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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jhertzli AT ix DOT netcom DOT com

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Small Sample Watch
XBM Graphics

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)

Interesting weblogs:
Back Off Government!
Bad Science
Boing Boing
Debunkers Discussion Forum
Deep Space Bombardment
Depleted Cranium
Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Magazine.
Foreign Dispatches
Good Math, Bad Math
Greenie Watch
The Hand Of Munger
Howard Lovy's NanoBot
Liberty's Torch
The Long View
My sister's blog
Neo Warmonger
Next Big Future
Out of Step Jew
Overcoming Bias
The Passing Parade
Peter Watts Newscrawl
Physics Geek
Pictures of Math
Poor Medical Student
Prolifeguy's take
The Raving Theist
Respectful Insolence
Seriously Science
Slate Star Codex
The Speculist
The Technoptimist
Tools of Renewal
XBM Graphics
Zoe Brain

Other interesting web sites:
Aspies For Freedom
Crank Dot Net
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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is It My Imagination?

Do the pro-“pickup artist” comments on right-wing blogs come mainly from anonymous commenters? (I was inspired by the comments here.)

If so, the rest of us should tell them that you're not a dominant male until you put your name (or at least a recognizable handle) to your posts.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reading about Anarchist Peoples

While reading The Art of Not Being Governed by James C. Scott and thinking about the difficulties of states attempting to subdue anarchist peoples, I was reminded of the phrase “herding cats” … especially while reading about the Miaou people of southern China.

Two Quotes

From Eliezer Yudkowsky:

Creating a true child is the only moral and metaethical problem I know that is even harder than the shape of a Friendly AI.
From G. K. Chesterton:
If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.
The Chesterton quote makes the Yudkowsky quote look less wrong (a phrase that sounds familiar somehow).

Other Terms for “Illegal Aliens”

Mickey Kaus is asking for terms for “illegal aliens,” now that “undocumented immigrants” is becoming passé. I recommend “violators of a social contract in restraint of trade.” Since that's a bit of a mouthful, a shorter term might be “unwanted aliens” analogous to “unwanted children.”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Two Brief Notes on the Pepper-Spraying Cop

  • The traditional method of handling riots isn't pepper spray; it's grape shot or worse:
    Chinese journalist: “President Obama, how do you account for an American police officer using pepper spray on citizens?” Obama laughs: “Are you saying we should have used tanks?”
  • For a few days before the pepper-spraying incident, there were numerous complaints (for example, here) about the destruction of a “people's library.” I don't recall hearing much about it since then. Did the library heal itself? Or were they looking for an excuse to complain and can only complain about one thing at a time. (The good news: The left wing cannot fight a two-front meme war.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Indigent Marine Wildlife?

According to Compare Electricity Rates (seen via Greenie Watch):

In an effort to safeguard the sanctuary of indigent marine wildlife, the city of San Diego is set to enact laws that would ban birthday parties at local parks within the vicinity of said wildlife.
Poor fish.

Time to Buy Google?

When Google got involved in currently-cool energy technologies, I said it might be time to sell Google. (You can find reasons to avoid currently-cool technologies here.)

Google recently announced they're stopping their “green” energy project.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


According to Fark:

Conservatives: "The Occupy Protests are costing cities $13 million." OWS: "The bailouts cost the taxpayers $700 billion." Conservatives: *crickets*
Hel-lo! I ranted about the bailouts at the time. I have no reason to believe this is different from American conservatives in general.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Possible Consequence of Polygamy

Fourth Checkraise is discussing the consequences of the legalization of polygamy:

On the other hand, one part of me mischievously wants polygamy to become legalized and widespread, since a society that has to effectively stomp down a quarter of its young males simply could not and thus would not be very liberal in most other aspects either, the realities of the zero-sum race undeniable to everyone who wants their children to have a good life.
One possible scenario: Parents who have some reason to believe their children won't be likely to get to the top of the heap might opt for only having daughters. (There might be a method of selecting sperm by then; I'd rather not recommend sex-selective abortion.) Since the poor outnumber the rich, there might be more women than men.

Right now, that seems unlikely; sex selection currently favors males. On the other hand, those parents willing to have daughters will be a disproportionate share of successful grandparents. We can expect sex selection to tilt in the other direction.

One way to look at this is that the resources devoted to raising boys and girls will be the same but divided among fewer boys.

The real problem will be signaling. People who aren't that talented but who try signaling talent anyway might insist on having sons.

The Coolest Mathematics Journal

It's obviously the Antarctica Journal of Mathematics (seen via Computational Complexity).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Should the Police Spray Pepper at Demonstrators?

Why not horseradish or onions?

Celebrate diversity! Equal time for other spices!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

There's No Official Evidence That Water Controls Dehydration

According to an EU regulation:

They applied for the right to state that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration” as well as preventing a decrease in performance.

However, last February, the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) refused to approve the statement.

A meeting of 21 scientists in Parma, Italy, concluded that reduced water content in the body was a symptom of dehydration and not something that drinking water could subsequently control.

In a related story, a few years ago, an article in the British Medical Journal pointed out that:
As with many interventions intended to prevent ill health, the effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials.
I thought that was intended as a joke but now I'm not so sure.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and a Marvin Minsky Quote

According to at least one OWS protester (around 4:40):

I'm more against private property rather than personal property.
According to Marvin Minsky:
No, no; your trouble is that you're confusing a thing with itself!
I was reminded somehow. The joke here may also be relevant.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The New York Stock Exchange Opened Today

Me to OWS: Nyaaaahhhh, nyaaaahhhh, nyaaaahhhh, nyaaaahhhh, phphphphtttt!!!!

Today's NYSE market volume: 1,024,669,206.
Yesterday's NYSE market volume: 918,719,737.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Debate Wanted

On the one hand, Amory Lovins, Joseph Romm, et al. assure us that we don’t need nuclear energy, that negawatts and solar will suffice and, on the other hand, Naomi Klein tells us that we must rethink capitalism instead.

Putting it together, they're claiming that solar, etc. beats nuclear fission and that totalitarianism beats solar … except that the claim that totalitarianism beats nuclear fission is obvious nonsense.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tea Parties vs. OWS?

A warning from Bill Quick:

They foresee bands of black-masked Occupiers attacking and scattering any legally organized demonstrations the Tea Party may arrange for. The cops can't do it, but these new Obama Brown Shirts can, while the cops look the other way.
I doubt if that will succeed. They can turn out hordes of bodies but they have no ability at all to shoot deserters.

Please recall that the Other Side is full of bluffers. It was a bluff when they warned of a “long hot summer” full of urban riots if Reagan were elected. It was a bluff when they threatened to make the country ungovernable if Bush were re-elected. It was a bluff when they claimed the Israeli crackdown on Palestinians would intensify the terrorism.

Just in case they're not bluffing… One possible tactic is a combination of an international radiation symbol sticker, a recording of a Geiger counter, and watching the Other Side run away. Another possible tactic is using quarterstaffs.

Addendum: They don't sound that dangerous.

W. S. Gilbert on Sexual Harassment

From The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan:

Our great Mikado, virtuous man,
When he to rule our land began,
Resolved to try
A plan whereby
Young men might best be steadied.

So he decreed, in words succinct,
That all who flirted, leered or winked
(Unless connubially linked),
Should forthwith be beheaded …
The recent scandals of Herman Cain and Anthony Weiner reminded me of this somehow.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Paging Arkady Darrell

I'm sure Arkady Darrell (of Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov) could explain the problem with this tactic.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Panini Bread vs. Occupy Wall Street

According to The New York Post (seen via The Wall Street Journal):

She and her employees are terrified by the constant threats, which she said began after she demanded the protesters stop using her shop’s restroom as a place to bathe every day.

The final straw came about two weeks ago, when the demonstrators broke a bathroom sink, flooding the shop, and clogged the toilet -- setting her back $3,000 in damages.

Wait a moment… A month or two ago, I complained about a Federal regulation that prohibits off-label uses of toilet-bowl cleaners. If the OWS protesters are dirtying toilets, any use of a toilet-bowl cleaner to repel them would count as an on-label use and would thus be legal. So the next time they invade, the owner might take some bleach and toilet-bowl cleaner and strike back with a gas attack:
NaOCl (bleach) + 2 HCl (toilet-bowl cleaner) → NaCl + H2O + Cl2 (chlorine gas)

I disagree with The Wall Street Journal's headline

I disagree with The Wall Street Journal's headline:
This Is What Anarchy Looks Like
In an anarchy, potential victims would be much better armed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Woody Allen on Occupy Wall Street

In days of yore, back when Woody Allen was still funny, he wrote an essay “A Brief Yet Helpful Guide to Civil Disobedience” that included:

Demonstration and Marches. The key point about a demonstration is that it must be seen. Hence the term "demonstration." If a person demonstrates privately in his own home, this is not technically a demonstration but merely "acting silly" or "behaving like an ass."
I'm reminded somehow.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Codex Seraphinianus

… is now online (seen via jwz (seen via TJIC's twitter)).

A question that must be asked: What drugs was Luigi Serafini on?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Sociological Study That's Actually Needed

After reading about the latest nonsense from anti-vaccine parents, I wondered about the following questions:

  1. What drugs are they on?
  2. What drugs were they on in college?
  3. What universities did they attend?
  4. What did they major in?
  5. What companies do they work for?
  6. Did those companies need bail-outs?
The answers to the above questions might help us find out if there is higher-education bubble and, if there is one, where it's concentrated.

Addendum: They appear to be only high-school graduates. Maybe college is still worth something after all …

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

We're Standing on Zanzibar

Still no sign of eptification.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Karl Marx Compared His Followers to Occupy Wall Street

According to Karl Marx:

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Groucho Marx on Occupy Wall Street

According to Groucho Marx:

Whatever it is, I'm against it!

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