Wednesday Highlights

Well, the 3-6 inches of snow turned out to be closer to 6 than 3, perhaps 5 here.

  1. I’m on a 6 month “fix it with diet” deal with my doctor or these are likely in my future. Apparently I “lost the genetic lottery” as exercise which normally has a big effect in normalizing your LDL/HDL ratio doesn’t work for me.
  2. Misunderstanding miracle.
  3. Yesterday I linked a piece noting the silent assent which permitted Mr Hoffman’s death. It’s not like this isn’t a somewhat regular thing.
  4. We’re just glad it doesn’t include the partially female athletes.
  5. So, does Madison avenue have a clue? Or do the Democrats? Here is a suggestion that November might be a litmus test for that question.
  6. So, decades ago, science fiction writer Poul Andersen wrote a series of books featuring the exploits and adventures of a Dominic Flandry. Mr Flandry’s problem was he was knowingly fighting a lost cause, his people (a large human dominated stellar empire) was failing due to cultural decadence. He knew it was a lost cause, but soldiered on regardless. This post reminds me of that. As does this one. And this one.
  7. Meanwhile lawmakers concentrate on what is important.
  8. Apparently the “new atheists” are “very certain” about many things, kind of like the global warming crowd. Odd then that this is in the context of a Physics community (which involves measurements far more accurate and simpler systems) that isn’t sure if protons decay.
  9. Let’s see, first sexual slavery/trafficking and the Super-Bowl was a problem, then it wasn’t. It seems the former might have been more accurate.
  10. The real reason.
  11. Seriously?
  12. Climate and negative feedback. Uhm, the climate has been amazingly stable for hundreds of millions of years. If you don’t think there are lots and lots of negative feedback mechanisms keeping on the rails, then check your shoes, you probably never learned to tie them for that’s clearly pushing your cognitive boundaries.
  13. That’s not a “car” engine. It’s a jet fighter plane that forgot to wear its wings.

16 Responses to Wednesday Highlights

  1. 3.Yesterday I linked a piece noting the silent assent which permitted Mr Hoffman’s death. It’s not like this isn’t a somewhat regular thing.

    Not sure this is really fair. Addiction is very tough and trying to confront one is very difficult. When a person sets their mind to something, really sets it to something, it’s very difficult to break their fixation. Even counselors who do ‘interventions’ ultimately insist upon it being voluntary.

    8.Apparently the “new atheists” are “very certain” about many things, kind of like the global warming crowd. Odd then that this is in the context of a Physics community (which involves measurements far more accurate and simpler systems) that isn’t sure if protons decay.

    There are a small collection of anti-Einstain cranks who insist relativity is wrong. If they ever became as popular, and as loud, as anti-evolution cranks I’m sure you’d find some physics authors would rise from the ranks and pen books and articles with higher ‘certainity’ metrics.

    12.Climate and negative feedback. Uhm, the climate has been amazingly stable for hundreds of millions of years.

    Until next week when you post some links about climate getting much warmer long before there was any industrial revolution therefore implying the whole AGW thing must be fake.

  2. Boonton,
    Regarding #3 … perhaps not, but give me a break, the toleration of such things by the LA hoi polloi enables at that sort of thing. People knew. And they still hired him. That is enabling.

    If they ever became as popular, and as loud, as anti-evolution cranks I’m sure you’d find some physics authors would rise from the ranks and pen books and articles with higher ‘certainity’ metrics.

    I frequently link Lubos Motls. He occaisonally deals with cranks … and while scornful I think you’ll find that he doesn’t use “certainty” as a phrase.

    Until next week when you post some links about climate getting much warmer long before there was any industrial revolution therefore implying the whole AGW thing must be fake.

    I have never suggested that any climate change is going to be catastrophic and a danger for all life. Look within a pretty narrow band (tens of C) the average global temperature has remained stable for over a billion years. If you want to pretend there isn’t a lot of feedback holding it stable then you aren’t fit to have any sort sort of conversation about climate. “Last week” the “warming” was still within a very habitable bound. Liquid water still was in plenty supporting plant and animal life over most of the globe.

  3. I have never suggested that any climate change is going to be catastrophic and a danger for all life.

    Kind of interesting, was watching a documentary that talked about rogue planets (planets not bound to a star…which seem rather more common in the galaxy than you’d think). If the earth was thrown away from the sun, it would basically freeze over except for areas of liquid water at the bottom of the ocean which would remain probably for millions of years due to geothermal venting. They had an interesting observation that the extromophile organisms that live in those environments would probably not ever notice anything different. So to put ‘all life’ on earth in danger you’d probably need nothing short of throwing it directly into the sun. Even the Death Star probably couldn’t sterilize the earth literally.

    But there’s a huge range of possibilities between the best of all possible worlds and the extinction of all life on earth. I think you could do better than set the bar at the latter and call it a day.

    But you asserted “Uhm, the climate has been amazingly stable for hundreds of millions of years”. Well that’s nice except every other week you post something to the tune of “Hey look, X number of millions of years ago climate got a lot warmer…were the dinosaurs burning coal then!!!”. So what is it, amazingly stable or amazingly unstable (but not linked to CO2!)?

    Regarding #3 … perhaps not, but give me a break, the toleration of such things by the LA hoi polloi enables at that sort of thing. People knew. And they still hired him. That is enabling

    It’s very tragic but a very bad aspect of herion addiction is recovery is sometimes more dangerous than the addiction itself. Most overdoses happen when a person has been clean for a while and tries to pick up the drug again at the doses their bodies were used too before they got clean.

    I do think that drug abuse does cost you work in Hollywood (BTW, he lived in NYC, not LA). Charlie Sean, for example, has almost certainly lost work because of his drug use. But is this really practical? It’s not like you need major amounts of work to be an addict, most addicts never make in their lifetimes what he made with a single picture.

  4. Boonton,

    “Hey look, X number of millions of years ago climate got a lot warmer…were the dinosaurs burning coal then!!!”. So what is it, amazingly stable or amazingly unstable (but not linked to CO2!)?

    And when the dinosaurs were there the warmer climate killed them all off? Seems to me, whatever cause that warming (a) wasn’t “harmful” and (b) ice ages and warming trends didn’t runaway and freeze or evaporate all the liquid water. Amazing.

    So what is it, amazingly stable or amazingly unstable (but not linked to CO2!)?

    Have we or have we not have had large quantities of liquid water for over a billion years? Has life existed during that time? Was there a time only extremophiles survived. (hint: yes and no). The warming trends in the past have exceed the current one. They were not caused by industrial carbon. The also didn’t harm life as expected, no catastrophic warming or cooling event followed.

    There was a Stephen Baxter book (have you read any of his stuff?) which went planet by planet (except for earth) with short stories each featuring a possible hypothetical possible intelligent life form and how it might survive in that environment, from Mercury to Pluto.

    I do think that drug abuse does cost you work in Hollywood.

    OK. Are pretending that causal drug use by movie stars and the rich and famous doesn’t get the “wink wink”? Are you pretending that addiction like Mr Jackson and Mr Hoffman is both known and “as long as it doesn’t get too too public” is accepted if not condoned?

  5. Boonton,
    Regarding heroin, apparently there is also a significant (5%?) of the user population who are “poppers”, who only use a little bit a year or even every few years. I’m a tobacco popper. I’ll smoke a pipe once in a blue moon (once, maybe twice in a year but many years with doing it not at all).

    On the other hand, back when I raced bikes I’d use that effect (overdose and acclimation) with caffeine. I studiously avoided all caffeine (most soda has caffeine … you have to just drink those few that don’t have it), no chocolate and no tea or coffee of course … except before and during races (and during/before really really hard training sessions). It is amazing how much tolerance we build up for caffeine. When I was caffeine dry like that … a can of coke or a small coffee at 11am would keep me from sleeping well that night. So, you can well imagine the effect of a triple shot espresso latte an hour before a race.

  6. Boonton,
    For example, here is Mr Motls dissecting a crackpot today. No reliance on certainty. Not needed. It’s not how science works. Instead you look at the actual evidence, equations, and work of the crackpot and show why it is is stupid or meaningless.

  7. Boonton,

    But there’s a huge range of possibilities between the best of all possible worlds and the extinction of all life on earth. I think you could do better than set the bar at the latter and call it a day.

    You’re right. The earth would probably be better off if it was somewhat warmer and had a higher CO2 concentration (more plant energy, more arable land yeilds more food and stuff for us animal types).

  8. Something else that isn’t often mentioned, most people who use heroin or cocaine are not addicts. There’s a lot of people who try those drugs, even use them regularily for a while then ditch them either before they develop a physical addition or simply deal with the side effects of physical withdrawl. Even meth, which supposedly makes people crazy, has casual users.

    Not to say that they aren’t very dangerous drugs, I don’t think anyone really knows whether or not they would become addicted so experimenting with them is playing Russian roulette….just because you win it doesn’t mean playing was any less stupid.

  9. Boonton,
    I thought poppers were a minority.

  10. Poppers probably are. Let’s say one week a year you binge on tobacco. At any random week during the year if I were to do a flash census of tobacco users. 52/51 chance I won’t find you, the popper there.

    But let’s say there’s 52 poppers and 1 guy who uses tobacco all year. Any random time I look I’ll find my regular user but probably just 1 popper. I might conclude then that the tobacco using population is 50% popper 50% regular user….in fact the regular user is a serious minority.

  11. Running with that idea abit, if I spend a year conducting my survey, I will find 52 poppers to 1 user thereby contradicting my 1 week survey. But what about people who pop once every 5 years? Every 10 years? Every 50 years? The longer I conduct my survey, the more poppers I’ll pick up until after 100 years I’ll pick up the ‘once in a lifetime poppers’.

  12. For example, here is Mr Motls dissecting a crackpot today. No reliance on certainty. Not needed.

    I think you’re over-estimating the crackpottiness of the crackpot. His theory is interesting, but possibly speculative and looking at his video I’m not exactly sure if his equation isn’t really more of an analogy as much as it is a mathematical description of intelligence….it also might be better described as a measurement of ‘will’ or ‘intent’ rather than simple intelligence.

    Regardless I don’t think he uses words like ‘certain’ a lot in his criticism because there’s not a lot to be certain about. The guy might be wrong but I think asserting he is a crank is certainly incorrect.

    In contrast try reading and discussing a real conspiracy or science crank. I think it will be easier to use more ‘certain’ type verbiage if you put a serious effort in addressing their arguments (which, of course, people often don’t unless the crank theory happens to have some ideological appeal to it like creationism).

  13. Boonton,

    In contrast try reading and discussing a real conspiracy or science crank. I think it will be easier to use more ‘certain’ type verbiage if you put a serious effort in addressing their arguments (which, of course, people often don’t unless the crank theory happens to have some ideological appeal to it like creationism).

    His theory is interesting, but possibly speculative and looking at his video I’m not exactly sure if his equation isn’t really more of an analogy as much as it is a mathematical description of intelligence

    That’s because you’re more comfortable with nonsensical equations which seem to abound in economics. Certainty? Are you certain quarks exist? One of the tenured professors at the UofChicago (probably now retired … as a side note, his wife was far more famous than he, as she wrote a series of very popular Chicago based private eye stories) when I was there openly and frankly didn’t think they existed at all. The thought asymptotic freedom was rank silliness. Nobody attacked him as a “crank” because he wasn’t towing the party line on quarks (unlike in climate where journals get shut down for publishing a paper which doesn’t tout the party line … this is called “not science” but is just politics). When push comes to shove there is very little a good physicist will say he is “certain” of in science. It is non-scientific to say you are certain of any theory, after all, it might be wrong … you remain open to alternatives. Which is why (like the noted piece, which was linked primarily because it was a post from the same day you were talking about cranks not that he was a particularly cranky crank) the method normally used by to counter cranks is not to say (sorry we are certain of a different theory) but to point out problems with the theories he is promoting vis a vis observations. Remember discussions of lattices? The problem isn’t that lattice formulations of reality are cranky … it’s that they aren’t Lorentz invariant and we have lots of experiments to suggest Lorentz invariance (there is no preferred inertial reference frame) is essential … and no current lattice formulation is Lorentz invariant. Remember the famous Einstein quote, “if you can’t explain a theory to your grandmother, you don’t understand it.” … you could tack on, “if you have to insist that the other guy is wrong because you are ‘certain’ you are right” … then you aren’t certain and don’t understand what and why you believe what you do.

    Running with that idea a bit, if I spend a year conducting my survey, I will find 52 poppers to 1 user thereby contradicting my 1 week survey.

    Yah, and some other guy finds 52 addicts to 1 chipper/popper. So? Every

    But let’s say there’s 52 poppers and 1 guy who uses tobacco all year. Any random time I look I’ll find my regular user but probably just 1 popper. I might conclude then that the tobacco using population is 50% popper 50% regular user….in fact the regular user is a serious minority.

    That just seems like bad statistics as the problem. With tobacco I suspect poppers are the minority. This paper, talking about heroin chippers/poppers notes that social sanctions play an important role in helping poppers to curtail their usage. Legal tobacco (and the burgeoning legal marijuana may have an unintended effect in making more poppers to slip into addiction). Everyone talking about poppers/chippers notes how hard it is to put numbers on it.

    One way to estimate poppers is to get as good an estimate on the quantity heroin (and the money flow as well associated with this) consumed by regular users (addicts) and how much is moving into the country. If you assume, say, 50% of what might be missing (or most of the unexpected money) would be the popper contribution. That is probably a better way of estimation than trying to find people who admit to using one to three weekends a year.

  14. Are you certain quarks exist? One of the tenured professors at the UofChicago (probably now retired … as a side note, his wife was far more famous than he, as she wrote a series of very popular Chicago based private eye stories) when I was there openly and frankly didn’t think they existed at all. The thought asymptotic freedom was rank silliness. Nobody attacked him as a “crank” because he wasn’t towing the party line on quarks

    What if she asserted the earth was flat, that it only appeared round because our eyes are curved thereby inducing an illusion of a curved earth when seen from great heights.

    Yah, and some other guy finds 52 addicts to 1 chipper/popper. So? Every

    Since poppers by definition are only occassionally using drugs, you will miss many of them during any survey….unless you conduct a survey that’s very drawn out in time.

    That just seems like bad statistics as the problem.

    Not sure it is, at any given moment you will have 1 popper and 1 regular user. If you’re a dealer, you’re going to make 2 sales every week, your regular customer and a popper. But in terms of all drug users the poppers far outnumber the regular user. If you’re talking about the cost of anti-drug laws, you have to consider the fact that many poppers seem to come and go without harming themselves or others you’re going to end up harming 52 people to maybe address 1 person with a problem.

    I agree your proposal would work but you’d need to find reliable ways to estimate the total amount of heroin coming in/produced and the total regular users. Another might be surveys asking questions like “have you ever used in the last year, last ten years, in your entire life?”. Assuming you could tease out honest answers, that might work.

  15. Boonton,

    Since poppers by definition are only occassionally using drugs, you will miss many of them during any survey….unless you conduct a survey that’s very drawn out in time.

    But that doesn’t insure that their population is equal, greater, or less than that of addicts.

    Not sure it is, at any given moment you will have 1 popper and 1 regular user.

    Make that “N” poppers and “M” users and you have no idea of the proportions making up M and N.

  16. But that doesn’t insure that their population is equal, greater, or less than that of addicts.

    No it doesn’t but ultimately it seems highly likely.

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