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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wind Power vs. Hurricanes

I'm sure my fellow technically-oriented wingnuts have heard of the prediction that large-scale wind power systems could lessen hurricanes I think was done in imitation of my fellow supporters of nuclear energy:

Thus, on any long time scale, nuclear power must be viewed as a method for cleansing the earth of radioactivity.
Mark Jacobson might be attempting to use the same argument for wind. On the other hand, it costs ridiculous amounts, will have only a minute effect, and that effect won't last long. It is a pale echo of the benefits of nuclear energy. He might have done better to have mentioned that the birds killed by windmills results in fewer bird droppings.

We will next hear that solar panels provide shade that prevents sunburn, tidal energy stops shark attacks, and that geothermal energy can prevent volcanoes.

In the other direction, hurricanes feed off evaporating sea water. Obviously, if the surface of the ocean were covered in oil slicks, that would prevent hurricanes. Did the 2010 BP oil spill produce the current moderation in gulf hurricanes? It makes at least as much sense. “Oil on troubled waters” is more than just a saying.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Looking for Common Ground

After reading waaaay too many articles on paleo diet vs. veganism, I thought I'd make a list of what paleo-dieters and vegans agree on:

  • Sugar is bad.
  • Green vegetables are good.
  • Anecdotes trump data.
  • Confounding factors can be ignored.
  • The Other Side is full of pseudoscientists and, on top of that, they stereotype people.
Can't both sides lose?

As for what the next food fad will be, I will quote Arthur C. Clarke:

I have no idea what it will be, and am in no great hurry to find out.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Asymmetric Warfare

Hmmm… It looks like the pro-Western side in the Ukrainian protests is using asymmetric warfare.

To other anti-Western regimes: We're onto you.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Questions about Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty

Why would they need a treaty to promote free trade? Why not just let goods in?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Hmmmm… So it seems my fellow wingnuts are more likely to regard astrology as a steaming pile of bulshytt than other groups.

On the other hand, this comes from social scientists so it's slightly dubious.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pediatric Bariatric Surgery?

According to The Wall Street Journal:

As World's Kids Get Fatter, Doctors Turn to the Knife
Possible reactions:
  • Incredulous stare.
  • No. I don't think I can blame the cyclamate ban this time.
  • One of the children is three. Why should a child too short to reach the cookie jar be overweight?
  • “She says she feeds him brown bread and boiled chicken and rice…” How about fruits and vegetables?
  • Wouldn't a guard for the refrigerator be cheaper?
  • Why is weight loss needed? Keep the same weight and wait a few years.
  • Apparently, some Mideastern parents have the same attitude toward food that some American parents (or maybe its just people giving parents advice) have towards sex.
  • If this happened in the U.S. or Europe, it would be blamed on Western civilization.
  • Now that I read the comments, it's being blamed on Western agricultural practices anyway.
  • Obviously, the U.S. has invented the Fat Bomb. It was first tried out in the U.S. and now is being used on other countries.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Note from an Apparent Visitor from Another Timeline

According to David Zirin:

I also think the answer lies in the same reason that George W. Bush can organize his entire 2004 re-election campaign around a series of homophobic state referendums against LGBT marriage while his daughters attend a friend’s “commitment ceremony”.
David Zirin apparently lived in a different 2004 than the one I lived in and intends to live in a different future.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Great Implosion

In the usual scenario, human beings will settle the Galaxy by going “out there.” (sometimes known as The Great Explosion). This has the disadvantage that, if there is no method of FTL travel, the resulting colonies will be almost isolated from each other.

What if, instead of a Great Explosion, there's a Great Implosion, in which the planets are moved to the solar system? The stars can stay where they are provided they're surrounded by solar-power collectors and the resulting energy beamed toward the solar system. (It might be necessary to move them closer to do that right.)

I'm surprised that Isaac Asimov, with his well-known distaste for travel, didn't write about such a system.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Should Americans Be Poorer?

The above question is discussed at NRO Corner, inspired by the latest excuses for the likelihood of fewer jobs as a result of the “Affordable” Care Act. I'm reminded of the State of the Union message in Missing Man by Katherine MacLean:

For the third year in a row we have reduced the gross national product by more than five percent. Everyone is trying hard to reduce consumption and learn repair skills. Gross National measures of Use Value have risen slightly or held their own. The quality of life is still improving.
How many Obamacare supporters does it take to change a light bulb?

None. They explain the advantages of darkness instead.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Suggestion for the American Mathematical Society

The amsmath package for \(\rm\LaTeX\) includes emitting error messages when encountering the \over command. This has apparently driven \over to near extinction. I recommend doing the same for the {eqnarray} environment. The spacing is absurd looking and when negative space is added to cancel out the absurd spaces, the resulting \(\rm\TeX\) files are almost incomprehensible.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hmmmm… Donuts

At IO9, there's a discussion of what a donut shaped planet would be like. One possible difference from Earth is that the wind can blow everywhere at once. On Earth, there must be at least one calm spot.

This speculation must be worthwhile. Amor Mundi is against it.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Tobacco vs. Contraception

CVS has decided to stop selling tobacco. This decision may collide with laws on the books.

There are laws in some states that pharmacies cannot refuse to sell a lawful product because of moral or religious beliefs. Presumably that would apply here.

The really weird part is that those laws were applauded by the left and criticized by the right when they applied to contraception. Now we see the opposite attitude on both the right and the left.

For the record, I'm against such laws both in the case of contraception and the case of tobacco. FIW!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Arithmetic Problems and a Potential Congressbeing

Sandra Fluke (whose problems with arithmetic were discussed here) might be running for Congress.

In another story about people skipping decimal points, a news article about the education experiment I mentioned here can be found online.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Rip That Godd@mn Hook out of My Mouth! Part II

There are fish that can use tools. If we cross breed these fish with the fish with “six-pack abs,” don't even think of trying to catch them. Those fish will come aboard your boat and put a hook through your mouth.

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