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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Accidentally Serious

According to The Borowitz Report:

With a fury that could spell political trouble for Republicans in the midterm elections, Trump voters across the country on Friday expressed their outrage and anger that they still have health coverage.
According to public-opinion polls:
The only item from the Obamacare requirements asked about in this poll that most reject is the individual mandate. Two-thirds of the public want to eliminate that part of the ACA.
In other words, some people really are outraged at being forced to buy health insurance. Maybe Andy Borowitz thought he was being satirical …

In any case, the technical term for people who want to keep price controls on health insurance, oppose the individual mandate, and think of themselves as right wing is “deplorable.”

A Sound Bite for Conservatives

In view of the fact that Obamacare was associated with a jump in death rates, you can try accusing anybody claiming that its repeal will kill people of traveling backward in time.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Suggestion for Congress

The main reason for the continued rejection of the attempted reforms of Obamacare are the horrendous-sounding numbers from the Congressional Budget Office. These numbers appear to be similar no matter how watered-down the bill is. It turns out that almost all of the alleged losses of health insurance come from the repeal of the individual mandate. The sequence appears to be as follows:

  1. The Republicans propose a heath-insurance reform plan.
  2. The Congressional Budget Office issues a pan report claiming millions of people will lose insurance.
  3. Average voters (the “people of the land, the common clay of the new West”) hear about the report and figure it's because the Snidely Whiplashes in charge of insurance companies will throw people off insurance plans simply because they're mean.
  4. They send lots of hysterical phone calls, emails, and letters to Congress.
  5. The Congresscritters and Senators listen and vote it down.
  6. The Republican Establishment looks for something else to water down.
  7. Repeat.
Maybe they should repeal every part of Obamacare but the individual mandate.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Reactions to Microchipping Employees

Some of my reactions to the news that at one company is planning to install microchips in some of their employees:

  • Incredulous stare.
  • The Book of Revelations looks a little less insane now that we have the Mark of the Beast.
  • By the way, why would microchips have to be implanted instead of worn? Is this an attempt at giving the employees something that's hard to remove?
  • Is this what happens when people who are taught that businesses can get away with anything grow up to run businesses?
  • If someone quits rather than do this … will he become a poster boy for government regulation of worker agreements?
  • If he turns out to be a “fundie” worried about both the Mark of the Beast and gay marriage, will the Left abruptly drop him … followed by the Right using him as a poster boy?
  • If his church opens a soup kitchen for illegal aliens, will the Right then drop his case? Will both herds of independent minds start marching in opposite directions?
  • On the other hand, maybe he'll be a poster boy for his next employer: They can advertise “WE HIRE PEOPLE OF PRINCIPLE!”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Real Problem with Left-Wing Politics

According to a recent article advising liberals on how to win elections:

It's possible to push for the policies you think are important on climate change without making people feel guilty about their hamburgers.
Translation: Don't tell people not to buy hamburgers; just tell people not to sell them.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Brief Note on the Voight–Kampff Test

One of the Voight–Kampff test questions is:

You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, it's crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't, not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?
The capitalist living inside the heads of leftists will not help the tortoise. A British health-care bureaucrat will prevent anybody else from helping.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I Was Wrong

A few years ago, I said:

It's a government regulation that hasn't been discredited yet. Advocate a government regulation in nearly any other field and you'll have libertarians saying “Look at how the State messed things up” In the case of net neutrality, our best argument is “Look at how the State messed things up everywhere else!” This, of course, can be spun as paranoid rantings. (It doesn't help that some of the people involved also engage in paranoid rantings.)
I was wrong. Net neutrality really was associated with bad effects.

Apparently, net-neutrality used to be the law, back when American broadband was rare. Net neutrality is not a matter of “You need to fill out this form for your Internet connection” or “You need permission from Occupy Wall Street to start an ISP” (despite what some people think). It's a matter of “ding ding ding ding khkhkhkhkh…”

I had overlooked this because the Other Side kept insisting that American slowness in adopting broadband was due to capitalism and—like an idiot—I believed them. (In the real world, the “cool nations” haven't been that strong on net neutrality.)

Meanwhile, in 2002–2015, we didn't have net-neutrality laws and had a rapid expansion of broadband. We also saw Comcast smack down Netflix for bandwidth hogging, but that was a feature, not a bug.

More recently, we also saw Verizon's arrogant treatment of ISPs it doesn't like, but it's doing so as a content provider. Strengthening ISPs might stop that.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

They Really Believe This

According a “toot” from the Mastodon Federation (earlier mentioned here):

Mentally, I'd like you to replace "capital" with "big piles of money" wherever you see it. That's a gross simplification but I think it also makes some things more clear.

An economic system is one that determines a) what goods/services should be produced and b) how to distribute them.

Capitalism supposes that a) and b) ought to be determined by (people with) Big Piles of Money

It's "big piles of money-ism".

The explains the persistent belief in folk economics.

On the other hand, the phrase “big piles of the results of the voluntary decisions by consumers-ism” sounds awkward.

In related news, it looks like the Mastodon Federation might be the platform I speculated about here.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

A Suggestion on the Health-Care Crisis

On the one hand, it looks like anything done to Obamacare will have effects on somebody that can be called catastrophic and might cause a Democratic takeover of Congress.

On the other hand, Obamacare continues to implode. For example, according to The New York Times:

Next year, about 35,000 people buying insurance in Affordable Care Act marketplaces in 45 counties could have no carriers to choose from.
It looks like the problem will then get worse.

On the gripping hand, there is an increasingly-plausible theory that Obamacare was designed to collapse and be replaced by a single-payer system riding to the rescue. The single-payer system might start as a public option for counties with no insurer and then get extended.

A possible alternative comes from New Jersey which was able to reverse a “death spiral” by relegalizing “Basic and Essential” health insurance. (I'm dubious about the details of the New Jersey plan because it saved money by having low caps instead of high deductibles but that's a quibble.) It might make sense to have a private deregulated option for people in counties with no insurers. The important part is for Obamacare to fail right instead of fail left.

It will be hard for the Left to complain about this because they will refuse to admit Obamacare is failing until it's painfully obvious. They will try to blame the failure on Trump, of course, but the failure has already started. I suspect Trump was elected by the votes of people whose premiums increased shortly before the election.

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