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

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Nearly-Unbelievable Fact

An idiotic regulation was actually repealed.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Most Annoying Nativist Argument

The most annoying nativist argument is when nativists try being empathetic. I can take hard-hearted nativism even when disagreeing with it. Such arguments amount to saying: “The rights of some people are limited.” Soft-hearted nativism, being weepy about Americans put out of work for example, amounts to saying “Some people are unpersons.” If we don't assume that, the soft-hearted arguments disintegrate into nonsense.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fark Liberals View Conservatives

I've found that the ideas or people that liberals on Fark regard as typical of conservatives are frequently ones that I've barely heard of. For example, the the Excel spreadsheet error that the economic ideas of us wingnuts were supposedly based on was in a paper that I was barely aware of and regarded as “only one reason among many to rein in government spending.” (My primary reason was that expanded spending didn't work under Bush.) As another example, my reaction to this was “Dean who”?

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Suggestion for People Selling Genetically-Modified Food

If the Powers That Be insist on mandatory labeling of genetically-modified food, just put the following label on every food you sell:

If not by you then by evolution.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

An IRS Conspiracy Theory I Haven't Seen Yet

On the one hand, we see that the Obama re-election campaign used very large statistical samples and that its resulting success has been attributed to the use of social science. On the other hand, we also see that actual social science rarely uses such large samples. (My earlier comments on this difference can be found here.) On the gripping hand, we also see the IRS includes left-leaning factions that are inclined to engage in some political activity. Is it possible that the amazing statistical analysis of the Obama re-election campaign was made possible by IRS data? Is that the real reason they were searching for phrases such as “tea party”? That might explain why they haven't leaked anything

Addendum: The spin machine has gone into action.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Reaction Times and IQ

The research claiming that there's been a decline in IQ in the past century was partly based on the theory that fast reaction times are correlated with higher IQ. I find that a bit hard to believe. After all, as William M. Briggs said:

… if this research were true, we should hang out by the Whack-A-Mole to discover future Nobel Prize winners.
I'd like to know what the sample sizes were to obtain such a bizarre conclusion. Psychology research is notorious for small sample sizes (a recent example can be found here) and a lack of objective standards. On the other hand, there just might be a correlation … if being hungover and sleep-deprived causes both slow reaction times and lower IQ.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Regret to Say …

… “GIF” is pronounced with a soft ‘g’, ruining a perfectly-good pun.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How's That Again?

Let's see if I understand this Powerline post. First, they agree with John Yoo:

Add up all the recent scandals and the message is clear: the Obama administration is showing that it cannot be trusted with the basic functions of government: law enforcement (surveillance of reporters), taxation (IRS scandals), and national security (Benghazi).
This is followed by:

How, then, can we trust the administration when it comes to immigration — an area in which it already has refused to enforce portions of the law that it doesn’t like?

Are they saying that we cannot trust this government and therefore it should do more? I thought that was an OWS slogan.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

An Inadvertently-Informative Study

A much-quoted recent study found that:

In 2008, 53 percent of all households headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) with one or more children under age 18 used at least one welfare program, compared to 36 percent for native households with children. Immigrant use of welfare tends to be much higher than natives for food assistance programs and Medicaid. Use of cash and housing programs tends to be very similar to natives. A large share of the welfare used by immigrants is received on behalf of their U.S.-born children. But even households with children comprised entirely of immigrants still have a welfare use rate of 47 percent.

The above figures come from an analysis of the public use file of the March 2009 Current Population Survey collected by the Census Bureau. The survey asks about use of welfare programs in the calendar year prior to the survey. The eight major welfare programs reported above are SSI (Supplemental Security Income for low-income elderly and disabled), TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), WIC (Women Infants and Children food program), free school lunch, food stamps (now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid (health insurance for those with low incomes), public housing, and rent subsidies.

Let us now apply the “Bloggs Test” (last used here to bash a study that praised liberal atheists):
  1. Figure out what Joe Bloggs (an average reader) would conclude from the report. If the report was strongly stated, it was probably either written by an activist who was trying to get people to believe that conclusion or by someone who based it on the activists' press releases. (In this case, Joe Bloggs would conclude that immigrants are parasites.)
  2. Determine the strongest potential piece of evidence that would point in the same direction. If that evidence were true, the report would have mentioned it. (In this case, it would be a report that immigrants are major users of the two biggest Federal welfare programs: Social Security and Medicare.)
  3. In the absence of such evidence being mentioned, conclude that it doesn't exist.
In other words, we can conclude from this inadvertently-informative study that immigrants are less likely to receive Social Security and Medicare than natives.

By the way, the other ignorant army claims the Bloggs Test can be used for improving scores on standardized tests, which they regard as somehow unfair.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wireworld and Fractals

If you set up a Wireworld universe that's all wire and then put a pulse in the middle, you can get some interesting-looking fractal patterns. I'll have to expand on this on my Netcom/Earthlink site; it's too much for a blog post.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

THe IRS Scandal: What Were They Thinking?

Somehow, I don't think they were thinking “Let's crush civil liberties!” I think this was a consequence of a widespread belief in some quarters that conservatism is a matter of following leaders. As a result, they tried tracking down the leaders. They figured that if Tea Partiers are “a dime a dozen,” someone had to be supplying the dimes.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Were the Victorians Cleverer Than Us?

The news that at least one scientific article claimed that there was a decline in general intelligence since 1889 looks like it will become one of those “facts” that's passed from one hereditarian conservative to another without coming in contact with reality. (It's already started.)

When you look at the actual article, you will notice that it's based on something correlated with IQ (namely reaction times) instead of problem solving. You will also notice that there wasn't a smooth change in reaction times but instead they were hopping up and down with a fast reaction-time outlier at the start. The variation was not much lessened by increasing sample size. I suspect that minor differences in experimental protocol had more of an effect than any change in general intelligence. (I've noticed that my reaction times, as measured by my scores on Inkball, are much slower at 3:00 AM than 3:00 PM.) I won't more than mention that reaction times are correlated with athletic success as well as academic success …

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Strong Men and Politics

The news that upper body strength in males is sometimes correlated with opposition to left-wing schemes has been going around the dextrosphere. For some reason, my fellow wingnuts don't seem to notice this is limited to upper-class men (as the actual paper indicates). Apparently, that would interfere with their Narrative that testosterone is the cause of all that's good.

If this correlation is due to men who work out more (or just plain work more) instead of testosterone, perhaps the decline of New Deal politics was due to the decline of work for the proverbial “burly men.” Maybe we don't want to subsidize that.

By the way, what's with all the blog posts repeating the conclusion without citing the original paper? I thought that was an environmentalist habit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

He Has the Words But Not the Music

The latest tactic of at least one copyright troll is to pretend to be a conservative under attack by liberals. Speaking as a right-wing crackpot, all I have to say is that he's not fooling us. Maybe he can fool a slime mold

Monday, May 13, 2013

The IRS Shenanigans and the Dorsai Series

According to Joe Klein (explaining why a scandal caused by subordinates not given direct orders is supposedly not that serious):

The most important difference is that the Roosevelt and Nixon IRS depredations came from the White House. This mess seems to have percolated from the middle–the IRS’s Cincinnati office (a major facility, by the way)–up to the upper-middle.
I'm reminded of the end of Tactics of Mistake by Gordon Dickson, in which General Cletus Grahame doesn't have to give detailed orders because his subordinates were so well trained.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hawking vs. Penrose

Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose disagree on the boycott of Israel. They have disagreed before.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Meanwhile on Twitter

I'm starting a new hashtag #CantBothSideLose.

Friday, May 10, 2013

News You Can Use

Henley's Twentieth century formulas is now online.

The recipe for gunpowder is on p. 328. (Does this count as an ITAR violation?)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

What Financiers Do, Explained in Terms a Leftist Can Understand

They're community organizers.

The difference between them and the people usually called “community organizers” is that they're more likely to use feedback (in the form of prices) to determine what's useful and what's wasteful. Even when community organizers listen to the communities they're supposedly organizing (and sometimes they don't even do that), the bandwidth provided by prices is much greater than that provided by words.

On the other hand, sometimes they don't do that very well. You can tell when that happens because they ask for bailouts.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Social Science vs. Social Science

Rich Thau and Celeste Gregory are recommending that conservatives follow liberals in harnessing social science the way liberals harnessed social science in the Obama campaign. There is a minor problem with this. The social science used by the Obama campaign was based on large samples. The alleged social science published by academics frequently isn't. Maybe we should follow them by doing our own social science. (We should not follow their habit of keeping the results secret.)

Question about Congessbeing Lamar Smith

Is this a false-flag operation? I thought people that arrogant were all Democrats.

Addendum: I've got it! Congressbeing Smith is actually a slime mold!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Ethnicity of the Wizard of Id

Last year, I speculated that the king of Id could only be an Ottoman Sultan. More recently, we see clear evidence (seen via Boing Boing) that the Wizard of Id could only be one of us Red-Sea pedestrians.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Most Self-Congratulatory Paragraph on the Internet

… can be found here:

This expression indicates an American’s confusion and lack of understanding. When confronted with something he can not understand or respond to, Americans mumble, “Muh Freedoms” or “Muh Freedoms mu#^&@(er.” This is usually followed by clapping and stuffing their faces with burgers.

You will, of course, note that there is no actual argument to understand or respond to.

You Can't Throw Up Here; You Can Only Throw Out

It isn't as easy to vomit in space as you might think.

The title of this entry came from “201 Minutes of a Space Idiocy” in Mad Magazine as did the following quote: “If you don't mind staring at it in mid-air for hours!”

How Fat Is Schrödinger's Cat?

The above question is being asked. I have already answered it: Schrödinger's cat has to mass less than a Planck mass. Above a Planck mass, it is always observed.

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