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Showing posts from August, 2007

Gene and Wabulon under the San Francisco Civic Center

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(While scanning this, the HP photo software offered me the option to "Smoothen Textures." Smoothen? What, did HP contract with the author of Beowulf to write their dialogue boxes?

The Kingdoms and the Tastes

How many of you learned in school that the living world is divided into two kingdoms, the plants and animals? Or three, plants, animals, and protists? I did.

Well, you may be suprised to learn that the first scheme was antiquated by 1866, and the second by 1956? Here's the current six-kingdom list, from Wikipedia:
Eubacteria, Archaebacteria, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, Animalia.

Or how about basic tastes? Four? (Salty, sour, bitter, sweet.) That's what I was taught in the sixties and seventies. Well the fifth basic taste has been known since 1908.

Why does it take a century or so for these things to get into textbooks?

Existence

This is not going to be an angst-filled, exisential post. Rather I'm puzzling over the use of the verb 'to be,' or, more precisely, why it puzzled twentieth-century philosophers so much. I've been re-reading Brand Blanchard's Reason & Analysis, and cannot really understand how analytical philosophers got their knickers so in a twist over this issue.

As Blanshard describes the problem, the worry these analytical philosophers had was that, if someone says, "The Loch Ness monster is a sea serpent," they seem to be granting "existence" to the monster, whereas, as they see it, the monster doesn't exist at all. In their view, this is the results of a linguistic confusion, the cure for which is to say things like, "The realm of real things does not contain a living creature such that that creature is reptlian, very long, aquatic, and lives in Loch Ness."

As I see it, when someone says, "The Loch Ness monster is a sea serpent,"…

Foreign Policy Debate at Freedom Fest

This clip of Doug Casey is a riot. (If you want to see the whole debate they're compiled here.)

Differentials Again Again

On reflection, I think I prefer this version of the “theorem”:

Theorem: Any twice differentiable function of one variable has a second derivative vanishing everywhere.

Proof: y''/y'2 = (d2y/dx2)/(dy/dx)2 = (d2y/dx2) (dx/dy)2 ... etc.

Issa bottle a wine.

Where's my financial privacy?

I'm getting sick and tired of making billion dollar bets against the European stock market, and then having the *#)!$#$ paparazzi following me at every turn.

Murphy to Speak in NYC

Make your plans, guys and gals, I'm going to be speaking at the mysterious Victor Niederhoffer's "Junto" on Thursday, October 4 in glamorous New York City. Autographed copies of my Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism will be distributed to all attendees (who hand over a $20 bill).

(In all seriousness, those who are going to attend should read the description at the hyperlink above. It's a little unusual. They discuss Junto stuff first, then the speaker talks very briefly, and then the gloves come off.)

Brooklyn News

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My street in the Times.

Also, the latest Brookyln fashion is the dog hat:

Another One from the Vaults

Sandy Ikeda and I take on Robert Moses.

Like Cornish, They're Practically Extinct

According to CNN, Chinese and Arabic are little known languages.

(My title reminds me of Woody's desire to attend Purdue University so that he could study Cornish.)

Criticizing Science

My recent article on IQ and the Wealth of Nations at mises.org produced some interesting commentary. I want to note one error that I think all of my harshest critics made, because I think it is a fairly common one. Basically, all of them said either or both of:
1) You did not positively disprove the authors' thesis; and/or
2) You did not offer a better, alternative theory of your own.

Folks, neither 1) nor 2) are necessary in a valid critique of a scientific theory. Someone putting forward a new scientific theory is in the position of the prosecution in a criminal case: They must present compelling evidence that the accussed (causative factor) is guilty. Their critics are like the defense: all we have to do is try to find holes in their case. In no way are we responsible for proving the accussed could not have done the crime (although, of course, if we can, that's great), nor suggesting who else might have done the crime. (Although Perry Mason was always able to both get his clie…

Differentials Again

Thousands of you have begged me to strip the camouflage from "Differentials for Dummies" to isolate the fallacy. Very well: here is as minimal a version as I could come up with.

Theorem: Any twice differentiable function of one variable is linear.

Proof:
y''/y'2 = (d2y/dx2)/(dy/dx)2 = (d2y/dx2) (dx/dy)2
= (d2y/dx2) (dx2/dy2) = d2y/dy2 = 0
Therefore y'' = d2y/dx2 = 0.
Therefore y = Mx + N.
Note M cannot = 0, else y''/y'2 is indeterminate; however, constant functions are also linear.
Q.E.D.

It's a bottle of wine.

Pessimism Song

I don't remember what I said,
And the morning sun is red.
It's far too late to ask a second date,
So I'll just kick you out of bed.

The Latest Trend in Child Care

A Lesson I Learned the Hard Way

If you are going to accidentally dial the 800 number that is for TTY/TDD, don't hold the phone up to your ear.

Critter Rights

Gene Healy discusses animal rights.

My response:
I just think this is a matter of degree. Look, if you're a vegetarian, you're still killing plants, which are pretty active creatures, just at a slower pace of action than we are used to. (Trees fight wars with insects, for instance, actively sending pesticides to places of infestation, and with other trees, at the root level.) And, in fact, you'll have to kill a lot of bugs or you'll get no crops! Placing some absolute divide between plants and animals is just "kingdomism."

The basic principle is, I think, the more conscious something is, the more we should treat it with respect, e.g., don't eat gorillas.

Rothbard argued against any animal rights along the following lines:

"One must also understand how the notion of rights developed. Why is it a common feature of man, and why do rights only exist in the faculty of human reason? This is because rights are grounded in the nature of man, who is a social, rati…

Optimism Song

Well, I always wanted to be dead,
Or at least that's what I've said.
I cannot believe there is nothing to perceive
Even if one has no head.

Differentials for Dummies

This is (I think) too good to be hidden as comment #3 under “An Uncomfortable Teacher”.

Here’s something I handed my calculus teacher in high school:

Solve: A d2y/dx2 + B dy/dx + C y = 0

Multiplying through by dx2:
A d2y + B dy dx + C y dx2 = 0

This is a quadratic in dx:
dx = (-B dy +/- sqrt(B2 dy2 – 4AC y d2y)) / 2C y

Therefore
dx/dy = (-B +/- sqrt(B2 – 4AC y d2y/dy2)) / 2C y

But d2y/dy2 = d/dy (dy/dy) = 0

dx/dy = (-B +/- sqrt(B2)) / 2C y = (-B +/- B) / 2C y

dx/dy = 0 OR (-B/C) (1/y)

Therefore
EITHER x is constant (highly doubtful)
OR x = (-B/C) log y + K
IN WHICH CASE y = exp((-C/B) (x – K)) = K’ exp((-C/B) x)

Done!

Needless to say, I did not receive a convincing explanation of why this derivation was invalid.

Cable TV Guide

Here.

My favorite: 9:00 pm on Animal Planet: The Crocodile Botherer.

The Vietnamese...

I May Take a Hostage...

...if I don't soon figure out Word 2007's spacing. I just highlighted everything in the document and in the Paragraph section chose "Single" for the Line Spacing, but I still could probably fit a pencil in between the 11-pt lines of text. What the heck? And while I'm at it, sometimes when I hit Enter it does some sort of extra line jump.

I used to think it was really cliched to complain about Microsoft, but I get it now.

A Bit Much

Wow... Skim this article posted on the "Family Security Matters" website (before they yanked it). Make sure you read the final paragraphs. Justin Raimondo tipped us off to it.

Why A Free Society Would Kick Butt

Gene and I spend a lot of our free time (and boy do we have lots) thinking about how cool the free society would be. Here's just one little example: In this Money article on how retired people should handle their finances, the "expert answer" is 18 paragraphs. The first 14 are devoted to the nuances of completely arbitrary government tax rules, while the last 4 actually have to do with real financial considerations.

I Report, You Decide

The question of the day: Outraged over the Jose Padilla conviction, did Paul Craig Roberts mislead his readers when he said...

The jury, of course, had no idea of what was at stake. It was a patriotic jury that appeared in court with one row of jurors dressed in red, one in white, and one in blue (Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post, August 17, 2007). It was a jury primed to be psychologically and emotionally manipulated by federal prosecutors desperate for a conviction for which there was little, if any, supporting evidence. For the jury, patriotism required that they strike a blow for America against terrorism. No member of this jury was going to return home to accusations of letting off a person who has been portrayed as a terrorist in the US media for five years.

...if it turns out that the jury did this right before the Fourth of July? From page 2 of the article to which PCR linked:

The jury did seem to be an oddly cohesive group. On the last day of trial before the Fourth of July ho…

Nut Job Ron Paul Supporters

Oh, Ron Paul came in 3rd place with almost 19% of the vote in the Illinois straw poll. Did you hear about that on your way to work?

I love this article's conclusion:

Paul's libertarian stylings and campaign of strict interpretation of the Constitution has earned him an unorthodox band of sign-carrying supporters. They frequently interrupted TV reports of the event and at one point, Romney's Illinois chairman, state Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Chenoa), ripped a sign out of one Paul supporter's hands and threw it on the ground.

What weirdos! The nerve of these people. It's bad enough that they vote in online polls even when they know full well that they aren't scientific samples and so will exaggerate the strength of the support for their candidate. And then as if that's not enough, they go to political events carrying signs! Have they no shame?!

Another Straw Poll, Not Widely Reported

It made national headlines when Mitt Romney won the Iowa straw poll. Granted, it's not nearly as significant, but did you even know that there had been an Alabama straw poll? In case you're curious, here is a video of the results.

Gene Shows Off His High IQ

...in this review of a silly book.

Fun Fed Facts

Readings to understand the current financial mess (via Austrian business cycle theory).

An Uncomfortable Teacher

Part of my difficulty in teaching intro economics classes was that in order to dumb the material down enough for the freshmen business majors to understand, I had to "teach" things that I didn't really believe. I used to think it must be nice to be a math professor, because then everything you taught would be rigorously correct. (You just wouldn't get into, say, Cantor's diagonal argument in a pre-calc class.)

Well now I wonder if that's even true. (I should've asked math professors at the time, but I don't think I ever did.) In any event, my 2-year-old was playing today and showing me different blocks. He held up a cylinder and said confidently, "Circle." So I said "That's right it's a circle." Then he held up a block that was a triangle with depth, and I told him it was a triangle. I.e. I didn't put in a caveat, "Actually Clark, it's just the two-dimensional face of it that's a triangle. And in a …

Clergy Enlisted to Keep Us Calm During Martial Law

This is a pretty spooky story. Although it's an obvious sore spot between atheist and Christian libertarians, Romans 13 doesn't actually condone all forms of government. But don't take my word for it, read here to see why (on Christian grounds) Romans 13 doesn't mean what statists say it means.

Mr. Market

In honor of this week's market volatility, I search the vaults to bring you: "Mr. Market's Wild Ride".

The Nurturing Fed

I love the way the media reports Fed rate cuts: '"What everyone's waiting for now is to see what the Fed will do at the next meeting," Yared said. "Whether they drop 25 basis points or even 50 to really soothe the markets."'

Think how much more caring and nurturing that sounds than if they said, "What everyone's waiting for now is to see whether the Fed will drop 25 basis points or even 50 to really bail out a bunch of Wall Street fat cats who made bad bets, all at the expense of the little guy."

A Former Student Reviews My Book

Here. I think he consciously chose to go easy on me, since there is no criticism and this guy is sharp.

Murphy Four-Play Monday

This is rare folks, but the stars have aligned such that I have a wall of multimedia propaganda for you today. If I had an agent, he'd probably tell me to tone it down lest I become the Paris Hilton of anarchist writers.

(1) On LRC I discuss YouTube questions for the Republicans.

(2) On Mises.org I admit I was wrong (I told you it was a special day!), and now think that the trade deficit is a serious issue.

(3) The Hillsdale Daily News ran a story about my book today. I don't remember saying the exact sentences attributed to me, but I was on the phone at my in-laws and may have endorsed socialism, for all I know.

(4) Mises.org has made my CSPAN appearance available. (Whole .wmv file or streaming link.)

Weirdest Job Ever

"It was an hour before midnight, three hours into the night shift with nine more to go. At his workstation in a small, fluorescent-lighted office space in Nanjing, China, Li Qiwen sat shirtless and chain-smoking, gazing purposefully at the online computer game in front of him. The screen showed a lightly wooded mountain terrain, studded with castle ruins and grazing deer, in which warrior monks milled about. Li, or rather his staff-wielding wizard character, had been slaying the enemy monks since 8 p.m., mouse-clicking on one corpse after another, each time gathering a few dozen virtual coins — and maybe a magic weapon or two — into an increasingly laden backpack.

"Twelve hours a night, seven nights a week, with only two or three nights off per month, this is what Li does — for a living."

Read the rest.

The Man Tries to Keep Down Ron Paul

Tom Woods' column alerted me to this ridiculous ploy by ABC News to misrepresent the strength of Paul's support. It's really amazing to watch these people work. If you're not afraid of lying you can really gain a lot of influence.

Major Breakthrough in International Relations

Here.

Not in Service

Not in Service

To the town of Not in Service
In the state of At This Time
I have gone while I sing this song
On that glorious bus line,
Singing Not in Service At This Time,
Catch it anywhere, they don’t even care
If you pay the fare--it’s a bottle of wine.

In the town of Not in Service
There’s a girl named Do Not Touch.
She lives alone in the Loading Zone,
And I love her very much,
Singing Not in Service At This Time,
Catch it anywhere, they don’t even care
If you pay the fare--issa bottle a wine.

In the town of Not in Service,
In the lovely Park and Ride,
Though she ties my hands, still she understands,
And she takes me deep inside,
Singing Not in Service At This Time,
Catch it anywhere, they don’t even care
If you pay the fare—ssa bol uaighn.


1989. Alexandria, VA.

© 1989, 2007 by Walter Bloch

Question for Today

Is the blepharoplast a centrosome?

Cryptic Events

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Why do they keep this crypt in a cage?



Because of what pops out of it as the sun goes down:

Terrifying News about Iran

Here.

The Military Breaks Down Prejudices?

We often hear how great the military is at integration. Well maybe. But in this shocking story, we hear that a woman "airman" was allegedly raped by 3 of our nation's finest, and then she backed down from testifying because of intimidation by superiors etc.

Now she is facing a court-martial. You might say, "Oh for false rape charges?" No, for indecent sexual acts with the men. Oh, this is relevant: She could end up as a registered sex offender, and the 3 men won't be because they were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against her. (You know, "We all performed consensual indecent sex acts, and I feel horrible about it.")

(My wife found this story on a feminist blog. They weren't too happy about it.)

Dennis Prager Deomstrates His Command of Logic

Here:
"Of course, there are known conspiracies -- Osama bin Laden and others conspired in the 9/11 plot -- but there are no successful hidden conspiracies. I cannot think of one in my lifetime."

Well, Dennis, if it was successfully hidden... then you wouldn't be able to think of it, now, would you?

Meet the Verifier

This NYT article suffers from all such news pieces, that it's not technical enough for you to really understand what's going on. Even so, this description of a guy who goes around pointing out how entire fields are blind to their assumptions is just awesome. I mean, he's getting paid to do what I do for free.

Hugh Hewitt Stands on Principle...

to crush it beneath his feet, as he chastizes Democrats for "exploting the tragedy" of the MN bridge collapse. (Yeah, that's really how it is spelled right now!)

Well, sure, Hugh, the (9/11! ) Republicans (9/11!) would (9/11! ) never (9/11! ) stoop (9/11! ) so (9/11! ) low (9/11! ) as (9/11! ) to (9/11! ) explot (9/11! ) a (9/11! ) tragedy (9/11! ), would (9/11! ) they (9/11! ), Hugh?

On "Carried Interest" by Hedge Funds, On Town Hall

Details here. And ironically, my name on the front page was right below Jonah Goldberg's. He and I can definitely agree on tax cuts.

Well, Who Hasn't...

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navigated a revolutionary era sub through New York harbor?

My friend Duke Riley makes a splash with his latest art project.

Update: The NY Times runs a video of Duke on its front web page.

Modern "Enlightened" Murderous Eugenics (MEME)

Responding to Julian Sanchez' comment: perhaps I have misrepresented the thrust of Ross' point, but it is clear to me at least that he is using valid terminology. The eugenics movement was multifaceted and we are certainly not seeing an equivalent repetition in genetically selective abortions, done by individuals for particular reasons. However, considering that the overall aim of the eugenics movement was to create a genetically superior evolution, 1-3 are somewhat secondary to the true spirit of eugenics. It seems Julian and Ezra are expressing aversion to guilt by association, since they don't seem to question the goals of eugenists per se (except perhaps insofar as they believe some of their particular genetic goals were based on irrational or immoral assumptions).

Of course since abortion is the selective mechanism it is egregious regardless of whether the motive is with an eye to eugenic aims. But this should serve as a reason to highlight the additional immoralit…

Terrorists Strike Minneapolis

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This was apparently the work of an obscure sect called "the Minnesota DOT."

"Voluntary abortion isn't murder, therefore selective abortions can't possibly be eugenics!"

Ross Douthat writes about the supporters of selective abortion of genetically abnormal fetuses:

"[T]he more you accept pro-choice premises, the more likely you are to share the point of view expressed by the other commenter Ezra quotes - namely, that aborting fetuses with genetic abnormalities is no different than two people at risk of passing on a genetic disorder to their offspring choosing not to procreate in the first place."

Julian Sanchez, in a moment of odd blindness writes:

"Ross Douthat is defending his application of the term "eugenicist" to people who don't have any quarrel with selective abortion of fetuses with Down Syndrome, in part on the grounds that some people who support reproductive freedom take the position that, in fact, there is nothing wrong with the "eugenic" goal of seeking to ensure that the next generation is genetically healthier or smarter, provided only voluntary means are used. I've argued this myself, but as I al…

Posts in Brief

* Sign on bus from Reading to Heathrow: "Seat belts must be worn."
I didn't have mine on, but if the driver came over, I was going to say, "But seat belts are being worn -- for instance, the fellow across the aisle is wearing one.

* I just encountered "all-in-one" sinks in the UK this trip. You stick hands underneath, and first it sdumps soap on them. Then it puts the water on for about ten seconds, then shuts that off and turns on the dryer. Hover, I noticed the "water phase" had not washed all of the soap off of my hands. And then I realized that. if I wanted more water, I'd have to accept more soap as well -- and the problem would just grow worse!

* I was just looking at submitting a paper to a journal called The Journal of the History of Thought. This made me decide I want to start my own journal, describing my every fleeting notion passing through my head, The Journal of the History of Gene's Thought. Oh, come to think of...

* Apparently…