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:
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Someone who used to be serious (formerly Plague)
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Jewish Pro-Life Foundation
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Yet another weird SF fan

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Jumblies, Part II

Part I is here.

The map of Clintonesia brings the following to mind:

Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Pointing out that their top people are environmentalists, their staffers are depressed, and they went to a a political campaign with argument that had holes is just icing on the cake.
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


According to Zoltan Istvan (earlier discussed here) on AI:

Regardless what happens in the future, it’s safe to say AI will not be an entity speaking to us in hackneyed parables, or telling us to pluck out our eyes and cut off our hands if we sin. It probably also won’t threaten us with a hopeless fiery hell of eternal punishment for our lack of faith.
He knows that … how? For one thing, if an AI is sufficiently influential, whatever it says will become so well known that it will sound hackneyed.
It’s far more likely the greatest tool our species has ever created will tell us how to end world poverty with inventive technologies, how to best fix the Earth of the environmental degradation we’ve caused, and how to heal ourselves of all disease and live indefinitely via radical science.
Speaking of hackneyed… It will tell us how to solve the problems that seemed most pressing back when Zoltan Istvan was doing laps in amniotic fluid?
  • Isn't fixing little things like poverty or environmental “degradation” much easier than AI?
  • Is there environmental degradation? Isn't the air a lot cleaner than it was in 1973?
  • Hasn't absolute poverty gone way down steadily in the past generation?
  • The health question may also have been solved by the time we invent AI.
  • The best reason for believing in fast technical progress in AI, Moore's Law, appears to be slowing down.

Maybe Zoltan Istvan believes that technical progress in a field will be fast or slow depending on whether the speed justifies his personal prejudices.

Friday, December 23, 2016

It Took Over Six Decades

… but we finally have a replacement for the the Third-Avenue El. According to Isaac Asimov shortly after the el was removed:

When they tore down the el, our mayor did say
That soon in its place there would be a subway.
 ’Twould be new, ’twould be clean,
 ’Twould be painted white and green,
So give three cheers for our bright new subway.
 No el, No el,
 No el, No el,
So give three cheers for our bright new subway.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Snarky Comment Comes to Sad End

They're tearing down the Nanotech Furniture building.

Now where will we get cyclohexane?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

It's about Euphemism Time!

Years after I recommended multiple mirrors, scientists have finally realized the danger of putting scientific data under centralized control and are doing something constructive about it.

The danger is potentially real. First, it is possible to claim that restricting such data is not censorship on the grounds that censorship is only a matter of the government restricting private parties. (If the government had not tried monopolizing the data, such an argument would even be valid.) That argument might confuse the voters enough for the powers that be to get away with it, at least in an otherwise-popular administration. Second, the centerpiece of the nativist argument (at least when nativists are talking to libertarians) is that foreigner immigrants might affect the average opinion in this country in a non-libertarian direction. If government action is acceptable for the purpose of changing public opinion, that might be used as an excuse for censorship. Third, Trump will have a “pen and a phone.” It might be possible to delete large amounts of data before being restrained. Even if it is technically illegal, punitive measures can also be tied up in bureaucracy. If Hillary Clinton got away with it, Trump can get away with it.

We should applaud this privatization. It might protect data from President Melissa Click someday. The only problem is that this hadn't occurred years ago.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Common Phenomenon

Last year, I mentioned:

The experiment might be an example of a common phenomenon: Leftists attempting to devise an objective test that they imagine will prove conservatives are scum. This is then followed by dropping it when the test gives answers they don't like.
More recently, social scientists have been looking for the Magic Test that proves all open-minded people agree with the Left. They have one (science curiosity) but it's easily criticized so they're looking for more … with a certain lack of success.

On the other hand, maybe conservatives have taken enough of those tests to be able to fake open mindedness. On the gripping hand, how would we tell if liberals are faking?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Is “Organic” a Synonym for Good?

According to a Fark contributor:

Australian term of the year is "Democracy Sausage", a traditional snack served at polling places. In the US a Democracy Hot Dog is when you vote for organic beef but get one made from lips and rectums
The problem with pointing out the many fallacies involved here is that one does not know how to begin.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Who Is Winning the Culture Wars?

According to a Mark Tushnet, a left-wing law professor:

The culture wars are over; they lost, we won.
That might be true of gay rights. On the other hand, on abortion and guns, we right-wing ideologues are the wave of the future. The only way to oppose RFRA laws and not look bad in 2053 is to come up with some way they don't apply to abortion. The left may have trouble getting that past their current base.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Schrödinger IV

Apparently pro-Trump areas are in a quantum superposition of having great job growth and being full of failures despairing over their unemployment.

Also see Schrödinger I, Schrödinger II, and Schrödinger III.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Why “Blue” Cities Have More Government

I disagree with the usual left-wing take (“Big cities need more government.”) and the usual right-wing reaction to that (“If big cities need more government, they must be parasitic on the rest of us.”). If big cities need better policies, I think that means less government.

The reason blue states have more government is that they are better able to get away with counterproductive policies. For example, NYC can have a gun-control law that would cause a gang takeover of any other city. Since NYC is too big for one gang to take over, it can get away with it.

California can have environmental regulations that would mean the fast bankruptcy of any state that didn't have Silicon Valley in it. Since California has Silicon Valley, it's undergoing a slow bankruptcy instead.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

What, If Anything, Were They Thinking?

I've you ever wondered why refugees from “blue” areas sometimes vote for policies similar to the place they fled, you can see a typical example of their beliefs here:

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Few Notes on the Latest Flag-Burning Controversy

President Hillary would have the flag burners arrested for the unauthorized emission of greenhouse gases.

Question: If burning the flag is an exercise of free speech, is destroying currency also free speech?

Flag burners should be sentenced to act like idiots in public. In other words, nothing need be done.

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