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
 

Monday, December 29, 2003

Oops!

I just noticed that the suggested file in the XSLT and Mathematics entry is erroneous. It should be:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<?xml-stylesheet href="hailstor.xsl" type="text/xsl"?>
<num>27</num>
I have since corrected it.

Identifying Epicycles

As a general rule, if a theory takes longer to summarize than the facts it's suppose to explain, something is wrong.

Epicycles Sighted

It looks like the “race realists” are starting to develop epicycles on their theories. On the other hand, their epicycles aren't quite as egregious as the theory that global warming is producing a new ice age.

How Do Authoritarian Leftists Justify Themelves?

I have a theory about why the same people would be anti-authoritarian in one direction and authoritarian in the other.

The heirs of the “New Left” do not believe in individuals. I don't mean that they distrust individuals the way an authoritarian conservative would; I mean they do not believe individuals can come up with anything on their own. This theory leads to the following conclusion: If someone is not going along with a group (The People) then he/she must be following another group (The Establishment).

According to this view, classical liberalism (which defended individual rights against The Establishment) must have been about strengthening the right of The People to tell individuals what to do. Anyone opposed to that obviously would have opposed the American Revolution and the abolitionists. (This explains why modern liberals—who think of themselves as nonconformists—are so eager to claim to be mainstream.)

If The People agree with The Establishment they are not acting in accordance with their true nature and can be disregarded. If 90% of The People believe in family values, the work ethic, religion, etc. (Establishment values) and 10% don't, the 10% are the real mainstream of The People. (Authoritarian conservatives think that “nonconformists” are trying to be nonconformists. They're not. They're trying to be their type of conformist.)

This opinion is almost impervious to criticism. The ex-New-Left will assert that every group has the right to do what it wants. The obvious objection is that a group may want to oppress other groups. They can get around that in two ways:

  1. They can assert that only The Establishment of the group wants to oppress. (If The People want to oppress they can only be following The Establishment.)
  2. They can claim that The People are only opposed to The Establishment of the target group. Sure a few members of The People on the other side might be blown up, but that's the fault of Their Establishment.

In this theory, individualism and The Establishment are two sides of the same coin. The Establishment is the source of individualism because there is no other reason why so many people would oppose community. Individualism produced The Establishment because without individualism The Establishment would not oppose the community.

On the other hand, maybe it's just a case of “You don't tell us what to do; we tell you what to do.”

Why Have Conservative Christians Become Philo-Semitic?

One possible explanation: A typical fundamentalist Christian reading the Gospels in 1960 would figure that the crowd yelling for the execution of Jesus represented Judaism. The same person in 1970 had spent much of the preceding decade watching people he despised claim they were speaking for The People. He would now think the lynch mob in the Gospels were just a bunch of agitators.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

A Christmas Gift for Peter Singer

The Twelve Days of Christmas are not over. There's still time. We can decide on the best possible gift by considering the following quote:

America

What Americans overrate most is — America. They imagine that they live in the most democratic nation on earth, but in the United States, to a far greater extent than in many other democracies, electorates are shamelessly gerrymandered, the voting system squeezes out minor parties, Wyoming has as many senators as California, and money gives the rich a wildly disproportionate share of power and influence.

Americans think they are the freest people on earth, but the president keeps American citizens in detention for nearly two years without even allowing them to talk to a lawyer, let alone putting them on trial. And no one in America has the freedom of the Dutch to choose how they die, should they become incurably ill.

Americans also favor "American pre-eminence" — the Hobbesian view that the United States ought to rule the world, simply because it has the military muscle to do so.

Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University.

Let's give him what he wants. Let's deport him.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

XSLT and Mathematics

I've been studying XSLT lately. After I found out that it can produce factorials, I decided to devise an xsl file that could produce a hailstorm sequence:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform" version="1.0">
 <xsl:output method="text"/>
 <xsl:strip-space elements='*'/>
 <xsl:template name="hailstorm">
  <xsl:param name="n" select="1"/>
  <xsl:variable name="sequence">
   <xsl:if test="$n mod 2 = 0">
    <xsl:call-template name="hailstorm">
     <xsl:with-param name="n" select="$n div 2"/>
    </xsl:call-template>
   </xsl:if>
   <xsl:if test="($n mod 2) * ($n - 1) > 0">
    <xsl:call-template name="hailstorm">
     <xsl:with-param name="n" select="$n * 3 + 1"/>
    </xsl:call-template>
   </xsl:if>
  </xsl:variable>
  <xsl:value-of select="$n"/>
  <xsl:if test="$n > 1">
   <xsl:value-of select="', '"/>
  </xsl:if>
  <xsl:value-of select="$sequence"/>
 </xsl:template>
 <xsl:template match="number">
  <xsl:variable name="x" select="."/>
  <xsl:variable name="y">
   <xsl:call-template name="hailstorm">
    <xsl:with-param name="n" select="$x"/>
   </xsl:call-template>
  </xsl:variable>
  <xsl:value-of select="'hailstorm('"/>
  <xsl:value-of select="$x"/>
  <xsl:value-of select="') = '"/>
  <xsl:value-of select="$y"/>
  <xsl:value-of select="'&#xA;'"/>
 </xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>
You can start by naming the above file "hailstor.xsl" and running it on the following:
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<?xml-stylesheet href="hailstor.xsl" type="text/xsl"?>
<num>27</num>

Remember Whose Birthday It Is

It's Isaac Newton's birthday!

MERRY NEWTONMAS!

Cancelled Air France Flights

I assume everybody has heard that several Air France flights to LA were cancelled for security reasons. They would have a nearly-full load of fuel and might used for revenge against the French for banning head scarves. (Islamofascists feel betrayed when somebody they thought had been tamed turned out not to be. That's why they were so offended at Zionism. They thought Jews were tame.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

If This Happened in Israel…

Police Officer Kills Man Who Assaulted Him With Rock

Seen via Fark, where it was classified as obvious.

Aren't similar events in Israel treated as evidence for the horrible, racist persecution of harmless rock throwers?

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Did the U.S. Treat Saddam “Like a Cow”?

According to Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Trendy Cliches Department, the U.S. treated Saddam “like a cow.”

That's a load of bull. Sure we're going to milk as much information out of him as possible but that's no reason to have a beef with us.

I wouldn't steer you wrong. After all, our honor is at steak!

Restaging One of Tony Kushner's Plays

I don't mean Angels in America. I mean A Bright Room Called Day. According to Timothy Hulsey (seen via Andrew Sullivan):

The only Kushner play I've had the chance to see firsthand is A Bright Room Called Day, his first major work. It features a group of liberal German intellectuals who natter away in their fashionable apartments while Hitler slowly takes over. Kushner means to draw a parallel with liberals of the Upper West Side who have passively permitted Reagan Republicanism to sweep America. Naturally, the play assumes that Reagan equals Hitler, Republicans are Nazis, and America under Reagan is comparable to the Third Reich. Your tolerance for this play will depend on the extent to which you share these assumptions.
Hmmm… It should be easy to restage that so it's about liberal American intellectuals nattering away while Islamofascists slowly prepare a terrorist campaign.

A Reason to Take Global Warming Seriously

One of the most annoying habits of environmentalists is organizing a “consensus” (this usually involves telling the eminent scientists signing some petition that it means something completely different from what's reported in the media) and then claiming anyone disagreeing is going against “the scientific community.” It started with nuclear test ban activism, and then continued with anti-SDI petitions, pro-biodiversity petitions, and, most recently, global warming hysteria (which somehow does not emphasize nuclear energy).

I have noticed this kind of collective thinking is much rarer when there is enough real evidence behind a theory—even when the theory has been politicized. We hardly ever hear of pro-evolution petitions and never hear of petitions against cigarette smoking or lead gasoline additives. (Lead can cause brain damage and exposure to lead is positively correlated with voting for Democrats.)

I have a theory that when scientists sign petitions instead of stating their beliefs individually, it is because they are trying to hide behind each other. If the petition turns out to be nonsense, they can blame somebody else.

In any case, we must always be suspicious of anything defended on the basis of “they say” instead of “it is.” I have some to the conclusion that the best test of whether someone is citing real science or PC bullsh!t is whether they cite collective ideas. If an idea is defended by petition, we must be suspicious of it.

There has been a petition (discussed on Dissecting Leftism) stating:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.
Clearly, global warming is a dire emergency and we must take all possible steps to combat it! In other words, …

WE NEED NUCLEAR WINTER!

UPDATE: Shortly after posting the above I came across the following from Michael Crichton (seen via blissful knowledge):

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

………

Finally, I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.

On the other hand, “one investigator” isn't enough to check if the results are reproducible. On the gripping hand, consensus claims are sometimes used to dodge the reproducibility requirement.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The Effects of the BCRA Decision

Since media organizations are exmpted from the controls, the most obvious next step is for politically-interested organizations (NRA, ACLU, EFF, AARP, etc.) to buy or start their own media. This might be followed by attempts to regulate ownership of media properties (presumably on some high-sounding grounds such as “maintaining balance”). This can be fudged in nearly any direction. (You can always claim that people disagreeing with you is evidence of media bias.) When the law is challenged, the Supreme Court will have to decide between two possibilities: 1) upholding a law that clearly violates the First Amendment; 2) admitting that the law they had supported earlier was a pointless piece of feel-good legislation. What do you think they'll choose?

Of course, you can always base the media outside the US … and trust the UN to avoid interfering.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Suggested Constitutional Amendment

If there were a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw the BCRA, it would read:

Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech; or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances AND WE REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Question about Angels in America

Did Part I of Angels in America mention nuclear war at any point? I wasn't paying enough attention to be sure.

If it didn't, then it rewrote the 1980s. In the '80s, anybody ranting about AIDS, the ozone layer, and Reagan the Terrible would almost certainly talk about how Reagan was about to drop the Bomb any moment. It looks like a leftist embarrassment was dropped down the memory hole.

The Missing Link

I disagree with the theory that theory that the Islam–Left alliance is due to common enemies. They share the same type of goal. The object is not to win (since the Forces of Good will win in any case) but to be the instrument of the inevitable victory. The science-fiction writer Olaf Stapledon noticed a similarity between Communists and some types of religious fanatic several decades ago:

… Funny too, what a religious fellow that Communist really is. Of course, he doesn't know it, and he hates the word. Says men ought to care for Man and nothing else. A moral sort of cove, he is, full of ‘oughts.’ Denies morality, and then damns people for not being communist saints. Says men are all fools or knaves or wasters unless you can get 'em to care for the Class War. Of course, he tells you the Class War is needed to emancipate the Workers. But what really gets him about it isn't that. The fire inside him, although he doesn't know it, us a passion for what he calls dialectical materialism, for the dialectic of history. The one selfishness in him is the longing to be an instrument of the Dialectic, and oddly enough what he really means by that, in his heart of hearts, is what Christians so quaintly describe as the law of God, or God's will. Strange! He says the sound element in Christianity was love of one's fellow men. But he doesn't really love them, not as actual persons. He'd slaughter the lot of them is he thought that was part of the Dialectic of History. What he really shares with Christians, real Christians, is a most obscure but teasing, firing awareness of something super-individual. Of course, he thinks it's just the mass of individuals, the group. But he's wrong. What's the group, anyhow, but just everybody lumped together, and nearly all fools or limps or knave? It's not simply the group that fires him. It's justice, righteousness, and the whole spiritual music that ought to be made by the group. Damed funny that! Of course, I know all Communists are not religious, some are merely—well, like that bloody little man the other day. But this fellow is religious. And so was Lenin, I guess. It's not enough to say his root motive was desire to avenge his brother. In a sense, that's true. But one can feel behind nearly everything he said a sense of being the chosen instrument of Fate, of the Dialectic, of what might almost as well be called God.
(from Odd John).

Other religions have similar ideas (Stapledon mentioned Christianity), but in Islam the idea of submitting to God's will is primary. If God has decided everything with no room for free will, there isn't much point in deciding not to dive bomb the World Trade Center since God has already decided whether or not it will happen.

This also accounts for the odd imperviousness to past failures. Any past failure by Muslims (or leftists) simply means that the Muslims/leftists in question weren't true instruments of the victory of God/dialectic. If nationalists failed, that meant they weren't true Muslims. If eugenicists failed, that meant they weren't true leftists.

A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine, and Thou …

How does Armin Meiwes prepare finger sandwiches?

Saturday, December 06, 2003

On Today's Weather in New York

WE WANT GLOBAL WARMING!
WE WANT GLOBAL WARMING!
WE WANT GLOBAL WARMING!

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I Don't Believe This

I find this hard to believe:

One of five Norwegian employers said they did not mind if their employees took a drink at work during the days before Christmas.
The survey conducted by Monster.no in 13 countries, indicate that Norwegians attitude to alcohol during working hours in the days before Christmas is different from the other countries participating.
I thought Norse is Norse and souse is souse and never the twain shall meet.

 
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