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
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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)
Rally 'round the President (formerly Famine)
Dr. Yes (formerly Death)

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Other interesting web sites:
Aspies For Freedom
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Dihydrogen Monoxide - DHMO Homepage
Jewish Pro-Life Foundation
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The Mad Revisionist
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Science, Pseudoscience, and Irrationalism
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Yet another weird SF fan

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Which “Red Sox Technology” Will It Be This Time?

Now that the Red Sox won another World Series, I wonder which “Red Sox technology” will become prominent this time.

This might be the year Bitcoins make micropayments feasible …

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How Appropriate

I think highly appropriate that an updated version of the vampire legend portrays a vicious monster as a left-wing wacko.

By the way, if this “free, safe, wireless power” is being suppressed by a conspiracy, where's the flood of incriminating e-mails?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Time Can Run Back

One reason my fellow wingnuts put so much effort into preventing the ACA (it is no longer necessary to use the rhetorical term “Obamacare” now that we can point to actual facts) is they believed it could not be repealed since any attempt to repeal would be demagogued by leftists. It looks like there's enough opposition from people who can't enroll or whose premiums are increasing to overcome the demagoguery.

A second reason is the possibility that the repealable parts would not include the ban on using “pre-existing conditions” to set prices, leading to a “death spiral.” (I asked for an article on this topic and I got it.) This part is also wrong. New Jersey passed such a law in 1993:

It is instructive to compare New York’s individual-insurance market with that of another large northeastern state. In August 1993, New Jersey began enforcing guaranteed issue and pure community rating in its individual market, just as New York does currently. Unlike New York, however, New Jersey permitted some variation among its standard individual-insurance plans, including a range of deductibles. Before enacting guaranteed issue and community rating, New Jersey had 157,000 policyholders in its individual market. Despite New Jersey’s greater flexibility, this number had dropped to fewer than 86,700 by the end of 2001.[20]

New Jersey also passed a partial decontrol in 2001, leading to a partial reversal of the death spiral:

Concerned about falling enrollment, the New Jersey legislature in 2001 passed a law allowing “Basic and Essential” plans to be sold in the individual market. These plans, which went into effect in March 2003, may charge premiums that vary by a ratio of up to 3:1 to reflect a policyholder’s age, gender, and place of residence. Basic and Essential plans offer a limited benefit, which “covers only 90 days per year for hospitalization, $600 per year for wellness services, $700 per year for office visits for illness or injury, $500 per year for out-of-hospital testing, and limited benefits for mental health services, alcohol and substance abuse treatment and physical therapy.”[21] Carriers can sell a rider providing additional benefits.

At the end of 2002, before these Basic and Essential plans began being sold, New Jersey’s individual market had 79,870 policyholders, almost all of them covered by pre-reform standard plans.[22] By the second quarter of 2009, individual-market enrollment had increased to 105,158 (a gain of 32 percent). This increase was solely a result of the popularity of these new Basic and Essential plans. In fact, the number of people in the standard plan dropped from 78,698 at the end of 2002 to just 52,271 by the second quarter of 2009. The number of policyholders with Basic and Essential Plans went from zero, pre-reform, to 52,645 by the second quarter of 2009.[23] Of note, more than 26,000 standard policyholders, a third of the pre-reform market, switched to Basic and Essential plans during this same period.

Maybe a President Christie might not be a disaster after all, even if we cranberries disagree with some of his policies.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why the Administration Ignored Warning Signs

I suspect the Administration ignored warning signs that the ACA was going to be a quagmire because they were used to ignoring theoretical predictions, at least in this field. A typical debate on socialized medicine usually involves conservatives giving theoretical predictions that increased government involvement in health insurance would lead to no good which, in turn, could be met partly with anecdotes of health-insurance problems in the U.S. but mostly with the other side's trump card: It works overseas. As a result, advocates of increased government involvement in health insurance grew used to ignoring theoretical predictions about health insurance in general. (This is similar to the way a handful of slanted polls in the 2004 election turned into reasons to reject allegedly-skewed polls in 2012.) I'm sure that the people trying to implement the plan tried warning of disaster but were ignored on the grounds that “It works overseas.”

The libertarian response to claims that capitalist medicine is more expensive than socialist medicine is to point out that we have socialist medicine in the U.S. The difference is that the U.S. governments spread the same amount of money around apparently randomly. There's also the little matter that we allow private health care as well as public. This causes U.S. socialized medicine to look worse than socialized medicine in places where they can't compare it to anything else. I'm reminded of: When it's not being tested, it works, fact.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yet Another Debate Wanted

A debate between Barry Schwarz, who thinks that too much consumer choice makes people less likely to buy (earlier discussed here), and those people who take seriously the Gruen transfer theory, according to which too much consumer choice hypnotizes consumers into buying, might be of interest.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

This Is a Test

This is a test of MathJax: \(E=mc^2\).

Now this blog can join Shtetl-Optimized and The Reference Frame.

Another test: \[\prod_{p~\text{prime}}\left(1-p^{-s}\right)^{-1}=\sum_{n=1}^{\infty}\frac{1}{n^s}\].

Please note (if you use \(\TeX\) in comments) that single dollar signs have been disabled on the grounds that they are too common in ordinary text. You will have to use \​( and \​) instead.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Article Wanted

Predictions that the Supposedly-Affordable Care Act might lead to a medical-insurance death spiral usually cite New York state as a bad example. I'm sure that there must be an analysis somewhere of what happened to the individual medical-insurance market in New York state (with prices and dates) but my attempts to find it usually lead to medical-insurance ads or other irrelevancies.

On the other hand, there are government death spirals as well. There was the mass transit spiral in which automobiles became overwhelmingly common (except in areas where even government could not wreck mass transit that badly) and the urban-school spiral in which anybody who could afford it put their children in private schools.

Friday, October 18, 2013

But That Trick Never Works!

The collection of portrayals of Republicans in clown makeup (seen via Boing Boing) reminded me a Circus World by Barry Longyear. On Circus World, the clowns, led by the Great Kamera, tried for a government shutdown before it started. They opposed the pro-government magician faction. I assume that a series portraying Democrats as magicians will be next.

Obama's next speech will no doubt be: “Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Same Idea Right and Left

One the left (seen via Megan McArdle), we see the argument that low-wage businesses cause increased welfare spending. On the right, we see the argument that immigration causes increased welfare spending. I thought increased welfare spending came from governments trying for a good press.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Proving the Opposite

In an article purporting to show that Republican Congressional districts have more people who lack medical insurance, we see:

Among the nation’s 435 congressional districts, 207 have coverage levels below the average of 85.3 percent for the non-institutionalized civilian population, the census data shows. Of those, 105 are held by Republicans, while Democrats in mostly urban areas represent 100 and two are vacant. The rankings are based on the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, which includes margins of error for each district.
Wait a moment … 105/232=0.45 whereas 100/200=0.5. The numbers cited prove the opposite of the claim. On the other hand, I don't think the difference is statistically significant.

A Wanted Debate Is Starting

I often post blog entries with the title “Debate Wanted.” One of the debates I asked for is starting.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

An Effect of Pharmaceutical Price Controls

If pharmaceutical price controls produce a situation in which only governments can develop new drugs on a large scale, that will do to pharmaceuticals what has already happened to nuclear energy research. I won't more than mention the fact that subsidies can also be used as an excuse to shut down a technology.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Opinion or Interest?

According to David Hume:

It may farther be said, that, though men be much governed by interest; yet even interest itself, and all human affairs, are entirely governed by opinion.
I can think of at least three apparent bureaucratic power grabs that might be explained by the way some people think the world works instead as deliberate attempts to crush dissent.

First, there is the War on Photography. This looks like a blatant attempt by fascist police to keep anybody from documenting brutality. On the other hand, I recall rumors that people thought to be terrorists were observed photographing public areas or national monuments to do reconnaissance. This is, of course, complete bulshytt but it's not something possemaniac cops made up.

Second, there is the IRS insistence on double checking Tea-Party organizations. There is 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.

Third, there is the closing off of unmanned national monuments as part of the government shutdown. Many people think “public” is the same as “government.” as a result, a government shutdown means a shutdown of anything public.

In other words, this might be a matter of convincing the Other Side instead of simply opposing them.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Uh Oh

It's possible to overdose on caffeine.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Expert or Not?

I'd be more likely to take environmentalist hysteria seriously if the “experts” they cite were real experts. They're trying to get the prestige of having an Ivy-League professor on their side without checking to see if his expertise had anything to do with the topic he was commenting on.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Wait a Moment…

On the one hand, the objections to automated anesthesia found here look like self-serving attempts by anesthesiologists trying to maintain their jobs. On the other hand, those robots will be administered by the same people responsible for the “Affordable” Care Act computer crashes…

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Hognose Government?

The attempts to close parks that are frequently unmanned while open reminds me of a hognose snake attempting to play dead:

If this threat display does not work to deter a would-be predator, hognose snakes will often roll onto their back and play dead, going so far as to emit a foul musk and fecal matter from their cloaca and let their tongue hang out of their mouth, sometimes accompanied by small droplets of blood. If they are rolled upright while in this state, they will often roll back as if insisting they really are dead.
We have a government attempting to play dead.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Question about the “Affordable” Care Act Glitches

What happened to the hyper-sophisticated get-out-the-vote programs that the Obama re-election campaign used?

They couldn't ask the programmers who did those for help?

Question: Was the story of “our programmers can beat up your programmers” a steaming load in the first place? Another question: Was this initial failure due to deliberate sabotage? If it was, was this from the right (trying to get socialized medicine to fail) or from the left (trying to get it replaced by single-payer)?

Thursday, October 03, 2013

A Brief Note on the “Faux Outrage”

We are not outraged that the extremely important National Parks and Monuments have been closed. (Annoyed maybe but there are workarounds.) We are outraged that the Other Side thinks we will give in because of it.

On the other hand, maybe they're reading from scripts again. The script of “government shutdown” means everything public is closed. Next week, the Federal Government announces that the public domain is abolished.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A Possible Consequence of the National Mall Takeover

I'm sure you've heard that the World War II Memorial was closed as part of the government shutdown but veterans insisted on breaking down the barriers to visit it anyway. Question: What if a determined left-wing activist deliberately breaks a leg there in order to prove a point?

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


The government has shut down!

Is it any coincidence that, on the very same day the government shut down, my stove stopped working? Obviously, the Department of Stoves was closed and I'm not sure if I have to apply to the Pilot Light Department or the Spark Department…

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