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:
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Yet another weird SF fan

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rebel Ants?

Looked at one way, the fact that slave ants rebel is an inspiring story that even lowest of creatures want their freedom. (It's almost as inspiring as The Charge of the Ant Brigade: “Half an inch, half an inch, half an inch, onward…”)

Looked at another way, it's a blatant exhibition of race prejudice on the part of creatures who, if they had their way, would set up another totalitarian system.

My Speculation Was Wrong

A few years ago, I posted:

Is it a mere coincidence that the anti-nuclear campaign went into high gear in the mid 1970s, when OPEC became able to pay for propaganda on a large scale?
On the other hand, when OPEC really is paying for propaganda, we can find out about it quickly. When we have to guess, oil money probably had nothing to do with it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Let's Get to the Root of This

According to Steven Running, we're running out of plants and can't harvest much more because:

It's either locked up in root systems and unharvestable, conserved in national parks or wilderness areas crucial for biodiversity, or simply in far Siberia or the middle of the Amazon, where there are no roads and no way to harvest it.
Roots can't be used? How nice. I think I'll have a carrot.

I won't more than mention that we have not yet reached peak roads.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Ethnicity of the King of Id

I just realized the King in the Wizard of Id can only be an Ottoman Sultan. His mother is a slave; he keeps inconvenient relatives in jail; he talks back to the priest without any worry about excommunication even in an apparently Medieval (or at least Renaissance) environment…

I was reminded of this by James Lileks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Should We Jail This Guy?

According to Eric Posner:

The vile anti-Muslim video shows that the U.S. overvalues free speech.
The First Amendment is keeping people like him out of jail. Should we be multicultural and jail him?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Future Regulation Alert

Beep… Beep… Beep…

Warning: Incoming excuse for regulation detected on the radar screen.

The alleged exposé of wasted energy by Internet companies that recently appeared in The New York Times (motto: ‘We know your business better than you do, even if we're trying to compete with you and failing.’) will be a new excuse to regulate supposedly-wasteful Internet companies. Hmmmm… Could this be preferentially aimed at anybody who insults an ethnic group on the A list? (It might not be same groups as today. By the time the regulations are passed, there might be new groups on the A list. The A list changes every generation or two.)

On the other hand, maybe it's merely an attempt by the legacy media to handicap competitors … with a little help from management consultants and the people who designed toilets that have to be flushed several times.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mightier Than the Sword

A policeman shot and killed a double amputee who was threatening him with a … pen (seen via View from the Porch):

A Houston police officer shot and killed a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair Saturday inside a group home after police say the double amputee threatened the officer and aggressively waved a metal object that turned out to be a pen.
Well … a pen is mightier than a sword …

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Phil Plait and I Have Something in Common

Both Phil Plait and I are still waiting for our paychecks from the conspiracies we supposedly belong to. The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (secretly run by renegade Objectivist extraterrestrials from Zeta Reticuli) owes me $666.13 for helping to Destroy the Planet but I haven't seen any of it.

Maybe we'll both go over to the Freemasons.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

If Romney Loses …

… I don't think it will be due to the “culture of dependency.” For one thing, people in the culture of dependency tend to not vote and I suspect that those that do vote hope for the dependency to be temporary.

I think the problem is the lingering belief in the “Folk Philips curve.” Many people still think that the Republicans are the people to control inflation and the Democrats are the people to control unemployment. (This has benefited Republicans in the past; McGovern tried running against inflation and lost badly.)

Romney can probably get better results by running against high energy and food prices. Platform: Drill here, drill now, frack for natural gas, supplement with nukes, and stop burning corn. If he's elected and the current money expansion leads to inflation, he will probably be able to get away with blaming Obama.

This lingering relic of the New Deal has been ignored for the past few decades because the economy has been either in relatively good shape or suffering mainly from inflation, resulting in elections about other issues.

A contributing factor

Another problem is that Romney represents the Old Enemy of Democrats; he was a financier. Opposing Big Finance (at least nominally) has been one of the few constants of the Democratic Party. We must also recall that the swing vote consists of people who would have voted a straight Democratic ticket back in the days of FDR. They just might return to their roots now that their buttons have been pushed.

This might be aggravated by the decline in immigration. As I have said before:

The sort of voter who might be prejudiced against “the rich” was even more prejudiced against anything foreign.
Now they have fewer foreigners to resent.

This might also mean the people Touré Neblett is against are voting for Obama.

A consequence

As I have said before:

One problem is that the usual climb to the top in politics requires a personality who believes in political power. The best way around that is to have a candidate who climbed high in the business, academic, or entertainment worlds before switching to politics. I suspect much of “political correctness” is for the purpose of ensuring that few future Reagans will come from the academic or entertainment worlds. On the other hand, there might be an adequate supply of conservatives from economics departments.

If the swing voters will exclude anybody who used to be a financier and the PC crowd can exclude anybody they dislike from the media or most of academia, that means Republicans (if they want someone with private-sector experience) will have to nominate either an economics professor or an industrial businessman.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NPR Listeners Support a Government Regulation

Am I supposed to be impressed by the fact that people who get everything else wrong also oppose open borders?

ObSF: According to Iain Banks:

In general the Culture doesn't actively encourage immigration; it looks too much like a disguised form of colonialism.
I would put it the other way around: Colonialism is immigration that the Self-Congratulatory Ones dislike.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Set Paranoia Bit to ON

What if “Sam Bacile” is an Islamofascist agent who deliberately made an allegedly anti-Muslim movie while doing something otherwise arrestworthy for the purpose of convincing Muslims in general that rioting is an effective means of getting people they don't like jailed?

I was inspired by the discussion here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

An Accidentally Revealing Yiddish Curse

One of the more recent of the Yiddish curses for Republican Jews reads:

May the Republican politician you fundraised for ban the teaching of evolution at your son's high school. And may your otherwise brilliant son, with perfect SAT scores believe that evolution is a controversial theory within the scientific community. And may he write as much on his application to Harvard.
Apparently in LeftWorld, even allegedly-brilliant students believe only what they're told. The above curse was apparently posted by someone who thinks that learning stops at the school exit, that students cannot check what they are told in other sources, and that the “brilliant” students mindlessly parrot back what the teacher told them. In short, it was posted by someone with the mental initiative of a turnip.

I suppose this does explain why leftists are so eager to become teachers. On the other hand, I suspect they are more effective with the dolts.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Note on Supporting “Friendly” Dictators. Part II

In the early days of the Arab Spring, I posted that it does not always make sense to support friendly dictators even when they might be overthrown by somebody worse:

If a powerful nation gets a reputation of supporting any dictator who might be likely to be overthrown by a totalitarian movement (for the purposes of this discussion it doesn't matter if said movement is communist, religious, or racist), then dictators have an incentive to prop up such movements.
Today we see some evidence of that. In Libya, where we were the enemy of the local chief thug, we not only see anti-American riots but even some pro-American demonstrations. As far as I know, this hasn't happened in Egypt. Maybe if we had stayed enemies with Egypt, we'd see pro-American demonstrations there too.

On the other hand, this is the epitome of a small sample.

On the gripping hand, small samples are the best we can do in international politics. Maybe we'll have a large sample after we settle the Galaxy…

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

According to a Legal Analyst

According to a legal analyst at The Atlantic, a “Chernobyl-like disaster” nearly occurred 55 years ago at Rocky Flats in Colorado. Next time I have a legal problem, I'll ask a physicist.

Meanwhile, I already covered the fact that nukes were apparently more dangerous before 1960. (I say “apparently” because this is based on a small sample.)

I won't more than mention that the cancer mortality rates for nearby Boulder, Denver, and Jefferson counties are below the national average.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Interesting but More Research Is Needed

Padraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna have recently analyzed (original article here) myths such as “The Iliad,” “Beowulf,” or “The Tain” to see if the social networks in them resembled real social networks or the social networks in known works of fiction. Apparently, they tend to resemble real social networks … if you remove the most fictional characters. This research might be worth repeating for a larger sample of myths and a larger sample of fiction.

The research also needs an additional control group. The researchers should analyze the social networks of history as well as the social networks of ordinary people. After all, you could probably prove that Barak Obama more closely resembles fictional characters than ordinary people or that World War II was a work of fiction.

The Toilet Genocide

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal proves that several lifespans are used up each month by toilets that have to be flushed twice.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

So That's What He Meant!

After reading the following:

As Isaac Pollak, an ardent Republican, kissed his wife goodbye before heading out on a business trip to Asia several years ago, he handed her his absentee ballot for the coming presidential election and asked her to mail it.

Bonnie Pollak, a Democrat, weighed her options. Should she be loyal to her spouse, respect his legal right and mail the ballot? Or remain faithful to her deeply held beliefs and suppress his vote?

"It was a real dilemma," says Ms. Pollak, 58 years old, a student in a doctoral program in social welfare who lives in Manhattan. "I decided to do the right thing."

Ms. Pollak threw the ballot away.

I realized what E. M. Forster meant when he said:
… if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Determinism and Regulation

Liberalism started out as a defense of human freedom and most modern liberals still think they are defending freedom. On the other hand, they also defend intrusive regulations. For example:

California has a crazy law that allows employees to collect substantial ex post facto compensation if they claim they were denied a 10 minute break every four hours or a thirty minute unpaid lunch break after five.

A few weeks ago I was advised by a senior case-worker at the California Department of Labor that the only safe harbor left for employers is to FORCE employees to take an unpaid lunch. This means they clock in and back out, this means they have to leave the job site (because if a customer happens to ask them a question, then they are "working"), and this means we have to ruthlessly enforce it. Or we are liable for scads of penalties.

According to some philosophers, any behavior that is caused is incompatible with free will. In other words, if you do something for a reason, you are not free. That means that the employees who had a reason to work through lunch are not free. The regulations are saving them from SLAVERY!

This explains why Sandra Flake thought having to pay for contraceptives is a violation of her rights. Having to pay for contraceptives provided a reason for her not to have sex, which meant she was not free. (This also applies to anybody who gave her a reason to have sex, which explains sexual-harassment law.)

I won't more than mention that there are reasons to believe pointless actions are also unfree, which reduces your consciousness to the status of a croupier at the human roulette wheel.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Anarchy vs. Anarchy?

The Occupy Wall Street Movement is supposed to have an anarchist core. I suppose that means they will have no objection to the police deciding not to enforce laws against motorists running over rioters in the Occupied Zone.

David Graeber reminds me of someone

In this year’s “Occupy Handbook,” David Graeber, an anthropologist who teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London and was an early Occupy organizer, writes that demands shouldn’t be articulated because the systems they would be addressed to are irredeemable.

This sounds familiar … indicting someone but not saying what the indictment is. It's a little like Kafka's nightmares and a little like the Star Chamber but it's a lot like Lewis Carroll:

A SURD is a radical whose meaning cannot be exactly ascertained. This class comprises a very large number of particles.
They're not effective enough to resemble Kafka's nightmares or the Star Chamber.

In related news, David Graeber turns out to be the theoretician behind the giant puppets (remember them?).

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Odd Historical Fact

Henry Wallace was, among other things, noted for developing a breed of chicken:

Wallace resumed his farming interests, and resided in South Salem, New York. During his later years he made a number of advances in the field of agricultural science. His many accomplishments included a breed of chicken that at one point accounted for the overwhelming majority of all egg-laying chickens sold across the globe.
I'm sure it had two left wings.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

What Was Touré Neblett Thinking?

Many of my fellow wingnuts have been criticizing the following from Touré Neblett:

“He loves this line of ‘our rights come from God and nature’, which is so offensive to so much of America,” pontificated the MSNBC personality. “Because for black people, Hispanic people, and women, our rights do not come from God or nature. They were not recognized by the natural order of America. They come from the government and from legislation that happens in relatively recent history in America. So that line just bothers me to my core.”
I have a theory about what he was thinking. You just remember the following: 1) Nowadays, the Left is the logical home of collectivists; 2) some leftists, especially the older ones, started out as conservatives. (Others have made an apparent change when the major issues changed from X to Y, in which they agreed with conservatives on X and liberals on Y; in related news, if there were an election in which the only issue were open borders, I'd probably vote Democrat.) Try to consider what sort of conservative a collectivist would be. He would be someone looking back at a society where white folks were secure (i.e., did not have to live in fear of their neighbors), and could basically pretend non-whites don't exist. These people are rare among conservatives nowadays—because most of them have gone Left—but they used to be common. These ex-conservatives would regard an environment of closed borders and legally-mandated segregation as part of a “natural order.” (I have discussed a liberal who thought conservatives were fans of the 1950s here, a liberal who was trying to attract votes from such conservatives here, and argued with such a conservative here.) It's easy for a liberal to mistake such the former opinions of such ex-conservatives for those of current conservatives.

This was probably combined with ignorance of the fact that the anti-slavery movement was started by religious fundamentalists … back in the days when Unitarians were compared to Wahhabi Muslims by people who weren't being ironic.

Saturday, September 01, 2012


The sinistrosphere has been calling Paul Ryan “zombie-eyed,” apparently under the impression that it's some kind of insult. If they really wanted to be insulting, they should have called him “Nader-eyed.”

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