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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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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Back Off Government!
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Other interesting web sites:
Aspies For Freedom
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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

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Do Media People Really Believe in Exponential Growth?

The coverage of the coronavirus crisis includes an annoying phenomenon: On the one hand, the mainstream media ignored this in February and sometimes ridiculed the people worried even despite the fact that the danger could be easily predicted by anybody thinking about exponential growth. On the other hand, many people in the same group were concerned about exponential growth in the context of overpopulation.

It's as though the I-Bleeping-Love-Science people don't actually understand what they're spouting. It even looks like they were only “concerned” about overpopulation because it was an excuse for legalized abortion and free birth control.

But wait, there's more. The reason exponential growth is worrisome in the case of epidemics is that the time needed to react (months or more) is far greater than the doubling time (around a week). The time needed to react to problems caused by alleged overpopulation is usually less than a doubling time. (I've mentioned this before; it's not something I made up just now.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Personal vs. Private

The Coronavirus crisis has caused me to re-evaluate one of my opinions: I used to think the left-wing distinction between “personal” and “private” was silly. I now think they have a point. They just had it backwards. The regulations that had to be repealed (e.g., selling unauthorized coronavirus tests) tend to be regulations of private property but the regulations that have to be added (e.g., against crossing borders or going out in public) are of personal behavior. The business regulations are a matter of using businesses to enforce the regulations of personal behavior.

Many people regard the Coronavirus crisis are a refutation of libertarianism (formerly known as classical liberalism). On the other hand, as I've said before:

Control of contagious disease was a traditional activity of classical liberal governments. I have seen complaints that such governments were more concerned about contagious disease than malnutrition.

As for the bailouts… the above-mentioned regulations are a taking of the value of private property for public use. Such takings must be compensated. On the other hand, in order to keep the economy going, the compensation has to be distributed faster than it can be aimed. I suppose we should figure out the proper compensation after. One way is to suspend taxes during the recovery period on those businesses that had to be shut.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Is the Coronavirus Crisis an Argument against Globalization?

I doubt it. The problem isn't globalization; the problem is single-sourcing. Getting all of your surgical masks from Wuhan is as bad as getting all of your cars from Detroit or all of your government from Washington.

Most of the time, anti-globalists are defending getting all of your cars from Detroit.

On the other hand… This particular crisis is not an argument against globalization but it is also not much of an argument for globalization. A typical crisis goes wrong in just one area, so it's possible for other areas to make up for the resulting deficiencies. When something goes wrong all over the world, you can't always do that.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Old-style Numerals in MathJax

This is a test of the effects of the \oldstyle macro in MathJax: \({\oldstyle 0123456789ABCDEF}\).

Strange… It doesn't act like that in \(\rm\TeX\)…

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