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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Guess about the Long-Term Effect of the Gay-Marriage Controversy

There will be little effect.

“Families” that don't produce that many children won't pass their memes on to the next generation.

A century from now gay marriage might be seen as an obvious irrelevancy that was not even worth opposing. As I have said before:

As for whether we should pay attention, if medical research stagnates the anti-natalists will disappear. On the other hand, if cryonics actually pays off we might have them to kick around forever. At first, they will be outvoted in elections and outbid in decision markets. Later they will be ignored completely as they become an infinitesimal fraction of the population.
The above reasoning explains why traditional religions allowed the elderly to get married even though many of the arguments against gay marriage might apply there. Old marriage was not worth opposing.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

What a Child Might Say a Generation after Small Teleportation Devices Are Invented

“Grandpa, what were toilets?”

I was inspired by a recent article on 10 Terrible Tech Frustrations My Toddler Will Never Have. The development of small teleportation devices that can fit inside a bladder or colon would explain why characters in SF stories almost never have to go to the bathroom.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

News You Can Use

How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic is now online. Now you can find out what the fuss was about.

I regret to say that its rivals (for silliest book ever written) Space–Time and Beyond and Words of Power: a Feminist Reading of the History of Logic are not yet available for download, as far as I know.

A Theory about the Lack of Terrorism for a Decade and Its Recent Revival

If there is a welfare–terrorism connection, could the relative lack of terrorist acts for most of the past decade be due the welfare reform of nineties? Could the recent revival be due to President Obama's attempts to undo the welfare reform? Maybe preventing terrorism is as simple as cutting budgets.

ObSF: “One hundred percent of nothing, and that is the secret of this crisis.”—Hober Mallow in Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Rich Are Exploiting the Poor!

The rich are exploiting the poor!

The rich are exploiting the poor!

Okay. Now the rich will ignore the poor.


What Paperclip Maximizers Are Really After …

The reason paperclip maximizers want all those paperclips is quite simple. They're planning to build computers out of paperclips. That's their way to achieve the Singularity.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Note to Gun-Control Supporters

After Sandy Hook, you sounded just like this.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Uncle and Nephews

On the one hand, we see a law-abiding uncle, Ruslan Tsarnaev, who's willing to condemn terrorist bombs even from relatives and, on the other hand, we see his nephews, Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, who apparently sent off the terrorist bombs. Maybe we should see that they had in common and how they differed.

What they had in common: Uncle: Muslim immigrant from the Caucasus; nephews: Muslim immigrants from the Caucasus. How they differed: Uncle: did not attend American schools; nephews: attended American schools. Maybe the schools were the problem.

I suspect that anti-American ideology in public school is more dangerous than anywhere else because, at least as far as youngsters are concerned, school is the Voice of the Establishment. If the Establishment says the Establishment is wrong…

Addendum: On the other hand, sometimes schools teach courses I approve.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Population Size and the Higher Education Bubble

In Interstellar Migration and the Human Experience, Kenneth Wachter wrote:

Small interstellar bands, below 500 persons, would certainly need to cultivate values that would recruit larger proportions of the young into learned studies than any past societies that come readily to mind.
This is needed in order to pass on an intellectual tradition. Without the tradition, any books that they have will not be understood. (ObSF: Earth Abides by George Stewart, in which in the aftermath of a population-annihilating disease, there is only one youngster in the San Francisco area with academic inclinations and abilities and when he dies, the plan to revive civilization has to be cancelled. I'd like to know what's going on in New York, where there might be a half dozen scholars.)

This might apply in the other direction. A large population might need a far smaller proportion of scholars. Present day scholar recruitment (including the idea that the most prestigious job is that of training more scholars) might have been more appropriate to smaller populations.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Excessively Simple Technology

I've recently been asked to come up with ways to simplify my company's workflow. If you're someone with common sense, you might come up with something useful. If you're me, you start reading up on simpler technology, which leads to reading up on simpler computers, which leads to reading about Reduced Instruction Set Computers, which leads to One Instruction Set Computers. One of these devices even has a C compiler.

Maybe I should backtrack a little.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Question about the Gosnell Case

Wasn't legalized abortion supposed to prevent this “back-alley” activity?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Not as Creepy as It Looks

This would be creepier if the field of study were more reliable.

This Is Nothing New

Melissa Harris-Perry's recent statement “that kids belong to whole communities” (criticized here here and all over the dextrosphere) is being treated as though it were something new. It isn't. We saw the same nonsense openly expressed over three decades ago and it's almost certainly older.

By the way, the reason that children do not belong to the state isn't that they belong to their parents; it's that they belong to themselves.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why Dictators Are a Very Bad Idea

A recent IO9 article on “The Perfect Health Regimen that Only an Absolute Dictator Could Impose” accidentally explains why absolute dictators are a very bad idea. The article starts with a routine invocation of the Nanny State and then turns worse:

Most of us know a bunch of simple rules to improve our health — and most of us don't follow them at all. A few people do eat five to ten servings of local organic fruit and vegetables every day…
Stop there. There is little evidence to show that organic food is healthy (it's more a matter of pretending to eat healthy) and no evidence to show local food is healthy. That little phrase should have been enough to predict that the rest of the article would be a matter of reporting dubious studies that haven't been checked properly.

An absolute dictator is someone with the power to impose his/her/its/whatever ideas without regard for whether or not they make sense and to repress any criticism of them.

Friday, April 12, 2013

If Poets Are the Unacknowledged Legislators of the World …

… what would a revolt against such rulers be like?

Is it time for a Literary Spring?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Based on Pleas from the Nation's Comedians …

… Anthony Weiner is considering running for mayor of NYC.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Even the Nostalgia Is Old

I was about to comment that the clearest sign that the Left is a tired movement is that it has been reduced to being nostalgic. Then I realized that even Leftist nostalgia is decades old.

Will there be an OWS movie in the 2050s?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

An Unexpected Effect of Malthusian Ideas

One effect of Malthusian ideas is on people who don't believe them. Some of us will attribute Establishment ideas to the Malthusian meme complex and assume that the Establishment ideas are for the purpose of promoting depopulation. This has happened with vaccines, fluoride, and pesticides. Trutherbot is a prolific poster of this brand of bulshytt.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Another Debate Needed

On the one hand, according to Trutherbot, processed food is supposed to be bad because mold won't eat it.

On the other hand, according to Trutherbot, hemp is supposed to be good because insects won't eat it.

Since insects are more closely related to humans than mold is, wouldn't that mean people who should avoid processed food should avoid hemp milk, etc.?

On the other hand, maybe Trutherbot isn't human but is instead a slime mold. That would explain so much…

Last Sunday's Google Doodle

I understand that last Sunday, Google celebrated the birthday of a famous pro-lifer. (He may have had a misunderstanding or two about economics.)

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