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

Monday, August 28, 2006

That's Not a Planet

THAT'S A PLANET! (Seen via Reality Carnival).

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Statistics from an Alternate Universe

A recent study of religion and excess weight sounded plausible until I got to the following paragraphs:

Ferraro's study also found that about 20 percent of "Fundamentalist Protestants," (Church of Christ, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God and Church of God); about 18 percent of "Pietistic Protestants," (Methodist, Christian Church and African Methodist Episcopal), and about 17 percent of Catholics were obese.

By contrast, about 1 percent of the Jewish population and less than 1 percent of other non-Christians, including Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others), were tipping the scales with commensurate gusto.

What's the color of the sky on their planet?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Do We Have to Rename Element 94 Now?

Plutonium was named after the next planet beyond Neptune …

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lamont for Senate!

No, I haven't gone insane.

The recent unpleasantness in Lebanon indicated the degree of cluelessness in the Israeli political class. Israel clearly needs a politician who has a clue and is liberal enough for Israeli voters. If an American Jewish politician who fits that description is looking for a job in a few months …

Addendum: There's another candidate in the race.

You Don't Have to Sell Your Soul after All

It's possible to obtain embryonic stem cell lines without destroying embryos (seen via you know who).

Crackpot Alert!

The latest paranoid theory about the collapse of the World Trade Center is that it's very suspicious that Tower 7 collapsed even despite less apparent damage than Towers 5 and 6:

From this image, which building seems the more likely to collapse? The 47 story behemoth with limited fire in a few floors - or a nine story shell completely engulfed by fire and flames from top to bottom? Yet it was Building 7 and not 5 that collapsed on the afternoon of September 11.
On the contrary, a small building is more likely to remain standing even with a weakened skeleton. A skyscraper is a fight between gravity and steel. In a small building there's no contest.

By the way, wouldn't a fake controlled demolition also include demolishing Buildings 5 and 6?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Apocalypse Some Other Time

Iran couldn't even manage to produce an imitation Tet Offensive.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Plagiarizing Hollywood

The following passage from The Belmont Club sounds familiar:

Die Welt relates the experience of an Israeli officer who fought Hezbollah during the early 1980s. Israel had artillery, tanks, airplanes to Hezbollahs guns and knives. But Israel was a liberal democracy and Hezbollah a ruthless criminal organization. The overmatch in will made knives were more powerful than tanks because Hezbollah was willing to use them unhesitatingly. "Hezbollah’s barbarism is legendary. Gen. Effe Eytam, an Israeli veteran of that first Lebanon war, tells of how--after Israel had helped bring "Doctors without Borders" into a village in the 1980s to treat children--local villagers lined up 50 kids the next day to show Eytam the price they pay for cooperating with the West. Each of the children had had their pinky finger cut off."
The above tactic was obviously plagiarized from the movie Apocalypse Now:
Kurtz: I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms.
On the other hand, Communism was discredited so badly that the United States might soon have a military base in Vietnam. (Real message to Islamofascists: You're a pale imitation of an imitation of a bunch of losers! Nyaaaahhhh, nyaaaahhhh, nyaaaahhhh, nyaaaahhhh, phphphphtttt!!!!)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

This Must Be from a Mole

According to an article in the American Family Association Journal, a large percentage of college freshmen who were “born-again” Christians were no longer such upon graduation. This is sufficiently close to the opinions of self-congratulatory atheists that I suspect the article in question was written by an atheist mole.

I won't do more than mention that the article in question did not mention sample sizes (the large swings between the two sets of surveys might be due to random fluctuations in small samples), or the lack of either type of control (they did not mention what happened to “born-again” Christians who didn't attend college or what happened to the previously-unsaved in college). There was a study that had neither flaw that found that students left college with opinions similar the ones they started with.

To the extent there is liberal brainwashing, I suspect it occurs in dormrooms, not classrooms. Judging by Yale University's reaction to Orthodox Jewish students who wanted to live off campus, the “campus lifestyle” is regarded as more important than any verifiable learning. Many college students graduate with a tremendous load of misinformation (for example, that plutonium is the most poisonous substance on Earth) and I doubt if that was taught in the classroom.

Has there been any study comparing the opinion changes during college of students attending commuter schools vs. residential schools?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

When Will the First Pregnant Suicide Bomber Explode?

It's the next logical step after the baby bomb.

I'm sure that the Usual Suspects will defend on pro-choice grounds.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Is Iran Planning a “Tet Offensive” Analog for August 22?

If they are and the U.S. got wind of the plans, that might explain why we leaned on the Israeli government to withdraw. A temporary absence of war in Lebanon might increase the odds that a “Tet offensive” will fizzle.

Of course, once we have a military base in Vietnam, we can ignore attempted repeats of the Tet offensive. Even if they succeed, they will look like a long-term defeat instead of a long-term victory.

Meanwhile, we bloggers should get to work and point out that the Tet offensive was a military failure on the part of the Vietcong.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Why Israel Is Having Trouble in Lebanon

It's a well-known fact that army with fancier uniforms usually loses:

It has been suggested that it is possible to predict who will lose a war by identifying which side has the more elaborate uniforms. Such a notion has been called the "Sukhomlinov Effect," after General V.A. Sukhomlinov, the Minister of War of Russia in 1914. In an era of elaborate uniforms, Sukhomlinov seems to have gone one better. The Russians, of course, did poorly against the Germans on the Eastern Front in World War I, although the Germans (with more elaborate uniforms) then lost on the Western Front.
A typical dictatorship has very fancy uniforms. Hezbollah uniforms, on the other hand, are ordinary street clothes. As long as the Israelis have better-looking uniforms they're in trouble. Clearly the way to defeat Hezbollah is to deploy an army of nudists.

There's additional evidence the Other Side fears a nudist army (seen via Andrew Sullivan).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Real Purpose behind the Fauxtography

It's obviously intended to make conspiracy theories more respectable.

By the way, there is a simple way to tell if a conspiracy theory is insane. If the conspiracy is supposed to be secret and if the conspiracy in question is very large then it's nuts. A conspiracy theory involving a handful of photographers is not necessarily nuts.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hezbollah and Leftist Academics

After considering the discussion of why university faculties tilt left at TJIC, Asymmetrical Information, and EconLog, I realized that leftist professors have been playing the same game as Hezbollah.

Hezbollah will lauch attacks from an area where they are surrounded by potentially apolitical Lebanese. When the Israelis hit back, they hope to radicalize their previously apolitical neighbors.

Similarly, the crackpot academic left will launch rhetorical attacks on Western Civilization. When conservatives strike back at legitimate academic theories that sound a bit odd (Darwin's explanation of evolution is the best example), the crackpots hope to radicalize previously apolitical professors.

Addendum: You can find an example here.

A Brief Summary of the Cato Institute Study

The Cato Institute study I mentioned in the preceding post can be briefly summarized: If we don't stop our routine activities, the terrorists have already won.

That sounds familiar somehow …

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Does This Mean Iraq Isn't a Quagmire after All?

According to an analysis by the Cato Institute (seen via Boing Boing):

Much of the current alarm is generated from the knowledge that many of today's terrorists simply want to kill, and kill more or less randomly, for revenge or as an act of what they take to be The shock and tragedy of September 11 does demand a focused and dedicated program to confront international terrorism and to attempt to prevent a repeat. But it seems sensible to suggest that part of this reaction should include an effort by politicians, officials, and the media to inform the public reasonably and realistically about the terrorist context instead of playing into the hands of terrorists by frightening the public. What is needed, as one statistician suggests, is some sort of convincing, coherent, informed, and nuanced answer to a central question: "How worried should I be?" Instead, the message the nation has received so far is, as a Homeland Security official put (or caricatured) it, "Be scared; be very, very scared -- but go on with your lives." Such messages have led many people to develop what Leif Wenar of the University of Sheffield has aptly labeled "a false sense of insecurity."
We can apply similar reasoning to whether the United States (or even the local inhabitants) should be terrorized into giving up on Iraq. After all, Baghdad is safer than cities that aren't considered to be quagmires (seen via Brothers Judd).

Maybe we can sponsor a debate between the Cato Institute and these guys.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Passion of the Christ and Lebanon

As far as I know, Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ did not provoke any antisemitism in the United States. What effect did it have on Lebanon?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

This Story Has Been Undercriticized

There's apparently been an oil spill on the coast of Lebanon:

BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities are working to put together an emergency clean-up operation after the most disastrous oil spill in the country's history, an Environment Ministry official said Tuesday. The leakage of more than 10,000 tons of heavy fuel oil from the Jiyye power plant, due to repeated air strikes by Israeli warplanes on July 13 and 15, has stopped but resulted in the pollution of as much as a third of the Lebanese coast.
According to the left side of the blogosphere, this is the ‘worst environmental disaster’. My fellow wingnuts have ignored it. I can think of several criticisms of the left interpretation of the story:
  • Wasn't there a far bigger oil spill in Gulf War I?

  • Didn't the Persian Gulf ecosystem recover?

  • Were there rocket launchers located at the power plant?

  • Has the total amount of oil been exaggerated by Hezbollah supporters?

  • Some of the coverage sounds like Boopsie protesting the bombing of baby ducks. (This comes from a “Libertarian Communist blog,” so you already know the blogger is confused.)

Yes! They're All United Now! Absolutely!

There's another reason the Lebanese are reported as being united:

To the south, along the curve of the coast, Hizbullah is launching Katyushas, but I’m loathe to say too much about them. The Party of God has a copy of every journalist’s passport, and they’ve already hassled a number of us and threatened one.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Devoutly Worshipping the Voices in His Head

The Seattle shooter apparently wasn't a Muslim fanatic after all:

RICHLAND -- Naveed Haq, now widely portrayed as a Muslim American so angry at Israel that he shot up a Jewish charity in Seattle, had recently converted to Christianity.
It looks like the usual nativist story doesn't apply here.

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