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, June 29, 2009

Sea Bacon

A few months ago, PETA came up with a bizarre campaign to rename fish “sea kittens” on the grounds nobody would ever want to harm a sea kitten. This, in turn, provoked a campaign to rename fish “sea bacon” on the ground everybody would like to eat sea bacon.

Well… Speaking as someone who doesn't eat bacon, I figured that bacon is a smoked and salted fatty meat, so sea bacon should be a smoked and salted fatty fish. I've found that fried lox tastes pretty good (much better than most kosher bacon substitutes, which taste like smoked and salted fatty cardboard).

Now Jews and Muslims can join in the bacon enthusiasms in parts of the blogosphere.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Reason to be Suspicious of Government Programs

According to davidgmills, a commenter on Robert Reich's blog entry on the “public option”:

I bet most of these critics had the option of a public education and most of them took it. Chances are, most would not be where they are without having had some public education.

It's all about choice and the option of a government program if you want it. If you don't got private if you qualify and can afford it.

But these critics don't want us to have a public option even though most were the beneficiaries of a public option in education.

Very hypocritcal.

If the existence of a government program is regarded as an automatic reason for more government, then any pro-government argument is likely to produce more government than the merits of the argument itself. In other words, as long as the reasoning of davidgmills is taken seriously, in debates on government programs, we must have a “thumb on the scale” against any government program.

Alternatively, we could use his theory as an reason to limit public education.

You might claim that being a graduate of public schools makes me a hypocrite. I have strong opinions on hypocrisy; I'm for it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Maybe We Should Not Emphasize This Poster Child

Before we make too much fuss over the death of Neda Soltan, we should recall that this is an area where manufacturing fake atrocities is a standard part of politics. We might not want to continue the Rachel Corrie precedent.

Addendum: While Googling neda soltan rachel corrie, I found the following:

Establishment media falls over itself to broadcast footage showing death of young Iranian protester, yet completely refused to show victims of Iraq and Afghanistan wars
What is the color of the sky on their planet?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Equal Time

In addition to Fig Newtons, there are also Leibniz butter biscuits.

I don't know which has priority.

A Speculation on Why There Hasn't Been a Real Crackdown in Iran

If their attempt to build nuclear bombs has succeeded by now … and if the bombs are in the hands of the protesters …

Switching Fields

There's an art appraiser with a PhD in meteorology.

At least, I assume anybody who can be that certain that he knows more about climate than Richard Lindzen has a PhD in meteorology…

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Materialist Magicians?

I was a bit taken aback at seeing Aleister Crowley taken seriously at Less Wrong. How N.I.C.E.

On the other hand, Crowley's influence is much less nowadays than in the early 20th century. I guess those old grimoires ain't what they used to be.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It Looks Like I Was Wrong

A few years ago, I speculated that Ahmadinejad was being set up to be the fall guy, somebody Iran's rulers would surrender instead of their ambitions. It looks like they're resisting the protests a little too much for that.

On the other hand, this might be an act to make it look more realistic. If they surrendered too early we might catch on.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Knife Control Update

As a possible result of the knife-control plan discussed earlier, someone in Britain has invented an “anti-stab” knife.

It's expected to keep criminals away by sympathetic magic.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Was the Holocaust Museum Gunman on the Left or Right Wings of the Political Spectrum?

As far as I can tell, no.

And with Strange Æons Even Death May Die

A few years ago, I mentioned that total death rate is starting to decline. By now, the funeral directors are starting to notice (seen via Debunker's Discussion Board).

How Did Mendel Get onto This List?

In the course of an otherwise sensible article in The Wall Street Journal, George Ball said:

Our secular fall from grace began with Copernicus, who dislodged the world from its celestial catbird seat. Later, Darwin established that man, far from being the animal kingdom's pièce de résistance, was a bit like a baboon in clothes. Then Mendel documented the laws of inheritance -- so much for free will -- and Freud subordinated what was then left of our minds to unseemly drives over which we have little control.

How did Mendel get onto this list? It has been known for millennia that children's personalities resemble their parents. Mendel helped to quantify it but that quantification can be used in the case for free will.

I won't more than mention that Freud is no longer taken seriously as a scientist.

This is yet another instance of the Copernican litany, the theory that the March of Progress has been about “dethroning mankind.” This theory has only two data points with real evidence (Copernicus and Darwin) justifying it.

Addendum: I just recalled an article in The Wall Street Journal about an executive sending out weird memos. IIRC, it was George Ball. It might be the article cited here: “Memo To: Mr. Ball, Re: Your Messages. Sir, They're Weird.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Limits of Ridicule

The former website of the gunman at the Holocaust Museum includes an illustration of how ridicule of Neo-Nazis can backfire. It contains a quote from Marcus Eli Ravage that was originally from his parody of antisemitic conspiracy theories, “A Real Case against the Jews.” In it, Ravage pointed out that Christianity could be described in the same terms as the alleged Jewish conspiracies. The result was very funny until now.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Real Reason Obama Will Let Iran Go Nuclear

It's an obvious ploy to poison the Iranian people with nuclear waste. Soon there will be epidemic cooties (or whatever it is that nukes are supposed to cause) in Iran.

But will it inspire terrorist acts in revenge?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

They Have to Make Themselves Independent of OPEC

According to Our Glorious Leader:

President Barack Obama reiterated that Iran may have some right to nuclear energy _ provided it takes steps to prove its aspirations are peaceful.
There is the minor problem of disposing of the nuclear waste … Maybe we could bury it in Yucca Mountain.

Wait a moment …

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Are Conservatives More Easily Disgusted Than Liberals?

According to some recent studies:

Liberals and conservatives are often disgusted with one another. No surprise there

But conservatives are literally the more easily disgusted of the two when it comes to such squeamish things as maggots, questionable toilet seats and the prospect of eating monkey meat. Such sensitivity, it seems, plays a role in their ideology and moral values.

I suspect they would have found the opposite if they had asked about touching depleted uranium or food grown with DDT.

What Does This Imply about Tobacco Taxes?

According to Authoritarians R Us (seen via BoingBoing):

Health and life insurance companies in the US and abroad have nearly $4.5 billion invested in tobacco stocks, according to Harvard doctors.


Why is it a big deal? “If you own a billion dollars [of tobacco stock], then you don’t want to see it go down,” says Himmelstein, “You are less likely to join anti-tobacco coalitions, endorse anti-tobacco legislation, basically, anything most health companies would want to participate in.”

Let's see… The U.S. government also profits from tobacco via tobacco taxes…

Come to think of it, the U.S. government can also pay out less Social Security if more people smoke. Hmmm…

Friday, June 05, 2009

If Humans Aren't Rational …

If humans aren't rational (seen via BoingBoing), clearly we can't let them regulate complex economies.

Just remember any regulations will be written by the same type of genius who came up with the water-saving toilets that have to be flushed several times. (For another look at the same type of arrogance in a different field see XKCD.)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Why Would an Abortionist Be Assassinated Now?

According to the usual rhetoric, that terrorism is a response to despair (you can see an example here, with more consistency than a leftist would have), it seems a bit odd that an abortionist has been assassinated in an era when public opinion, in contrast to most of the rest of “social conservatism,” is moving right, when the number of abortions is declining slowly, and when the number of abortionists is declining quickly. On the contrary, out here in the real world terrorism is a response to perceived weakness on the part of the enemy. (The 911 attack was planned by people encouraged by the retreat from Somalia.) In particular, I'm sure the assassin figured that it would take only a few more bullets to end late-term abortion in America.

On the other hand, it is a very bad tactic. The swing in public opinion was probably in response to the decline in the rest of social conservatism. A decade or two ago, it was plausible that pro-life victories would bring back censorship or segregation. Now it it's less plausible. The recent assassination may change that by reminding people that the pro-life movement includes loonies.

In other words, if you're a would-be pro-life killer and you're reading these words, just be patient. Gandhi succeeded in establishing a democracy. The terrorists haven't. As Gandhi put it:

First, they ignore you. Then, they ridicule you. Then, they fight you. Then, you win.
That cliche is on our side now.

The double bind

Right now most pro-choicers are in “pro-lifers are murderous hypocrites” mode. Once it is clear the assassin has little support in the pro-life movement, we can expect a turn-about and the herd of independent minds will go into “pro-lifers are insincere phonies” mode (typical example here). We must be prepared.

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