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:
Someone who used to be sane (formerly War)
Someone who used to be serious (formerly Plague)
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Dr. Yes (formerly Death)

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Other interesting web sites:
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Yet another weird SF fan

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What They Were Saying Not That Long Ago

On January 25, 2000, the following appeared on rec.arts.sf.written:

The consolidation of AOL and Time Warner has sealed the fate of the Internet completely. The libertarians have lost. The consolidationists have won, completely and decisively.
It's interesting how monopoly capitalism is always just around the corner … but it's a different monopoly each time.

Two Looks at 95% Confidence Levels

“Concerned” scientists see this.

Real scientists see this, with additional context provided here and there.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Keep Alex Jones from Embarrassing Libertarians

In recent years, a crackpot named Alex Jones has been claiming to be libertarian. There's a simple way to keep others from confusing him with us. If an ammunition manufacturer started making depleted-uranium bullets for handguns, I'm sure Alex Jones would call for banning them. When he's on the other side from NRA, it will be harder to claim he's some kind of libertarian.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The McDouble Is Not the Greatest Food Today

I disagree with Kyle Smith. A McDouble is not the greatest food today. It might be adequate in terms of cost per calorie (although a peanut butter sandwich beats it) but there is no shortage of calories today. In terms of cost per micronutrient, I'm sure a a strawberry flown across country is much better.

There's another advantage of a strawberry flown across country: It's better at annoying the locavores. The organic food people have recently noticed we're on to them. Their reaction is to roll out a new set of passwords and it looks like the new passwords are based on locavorism.

Unbelievable News

A reporter from NBC called a left-leaning organization “left-leaning.”

Friday, July 26, 2013

Touré Neblett and Marvin Minsky Quotes

According to Touré Neblett, George Zimmerman is:

… a Peruvian-American, not a Hispanic …
According to Marvin Minsky:
No, no; your trouble is that you're confusing a thing with itself!
On the other hand, you can make the case that, in the context of discussions of racism in the United States, Peruvian Americans don't have the same history of alleged oppression as “real” Hispanics. On the gripping hand, by the same reasoning, Barack Obama isn't black.

Another Job Americans Won't Do Any More

Being the fattest people on Earth:

The United States got some good news this past week – it is no longer the most obese developed nation in the world, according to the U.N. Mexico is now the heavyweight champion of the industrialized world.

It must be the cyclamate ban (earlier discussed here).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Propaganda Campaign Is Starting …

The propaganda campaign predicted here is starting.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Philosophy of Melissa Harris-Perry

It's impossible to know anything for sure … so we can believe whatever we want.

Needless to say, the “we” in the preceding paragraph must be restricted to only the Most Enlightened People.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What If the Word Trade Center Had Never Been Built?

First of all, the September 11 plotters would have probably sent planes flying into the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. They might have survived since asbestos was still legal then and the fires would have done less damage. The effects of that change will be left as an exercise for the reader. (Fewer wars in the mideast? A Republican loss in the 2002 midterm elections? A much bigger terrorist attack a decade later because we didn't take terrorism seriously?)

Second, Radio Row would have remained. (ObSF: “Bernie the Faust” by William Tenn) Would it have turned into something similar to Silicon Valley? (I was inspired by this discussion of eminent domain in Detroit.)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The 21st Century Is Finally Getting under Way

Staples is selling 3D printers. This may do for 3D printing what the “Eternal September” did for the Internet.

Maybe that's not so good…

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Does This Mean Tobacco Users Are Superior?

A report that users of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis know more about those substances than abstainers is, for some reason, being reported only for the third. To make matters worse, the Fark summary describes this specialized knowledge as “health literate.”

Query: Do people who eat twinkies (they're ba-ack!) know more about diabetes than non-eaters? I would not be astonished if they did.

Friday, July 19, 2013

If It Were the Other Way Around …

The discovery that non-Africans are more likely to have a Neanderthal gene or two has been going around the wrong side of the right wing at the speed of tachyons. For some reason they assume that “Thals” must be superior.

If it were the other way around, what would they have said? To ask this question is to answer it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Brief Note on the Life Expectancy of George Zimmerman

Salman Rushdie is still alive.

More generally, people who are targeted by informal networks (in contrast to a hierarchical organization) tend to survive.

The hierarchical organization most likely to target George Zimmerman (the present Administration) has an incentive to keep the controversy (and therefore George Zimmerman) alive.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Suggestion for People Protesting the Zimmerman Acquittal

Protest the Alexander conviction instead. That way you can be anti-racist without opposing the right to self defense.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Theories on Why Government Officials Are Getting More Officious

Theory 1: It's the fault of Libertarianism. In days of yore, anti-authoritarians may have been less likely to avoid government work and authoritarians would be working with anti-authoritarians. Today, an anti-authoritarian who seeks government work may consider himself to be a hypocrite. As a result, police forces today consist entirely of Barney Fifes.

Theory 2: The above-mentioned anti-authoritarians got government jobs a few decades ago because of the lack of private-sector jobs in the 1930s and 1940s. Today, they have more opportunities.

Put it together, and you have fewer people in government whose reaction to SWAT teams for post offices or sanitation departments would be to say “Are you nuts?”

Friday, July 12, 2013

Do the Elite Eschew Food Made from Genetically-Modified Organisms?

The following bulshytt has been making its way around the crackpot-American community:

Why are the elite making organic foods a priority for their own families?
On the contrary, according to the GSS, people who scored 10 on Wordsum were more willing to eat food from GMOs.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Annoying Habit I Don't Have

I rarely reply to someone asking for evidence during a debate by refusing to give it and pretending that it's a matter of not doing someone else's homework.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A Robert Heinlein Quote on Social Scientists

After reading this article, I was reminded of a Robert Heinlein quote from Methuselah's Children:

Ford slapped the report on a stack cluttering his old-fashioned control desk. The dumb fools! Not to recognize a negative report when they saw one-yet they called themselves psychographers!
I've said this before … in a slightly-different context.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

An Annoying Habit I've (Mostly) Stopped

When I was in elementary school and high school, I had a habit of reading something, not bothering to remember where I read it, and then introducing it into conversations with the phrase “I remember reading somewhere…” That must have been very annoying to anybody within earshot. I've mostly stopped it.

I was reminded of this by the propensity of Internet crackpots (such as trutherbot) to repeat unsourced claims about GMO foods, vaccines, chemtrails, etc. When I try using Google/Bing/Ask/Yahoo/whatever to find out where the claim came from, I mainly get links to people repeating the same unsourced claim. (I discussed a specific example of this bulshytt here.) I am not unique in noticing this phenomenon. Mitti Mithai also had some comments:

Never trust anyone who cites a “landmark study”, but can't be bothered to give you a reference.

In other words:


Thursday, July 04, 2013

A Question about Last Decade's Wiretapping Scandal

There was a similar NSA surveillance scandal in 2006 (with my comments here and there). Were there any attempted prosecutions of the leakers? I don't recall any.

Addendum: Thomas Drake was prosecuted.

Monday, July 01, 2013

If It Saves Just One Life …

An upside to pollution (seen via IO9):

“Despite the canal’s toxicity, which includes cancer-causing chemical agents,” explained Nasreen, “microorganisms are surviving by adapting to the harsh environment there that shouldn’t survive at all. Working in synergy, they seem to sense if nutrients are available; they exchange genes and secrete substances -- some of which operate like antibiotics. I believe these substances may provide clues that lead to the development of new drugs to combat human disease.”

ObSF: from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams:
Amphibious life forms from any of the worlds in the Swulling, Noxios or Nausalia systems will particularly enjoy the East River, which is said to be richer in those lovely life-giving nutrients than the finest and most virulent laboratory slime yet achieved.

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