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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E-mail address:
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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

They're Illogical and Emotional

Slime molds are illogical and emotional.

Who did you think I was talking about?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Where the “Dinner in Pill Form” Came From

A few years ago, I asked:

By the way, where did the meme of “they predicted dinner in pill form” come from?
It was invented by a feminist.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Seen in My Day Job

Hi, Magic Closet, Tell Me What to Wear!

This may violate the minimum geekiness requirement for scientific/engineering papers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Aspartame is the Excrement of GM Bacteria

… seen via the lunatic fringe.

In related news, honey is made from bee vomit and beer contains yeast urine.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Maybe This Type of Theory Makes Less Sense Than I Had Thought…

My usual explanation for odd fact that people moving from “red” states to “blue” states frequently vote for the same policies that wrecked their old neighborhoods is that some of the refugees think they are fleeing overpopulation instead of fleeing government. Instead of voting for lower spending, they vote for growth controls.

On the other hand … I just realized that explaining away opinions one disagrees with by attributing them to Malthusians can be used for a wide variety of opinions, many of them on opposite sides of a question. For example, are pesticides intended to kill off the excess population or are pesticide bans intended to allow population-stabilizing diseases? You can make similar arguments for both sides of vaccines, GMO foods, or nuclear energy. We must also recall that a policy can be intended to have an effect without actually having that effect and vice versa.

The theory that counterproductive policies are due to Malthusianism sounds a little less certain now…

A Common Statist Response to Criticism

A common statist response to "Your government program is interfering with X." is to try to create a government program to do X. For example, there's Obama's response to the fact that government subsidies raise college costs…

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Most Important Reason for Opposing Government Secrecy

… is that terrorists can infiltrate the government, as I've mentioned earlier.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An Industry That Does Not Believe in Planned Obsolescence

More Data on More Brains

The lack of evidence that the “right-brain vs. left-brain” cliche has anything to with reality (earlier discussed here) is now being covered by Scientific American.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I've Looked at Stupidity from Both Sides Now

After looking at embarrassing people on right for a while, I was relieved to find something equally dumb on the left (seen via View From The Porch).

I hope stupidity isn't contagious.

I Voted Today

Here in the Town of Oyster Bay, New York, there was a special election today on a fight between two real-estate developers.

One of them (the high bidder) is apparently planning to build a shopping mall and let the peasantry into “our” community (or at least that's what the mall opponents appear to think will happen). Whenever I receive a property-tax bill (apparently set for the purpose of making the area unaffordable) I feel like I've been demoted to peasant, so I voted in favor of the representatives of my fellow peasants.

The other (the low bidder) is promising to build something more “socially useful” (specifics to be named later). This group already owns a couple of shopping malls nearby and apparently wants to stop competition. Are people still falling for the “socially useful” scam?

Addendum: I regret to say the stasists won.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why Are Libertarians Considered to Be Flakes?

The Liberty Beacon explains.

Why Are Drone Strikes Being Used More Often?

I suspect it's blowback. When people at Pentagon desks were attacked on 9/11, some of them decided to seek revenge and do it themselves. (I was inspired by this article.)

Blowback goes both ways.

The news coverage on 9/11 included videos of celebrations in the mideast. Those videos disappeared from the airwaves but I suspect they're stored on Pentagon computers and being analyzed using face-recognition software. (This would probably be faster if they were publicly available.)

A Speculation on Infographics

I suspect the purpose of dumping large amounts of information as infographics instead of text is to make sure that only people in an “echo chamber” read it. If it were in text form, people who disagree could locate it via a search engine, read it, and criticize it. If you don't want that, put the propaganda in an infographic and let only insiders pass it around.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Effects of Leftist Indoctrination in High Schools

One effect of leftist high-school teachers (earlier discussed here) is that non-leftist ideas learned in college will be heard as leftist. For example, if a historian mentions that 18th-century revolutions were based on classical liberalism, it will be heard as a claim that Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara were the equivalent of Samuel Adams or Patrick Henry.

Another effect is that students learning inane ideas from each other will think of those ideas as intellectual even if they didn't learn them in a college classroom.

Yet another effect is on people who reject leftist nonsense. Perfectly sound ideas (Darwin's theory explaining the fact of evolution, that open borders were the policy during much of American history, or that there is some evidence of anthropogenic global warming) will be heard as leftist and rejected. This in turn might convince otherwise apolitical scholars to turn left.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Sea Parted …

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Introducing …

#TrutherbotParody, the very finest in unsourced bulshytt.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Was This a Coverup?

Back in the 1980s, I worked as a proofreader. In the course of that, I noticed the following sentence in the translation of Iosif Shklovskii's obituary:

Shklovskii enjoyed working with young people: he would seek out gifted students, generally choosing the ones who wanted to be experiments and observations using new techniques.
(The emphasis was added.) I changed it to:
Shklovskii enjoyed working with young people: he would seek out gifted students, generally choosing the ones who wanted to do experiments and observations using new techniques.
Was this a coverup of Mad Science?

I'm reminded of the advice given in “The Mad Scientist's Primer” by Tom Rainbow:

Another important point is never experiment on yourself. That is what undergraduates are for.

Addendum: I just noticed that “he” in the obituary sentence should have been capitalized.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Rest of the Story

The following claim has been going around the crackpot-American community:

A review of 51 studies involving 260,000 kids age 6 to 23 months found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo
When we try looking for the study in question, we see:
From RCTs, live vaccines showed an efficacy of 82% (95% confidence interval (CI) 71% to 89%) and an effectiveness of 33% (95% CI 28% to 38%) in children older than two compared with placebo or no intervention. Inactivated vaccines had a lower efficacy of 59% (95% CI 41% to 71%) than live vaccines but similar effectiveness: 36% (95% CI 24% to 46%). In children under two, the efficacy of inactivated vaccine was similar to placebo.
In other words, the same study they're citing shows that the vaccines are beneficial for children older than two … but they don't mention that, for some reason.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013


Let's see… For the past few weeks, one of the biggest controversies around has been the NSA surveillance program. For some reason, there was a recent press release (citing alleged terrorist “chatter”) apparently designed to make that program look necessary. Coincidence?

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Fear of Frying

You know those supposedly dangerous chemicals that microwaves put in foods? Roasting and, especially, frying put even more of those chemicals in foods.

But wait, there's more:

Unfortunately, the researchers also found that as these volatile compounds reduced, so did the aroma and flavor of the food.
When frying is outlawed, only outlaws will have tasty food.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

A Suggestion for Sentencing

Nidal Hassan has renounced citizenship. I have a suggestion for his sentence.

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