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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Two Type of Caveman Politics

According to Glen Reynolds:

These evolved instincts served hunter-gatherer cavemen well (which is why they’ve survived) but they don’t work very well in a world where health care, instead of being something that members of a tribe provide for people they’ve grown up with, is something that has to be procured from strangers who make a living providing it. And, as McArdle notes, trying to sell socialism by pretending that society is one big family doesn’t actually help: “Nationalizing the health care system does not fix this fundamental disconnect between our evolved instincts and the inevitable necessities of a modern economy.”
Another example of caveman politics: The theory that anybody new coming in diminishes the wealth or the jobs of the rest of us.

Current politics in the US is a matter of two groups of cavemen fighting it out.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Decisions, Decisions …

I've already decided to vote Libertarian for President. (It's bad enough that a President might nominate Earl Warren; I don't want to vote for an Earl Warren Republican.)

On the other hand, the Libertarians are also running candidates for Senator in my state and Congressman in my district. The incumbent Democrat (Charles Schumer, the New York state embarrassment) got 66% of the vote last time, so I suppose swing voters will have little effect. The Congressman, Steve Israel, got 52% of the vote last time and is retiring. The Republican candidate may have a chance. What's more important is that a Donald Trump defeat will look more impressive in an otherwise Republican year, so I suppose I have to support non-Trump Republicans. I plan to vote Libertarian for President and Senator and Republican for Congress.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Where the ETs Are hanging Out

There's evidence a relatively-nearby galaxy is mostly dark matter.

According to the Kaehler–Oh–Krummenacker theory, that might mean ETs there are conserving solar energy.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Paranoid Theories about Epipen

What if the purpose of the Epipen price hikes (from a company run by the daughter of a Democratic Senator) is to get voters upset at Big Pharma in order to elect the the Democrats, the supposed enemies of Big Pharma?

A similar theory: What if the purpose of is to fool conservatives who should know better (the Epipen monopoly is a matter of crony capitalism, not intellectual property) into defending Epipen and therefore discredit capitalism?

I assume that the Epipen people should have known they could not get away with it, so I came up with purposes in which “not getting away with it” is the point. On the other hand, maybe they really are idiots…

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

One Problem with Lawsuits over Inherited Art

The lawsuits over inherited art stolen by the Nazis might be used as a precedent by Palestinians claiming their land was stolen in 1948 or even by people claiming reparations for slavery. I have criticized such claims on Usenet (whatever happened to that?) on the grounds that

In the United States, events that occurred for than 40 years ago are regarded as part of the "dead past" and relegated to museums.
That might also apply here.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Should We Push Government Activity to Higher or Lower Levels?

Well… It depends. Government spending should usually be pushed to lower levels (when possible). The advantages or disadvantages of a new bridge, etc. can be seen more easily nearby, especially when it's paid for by the local people.

Government regulation, on the other hand, should sometimes be pushed to higher levels. It has very large externalities. For example, zoning laws in suburbs frequently increase rents in the inner city. In the other direction, anti-gentrification regulations push the upper middle class out of cities and increases commutation times. This even applies to national governments. The US ethanol mandate increases prices all over the world. If a UN resolution called for the US to stop the ethanol mandate I might even have a strange new respect for the UN.

I was reminded of this by the controversy over the attempt to have the Colorado state government rein in regulation of fracking by local governments.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Screening Immigrants

Screening immigrants might sound like a good idea (it's even part of American traditions too) but it can be easily abused. For example, the Page Act of 1875 was based on screening immigrants but, in practice, it was used to exclude Chinese women. (It was succeeded by the frankly bigoted Chinese Exclusion Act.)

If you're any type of conservative (whether paleocon, neocon, theocon, tea partier, 1% person), do you really want to bet that today's civil servants won't be prejudiced against people you want to admit?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Another Thought about Cultural Marxism

The Trump movement is causing me to take Cultural Marxism more seriously. I had earlier dismissed concerns about Cultural Marxism on the grounds that most of it was already present in the US. The Trumpkins are making me take Cultural Marxism seriously, not because of their arguments but because the are an example of the same phenomenon.

The earlier band of Cultural Marxists took ideas already present and gave them a slant that benefited the Soviet Union. For example, both “perople have the right to cross borders” and “people have the right to reject foreign influence” were already present in the US. The Cultural Marxists reconciled them by encouraging the idea that if you get to a place by land, you are thought to have a right to stay there and possibly even take it over. If you get to a place by water, you don't. (I've mentioned this before.) This makes Russian imperialism look more legitimate than imperialism from the rest of Europe.

Another effect of Soviet influence: The Soviet Union was an oil exporter, so they gained from anything that helped suppress energy production in the US. For example, suppressing nuclear energy would fit. Price controls on oil and natural gas would fit. Concern about the greenhouse effect would fit in the days before international agreements on climate change.

This influence went on hold for a decade while the Russians were unable to keep much secret. It has recently revived but they had to switch sides because, now that we have international agreements on climate change, they had to drop concern about the greenhouse effect. The Trump movement, in addition to being effectively allied with the Russians on other issues, includes a surprising number of people, judging by the comments here, who are willing to suppress fracking. I doubt if that's true of home-grown American conservatives. I didn't believe the Trump movement was backed by an oil exporting nation until I read those comments.

On the other hand, maybe I'm getting too suspicious.

Monday, August 08, 2016

A Note on New York's Clean Energy Standard

New York state's Clean Energy Standard actually includes support for nuclear energy (in a related story, Hell froze over).

On the other hand, it also includes s*bs!dies (of $17.48 per MW-hour). On the gripping hand, this might be justified if anthropogenic global warming really is a major problem. So… let's see how much this costs per ton of carbon. Natural gas (the major current competitor) emits 1.22 pounds of CO2 per kW-hour, there are 2204.62 pounds per metric ton, and 12 grams of carbon will produce 44 grams of CO2. Putting all that together, we get $115.82 per ton of carbon. This is more than the average estimate according to IPCC but is within the range. (You can tell the IPCC is doing actual science, unlike the IPCC worshipers with “science curiosity,” because they include error estimates.) The subsidies for “renewable” energy, on the other hand, are $45 per MW-hour. That's $298.17 per ton of carbon. This is pushing the upper envelope.

The implication for the intellectual honesty of anybody who complains about the $17.48 and ignores or applauds the $45 will be left as an exercise for the reader.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

My Party Nominated Samuel Burchard

In the current election, the best hope for Libertarians would be a right-leaning group that strongly distrusts the current Republican nominee, for example Mormons. So Gary Johnson said:

"I mean under the guise of religious freedom, anybody can do anything," Johnson said. "Back to Mormonism. Why shouldn't somebody be able to shoot somebody else because their freedom of religion says that God has spoken to them and that they can shoot somebody dead?"

Johnson concluded by saying he saw "religious freedom, as a category, of being a black hole."

This rivals Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

On Naming Institutions after Nasty People

At Yale, they're considering renaming buildings named after people who are currently considered nasty. On the one hand, we might not want to honor them. On the other hand, we should not simply erase them from history. My recommendation is to name nasty things after nasty people. For example:

  • The Pete Seeger Sewage Treatment Plant. (If idealists who defended slavery don't get a free ride, I see no reason idealists who defended Stalinism should get a free ride.)
  • The Karl Marx Toxic Waste Dump.
  • The LBJ postage due stamp.
An alternative possibility is to wait a century, look for things considered nasty in 2116 that the leaders of the renaming movement of 2016 were involved with and name the nasty stuff of 2116 after them.

We should vote on that now. If we wait until 2116, we might find the potential organizers in 2116 are unwilling to organize.

Friday, August 05, 2016

“Science Curiosity” Moves the Goalposts

Social scientists embarrassed at the fact that the most numerate people were unwilling to believe what they were told (which counts as irrationality in SocialScienceWorld) moved the goalposts from numeracy to science curiosity. People with more actual knowledge of science tended to be polarized about such issues as global warming or fracking. On the other hand, people with more “science curiosity” tended to be less polarized, i.e., they were more likely to agree with left-wing propaganda.

The important part is how science curiosity is measured. It's based on “whether people had read books about science, attended science events, or were inclined to read science news over other types of news.” That's a bit ambiguous. The books might include Nuclear Power Killed my Poodle (cited in Science Made Stupid) or Space–Time and Beyond and similarly for the events and the news items. We might be speaking of people who “f*cking love science” but don't know anything about it. Some of the other measures of science curiosity are even worse. People with science curiosity are more likely to watch TV shows about science and read news stories with “Surprising” in the title, i.e., they were more likely to read clickbait.

The clincher is that the article did not mention nuclear energy or GMOs.

I suspect this research simply means there is a correlation between gullibility and television watching.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


The Republicans aren't the only party to nominate a caricature. The Libertarians have also done so. Apparently, Johnson took “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” as a dogma instead of a dumbed-down version of libertarianism. I hope he's not pro-gun control.

Some Republicans are holding their noses and voting for the Party. Some Democrats are holding their noses and voting for the Party. I'm a Libertarian and I will be holding my nose and voting for the Party.

On the other hand, Johnson has gone off drugs for the campaign. After he's been off drugs for a few more months, he might change his mind. (In case you were wondering, my response to “legalize it, don't criticize it” is “Let's do both!”)

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