong with claiming that history is a matter of God's guidance in a sermon on Saturday/Sunday/whenever. On the other hand, claiming that there's secular evidence that history is due to someone's design (usually expressed as a conspiracy) makes the theorist look like a crackpot.

There's a possible counterargument. Human history is the sum of millions of small-scale intelligent designs. On the other hand, those designs have nothing to do with large-scale patterns. For example, no human being planned for the United States to start looking like a new version of the Roman Empire. (Those nations that were planned to be new Roman Empires failed at it.) The small-scale intelligent designs should be regarded as the equivalent of Darwinian microevolution, which most Creationists accept.

Meanwhile, the fact that somebody thinks God is guiding evolution does not mean he/she is an ignorant twit any more than somebody who thinks God is guiding history is a conspiracy theorist. Similarly, a scientist who disregards Intelligent Design is not necessarily any more anti-religious than a historian who disregards conspiracy theories.

Monday, February 21, 2005

More on Consensus

At the recent AAAS convention, Neal Lane explained why I'm reluctant to take the global-warming hysteria seriously:

Among scientists, said Lane, "there is quite a consensus in place that the Earth is warming and that humans are responsible for a considerable part of that" through the burning of fossil fuels.

And the science is clear, he said, that without action to control fossil fuel use, the warming will get worse and there will be climate events that "our species has not experienced before."

When scientists use the word “consensus,” it's a clear sign they're trying an end run around the mainstream scientific method. Real scientists give evidence; they don't say “Trust us.”

Besides, if global warming is a menace, we should have anti-nuclear activists tried for treason to humanity. We can start with the Union of Concerned Scientists …

They had some real issues with the current adminstration. For one thing, there were some apparent budget cuts:

Federal spending for research and development is significantly reduced under the proposed 2005 Bush budget, the speakers said.

"Overall the R&D budget is bad news," said Bierbaum.

She said the National Science Foundation funds for graduate students and for kindergarten through high school education has been slashed.

This is, of course, opposed to all expert advice. Expert advice always includes paying more for experts (see Genesis 44:31).

I also noticed an odd admission:

Rosina Bierbaum, dean of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, said the Bush administration has cut scientists out of some of the policy-making processes, particularly on environmental issues.

"In previous administrations, scientists were always at the table when regulations were being developed," she said. "Science never had the last voice, but it had a voice."

They're admitting that? I recall the same rhetoric being used in the Reagan administration. I suppose twenty years from now, they'll be ranting about how much better things were under George W. Bush.

I Know You Are But What Am I?

That's the best response I can think of this to this example of leftist arrogance:

The reason why various departments in humanities and social sciences do not hire conservatives is the same reason no department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology would ever hire a creationist - they are wrong. Their research method is useless: starting with the conclusions then cherry-picking "evidence" to support the conclusions. That is how creationists operate. That is how conservatives operate. That is not quality work and there is no reason why any department should hire such sub-standard faculty. The important question is how come such ass-idiots ever got hired and tenured in departments of business, economics, religion and law? Isn't THAT the real example of ideologically-based hiring? There is no other explanation for them being hired in the first place. Quality of their work and thought could not possibly have been a cause for their hire.
In other words, the left is overwhelmingly dominant in university departments where they study their own opinions. University departments where they study either the external world (the sciences, engineering, and economics) or the opinions of people outside the university (religion and law) have more diverse faculties.

I noticed that the list of Enemy Departments included economics. When I checked the consensus/mainstream ratio for sci.econ, I noticed it was almost exactly balanced. I suppose that means the Establishment sometimes makes sense but not always.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Anja Rand Rug

Ikea is selling a rug called Anja Rand (seen via Boing Boing). I suppose the installation involves pounding points into the ground.

A Few Notes on Terri Schindler-Schiavo

I haven't posted much on Terri Schindler-Schiavo since lots of other people have also been posting, but I would like to make a few comments.

First, there's a common left-wing cliche that conservatives believe that the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth. They'll have to find a new cliche now. (As far as I can tell, liberals believe that the right to life begins at sentimentality and ends at apathy.)

Second, there have been several cases of surprising recoveries from a minimally-conscious state. The first is more noteworthy because of the patient was about to be taken off life support.

Third, if it's morally permissible to euthanize brain-damaged people and if the definition of brain damage continues to expand, far more of us will be in trouble.

My Favorite Method Is to Take It Apart into Space Habitats

Sam Hughes (seen via Geek Press) is discussing how to destroy the earth:

Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Coincidentally Right

John Zmirak, in the course of an article on “natural” and artificial birth control (seen via Dawn Eden), gives an example of why I regard the Catholic Church as only coincidentally right on abortion:

To utilitarian Americans, this seems like a pointless distinction: The end justifies the means. When we want to lose weight, we get liposuction. When we want the kids to sit still, we give them Ritalin. When we want more milk from a cow, we genetically engineer it using alien DNA from a grasshopper. Descartes taught us long ago that the point of science was to become the "master and possessor of nature." But the Church sees Creation as covered with big, greasy divine fingerprints, which we're not supposed to wipe away in our rage to tidy things up. And because sexuality is even more sacred than eating, we must treat it with more reverence than we do, say veal cattle. The best way to explain the Church's official theology is to compare spacing children to losing weight. You can achieve that through dieting—or you can try bulimia. If you think they're equivalent, you probably better go back to your gastroenterologist.
An ethic based on “If it's not natural, it's bad.” can easily become environmentalist and then Mathusian. (If “natural family planning” becomes popular, we can expect the Other Side to redefine it to mean planning for a world population that can be supported without “frankenfoods.”) Frankenfoods and other equally artificial means will probably be needed to support large populations (as required by God's instructions to Noah).

Come to think of it, the authors seem a little too ready to assume that natural family planning is an alternative to large populations. Natural family planning advocates rarely cite quantitative data. It might slow down population growth but won't stop it. (It's also worth noting that Orthodox Judaism also requires periodic abstinence, but in the other direction. Natural family planning and the Orthodox Jewish laws of family purity are incompatible … which goes a long way to explaining the sizes of Hasidic families).

Meanwhile, persons have rights, even when unborn. Foods don't.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

H. P. Lovecraft and Bob Newhart

Salon recently ran an article on H. P. Lovecraft. I had some trouble taking Lovecraft's work seriously … partly because the first Lovecraft story I read (The Dunwich Horror) reminded my of Newhart:

Hi. I'm Wilbur. This is my brother Yog Sothoth and this is my other brother Yog Sothoth.

Are Embryos Alive?

There's a debate (part of the fallout from the Dawn Eden explosion) on Alarming News on whether embryos should be considered alive. The classic argument (from the Talmud, Sanhedrin 91b) is that if an embryo were dead it would start rotting.

Consequences of Radical Life Extension

Jay and Deb have been discussing the likelihood of radical life extension (i.e., living until proton decay, the big rip, heat death etc.). The real optimists such as Ray Kurzweil or Eliezer S. Yudkowsky think that we'll develop radical life extension in the not too distant future.

I've thought of an odd consequence. Some people will be in positions with life tenure when radical life extension hits, e.g., Supreme Court Justice, Pope, or Dalai Lama. Maybe we should be careful about who is appointed to those positions.

There's a more serious consequence. Given the increasing tendency to excuse (sometimes involuntary) euthanasia, it's likely somebody will be euthanized for a supposedly-incurable illness not long before the singularity.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The “Nobody Agrees with You” Argument

One of the commonest arguments on the left in the 1970s was the “nobody agrees with you” argument. (Nobody agrees with you, conservatives are obsolete, even Nixon had liberal policies, etc.) This was proved to be spectacularly wrong in the 1980 election (as I recently remarked). It's recently surfaced in a non-political context.

Publish America (see background here) recently sent the following letter (seen via Making Light) to a writer who dared complain:

Ms. Paris,
How does it make you feel to always be on the wrong side of an argument, to
always side with the wrong people, to always find something to whine about?
Can you sleep at night knowing that once again you made the wrong choices,
picked the wrong allies, championed the wrong case?
You have been harassing this company now for a long, long time, and you
must stop this as of today. You are wasting everybody's time, most of all
your own.
You side with an extremely small minority of extremists, who are the only
ones in the whole wide world who agree with you. Everybody else praises
PublishAmerica for who we are and what we do, for our openness and our
old-school professionalism. Your clique went to the media in hopes of doing
damage to what is now recognized nationwide to be the country's fastest
growing publishing company, yet instead you have achieved the opposite.
We are receiving messages and phone calls from all over the country from
people who have read the Associated Press article about us in their local
newspaper, wishing us well, offering their books for publication, offering
their business services, or in the case of the Baltimore City Police,
calling to simply congratulate us on behalf of their entire corps after
reading about our successes in the Baltimore Sun, (circulation similar to
the Washington Post's) and to thank us for our contribution to society.
And you are "absolutely sickened"? If so, then there must be something else
that's ailing you, because it cannot be us. And we know of eleven thousand
happy PublishAmerica authors who would readily agree with us.

Thank you,
Author Support Team

The Loons Are Listening

The story of Dawn Eden's dismissal from The New York Post has gotten out to a member of the lunatic fringe, who's trying to make this look like a case of Jews persecting a Christian. First, an obvious joke was quoted with a strange emphasis added:

The Post hired her full time in 2003. She loved editing and writing punning headlines. But she landed in hot water after giving an interview to Gilbert, a G.K Chesterton magazine, in which she talked about her faith and working at the Post.

She said her boss, chief copy editor Barry Gross, chided her, telling her, “Some people already think the Post is conservative, and we don’t need New York readers also thinking it’s a Christian paper and that there are Christians working there.

The actual quote without added emphasis:

The Post hired her full time in 2003. She loved editing and writing punning headlines. But she landed in hot water after giving an interview to Gilbert, a G.K Chesterton magazine, in which she talked about her faith and working at the Post.

She said her boss, chief copy editor Barry Gross, chided her, telling her, "Some people already think the Post is conservative, and we don’t need New York readers also thinking it’s a Christian paper and that there are Christians working there."

He also neglected to quote the following excerpt about the dismissal:

Mr. Allan called her into his office and fired her.

"Probably the second most surprised person in the office the day she was fired, after Dawn, was me," said Mr. Gross. "I’m still not pleased about it, but the call wasn’t mine."

I won't do more than mention that she's one of our moles (with additional evidence here) or that she's willing to save non-white babies.

Comments on Eden in Exile

One of the events that got Dawn Eden involved in Christianity was reading The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton. I found that a bit odd since the only specifically Christian part of it was the shift of the week by one day. (Maybe someone who was raised Extremely-Reform would regard it as Christian.) I had a slightly-different take. I read The Man Who Was Thursday in the late 1970s as someone out of step with the era and what I got out of it was the idea, that if you persist, you'll find that the people you thought you were opposing were on your side. This was reinforced not much later when Ronald Reagan was not only elected but even carried such apparently-liberal strongholds like New York and Massachusetts.

I also had a slightly-different reaction to Marshall McLuhan. I was very dubious about the claim that “non-linear” (whatever that means) society had anything to do with media technology. Cathode-ray tubes were the crucial technology that allowed television. I figured that, in a “linear” society, CRTs would show words instead of images. Not long afterward, computers with CRTs started appearing, first as dumb terminals but later as full computers. (When the Macintosh computer came out, I got nervous because it looked like an attempt to revive the '70s. When it became a way to use odd typefaces, I relaxed a little.)

As for the firing, there are reasons some people might object to over-enthusiastic copy editors. I once changed Lennard-Jones to Lennard–Jones and then found that Lennard-Jones was one person. On the other hand, I also changed a scientist's obituary from “He was eager to work with students who wanted to be experiments.” to “He was eager to work with students who wanted to do experiments.” Sometimes copy editors have to make emergency corrections.

An addtional thought: If the editors of The New York Post were trying to make the paper more acceptable to liberals, this is likely to backfire. Much of the antipathy to conservatives in New York is due less to disagreement than to the fear that conservatives will hand the nation over to THEM. (In New York, THEY are usually unreconstructed racists who will revive slavery and burn crosses on synagogue lawns.) As long as New Yorkers thought the people at the Post were sincere, the Post would be judged on the basis of what they print, which isn't that bad even by New York standards. Now that they look like phonies, the obvious conclusion is that the Post has sold out to THEM. Get ready to see every preposterous cliche about conservatives applied to the Post.

As Odd as Dawn Eden

There's a Hasidic reggae singer (seen via The Brothers Judd).

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Crucible vs. On the Waterfront

A commenter in the Fark discussion on the recent death of Arthur Miller said:

2005-02-11 10:59:36 AM the_american_president  

It's interesting to watch "The Crucible" and "On The Waterfront" back-to-back. Both deal in not-so-subtle ways with the HUAAC "witch hunts" of the 1950's, and it's illuminating to see what different conclusions are drawn in the two works.
In some ways, the two works were similar. Both of them dealt with standing up against social pressure. The difference is that the people exerting the pressure in “The Crucible” wore labels that said “I'm an Authority!” whereas they didn't in “On the Waterfront.” (Some of the people on the pro-individual side wore those labels.)

This Should Not Need External Funding

If there's anything to the Global Consciousness Project (seen via Boing Boing), all they have to do is take it to Vegas or Atlantic City. If they're ejected from those places, they can try Wall Street.

On the other hand, this might just be a case of scientists moving goalposts and fooling themselves.

On the gripping hand, they might have been the people behind the mysterious short selling just before the World Trade Center attack.

Addendum: There's a takedown here.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Advice for Commenters

If you want to quote from something using italics, followed by a response on a separate line, you should leave a space at the end of the italic line after the close italic tag. Otherwise, the lines will be combined.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Is America's diversity Its Strength?

According to the We Are Family Foundation:

Tolerance is a personal decision that comes from a belief that every person is a treasure. I believe that America's diversity is its strength. I also recognize that ignorance, insensitivity and bigotry can turn that diversity into a source of prejudice and discrimination.
Not only do I believe that, I also believe that. In particular, I think that “every person is a treasure” applies to unwanted unborn children.

On the other hand, Saint Kansas is dubious about the phrase “America's diversity is its strength.”:

I can't sign the WAFF tolerance pledge, because I don't believe that "America's diversity is its strength." America's unity is its strength. America's tolerance is a very nice idea that gets people's throats slashed when they open the door. They really were family.
If America were more diverse, that family would still be alive. If there were a diversity of personal and household armament in New Jersey, the human toxic waste responsible would not have dared to do anything. In the unlikely event they tried, they would have turned into the best examples of peace: dead troublemakers (as Keith Laumer put it).

The Best Comparison between Abortion and Slavery I've Seen

Third Wave Agenda, a pro-choice blog, has asked the following excellent questions:

4. Do you think it is possible to have a society where there is no abortion, but there is sex? Consider that abortion has been documented in nearly every society, at every time; that abortion techniques are cited in the oldest known medical texts; that abortion began being considered "sinful" after a whole mix of political issues; that many societies throughout history placed no stigma on abortion; that both Plato and Aristotle have written about abortion as a necessary aspect of a functioning society; that St. Augustine believed abortion only required penance for the sexual aspect of the sin ("There cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation"); and that I know of no society where abortion does not exist or has never exited. So is there such a place? Is it possible to have a society without abortion? Where has there been such a place? The only answer I've gotten to this question is "Eden before the fall." That's all good and fine, and while I happen to believe that such a place existed, there isn't much of a historical record on it. Know of any others? Is it even possible?
A similar series of questions could have been asked about slavery at the time the anti-slavery movement was getting started.

Monday, February 07, 2005

I Take Back Taking It Back

The last but one entry actually did make sense after all. I've also been rereading 1989: Population Doomsday by Don Pendleton. It contains the following passage (which I suspect was typical of the era that got population worries into popular culture):

Black militants in Chicago mounted massive demonstrations aimed at disrupting the activities of abortion and sterilization clinics, charging “insidious genocide,” an echo of the 1974 black revolt against family planning clinics in that same city.
The social conservatism of that era included a large dose of racism. That racism got into the Culture of Death but it has not been part of the theocon–neocon alliance that currently runs the right side of the political spectrum.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

I Take It Back

After posting the preceding entry, I googled “Famine 1975” (I should have done that earlier) and found several sites that gave evidence that some social conservatives once went along with the Culture of Death.

On the other hand, that hasn't been the case recently.

A New Political Divide?

According to some theories (seen via Rand Simberg), the next political divide is likely to be between transhumanists and social conservatives. Social conservatives will, of course, fight against mandatory genetic engineering, but they'll be joined by libertarian transhumanists. (I object to the term “transhuman.” An improved human is still human. On the other hand, that's mere quibbling.)

This might be an attempt on the part of the small number of leftists who approve of biotechnology to try to split the right wing. It's a typical example of the “let's scare conservatives” tactic:

  • Pick a phenomenon which looks likely to increase in the future. (Examples include: immigration from places other than Europe, acceptance of evolution, occasional use of artificial cloning, etc.)

  • Pretend it somehow makes traditional values obsolete somehow.

  • Wait for a conservative to believe that propaganda.

  • Accuse them of being anti-progress.

It isn't working that well. As far as I can tell, the only current political issue where social conservatives apparently part company with biotechnology is the issue of embryonic stem-cell research. Judging by the enthusiasm for adult stem-cell research (in which extracting stem cells does not involve dismembering the entire organism) among social conservatives, the attempt will fail.

In any case, since large parts of the left not only oppose biotechnology in general but also defend abortion, involuntary euthanasia, and terrorism, any opposition to the Cultures of Death can only be found on the right. The motto of the pro-life coalition should be a paraphrase of Dr. Hfuhruhurr's motto:

Doctors should accept that death is the sign of their own incompetence.
… and that goes for fetal deaths as well.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Famine, 1975!

I've recently been rereading Famine, 1975!: America's decision: Who will survive? by William and Paul Paddock. Let's look at a characteristic (and appalling) quote:

A friend of mine, a charming lady in her fifties who had never traveled in the undeveloped world, happened to do an important favor for a member of the family of a ruling potentate of one of the semi-backward nations (whom I would like to name but it probably would not be of benefit to him). She was invited to visit the royal family and gladly accepted. her plane arrived at evening and the ride to the palace through the capital city, pleasantly exotic in the half-light, was a delight despite the clouds of dust swirling everywhere. At dinner with the highly cultured ruler and his wife and children she was told the rainy season was long overdue, and the next morning the first rains did burst forth. Afterwards, she took a walk outside the palace gate and along the rutted main street and saw people eagerly scooping the water out of the puddles along with the horse manure and anything else that had happened to accumulate during the dry season. They used the water for cooking, for drinking, for, in a word, normal living. Sickened, my friend asked the ruler why he allowed this, why he did not provide sanitation facilities and clean water at least in his capital city. After all, this was not a destitute country; compared to many it was recognized as prosperous. The ruler replied, “I know it is not pleasant to see people drinking from ruts in the road, and we do have enough money at least to change things here in the city. But the problem is not that simple. Rather, I have not been sure in my own mind how to handle this problem. So I have visited other countries, especially India, to see what happens when a city gets pure drinking water. My decision was that when India learns how to feed all of the people who have been kept alive because of the good water, then I shall order a modern water system here.” My friend was not convinced this was right but she was intelligent enough to accept it as a thought-out policy

My opinion is that this ruler is an exceedingly wise man. Although he could never announce such a policy publicly, he has in various ways, held back spending tax moneys on public health. Some hospitals and clinics have been built and staffed by aid-giving countries and the aura of progress is believed in by the local people. Yet there has been no all-out effort by the government along these lines; this must be a major factor why the population increase rate is not out of hand and why the nation, compared to its neighbors, is relatively prosperous.

Before I make any other comments, I'll have to deal with the complaint that spending tax moneys on public health is not fiscally conservative. Control of contagious disease was a traditional activity of classical liberal governments. (There have been complaints that such governments were more concerned about contagious disease than malnutrition.) I also have to point out that if you try citing Dubya as an example of fiscal conservatism, you are not only ignorant of the past but also of the present.

That out of the way, I have to say … AAAAIIIIEEEE!!!!

The passage brings up several questions: What nation was it? Is it now a Third-World hellhole? (It might be North Korea.) Was the regime in question overthrown a few years later? (It might be Iran or Vietnam.) If the ruler is still alive, what is his opinion of the lack of famines in India? On the cheap-shot level, what was the “important favor”?

If you look elsewhere in the same book, you'll see a complaint about the horrible effect of DDT (it lowers death rates), a table putting India and Egypt in the “Can't-be-saved” category, praise for Japan's high abortion rate, and, to show their well-rounded wrong-headedness, a complaint about the Malaysia–Singapore split (a split that kept Malaysia from getting a free ride on Singapore).

If DDT bans (which killed millions in the Third World) were due to this type of reasoning, will there someday be a Black Book of Environmentalism?

How To Read The New York Times without Exploding

It's quite simple. Read it several months late. It's much easier to take a prediction that Iraq would explode on their Election Day after the event.

Friday, February 04, 2005

An Udder on a Bull?

I just realized that the lead revolutionary cow in the Cows with Guns video was called “he” but drawn with an udder.

The Kabbalah Centre and the Holocaust

According to Eliyahu Yardeni of the London Kabbalah Centre, the Holocaust was caused by the lack of Kabbalah:

Talking about the wartime massacre of the Jews, Mr Yardeni said: "Just to tell you another thing about the six million Jews that were killed in the Holocaust: the question was that the Light was blocked. They didn't use Kabbalah."
The Kabbalah Centers are usually regarded as a cult by most religious Jews.

On the other hand, if you insist on taking it seriously anyway …

Kabbalah is normally kept secret, but I can tell you a tiny amount. It involves meditational techniques to look behind the veil that usually hides the inner workings of the universes. If you repeat the following phrase over and over you will eventually increase your degree of self-knowledge:

If Madonna recites that, I'm sure she will achieve a great insight.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Speaking of Antisemites

How did I get on this list (No. 458)?

It's Doe Snot

“Doe snot” is what we get when we're dealing with the result of a copy of a copy of a copy with additional errors introduced at each stage (frequently due to mistakes by optical character recognition software with no error correction, fact checking, or evidence of mental activity on the part of the alleged humans involved). It's sometimes possible to trace it by the typos.

In particular, Edgar Steele (quoted on Badlands) passed the following quotes as though he had personally checked it:

    "The Jews are human beings, but the nations of the world are not human beings but beasts." - Saba Mecia, 114, 6.
The actual quote from the Talmud (Baba Metzia, 114b):
Said he [Rabbah] to him: Art thou not a priest: why then dost thou stand in a cemetery? - He replied: Has the Master not studied the laws of purity? For it has been taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai said: The graves of Gentiles do not defile, for it is written, And ye my flock, the flock of my pastures, are men; only ye are designated “men”.
This is a discussion of whether the ruling that Jewish priests are not permitted to enter a Jewish cemetery (full of the people they're responsible for) also applies to gentile cemeteries. The rabbis ruled that gentile cemeteries don't have to keep out Jewish priests. This was apparently incompatible with the original ruling which applied to dead humans in general but they got around that by quoting a line from the prophet Ezekiel (34:31) who said:
And you my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, says the Lord God.
This was interpreted to mean that only Jews are commanded to pay attention to Jewish ritual. Similarly, the line “England expects ever man to do his duty” only applies to Englishmen. That doesn't mean non-Englishmen are beasts.

Some antisemites have claimed that the term “goyim” (which usually refers to gentiles) means “cattle.” On Alt.revisionism, John Morris came up with a famous Biblical quote with the word “goyim” translated as “cattle”:

Oh yeah? Then explain *this*, Mr. Talmudic Scholar:

   And he shall judge among the cattle, and shall rebuke
   many cows: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
   and their spears into pruninghooks: cattle shall not lift up
   sword against cattle, neither shall they learn war any more.
                      --Isaiah 2:4

"Goyim" obviously means cattle. Haven't you ever heard of the great
cattle wars in the American Old West? Of course, by then swords were
ceremonial weapons worn only by the cattle officers. Your real
fighting cow used a rifle.

They may be gentle, lowing beasts of the field to you, but I know
better: cattle are dangerous when armed; hence, the prophet's
In possibly-related news, there's Cows with Guns (seen via The AnalPhilosopher).

On the other hand, if Edgar Steele is really offended by the fact that his corpse does not defile a Jewish priest, we can declare that his body will defile anybody while still alive.

Meanwhile, we see that Steele has gotten rusty at maintaining consistency:

    "It is permitted to kill a Jewish denunciator everywhere.  It is permitted to kill him even before he denounces." -Schuichan Qruch, Choszen Hajpiszpat jog 


    "The Jew is not permitted to consider the goyim as human beings." - Schulchan Oruch, Orach Chaiw 14, 20, 32, 33, 39. TaIDud Jebamoth 61. 

“Schuichan Qruch”? “Schulchan Oruch”? Or “TaIDud” instead of “Talmud”? I realize that some may appreciate a pleasing variety of spelling styles, but it looks like a case of copying people who made things up.

But wait, there's more:

    (Jesus Christ was) illegitimate and conceived during menstruation.  Mother a Prostitute. - Kallah 1b. (18b)
If we look at a typical example of this type of quote in the original (in Shabbat 104b), it doesn't mention Jesus by name and the Mary in question is mentioned in a phrase that gives the following when transliterated from the Aramaic (thanks to Mel Gibson, we can now challenge antisemites who try quoting their version of the Talmud to state the quotes in the original Aramaic):
Who do you think MYRM MGDLA was?

For a more detailed look at this kind of nonsense, see David Maddison's site.

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