Monday, November 30, 2009

Gloss by David McCord

Concerning the missing positives.


I know a little man both ept and ert.
An intro-? extro-? No, he's just a vert.
Sheveled and couth and kempt, pecunious, ane,
His image trudes upon the ceptive brain.

When life turns sipid and the mind is traught,
The spirit soars as I would sist it ought.
Chalantly then, like any gainly goof,
My digent self is sertive, choate, loof.

The Oxford Book of American Light Verse
David McCord (1897-)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reality, belief, and evidence.

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. When you believe that elves cause it to rain, each time it rains, you'll see evidence of elves. If you believe that rain is caused by condensation of water vapor in rain clouds, each time it rains, you'll see evidence of condensation of water vapor in rain clouds. The thing is, when you stop believing in elves, you'll stop seeing evidence of elves. And when you stop believing in condensation of water vapor in rain clouds, you will still see condensation of water vapor in rain clouds.

That is why belief as a prerequisite of seeing evidence for something is obviously suspect.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Belief in Belief.

Often times the right to believe crowd is heavily atheistic and some of the loudest voices against criticism are those of atheists. I've rarely encountered such examples but... seriously wow.

You have no place to tell me that my beliefs are wrong. I am not religious. I do not believe in god. However, I do believe that if someone wants to believe in god, then that's up to them. You can't tell people what to believe. Let me rephrase that since you obviously aren't understanding what I am trying to say. You shouldn't tell people what to believe. People will think what they want, they will believe what they want. Being arrogant won't change that.

To which I replied:

Your beliefs are wrong. You think that my right to criticize denies another persons right to religion. That's silly and wrong. I'm not telling people what to believe. I'm pointing out that their beliefs are wrong. Whether they want to continue believing in something that causes sexism, homophobia, slavery, murder, genocide, and xenophobia is up to them, but I have the right to point this out to them at every turn. People will believe what they want, but when they believe evil crap that makes the world a worse place, they will be forced to do so over my cackles and rebukes.

It's times like these I'm glad I bookmarked Kazim's Korner's post on mockery.

Well worth a read.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You should stock up on leprechauns.

That way the gold is covered for you.

Wow, I knew he was crazy but seriously... wow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hm, this seems wrong somehow...

I don't think peer guardian should do that somehow. Maybe it's just me. You might want to have a closer look if you don't see it right away.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Skeptism and causes.

(On the topic of the Bermuda Triangle, "There's no statistical aberration and no need to speculate a mechanism to explain it. No more ships vanish there than any other equally sized body of water.")

Incredulous: So are we to embrace the whole "coincidence" ideology? Hundreds of reported cases of disappearing aircraft and surface vessels in a specific area, and the only reason why is that there is no reason why; someone just drew a triangle on a map...Everything upon everything is based on chance? Wouldn't that rule out the whole "cause and effect" thing?

No. It's not a coincidence either, it's not anything. There's no there there. It is no more likely that your plane or ship will go missing in that expanse of water than in any other expanse of water. The odds are the same. There's no phenomenon.

Let's say I draw an arbitrary triangle. Let's say between Hawaii, Alaska, and California. Now how many ships have gone missing in this region? Lots. In fact, it's going to still be the average number which is what the Bermuda triangle has. So is this mysterious? What's causing these disappearances? What has caused hundreds of reported cases of disappearing aircraft and surface vessels? Is it Atlantian power crystals, vortexes, or aliens? Perhaps it's the spirit realm. Amelia Earhart vanished while trying to fly the Triangle (that I just made up) and go from Hawaii to California. Very spooky!

It's not chance, but there is a random background noise of probability, and events will occur. If for some reason nobody vanished in the triangle I outlined there'd be need to explain that. But, as all reports are that the same number of people vanished as should be expected by sheer chance. I'm sure something could be said to have "caused" these events (mostly crashing and sinking) but there's not necessarily and overarching cause and as there's no statistical aberration there's nothing to fucking explain!

Sometimes things have coherent causes, sometimes they don't, sometimes the causes. Sometimes there are causes for the causes and sometimes there's no cause for it at all. Why did the Yankees win the world series? There's no one answer. It's a large list of varying reasons (one would presume, I had to google who won). Or we could have a long series of various causes: why isn't grandma here? Because she's at the hospital. Why is she at the hospital? Because she fell and broke her hip? Why did she break her hip? Because she fell? Why did she fall? Because gravity works and because she was standing on ice? Why was she standing on ice? Because she needed to find a shovel and slipped. Why did she slip? Because ice is slippery. Why is ice slippery? Because pressure causes a very thin layer of water directly where the pressure is applied to liquefy and act as a lubricant. Why is that a lubricant? Because it reduces static friction by filling in the rough edges while not adding extra friction. Why does the ice liquefy under pressure? Because ice expands as it freezes, and putting pressure on it causes the process to reverse. Why does ice expand as it freezes? Because the solid form of water forms crystals of hexagons that trap empty space between then in manners which liquid water avoids. Why does it form crystals? Because the shape of the water molecule and angle of the hydrogen and oxygen makes the crystallized state more stable as the amount of heat decreases. And so on and so on and so on...

And sometimes we encounter things like why did the radioactive isotope decay? And there's simply no answer at all because it's a causeless quantum effect.

The point is, there are coincidences. They really do happen. And the start to scientific inquiry isn't accepting a phenomenon at face value and starting to evaluate foolhardy speculation but actually measuring and seeing if there is actually a phenomenon that is above statistical expectation. How many people should we expect to report seeing strange things in the sky, a lot. How many people should we expect to report being abducted by aliens or molested by demons or assaulted by spirit figures? Plenty. Is there a reason for this? There are some. Sometimes there really was an object there, sometimes it was balloons or flares or clouds at night. Sometimes they were just seeing crap.

What causes alien abduction phenomenon? Probably the same thing that caused demon abuse phenomenon in the middle ages. Most of the descriptions are similar to reports of sleep paralysis. Many more are vivid after visiting a sympathetic hypnotherapist, are these recovered memories? Well, hypnotherapy has shown only one tangible effect of making people believe the stuff they confabulate while under hypnosis. We went through a stage of repressed childhood abuse by hypnotherapists and it was finally ended when a few high profile cases had people categorically prove their innocents and the "victims" sued the therapists and recovered massive injuries. And the entire phenomenon of repressed memories is completely discredited.

So are there causes, sometimes, sometimes not. Are there things we should look into, sometimes, sometimes not. But, what if even one of the millions of reports is true? -- Well that would be quite fantastic but so long as there's no demonstrative evidence behind it or reproducible phenomenon there's no point. We don't jump to evaluation of mechanisms without first figuring out if there is some phenomenon that needs a mechanism to explain it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spork in the Eye: Round 2.

Spork replied inline to my comment on his blog post on his blog. I'll do the same but post here as well. As there's no new post on his side outside of complements on my photostream which certainly does roxxor, massive tip of the hat to the clever folks at A/A.

* Spork claims in a comment on my previous blog on this topic that the government couldn't do it better because insurance companies only make about 3% profit. This somehow reminds me of a large graphic put out by the oil industry that showed that 100% of the dollar spent on gas went to various different places and oddly none of it was profit.

The problem here is that it's simply false. Medicare, the US's current socialized medicine engine, has about a 5% overhead and private insurance has a 17% overhead (though the numbers are really closer to 3% and 30% let's just run with these numbers), that means that certainly if you weren't paying massive salaries to the top industry brass (that's an expense and doesn't count as profit) they could cut the prices rather dramatically. There's a lot more overhead due to inefficiency in the system and lack of good organization, massive departments dealing with the departments of the various other companies in order to get through different forms to get the money, because of non-single payer situations. There's none of these billing issues or any such things with the fire department. They just go where they are needed and put out the fire. Just as healthcare should fix the health problems that arise with various individuals.

Warning, addressing the point Spork bothered with is long and very involved. For your own sake you'd be better off taking the fact that he's deluded on the profits insurance companies make as the entire reply because to answer the rest of his question requires a tearing down of libertarianism and a building up of morality and to an extension socialism.

Spork continues by advocating that he's so stubborn and pigheaded that you could argue with him back and forth dozens of times and he'd never see the light (I'm paraphrasing here), and so he decides to focus on just the point of the constitution and individual rights. I suddenly smell a Rand whore argument brewing. What's next people should fix their own roads and watch establish various anarchy teams of people who go around with goop and trowels out of necessity to not have their roads completely disintegrate while other people benefit and they get nothing for their services.

This is the core of his argument. His philosophy of libertarianism and opposition to socialism as an undemonstrated group good in exchange for a real and tangible set of personal freedoms. The dismantling of libertarianism and establishment of morality or socialism is going to take a little bit to address.

How things work.

Morality, economies, and governments don't work like that. You really need to have collective rules in place to restrict the powers of businesses from ruining the lives of people. Such things are Economic Darwinism and the invisible hand of the market is the same as the blind watchmaker of evolution. Much as the hand of the market tends towards making monopolies and collusive business practices not everything in nature is benign. To the contrary, most everything in nature is a parasite living off the work of others and doing very little itself. In nature the sun provides energy and plants absorb this energy and everything lives off the plants. In a way Rand's philosophy understands this and treats the genius people who read her book as the intellectual producers who are only not rich solely because the government is around leeching off the brilliance of these intellectual producers like leeching leechers to support those who are weak and cannot support themselves.

This is critically wrong in a variety of ways, not limited to the fact that the real intellectual producers of our economies are scientists making chump change. But, in a larger sense it seems to reject the the real core of what makes humanity excel. It rejects the cooperation of humanity to advocate that the best result are found in a battle for the fittest, no holds barred fight to the death. This is wrong.

In reality, we should seek for economy what the advent of morality did for humanity. We should seek to cooperate more, in social groups and domesticate the markets. Just as we're better off as a group making roads and fire stations and police because these are things that everybody needs and they can't be coherent and functional without central authority we should seek to place the health of humans outside the purview of profit businesses. We should seek to make those sections of our life, on which everybody need rely, akin to farms or hydroponic greenhouses, restricting pests and parasites and engineering the systems to provide the most bang for our buck rather than the most buck.

It is in the best interests of all people to go along with the group. Much like morality allows us to coexist in functional groups by restricting individual rights sometimes by force and preventing crime and deviation away from certain set norms. The same applies to fire departments, roads, and yes, healthcare. The fact that I seem to be drifting towards is that it socialism is an extension of morality. Which is to say that socialism is in the best interests of people, that collectively, as a group, we can make everybody more wealthy and more prosperous than we could as individuals. Just as in a group we make everybody safer and healthier when we surrender our personal rights to kill other people and steal their things.


Ultimately the libertarian section of the argument boils down the the tangible difference between living in a moral society where we simply refuse to kill each other, enslave each other, or steal each other things and we are thusly endowed by ourselves the inalienable (though easy to alienate) rights of life, liberty, and property as a consequence of surrendering our rights to murder, enslave, and steal.

The difference between a moral anarchy where everybody is out for themselves but not harming others and anything else is the single difference of taxes. The moment you decide that levying taxes to protect yourselves as a group, to defend yourself as a group, both physical and economically. The moment you decide to build roads, build schools, build firehouses, build hospitals, fund science, put shows on PBS, or settle disputes between people you've moved away from the ideal anarchy and established government. But, make no mistake, without these infrastructure concerns there is no enforcement outside of the casual approximation this shares with mob rule (which one could argue is still socialized enforcement). And when prosperity dwindles the moral precepts which allow for life, liberty and property breakdown and people turn to "crimes" (of readopting rights to murder, enslave, and steal that they previous surrendered) as their personal interests are better served outside of group mores. I do not believe that anarchism in this fashion because mob-like quasi-governments would form and spontaneous groups of individuals who could in some cases go beat a rapist to death couldn't successfully defend the anarchy against larger breaches of economic and social power. I have long maintained that far left anarchists and far right neo-conservatives have the same goals but completely different understandings of the consequences of achieving those goals.

Government Utopia

With government everything changes, and everything can easily be made significantly better if it's done correctly. One can socialize industries on which everybody depends, saving the group as a whole, a significant amount of money, we can promote science which is and always has been the fuel that runs our economy. We can establish schools to give children the benefit of an education. We can regulate the markets so we do not suffer monopolies or trusts. We can endeavor as a people to be a better people. We can progress forward just as we progressed forward when we gave up our rights to murder, enslave, and steal. To work not simply with our own shortsighted goals in mind but the best interests of the group and the individual. And while we must allow for a specter of force by the government, and corruption of a government by the people, we are all easily better off for it. And while one may think that without morality we should go around killing and murdering people because we'd be out for our own selfish interests the opposite is true within group dynamics. We must seek to cooperate with others and not kill or murder people, but also as a group restrict the powers of others to kill or murder.

Ultimately we cooperate as groups for our own benefits, and this implies forming governments to restrict the rights of others. Just as we restrict the rights of people to murder others, we should restrict the rights of people to profit from the illnesses of their fellow man.

The group good is neither unseeable nor unprovable. In fact, it's quite demonstrative. We can see the benefits such restrictions in places where profiting from illness and death is unacceptable. And see that all the metrics of quality of life are improved and with 44,000 deaths from lack of medical care, it's pretty easy to see that there's certainly room for improvement. That there's definite advantages for non-profit government run monopolies. Though to be fair, the advantage is from non-profit monopolies and you don't really need the government to run it.

Purpose of the Constitution

The constitution was more oppressive than the Articles of Confederation and gave greater central authority to the government which, in turn, had more powers. The Bill of rights were added to restrict the power of the government in very specific ways. The fact is the Constitution was written to give more central authority because decentralized authority was a complete failure. The opposition shouldn't be against government power but corruption, inefficiency, lack of accountability, failure, and intrusion on public rights. We shouldn't oppose universal single-payer healthcare, we should oppose the war on drugs and the fact that as a people we can't do away with that unneeded largess or legalize marijuana or somehow have citizens have veto powers on the rights of marriage of certain individuals. There are problems with government, with this there is no disagreement, however those problems aren't with socialized programs like, schools, healthcare, or fire departments but rather more tangible problems like corruption, inefficiency, and failures.

And bringing it back to the actual argument.

As for the original point, yes fire departments are very much the same as medicare.

There's a sucker born every minute, I wish!

134,000,000 people were born in 2007 there are 525,600 (24*60*356) minutes a year so 254.946728 or closer to 255 born every minute. That'd mean that less than one half of 1% of people were suckers. I wish. 99.96% of skeptics in the world would be enough herd immunity to save the suckers who are born from themselves.

Fired for Faith?

Woman: I'm getting married. My girlfriend and I am getting married! I'm getting married! I'm engaged!
Man: The gay is evil.
Woman: LOL!!!


Man: They fired me for being Christian!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ingersoll, The Gods, The Devil...

Fire department analogy, a response. Spork in the Eye.

I have a few actual readers and commentators and I check out some of their blogs (they have the good taste to check out mine, so do you for that matter). And well Spork In the Eye had an interesting blog post as to how socialized medicine would be nothing like a socialized fire department but rather more akin to socialized fire insurance (which by the way exists in many areas along with socialized flood insurance and others, but lets ignore that). Since burying a long reply on a distant forum for a post made about half a month ago is a bit off... let me repeat the point here. First it'll give you something to read. Second if Spork cares to reply and I don't happen to make it back to his board there's one here.


Real Universal Health Care IS like the fire department.

Insurance shouldn't enter into the picture and is only there because of a lack of actual fortitude and actual political will to make the system into what the system should be, a real universal health care system. Where the government pays hospitals and doctors for services rendered and there's no payment without services.

Insurance is a business model whereby we mitigate risks (in theory) and pay for services as such. There are actual insurance plans which cover you in the case of illness to get you back to where you were. If you become ill they pay you for lost wages and make sure you don't get hurt. Much like fire insurance will pay for your lost stuff when your house burns down. -- The fire department in this situation really is like real universal health care.

The difference is largely like the fire department before socialization. It was previously the case that fire brigades would put out fires and charge the person helped or loot their property and such. Insurance companies would pay the brigade that put out the fire for those properties with insurance. The system was haphazard and lead to large losses in property rather than a centralized system where fire departments put out fires and it didn't really matter whose stuff was saved.

Further you argue disanalogy due to the idea that the fire departments are localized. This is certainly the case for hospitals and doctors as well. Further it holds true for medicare as such as much of the reimbursement rates and businesses are conducted regionally. Additionally fire departments have very regional operations as well where fire departments are used to fight fires across state boundaries on federal land and as part of a much larger and national effort and presidential and gubernatorial declarations of disaster.

Ultimately any real universal health care plan would require, local, regional, as well as national support.

You aren't reimbursed for your lost health. You aren't paid for getting sick, your doctors are paid for mitigating the situation. And the constitution is established to "promote the general welfare".

There are certain requirements that everybody has and that need to be conducted at above the individual level. We have need for water, housing, health, security, electricity, roads, and a number of other projects and needs that cannot be elsehow conducted on an individual basis. If we do not own these utilities as a people they will end up owning us.

Much of your analysis seems dependent on staying on the obviously failed system we currently endure. Rather than making a clean break towards Medicare for all. Insurance is a terrible way to cover healthcare. Just as it was a terrible way to conduct fire departments prior to the Civil War. Your objection seems to be largely that we shouldn't half-ass this socialism and nationally pay for insurance but rather nationally pay for health-care; I couldn't agree more.


Basically if we half-ass it and using insurance as our model, ofcourse everything will suck. If we somehow did away with the whole thing and paid for the required care of anybody in need of care all of the problems would melt away. There'd be no need to saddle small businesses with the burden of providing insurance, there'd be no need for insurance, the prices would drop, the overhead would drift away, and we'd be able to assemble some more efficient system of regional support. Not every hospital needs an MRI machine. You only need them every once in a while but while everybody is out on their own without any centralization there's going to be more and more lost costs and opportunities, we'll have terrible procedures and unneeded tests, and little help from various. We need a much better system and insurance is never going to build such a system, it's going to build a system of making money by hoping people die.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tat's Trivia Bot v. 3.58

Tat's Trivia Bot 3.7

Update: Latest Tat's Trivia Bot 3.69

See latest blog and version 3.61
See latest blog link: 3.6

So Geocities shut down and my long dead drifting set of links to the files has likewise died out.

I have a semi-permanent site setup

It should always have links to such my old scripts and various bits of information as to the on goings. It will presently link to MediaFire folder where I have the latest version of the trivia bot 3.58 as well as the question files and all of the old versions.

Again, if you find any bugs with the script I am still correcting those (though due to the lack of urgent reports I doubt there are many large ones). The bot is still free and open to edit and change in any way you see fit. Thanks to everybody who supported it over the years.

Intelligence Squared Debate: Catholics, tey evil?

I've at times ran into jokes about the way Anne Widdecombe talks and I didn't think much of it, but damned that's freaky. The debate was fantastic and pretty crushing all in all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Damn you Joplin38 from Kansas from last year (almost to the day).

I was, earlier today, commenting on a Christians' claim about Romans 7:7 having Paul talk about how the commandments made him want to sin and I was scoffing:

"So you, like Paul in Romans, are drawn to sin because of the commandments. Since it says you shouldn't have sex with horses you start looking lustfully after horses? Since it says don't murder you look longingly at an icepickless neck?"

I thought the word play was clever with the word icepickless and it probably was but, I'm somewhat annoyed at having not coined such a shiny word. A google search turned up an example of such a word being previously used:

11-06-2007, 11:09 AM Joplin38:

Very funny, Jezzie. For those of you who are icepickless, a carving fork would work just as well to puncture the squash before microwaving to soften.

I'm verklempt at having not coined the word and made the clever wordplay. I've been outcoined (others have apparently used that to describe having more coin/money/price, but my meaning is novel)!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You're a monkey.

AronRa is a hero of mine. What Richard Carrier is to history of science Aron is to taxonomy and cladistics. Which is very high praise from me indeed.