Yet another weird SF fan
 I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?Go to first entry

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 Yet another weird SF fan

### A Brief Note on Qualifications

According to Senator Paul, a promise to use US troops can be best made by people whose lives were on the line on similar occasions. I assume that includes anybody who ever visited the World Trade Center.

### It's the 21st Century!

One of the commonest progressive cliches is to claim that an advanced society will have characteristic X, point to the calendar, and say anybody opposed to X is on the “wrong side of history.” Let us assume, for the moment, that the first claim is right. Why should our present primitive society—far less advanced than the 22nd century—be considered advanced? Maybe getting rid of rigid gender roles or banning the settlement of international disputes by force of arms would be as counterproductive as banning child labor in the 18th century or banning arsenic bronze 7000 years ago. To quote from Calvin, as reported by Bill Watterson:

We still have weather?

### A Brief Note on “Eurasianist” vs. “Atlantic” Values

This discussion of the “Eurasianist” ideology reminded me of the World Values Map. It looks like the Eurasianist values are in the upper-left corner and the Atlantic values in the lower-right corner. If this is correct, than the traditional (bottom of the map) vs. self-expression (right side of the map) fight is internal to Atlantic civilization, which also means Atlantic conservatives should not regard Eurasianists as allies even if they sound traditional.

Addendum: The misspelling in the title has been corrected.

### Set Paranoia Bit to ON

The left-wing opposition to charter schools looks suspicious. It might be a deliberate attempt to keep a group on the current A list of the Hivemind ignorant. That, in turn makes it possible to use standard anti-racist rhetoric to defend ignorance … at least when they agree with the Hivemind.

### A Potential Third Amendment Violation

According to Kirsten Powers:

What if an Army sergeant in full regalia is driving through a small town and his car breaks down and it's too late to find a mechanic? There are two hotels in the town; both are owned by pacifist Christians. Do the backers of this bill really believe it should be legal for him to be refused a room and forced to sleep in his car?
Yes.

The owners of said hotels might live on site. In that case, forcing them to accommodate an Army sergeant would be a violation of the Third Amendment.

### I Was Not Imaginative Enough

A few years ago, I said (with a spelling correction):

Since other forms of gay rights have attracted less opposition than expected, they invented gay marriage in an effort to make conservatives continue to look bigoted. If more conservatives back gay marriage, they'll come up with something else. (I am not imaginative enough to figure out what that will be.)
Now we know what that “something else” is.

By the way, I'd like to know what supporters of the anti-discrimination law think of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

### “The Science Is Settled” vs. Texas

Texas recently passed a law that allows defendants to challenge verdicts when the science isn't settled:

In the past, Van Ee’s findings might not have been enough to delay Avila’s execution, or potentially reverse his verdict. But that same month, Texas passed a bill called SB 344, better known as the “junk science” statute. The first of its kind in the nation, it permits a defendant to bring a writ of habeas corpus on the basis of new or changed scientific evidence. In practical terms, this means that courts must grant relief in cases where new scientific evidence has come to light, or where scientific evidence used to convict has been shown to be false, misleading, or inaccurately applied. The statute keeps the court from denying relief even if the defendant had previously confessed or accepted a plea. It also, crucially for Avila, does not require anyone to recant his or her original testimony.

In other words, this is a law based on opposing claims that “the science is settled” and done in such a way that liberals are applauding.

There is the minor problem that judges and juries aren't experts on when science is unreliable. On the other hand, that was true of the judges and juries that convicted the defendants in the first place.

### 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.

### 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:

• 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.

### 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.

### Questions about Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty

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

### Gloat!

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.

### 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.

### 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.

### 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.

### 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?

### 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.

### 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.

### 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!

### 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.

### 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.

### A Terrible Idea

I think Roger L. Simon's proposal to grant amnesty to illegal aliens but forbid them to vote until they've left the country and reapplied is a terrible idea.

According to the Constitution, voting strength in the House of Representatives is proportional to population. That means areas that attract immigrants will see increased voting strength per voter. Since the jobs that immigrants do were those done by adolescents a generation or two ago, that means areas with low birth rates (i.e., “blue” states) will become more powerful. We can expect Democrats to go along with this enthusiastically.

By the am I the only open-borders proponent among Pajamas Media commenters?

### The Difference between the Late Pete Seeger and Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden spoke truth to power. Pete Seeger refused to do so.

### I Know You Are But What Am I?

I'd be more inclined to take the possible Global-Warming Crisis seriously if the loudest proponents didn't have a propensity to cite The Consensus of Climate Science and then reject it as soon as it doesn't fit their hysteria. For example:

Things are much worse and much more desperate than most people realize. What the general public does not realize is that climate Sciene comes from peer-reviewed journals which are deeply conservative. Climate scientists know what they don't put in print because you can't prove it scientifically, but all human life and then all life on Earth could end if we do not transition to renewable energy in the next few decades, and to accomplish that we need to start now. We are 20 years behind already.
All Hail the Experts … until They Disagree with Us

### A Second Look at The Man with a Hoe

I sometimes use The Man with a Hoe as an example of what work was like before capitalism. On the other hand, by the mid-19th century capitalism had started, but had not yet gotten far. So… what benefits did capitalism bring him?

First, let's consider what we don't see. We don't see chains. We don't see an iron collar. We don't see an overseer making sure he didn't escape. He was neither a slave nor a serf.

Second, let's consider what we do see. We see clothes instead of rags. We see shoes on his feet. He might still have to shovel manure but at least he didn't have to wade through it.

In the course of the next century, the back-breaking labor and routine use of horse manure also disappeared.

In other news, this XKCD cartoon can easily be applied to anecdotes of the alleged problems of capitalism.

### A Brief Note on Global Warming

Looking back at the weather for the past few days, my current attitude toward global warming is: Faster, please.

### A Brief Note on Autodidacts

Everybody is an autodidact (at least after the first few grades of elementary school).

Students teach themselves. At most, the teacher saves a little time and provides occasionally-useful advice on what topics might be important.

This explains why Transfer of Learning (one of those topics that apparently require capitals) is so rarely observed. There is no good control group. Students who didn't take course X aren't a good control group because, if needed, they can find out the same things themselves.

There are two important things that are usually done in school. 1) Finding out if the students actually learned anything. 2) Correcting common mistakes. I suspect the left-wing bias among schoolteachers is more a matter of not correcting left-wing bulshytt than in proclaiming left-wing ideas.

### In Defense of the Presumptuous Philosopher

I don't think the presumptuous philosopher (seen via Less Wrong) is that presumptuous. The Self-Indication Assumption fits the evidence that is usually part of the Copernican Litany and fits it better.

The evidence for the Copernican Litany is in three categories:

• Evidence that is both solidly established and fits the Copernican Litany well. This is limited to the fact that Solar System is but one of many stellar systems and the Holocene is but one of many eras.
• Evidence that is not solidly established at all. Marxism (that supposedly dethroned the Bourgeoisie) and Freudianism (that supposedly dethroned the conscious mind) are the best examples.
• Evidence that is solidly established and made to fit the Copernican Litany only by distortion. Examples include the fact that the Solar System is in the outskirts of the Galaxy or that there are many galaxies.
The evidence that is supposed to fit the Copernican Litany also fits the following scenario: What we thought was the universe is but a small part of the universe. The parts of the Copernican Litany that don't work usually say that something already known to exist is far more important than realized. This only applied to Copernicus's original theory that said the Sun is far more important than realized.

The Expanding Universe pattern fits Copernicus and Bruno. It fits evolution, once you regard the universe as consisting of space and time instead of merely space. It fits the development of astronomy. It does not fit Marxism, Freudianism, or animal rights.

Meanwhile, given a choice between two theories, it makes sense to bet on the one with a larger universe.

### A Note to Cryonicists

In a single-payer health program, this guy or one of his mental clones might decide what to do about “corpsicles.”

### Two Questions about The Big Bang Theory TV Show

1. Do autotrophs drool?
2. What are the effects of the replacement of Cliff Clavin with Sheldon Cooper as the ANSI standard nerd?

### Deja Moo, Part III

According to Rachel Burger a knowledge-based economy calls for more “emotional intelligence.” As far as I know, that's because both real knowledge and touchy-feely bulshytt both result in what are known as college degrees.

I had some earlier comments on this that I'm too tired to repeat here.

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