Friday, December 18, 2009
2. Therefore, hypocrisy is bad; the same rules should apply to you and to others.
3. Therefore, the golden rule.
4. Therefore, the rest of liberal ethics.
Conservative ethics [the difference] has some extra bits that may not be derivable quite so easily. Being quite liberal myself, however, I'll stop here.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I see the size of the people, and I see the size of the buildings.
I see the size of the people.
I see the size of the buildings they have built.
I look further, and see the rows of those buildings.
Row upon row, upon row, upon row.
As far as I can see.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
In the November 2009 election in Kentucky, there was a serious discrepancy between how ES&S's iVotronic voting machines worked and how some voters were instructed. Some voters were apparently falsely told that touching `Vote' completed the voting process. However, that only displayed the review screen, whereas subsequently touching `Cast Ballot' was required. Conspiratorial election judges were then able to modify the ballot and cast it. In addition to the fraud, it is clear that the `vote' screen should have instead been labeled something such as `review'. Five insiders were indicted -- including conspiracy to commit vote fraud, extortion, and tampering with grand jury witnesses in a subsequent attempt at a cover-up.
I was just thinking how lucky it is these people were caught. Then I realized... "will have been caught"? Or are we living in Minority Report now, and are arresting people for precrimes?
More info, including accurate dates, here.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
- Insurance companies (including mine... I need to get a new one...) say they won't stop weaseling out of contracts with customers who have the gall to get sick.
- Fox News (Yeah, I know, total shock to see them under this category, right?) fired two reporters for refusing to falsify their story. They sued, but Fox won on appeal, with the argument that there is no "law, rule, or regulation" against their lying (or compelling their employees to lie): the FCC rule is just a "policy". Fox is now suing them for millions in legal fees.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I caught the second half of a This American Life episode a little while ago. It was about Hemant Lakhani, who an undercover agent posing as a terrorist tried to buy a missile from. When he couldn't get a missile, another undercover agent sold him one. While he was willing to be an accomplice to mass murder, there's no evidence he was able to do so, which makes it arguably entrapment.
The part of the story that really bothered me, though, is a bit near the end (0:51) where they quote the prosecutor, Chris Christie (now running for Governor of New Jersey), as saying it didn't matter whether he was guilty or innocent, because he was a "bad person"!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
IntenseDebate seems to be having some issues with not showing comments. The comment count will be accurate, but some of the comments will not be visible. It seems to mostly affect replies to other comments.
This isn't just happening on my site, and it's not a small problem. I mean, showing your comment to other people is what a commenting system is supposed to do.
For the time being, try reposting your comment as a reply to the original blog post, instead of as a reply to a comment. I'd really rather not go through the bother of switching comment systems again, but if this becomes a recurring issue, I won't have a choice.
Edit: The problem seems to have gone away for the time being. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Look at the cover of Godel, Escher, Bach. The blocks are carved such that each of the directions casts the shadow of a different letter. Now, it is clearly not possible to do this with any three shapes. What conditions are necessary for it to be possible?
I suspect the answer to this is if each shape contains a point somewhere on every horizontal and vertical line, that guarantees that you can build the block. If this is not the case, as in the letter "I", restrictions are created on the other symbols: "I" "I" and "O" could be done, but "I" "O" and "O" couldn't.
This assumes that the block can be in pieces, though. If any of the shapes is disconnected, like an "O" with a dot in the center, the resulting block will be disconnected, too. Is there a set of shapes, though, where each shape is connected, but the resulting block must be disconnected? I can't think of any, but I'm not sure.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
- A cool NASA photo of a volcano. Also, a great illustration of the lack of "up" in space—I find it much easier to look at upside-down.
- An article on teaching the importance of proper arguments.
- Testimony from a guy who decided to find out for himself whether waterboarding was torture.
- An article on one of my favorite games.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
I consider myself a Star Trek fan. I've seen a few episodes of TOS, much of TNG, all of DS9, most of Voyager, and a bit of Enterprise, but I don't plan on seeing the new movie. The decision was made provisionally after seeing the original trailer, and nothing I've heard since has made me think my first impressions were wrong.
My first thought on seeing the trailer was "Why is this an action film? Did they get Michael Bay to direct it?" When coming up with adjectives to describe Star Trek, "Awesome" and "Extreme" are not at the top of the list. This isn't Star Wars. Trek has never been action/adventure—it's more exploration/diplomacy. In DS9, in the middle of all-out war, more time is spent on the internal politics of keeping the alliances together than on battles. If a ship fires at the Enterprise, the command is not "Return fire!" but "Open a channel." This is a show that spends screen time on staff meetings, for goodness sakes! Don't think I'm impressed by a trailer full of eye candy and people driving off cliffs.
I'm not thrilled about the use of time travel to hit the reset button, either. I've never been a fan of Trek's time travel plots, and I'd miss the canon. But that's fairly minor, and I'd still be lining up to see it, if it didn't have the wrong attitude. When George Lucas stuck politics and technobabble into the Star Wars prequels, they didn't fit. In a universe like Star Wars', senate proceedings and "midichlorians" stick out like a sore thumb. Similarly, dramatic action shots and people hanging off cliffs doesn't fit Star Trek's style.
Edit: The Onion, it seems, has summarized my complaints quite well: "Star Trek fans are decrying the new film as a fun and watchable action-packed thrill ride... There's not even one scene set at a long table where interstellar diplomacy is debated in endless detail."
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Our second story window just fell out the window. Yes, you read that right. Apparently, it's designed to tilt inwards so you can clean the outside, but it wasn't installed correctly (which explains why it wouldn't stay in position all these years). Today, while my mother was trying to
clean it open it, it fell out entirely, landing on the clay two stories below. Surprisingly, it didn't break, so I figured out how it went in and put it back, properly. Now it stays in place if you raise or lower it!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
The internet economy doesn't run on cash.
That is to say, the market economy does reach online, but it is not the primary mode of transaction here. Instead, we primarily have a reputation economy: your wealth is your fame. It works a little differently: in a market economy, you show your appreciation by giving someone money, which makes you poorer. In the reputation economy, you link to them, which doesn't.
People understand this instinctively, if not always consciously. If you steal a bit of artwork someone else made, and put it on your site with a link to the creator, the creator is unlikely to get mad (and unlikely to get sympathy from the rest of the internet if they do). On the other hand, if instead of linking back to the creator, you imply that you made it, people get very angry; see Todd Goldman or eBaum's World [explicit lyrics] for examples. This is a pattern on the internet—if people are complaining about someone being a thief, they're much more likely to mean a reputation thief than a money thief.
Interestingly, there's no Wikipedia article on the subject, although I don't seem to be the first one to describe it. There is one for "attention economy", which is close, but not quite the same thing.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
What do you know about the Columbine massacre? Some misfit loners in black trenchcoats got sick of being bullied and shot up the school, right? Wrong. The media made up a story, and then didn't let the emerging facts get in the way.
Via Kevin Pease's LJ.
Friday, April 17, 2009
With the end of Passover, I thought I'd tell a story. One of the traditional holiday songs is Daiyanu. Daiyanu (or Dayanu, or Dayenu—the correct spelling is דַּיֵּנוּ) is a Hebrew word meaning "it would have been enough", and the song is a list of gifts from God.
When my sister was little, after singing the song, she once asked "Why do we want anu to die?"
For anyone familiar with the holiday, here's a Facebook haggadah. People who have never been to a ceder may enjoy it too, but they'll miss a lot of the jokes.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
People have remarked on the title of the blog. It comes from a post I read in the xkcd forums: something like "Pray to God, or your atheist god, that it never happens." I thought it was pretty funny example of completely missing the point. (Although they wouldn't be alone, 21% of Americans who identified themselves as atheists said they believe in god1.)
I chose it mostly because it was a funny and memorable phrase. It works on other levels too, though. It's a reference to my single-digit readership: I'm talking, but nobody's listening. It's a little bit of a stretch, but you could even say that other people are the closest thing an atheist has to a prayer-answering god.
My mother is kind of ashamed of the blog, though. I don't completely understand why; the best I can figure, she thinks the word 'atheist' is horribly offensive, or something. I was pretty disappointed.
1 http://religions.pewforum.org/reports, click "Report 2" and scroll down to the second table.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
- Anything by Adachi Mitsuru. He mostly does high school sports stories with a romantic interest.
- Living Game is a comedy about a guy who's trying to find a better apartment. At least, that's how it starts.
- Yotsubato! is a series of adventures of a wide-eyed, cheerful little girl (5 years old?) discovering the world. Extremely cute.
- Hikaru No Go is about a young boy who meets the ghost of an ancient go player, and learns the game. You wouldn't think a story about a board game would be so interesting. The anime version is also excellent.
Other than Yotsubato!, which doesn't have much in the way of continuity anyways, these are all completed, so no getting to the end and then having to wait a month for the next chapter. Things like Death Note and Full Metal Alchemist don't get a mention; I assume you know about them already.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Q: Help me, Mr. Advice Columnist Man! I can't stop having gay sex!
A: That's not a question.
Q: How can I stop having gay sex?
A: Don't you have any self-control?
A: Well, then, your best bet is to eliminate any possible partners. Try making homosexuality a crime.
Q: I'm trying, but the damn liberals keep screwing it up. They tell me "Congress is not your personal army."
A: Well, if you can't get them to stop being gay, you could at least make yourself less attractive to them.
Q: But I'm so amazingly sexy! Have you seen my ass? I have a phenomenal ass.
A: It's not all about looks; personality counts too. Try making it publicly known that you think gays are the absolute scum of the earth, and should be treated with all the respect and dignity of a wad of used gum.
Q: I tried that, but some of them will still have sex with me if I pay them enough.
A: You're paying them?
Q: Yeah, they won't have sex with me anymore otherwise.
A: You know what? I think this task is officially hopeless. You'll just have to accept the fact that you're gay.
A: No buts. This conversation is over.
Next time, on Ask Mr. Advice Columnist Man: a shark asks for advice on becoming a vegan! Don't miss it!
(This was originally a comment I made on Evolved and Rational, but I was proud of it and thought I'd copy it here... where far fewer people will see it. I've had better plans.)
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm getting better!
So, I'm finishing up what I believe is my first encounter with the flu. It wasn't pleasant, but I think it's just about over now. I only had a 100° temperature today, down from 103.6° on monday. So yeah, I was totally out of it for 2 1/2 days. (Does it say something about me that I want to make that 5/2?)
That's not the bad part, though. I can take a little suffering, as long as I know it's ending soon. The bad part is that about 6 hours before I started having an itchy throat and slight cough, I was at a concert of a bunch of my friends whom I hadn't seen in months, and we went out for dinner afterward, and I probably gave them all the flu.
Next year, I think I'm getting vaccinated.