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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Eccentric-looking scientists are always more famous

Movies and TV tell you that brilliant scientists are always frizzy-haired old men:

Exhibit A: Doc Brown

I believe this trend began as a result of Einstein's fame.

Exhibit B: Albert Einstein

Sure, ideas like matter and energy are the same and that time can slow down are mind-bending, but so are the ideas from quantum mechanics. Nobody knows what Heisenberg looks like because he looked like this:

Exhibit C

Exhibit D: John Bardeen was the only person to have ever won 2 Noble Prizes in physics, but you never see his face on posters or t-shirts. This is because he looks like a junior high vice principal.

My advice to fame-seeking scientists is if you can't make an important discovery, try to look as wacky as possible. 

The Museum of Stupidity

If I had the money, I'd build one. These would be the exhibits:

Financial: Zimbabwe hyperinflation, Dot com bubble, Tulip craze, and South Seas bubble

Scientific & Medical: Earth-centered universe, Piltdown hoax, phrenology, four humors, and anti-masturbation devices, anti-vaccination movement

Political: Prohibition, Great Leap Forward, Reign of Terror, Versailles Treaty

Religious: Witch burning, The Great Disappointment, Indulgences, Aztec human sacrifice, Antisemitism

I'm tempted to build a separate wing just for Islam called the Hall of Islamic Achievements, which would just be an empty room.

Monday, December 30, 2013

How to win the 3rd world farmer game

3rd World Farmer is an online game where you play the role of a poor farmer in Africa trying to survive various natural and man-made calamities. After a few tries, I figured it out and beat the game. I credit my success to my experience in the Peace Corps. Here's what to do:

1. Have as many kids as possible & put to work. Don't bother with school.
2. Build a well as soon as possible.
3. Keep your family healthy.
4. By projects before livestock, buildings, or implements.
5. Don't plant cash crops until you have at least $200.

#1 seems to run counter to most development thinking. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wearing leather & listening to punk rock does not make you an anarchist

In fact, in my experience, almost all self-described anarchists are just confused, militant socialists. The most prominent self-described anarchists lately are the clowns who protest the WTO and trade liberalization. And by "protesting" I mean vandalizing property that have nothing to do with the agreement in question.

Here, "anarchists" fight exploitation by....torching random cars?

....smashing the window of a worker-friendly franchise?

These people have no point. They're just pissed-off and want to break things. If they were real anarchists, they would not be protesting deregulation and free trade.

This is one of the few times I will side with the police. The next time the jokers show up, I hope they all get a good wood shampoo and pepper spray facial.

Try doing something productive for once, you whining, hypocritical jackasses!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Intelligent Tyranny

A large portion of humanity lives in utter terror of what other people might do. In their frantic search for protection, they form governments, whose predictable violence is somehow better than random violence.
I will never understand why guaranteed theft by taxation is more palatable than unlikely theft by crime, but I was outvoted on this issue long before I was born.

Since there is so much demand for oppression, I don't see it going out of style any time soon. If tyranny must exist, it could at least be intelligent. Here are several modest proposals:

1. Make illiteracy illegal. Anyone who cannot read on a high school level by age 18 will be flogged once a month. Illiteracy is highly correlated with poverty, crime, and other social ills.

2. Make math proficiency mandatory. Anyone who cannot do high school math by age 18 will be flogged once a month. Math ignorance is highly correlated with poverty, crime, and other social ills.

3. All unemployed able-bodied adults are to be flogged once a month.

4. All able-bodied adults will be assigned to spend 1 year in a foreign country.

5. Whichever side loses a law suit will be required to pay all the legal costs or be flogged.

6.  Make voting mandatory. Violators will be flogged.

7. Corrupt or incompetent politicians, judges, bureaucrats, police, etc are to be hanged.

8. Fathers of bastard children are to be flogged.

9. Make knowledge of basic civics and economics mandatory, Violators are to be flogged. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Nature, Nurture, & Ideology

Confucius said that by birth people are almost the same, but by habit, they become very different.

For any religion or ideology, there is no common trait in the background of the its members. In any tribe or creed, you will find rich, poor, happy, melancholy, outgoing, shy, young, old, more besides and everything in between.

Ideology and religion then are not inherited, but are habits. It is fair to say that initial outlook is almost always the outlook of the parents or community, but rebellion is likewise nearly certain.

So why do people adopt the political and religious beliefs they adopt? I have a few educated guesses. There are three major splits as far as worldviews go. The first is the thinker vs. feeler axis, loner vs. joiner axis, and believer vs. cynic axis. Of course, there are no pure thinkers, feelers. loners, joiners, believers, or cynics, but almost everyone lies close to one side or another.

Thinkers like to judge things by looking for facts and weighing them out. Feelers go by gut instinct and first impressions. Loners prefer the freedom of solitude while joiners prefer the safety of numbers. Last, believers feel human nature is essentially good and others can be trusted while cynics believe human nature is naturally bad and seek defense.

This model gives 8 basic ideological archetypes based on T or F, L or J, and B or C. I'll further postulate that in general, there is a moderate to strong bias towards F, J, and C. People tend to feel rather than think because thinking requires more effort. Joining is also more popular because there is a desire for acceptance. And the prevalence of religion and belief in heaven and  hell show that most people believe good conduct is the result of carrots and sticks rather than good nature.

TLB and to a lesser extent TLC tend to be libertarians. They like ideas and clear-cut evidence. They tend not to join groups and are often contemptuous of those who do. The more cynical tend to towards anarchism while the others see things like the Constitution and/or religion as reliable but imperfect guideposts.

TJB and TJC are the mostly secular and somewhat religious conservatives. They both prefer the security of a political party and existing customs but differ in  the importance they attach to religion. TJCs feel strongly about things like school prayer whereas TJBs worry more about taxes.

 FJB and FJC are the hard left and the hard right. You can tell these two by the way they answer questions by saying "I just feel..." and/or often getting angry when others disagree with them. The FJBs think we can all be one big happy family and the FJCs think the country should be run like an English boarding school. The mascot for FJCs is this woman:

And last we have FLB and FLC. FLBs tend to be lefty, artistic types or vagabonds/hippies. FLCs tend to be lefty rebels, muckrakers, bad* comedians, and MSNBC hosts. FLBs love talking about their latest project or insight. FLCs often complain about Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and crimes against political correctness.

*The kind that thinks political humor begins and ends with mocking Republicans and/or Christianity

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thom Hartmann: A Jerk for All Seasons

Some people are obnoxious by nature. Others work long and hard at rationalizing empty-headed ideas. When these two traits combine in a single person, they detonate like a fuel-air bomb of derp.

Thom Hartmann is the host of Democracy Now! and author of several political & environmental books.  He is not particularly fond of libertarians.

See the video below entitled "Is Libertarianism the Velvet Glove Over the Iron Fist of Racism?" Yes, that is the real title. I must praise his restraint in using that title instead of "How Often Do Libertarians Kick Puppies While Drinking the Blood of Orphans out of Skull Goblets Fashioned from Arthritic Charwomen?" Racism is Team Blue ketchup- they put it on everything. It sure is interesting that liberals will obsess over a country that ceased to be 150 years ago while simultaneously ignoring all the atrocities committed by left-wing regimes in the last 50 years.

It seems like an afterthought to mention that this man regularly appears on the Russian propaganda network RT. I can sort of understand why someone would become a political prostitute- everyone has bills. But if you decide to be a political prostitute, especially for an awful goon like Putin, your credibility is gone. 

I take that back- Hartmann is not a political prostitute. Even prostitutes have standards. Hartmann is more like a toothless, meth-addled crack whore ready to go down on any authoritarian scumbag. 

Use a dental dam, Mr. Hartmann. Russia is a dangerous place to be a journalist

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Amanda Marcotte: Butcher of the English Language

I happened upon this wonderful blog dedicated to revising Marcotte's awful writing.

Amanda Marcotte is a feminist blogger with a habit of writing monstrous run-on sentences. Let's look at a typical sample:

Part of me really doesn’t want to discourage Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann from continuing to hit the road and tell their largely elderly constituents that they need to be “weaned off” “government” funded programs like Social Security and Medicare---the teabaggers may not be the smartest people on the planet, but I’m sure people who begrudge every penny like they do noticed that Social Security and Medicare was paid directly by them from their payroll taxes and therefore the money they’re getting now is their money. (89 words) 

Yes, an 89-word sentence. She's not quite in James Joyce territory yet, but Joyce was writing experimental fiction. Marcotte is supposed to be writing humorous prose. Instead, almost all of her articles appears to be an attempt to reprise the Johann Gambolputty skit from Monty Python:

I have read North Korea propaganda that was better written. There is something about strong political beliefs that uniformly produces terrible writing- whether communist treatises, Marcotte columns, or John Galt's speech from Atlas Shrugged.

Amanda Marcotte Gambolputty de von Ausfern -schplenden -schlitter -crasscrenbon -fried -digger -dangle -dungle -burstein -von -knacker -thrasher -apple -banger -horowitz -ticolensic -grander -knotty -spelltinkle -grandlich -grumblemeyer -spelterwasser -kürstlich -himbleeisen -bahnwagen -gutenabend -bitte -eine -nürnburger -bratwustle -gerspurten -mit -zweimache -luber -hundsfut -gumberaber -shönendanker -kalbsfleisch -mittler -raucher von Hautkopft of Ulm has supposedly written a response to these charges, but I have been unable to locate it. 

I for one hope Marcotte has a long a prolific writing career. She does for writing what Florence Foster Jenkins did for singing. 

See also:

US only needs to defend against ICBMs & terrorists

The US has a a great deal of geographic defense from foreign enemies. It has two great oceans on each side and is only bordered by two countries- both of them friendly. Its nuclear arsenal alone is a strong deterrent to any attacking country, even one with nuclear weapons.

The US faces a very low risk of attack by conventional weapons from either land, air, or sea. There are only two main dangers. The greater one is enemy ICBMs, which are already deterred by US missiles and the lesser threat is terrorism.

Satellites & radar are needed to detect launches and track ICBMs. The US already has plenty of these- probably too many. NORAD currently tracks, or tries to track, all objects entering or inside US airspace. Its primary mission during my life has been tracking Santa's sleigh and defending against jet bombers. I'm not sure which of those is a bigger waste of time. The only nation whose bombers are in range is Russia and they have ICBMs anyway.

Enemy ICBMs can only be launched from outside the US. Shouldn't the early warning stations be far from the coasts and borders? Why not forget the radar entirely and just put up more satellites? All we need to know is who launched the missile so we can retaliate.

As for the case of a so-called rogue nation launching a missile, I fail to see why that would not be deterred by the threat of retaliation. There's no use in throwing a rock at someone if they have a gun pointed at you.
I have heard talk of terrorists possibly using ICBMs or other nukes, but that is even less likely. Nukes are very hard to make, only a few countries have them, and they are guarded carefully. Since the goal of terrorists is to do as much damage as cheaply as possible, there's no way they'd waste their time or money on nukes. That's why they favor cheap things like homemade bombs.

Speaking of terrorism, there are few basic principles that must be kept in mind. The first is the goal of terrorism is not to kill or destroy, but to alter public opinion. Terrorist attacks rarely cause mass death or destruction- the first purpose is to get attention and the second one is to provoke retaliation. The first goal is designed to demoralize the enemy and the second is designed to boost recruitment. The US can't control how the media portrays terrorist attacks, but it can minimize their impact by not over-reacting.

I realize saying that is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has run off, but there it is. It is very hard to catch terrorists before they attack, so the only real defense is to try to starve the terrorist groups of new recruits. The best way to do that is avoid heavy-handed retaliation to terror attacks. The US unfortunately has been doing the exact opposite.

You can't kill a fly with a sledgehammer. But if sneak up slowly and calmly, you can swat it. You don't need to kill all the flies in the world either- just the ones that manage to get in your house. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rethinking air defense

Aircraft are the backbone of the US military's offense, with unmanned aircraft steadily moving into the lead role. Given US reliance on air power, it makes sense to think about better air defense. I will examine this in terms of radar, UAVs, and the pros and cons of AAA vs. SAMs. I will then describe a hypothetical plan of defense against a US bombing campaign. 

First, a brief trip back to the first Gulf War. Iraqi air defense was defeated early on and very few US aircraft were lost. This was accomplished by a clever gambit. The first wave of aircraft were drone decoys whose purpose was to get the Iraqis to turn on all their radar systems. The second wave was strike aircraft that launched radar-homing missiles which destroyed most of the Iraqi radar. Without radar, the Iraqis could only fire blindly. The US quickly gained air supremacy. 

The lesson here is that while radar is a key part of air defense, it is also its key weakness. Optical and infrared targeting is more difficult but it has the advantage of not being vulnerable to radar-homing weapons.
It would be interesting to see if a distributed radar system based on patrolling drones would be better than ground-based radar networks. 

UAVs like the Predator drone are less expensive to operate and can loiter far longer than manned aircraft. 
There's also no risk of losing the pilot. On the flip side, they are relatively easy to shoot down. 15 were destroyed by the Serbs by both SAMs and AAA during the 1999 war with NATO. Since they communicate by radio, they are also vulnerable to jamming, although there have been no records of that as yet. The satellites they rely on are also vulnerable to attack. The Chinese successfully destroyed a satellite with a missile in 2007. My conclusion is that drones are best used against enemies with minimal air defense, though even against strong defense they make good decoys. 

 Low and slow flying aircraft can be shot down with small arms, but for everything else, the only options are AAA, SAMs, and other aircraft. Ground-based weapons have historically shot down far more aircraft than fighters/interceptors, and are far cheaper. During the Vietnam War, almost all US air losses were from AAA, even though the SAMs and fighters also made kills. AAA is cheap and reliable, but less accurate and have less range. SAMs are more accurate and longer range, but are more expensive and can be foiled by chaff, flares, and ECM.  

If I was tasked with designing the air defense of a small country, my strategy would revolve around, dispersion, deception & camouflage. I would construct many decoy targets to tempt the US into wasting bombs. The Serbs protected most of their armored vehicles from being destroyed by NATO through decoys. I would construct decoy air base, planes, SAM sites, etc. The fake defenses would be more numerous than the real ones. 

Rather than concentrate defenses in vital areas, I'd spread them out, which would help confuse them about where the real targets are. The decoys would be defended as strongly as any other potential target. The US is very good at hitting what they want to hit, but they only have so many planes and so many bombs and most importantly, only so much time to win the war. 

As for the actual weapons, I'd put a little of my money into MANPADs. I would also have a large store of unguided rocket like the old Z-battery to launch at aircraft to get them to waste their chaff and flares. The bulk would go to top-of-line missile systems like the Tor, the Buk, and the Pantsir.  

If the Freemasons run the world, why do their lodges look so lame?

I have heard many conspiracy theories about how the Freemasons secretly run the world. I find this difficult to believe given how unimpressive their lodges look. Here are some samples:

I've seen dental offices that were more inspiring. OK, the grand lodges are nicer, but nothing special. Contrast that with the Vatican or the White House, or any of the buildings of organizations that actually have authority. Powerful organizations generally flaunt themselves.  

It could be that the Freemasons really do run the world, and that their dingy lodges are just a ruse to fool people into thinking they're harmless kooks. 

Here's what they look like on the inside: 


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Kafka meets Microsoft

I bought a new computer in 2010. I neglected to activate my Microsoft Office programs because I forgot. When I went to use one, I tried entering in the product key on the side of my computer, but it was rejected. I was given the option of downloading Microsoft Office starter, which would allow me to view and edit MS Word documents. Halfway through the installation, I was informed that this program displays ads on the screen when running. I didn't want any of that, so I tried to cancel the installation, but it was too late. 

Every day since then, the following message from Microsoft has popped up on my computer:

If you want a vision of the future of computers, imagine the same unwanted window popping up on your screen forever. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Brief History of Military Training & Discipline

The history of military training & discipline is an important but often neglected part of military history. Soldiers must be trained and training camps and war games are as old as war itself. Modern military training carries on traditions of exercise, drill, and hazing that have been passed down from ancient times.

Roman military training consisted of running, marching with packs, and sword practice. The bulk of armies for most of history were infantry, so the emphasis on marching and formations then and later makes sense. Roman soldiers who failed to perform adequately in training were punished by being fed less food or worse-tasting food. See De Re Militari for more details.

Sun Tzu wrote much on the importance of discipline. He said that armies that have greater consistency in rewards and punishments are more likely to win. No matter how clever a general is, he cannot win unless he can get his subordinates to obey his orders.

Frederick the Great famously said that he wanted his men to be more afraid of their own officers than the enemy. His army had the harshest discipline of any in Europe at the time and it did correlate with battlefield success. So the conventional military wisdom is that troops must obey and they are trained to obey through rewards like medals and promotions and punishments like beatings, forced exercise, getting yelled at, etc. The shared experience of being hazed also helps for group cohesion.

Discipline is important. But like weapons and tactics, it needs to be updated from time to time. I suspect that there are many aspects of modern military training & discipline that are pointless and counterproductive.

Saluting is a good example of this. Since the advent of snipers, saluting has been avoided in forward areas to avoid attracting attention to officers. Saluting began in the middle ages when knights would have to lift the lids on their helmets so they could speak clearly. Even after soldiers stopped wearing helmets with face shields, the gesture lived on. My view is that this is a silly tradition that serves no purpose and should stop.

Running is another traditional and obsolete training practice. In the days when infantry was king, many battles were won when one side made a mad charge at the right time. In other battles, soldiers survived by running away at the right time. These days however, most of the running is pilots rushing to aircraft or other very short sprints. Most modern military personnel travel almost entirely by vehicle. The long-distance torture running the military likes so much served little purpose before and none now.

And then there is the hazing, yelling, etc. I have heard that one purpose of this is to get people used to the kind of stress found on the battlefield. Getting hazed is no doubt stressful but I really doubt if it is anywhere near the level brought about by actual battle. I don't think there is anyway to safely simulate the fear from life-or-death situations. The other reason for the hazing is to break down a person's will and make them obedient. It is very hard to make people into robots and soldiers who can think for themselves fight better.
There should been a few clear orders and strict enforcement of them.

I have often wondered about how I would run a boot camp. Everyone who wanted in would have to pass a fitness test first. After that, they have to retest once a year similar to what the military does now. Why waste time getting people in shape? Save time and only recruit fit people.

I think instead of training people in platoons, I would set up a series of stations that could be completed in any order as an individual or small group- sort of like a summer camp. I predict that most recruits would go to the weapon stations first. Why not? Let them have some fun.

There would be stations for rifles, pistols, grenades, first aid, map reading, rules & regs, booby traps, secrecy, and an infiltration course. Once all their boxes are checked, they get a medal and move on.

No running, no marching, no rifle-flipping, no saluting, no obsessing about uniforms. You go to learn a few basic tasks in a week or two and then you move on to more specific training. There are only a few things that all troops need to know so basic training does not need to be long. In the past almost everyone was infantry so basic training was all the training they got. These days, military jobs are so specialized there's not much point in traditional basic training.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Submarines are not wonder weapons

A certain military blogger I have been chatting with is convinced that surface ships are useless and subs are ten pounds of awesome in a five-pound bag.

His position is that surface ships have always been big, slow, and easy to sink. There are even easier to sink now because of things like long-range jets, nukes, satellites, anti-ship missiles, etc. Basically, they can't run, hide, or fight. Subs, on the other hand, can at least hide underwater for long periods of time.

It is true subs are harder to find, but they are hardly invisible even when submerged. Subs are big metal objects full of machinery that shakes, rattles, and rolls. So with you can find them with special listening equipment. You can also use sonar to bounce a sound wave off them and find them that way. Magnetic sensors are yet another method.

During WW2, hundreds of Axis and Allied subs were sunk by mines and depth charges- both of which are much simpler and cheaper than subs. Subs were also destroyed by aircraft and other subs.

During the Cold War, there were at least 20 collisions between US and USSR subs. Given the size of the ocean, it is very unlikely they collided by chance. It's clear that both sides were able to track each other. The main tracking tool the US used was SOSUS, a network of underwater sound detectors that covered all the major sub routes.

Bottom line: subs are also big and slow. And they can only hide from enemies that don't have sonar & other WW2-era technologies.

Our friend says the fact that the British lost 6 ships during the Falklands War is proof the ships should not have been used. I asked him how the British could have transported all the troops, aircraft, etc to the area without ships. He said the British should have left the surface ships at home and used the subs to launch surface-to-air missiles to shoot down the Argentinian planes.

He did not explain how a submerged sub is supposed to shoot down a moving target it can't see.

In his defense, I mostly agree with his point that surface ships have many weaknesses that make them hard to use against any country with aircraft and other advanced weapons. I would extend that argument to submarines.

If it were up to me, I'd get rid of the ships and subs and replace them with buoys, hydrophone arrays, etc. All we really need to know is where enemy ships are. Destroying them with anti-ship missiles and depth charges is a piece of cake.

As for the Falklands War, the British should have abandoned the place in the 19th century. The only thing I can fault them for otherwise is they should have known their military radar and computers would not recognize French-built planes and missiles as hostile. SNAFU, fog of war, etc.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rachel Maddow High School Graduation Speech


I guess Rachel thought the suburbs of Francisco were not quite progressive enough.

Was the Navajo code better than other WW2 codes?

Over the past few days, I had a long debate with John T Reed about this. His take can be found here.

Here are the relevant facts:

1. There have been many times when obscure languages have been used as codes.

2. The Navajo code had a simple structure.

3. The Japanese tried to break as shown by the interrogation and torture of Navajo POW Joe Kieyoomia.

4. The Japanese succeeding in breaking some conventional Allied codes. The Allies broke various Axis codes including the extremely sophisticated Enigma code.

5. The Japanese failed to break the Navajo code.

Reed's take is the reason the Japanese failed to break the Navajo code because they were either incompetent or thought the code was not important enough to break. Facts #3 and  #4  show that this cannot be true.

If Navajo code was never broken despite being attacked by competent cryptographers and the other ones were, doesn't that prove it was better?

Suppose it was the Germans who were using the Navajo code or one like it. Would the cryptographers at Bletchley Park have succeeded in breaking it?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Does morality come from ink on paper?

When phrased like that, the idea seems absurd. And yet that is exactly the logical result of belief in the so-called rule of law. You could say that some laws are invalid because they violate the more basic principles of the Constitution, but that's just ink on paper too. The Constitution has been amended before. Congress could repeal the first or second amendment just like they repealed the 18th amendment. What happens to your so-called rights then?

Anyone who looks to the law to protect their freedom is a blind man searching a dark basement for a black cat that doesn't exist. 

Is Obamacare an Offensive Term?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Is the term Reaganomics offensive? How about the Monroe Doctrine or all the other doctrines? There is a long tradition of attaching the names of Presidents to their policies. If you think the term is derogatory, it's probably because the idea sucks.  

The Texas Short Vowel Massacre

I recently moved to Texas. Every word seems to have an extra vowel down here. Fit sounds like fee-it. Ten sounds like tay-in. I refer to this phenomenon as the Texas Short Vowel Massacre.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Math Anyone Can Master

Over the 20 or so years I've been learning, teaching, and using math, I've put together a kind of mental toolbox. In it are the tips, tricks, and shortcuts I've found the most useful. The first group are some general tips and the second are hints for mastering arithmetic.

1. Knowing something about what the answer should look like

If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to my younger self, I would say that before you try to work a problem, you should try to get an idea of what the answer should look like. If you know what the answer should look like (what units, bigger or smaller than the starting number, positive or negative) you have very good clues as to how to work the problem. For example, 345 + 678 = ? Well, I can round 345 to 300 and 678 to 700. 300 plus 700 is 1000, so the actual answer should be close to 1000.

In word problems, you should look for the question mark. That will tell you the units of the answer.

2. Break down the problem into steps

Just about any math problem more complicated than 1 +1 = 2 requires more than one step to solve. Just like you can't bake a cake in one step, neither can you try to solve a math problem all at once.

3. Try to check your answer

In most math problems, you will have an equation you can use to check your answer. Put your answer into that equation and see if you get the same thing on both sides of the equal sign.

4. Write down each step

It's far easier to find mistakes by writing down each step in your solution. At first, it's best to write every single change on a new line. As you get better, you can do some easy steps in your head.

Here are some tips for mastering arithmetic

1. Learn to add and subtract single numbers by heart

There are ten single numbers: 0 to 9. This means there are 100 sums and 100 differences so 200 things to memorize. You can chop that number for addition from 100 to 50 by realizing that in addition, order does not matter- 1 + 2 is the same as 2 +1. You can reduce that 50 to 30 by realizing that any number plus zero is the other number and that a number plus one just goes to the next higher number. Once you have the sums memorized, subtraction is a piece of cake. If your know that 2+3=5., then 5-2 must be 3 because that's the part leftover. So really, you only need to remember 30 sums.

2. Learn the multiplication tables by heart

Like addition, you need to learn all the products of one digit numbers. Again, this makes 100 products to memorize. Like addition, you can cut that in half by knowing that order does not matter in multiplication.
2 x 3 = 3 x 2 .= 6. You can cut this down to 30 by remembering that a number times one is the other number and that a number times zero is zero. It is impossible to learn how to do division and fractions without mastering multiplication.

3. Move the decimal point when multiplying or dividing a number by a number like 10, 100, etc.

Multiplying or dividing by a multiple of 10 is a piece of cake. If you're multiplying, write what the other number is and then add on the total number of zeroes. For example, 30 x 60 = ? Well, 3 x 6 = 18 and there are two zeroes. Write the 18 and then two zeroes and you get the answer: 1800. For division, for every zero on the top, you can cross out a zero on the bottom. For example, 30 / 60 = 3 / 6. 3 / 6 simplifies to 1 /2 or one half. With decimals, count the zeros on the multiple of 10. Move the decimal point to the left if dividing and to the right if multiplying. Examples:
3.4 x 10 = 34 (one zero; moved the decimal point one space to the right)
3.4 / 10 = 0.34 (one zero, move the decimal point one space to the left.)

There are other tricks, but these are the one that have been the most useful to me. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Voodoo Quality

I have about 2 years experience as a engineer in a handful of manufacturing environments. I make no claim to be an expert. You don't need to work very long in manufacturing before you start seeing patterns. Everywhere I've worked, I've seen unnecessary paperwork, kluges, and most of all, half-baked propaganda about quality.

I believe it was Eisenhower who said farming looks very easy when your plow is a pencil and you're 1,000 miles from a corn field. In the same way, it's very easy to parrot vague, empty statements like "build quality into the product" or "customer satisfaction is our goal" or "we are committed to zero defects."

Workers want to do good work and companies want to please customers. When they fail, the problem is not with the slogans or the forms but with specific machines and materials. I leave out people because only machines and materials can be modified at will by engineers. If you want to change behavior, by say, telling the operators to use a new tool, the only way to make sure they do it is to take away the old ones. No amount of words written or spoken will change the mind of someone who wants fight the change and has the power to do so. This group includes most workers.

Here's the good news: the big answer is there are no big answers. There are only specific answers to specific problems, and you have to look damn hard to find them. IBM summed up every quality fad decades ago with their motto THINK.

The slogans and quality techniques are a fine compass, but you must draw the map yourself.

As far as the Japanese stuff goes, techniques which work well in Japan will not work in the US if the US workplace if different from the Japanese one where the technique started. I don't know how many US companies operate in a way similar to a Japanese one, but it could probably be counted on one hand. In Japan, lifetime employment is the norm. In the US, it's rare. In Japan, it is common for workers to die from exhaustion during overtime. In the US, private investigators are sent to make sure that disabled employees are not faking it. In Japan, top executives rarely make more than ten times the company's lowest paid worker. In the US, top executives usually make make tens or hundreds of times more than the company's lowest paid worker.

The whole Japanese thing about how the company is a team/family is legit over there. In the US, everyone knows that stuff is bullshit. So what kind of fool thinks Japanese slogans are going to translate to the US workplace? Thinking that using Japanese words will make you efficient is like thinking that using Swahili words will make you better marathon runner.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Worst Authoritarian Argument

Many times, when I have pointed out that some law should be repealed because it is broken often, the inevitable response is something like "well, why not legalize murder?"

Here's the problem with that kind of thinking: it can be used to argue against the repeal of any law. Therefore, it is the equivalent of saying that no law should ever be repealed.

Here's an example:

A: X should be legal. Too many people break laws against it.
B: Well, why not legalize murder?

I'm sure there were plenty of conversations during Prohibition that went like this:

A: Alcohol should be legal. Too many people break laws against it.
B: Well, why not legalize murder?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Abiogenic Petroleum

The conventional wisdom is that so-called fossil fuels were formed from the remains of living things that died millions of years ago. However, there are vast amounts of methane, the key component of natural gas, on Jupiter. Since most likely was never any life on Jupiter, where did the methane come from?

If it's possible that the methane on Jupiter was produced without life, isn't it possible that the methane, coal, and oil on Earth was produced without life? Russian geologist Nikolai Kudryavtsev thought so.

I'm not sure what experiments would prove that fossil fuels were produced without life, but it has not been ruled out yet. No one knows how the fossil fuels formed.

I think it is very intriguing question and I hope I live long enough to hear the answer.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Liberals Don't Understand Incentives

Liberals think if you raise taxes, you'll get more money. When this fails to happen, as it always does, the react in astonishment. They simply cannot understand that if you tax more, you create an incentive to either earn less or hide your income.

Likewise, they cannot understand why giving poor people money fails to end poverty. If you give poor people money, you give them an incentive to remain poor. It amazes me still how adults can consistently fail to understand these very simple concepts.

If you go to a national park, you will see many signs warning visitors not to feed the animals. The reason is if animals get used to getting food from people, they associate people with food, follow them around and become a nuisance.

 People aren't all that different. If the government gives them money, they forget how to work for it, beg the government for more, and become a nuisance.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Ease of Tyranny

The most frightening aspect of tyranny is how easily and quickly it can be established. Consider a small-scale tyranny, a hostage situation. Two or three guys with guns can easily hold hundred people hostage. In a similar way, most dictatorships only need to imprison or execute a small percentage of the population in order to wipe out all opposition. North Korea has about 200,000 political prisoners, which works out to less than 1% of the population. That figure is similar for the USSR under Stalin and Germany under Hitler. Most people who live in dictatorships face little hardship as long as they obey.

“The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it”

Monday, October 28, 2013

Karen Straughan weighs in on Amanda Marcotte

Karen Straughan is the creator of many great antifeminist videos on YouTube. I sent her an email informing her of Amanda Marcotte's open challenge and was pleased to get a response. Here is the exchange. Click the pictures to enlarge.

I asked if I could put pics of these emails on my blog. Here is her response:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Anthony Weiner's website is still up

And can be viewed in all its glory here.

In case it gets taken down soon, here is a screen grab:

The thing that stood out to me were his 125 ideas. Successful politicians generally only push 3 or 4 main goals and are lucky if they accomplish even one of them.

To be fair, not all of the ideas are bad. But taken as a whole, they look preposterous. Here are some examples:

#29- Create a single-payer healthcare system for NYC
#68- Combat mold in public housing

Those two ideas appear on the same page. If the city government can't keep public housing free of mold, what chance is there that it could run a decent healthcare system? It's like a kid with a lemonade stand fantasizing about being a billionaire. Here's an idea- don't start a new project until you complete or close one you already started.

#65- Modernize the Dept. of Health's gender policies

Trans people are complaining that the gender on their ID does not match the gender they self-identify with. Currently, a sex change is required to change the gender on the ID. Is this really one of the most serious problems in NYC?

#67- Create an asthma map

I wonder if some of the asthma is from all that moldy public housing?

#85- Add financial literacy classes for high school students

Considering NYC's debt, the folks in city hall should take some too.

Here is about the only bit of sense I found on the whole site:

"Starting a business anywhere is hard. Launching one in New York City can be extra difficult because of the myriad of forms, regulations, and applications. Once launched, life doesn’t get easier in the face of ticketing, surprise inspections, and a relentless bureaucracy."

And does Weiner propose doing anything to reduce those bureaucratic obstacles? Nope!

None of the people running for office in NYC appear to understand what made the city prosperous in the first place. NYC in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was like Hong Kong today- a free market paradise which attracted hardworking entrepreneurs from all over the world.

And it was a safer city in the past as well. In 1943, NYC had only 44 murders, despite having a population of more than 7.4 million. NYC has 8.3 million people now and had over 414 homicides last year- and that was heralded as an improvement!

It is endlessly depressing to see how this once great city has been run into the ground.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

There have never been identical groups of people

It's simple statement, but it has profound implications. One of the articles of faith among the left is that if a group such as women or blacks are smaller percentage of another group such as doctors, it can only be the result of discrimination.

This is false because there have never been proportional representation in any occupation or other group. Whether you compare races, genders, or nationalities, you will never find a situation where both groups are represented in a third group equal to their representation in the population. This has been the case throughout history.

"What's amazing to me is this notion, that people would be evenly represented, except for these institutional policies. That notion has such momentum behind it without a speck of evidence being asked or presented."

-Thomas Sowell

Take it away, Mr. Sowell

Great quotes on the difficulty of changing minds

"It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into."

-Jonathan Swift

"The driving dream of the idealist is that if he could only explain things to enough people, carefully enough, thoroughly enough, thoughtfully enough—why, eventually everyone would see, and then everything would be fixed."

-Michael Kelly

"Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm– but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

-T S Elliot

 "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

- Upton Sinclair 

No answer from Amanda Marcotte yet

And it appears I'm not the only one who's been ignored.

Feminists don't seem to like honest debate very much.

I have found some decent debates on feminism.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Did Obama get into Harvard because he was a legacy?

Obama's father graduated from Harvard, thus making his son a legacy. About half of legacies who apply to Harvard get admitted. Obama admits to being a poor student at Occidental, which begs the question of how he got into Colombia.

Obama's other main claim to fame is that he was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. On Harvard Law's website, I found this:

"Membership in the Harvard Law Review is limited to second- and third-year law students who are selected on the basis of their performance on an annual writing competition."

It also says that a total of 46 students become editors each year. Interesting, because every time I read about Obama at Harvard, they make a big deal about him being an editor.  


"Fourteen editors (two from each 1L section) are selected based on a combination of their first-year grades and their competition scores. Twenty editors are selected based solely on their competition scores. The remaining editors are selected on a discretionary basis. Some of these discretionary slots may be used to implement the Review's affirmative action policy.

Emphasis mine.  That's from this year. I don't know what it was years ago, but if anything, there were probably more discretionary slots. But suppose it was the same. 46 - (14+20) = 12. If Obama was one of those 12, it would appear that this achievement is not all it's cracked up to be. 

I would like to emphasize at this point that the only thing dumber than affirmative action is legacy admission. Obama may have benefited from both. I am much more impressed by achievements that have objective/measurable criteria, because that means the activity was not a suck-up/popularity contest. Getting into Harvard and becoming an editor look a lot like suck-up/popularity contests to me.  And for things like that, all it proves is that you are good at getting a person or a small group to like you. That's a useful skill but hardly extraordinary. I know because I've done it and so has everyone else who's ever gotten a job. 

I am tired of hearing about how Obama is brilliant because he went to Harvard and was an editor and graduated with honors. Why? Because anytime someone asks about his grades the immediate answer is that it was a long time ago and so doesn't matter. 

Let me show you how easy it would be to resolve this issue. My college GPA has come up a few times during job interviews and I never hesitate to reveal it. It's 3.78. See? Piece of cake. And I feel no need to hide it because it's pretty good. Ask anyone who majored in engineering and they'll tell you it's hard to keep a good GPA. If Obama is really proud of his academic achievements and earned them fairly, he has no reason to keep his grades secret.

I'm going to rip-off Bill Maher and make a new rule. New Rule: if boast about your Ivy League background, you must reveal how you got in and what grades you got. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Power and Equality Cannot Coexist

This is the main problem of all political systems. If you believe in government, you believe that some people can rightly have power over others. However, to believe that, you have to believe that the people in government are better than the rest.

So either:

1) everyone is equal, in which case no one can rightly have power over another


2) some people are better and can have power over others

Power and equality cannot coexist.

Various ideas have been thought up to solve this problem like the divine right of kings and the social contract, but really government and authority are just a game most people agree to play. Bottom line, if you believe in government, you must believe that some people are better than others.

Answering Amanda Marcotte's Feminism Debate Challenge

Below is my response to Amanda Marcotte's open challenge:

Ms. Marcotte

I recently learned of your open challenge to debate the claims of feminism with secular non-feminists.

I accept the challenge. Here are some feminist claims I think are provably wrong:

1) the belief that women are equal to men in all ways except anatomy 

There is a plenty of evidence that men differ substantially from women in intelligence and personality. The bell curve for IQ is flatter for men. Women have higher average IQ, but men have a larger share of the most intelligent and the least intelligent. Men make up the vast majority of both Nobel Laureates and Darwin Award winners. 

Men are much more aggressive and competitive and take more risks on average than women. This is why around the world, the vast majority of people in prison for violent crime have been men. It is also the reason why men die younger and are more likely to die from violence and accidents.

2) the belief that women have been oppressed like slaves

While women have been denied political power for most of history, it's a hard case to say they were on the same level as slaves. Every society in history has prioritized the safety and well-being of women and children over the safety and well-being of men (eg, "women and children first"). Women had little power, but they also faced less danger and had fewer responsibilities. 

The second thing to remember is that throughout history, the vast majority of men have been just as powerless as the vast majority of women. When the suffragettes were marching for the right to vote, disenfranchised American boys were getting blasted to bloody shreds and choking on poison gas on the battlefields of WWI. Women got the vote before military-age men did. What does that tell you about who has more pull? 

3)  the belief that women are just as capable at men in traditional male jobs like soldier, police officer, etc.

I invite you to look up the minimum standards for physical fitness for men and women in the Army. You will see that a passing score for a woman is equal to a failing score for a man. The average man has twice as much upper body strength as the average woman and a much higher ratio of muscle to fat. These physical differences are the reason why sports are segregated by gender. Except for maybe gymnastics, the best female athletes in the world would never come close to outperforming the best male athletes in the world. Men don't compete with women in sports for the same reason lightweights don't compete with heavyweights in boxing- it's just not a fair contest. 

4) that women are paid less than men for the same work

The oft-quoted statistic that women as a whole make much less than men as a whole is misleading because men and women are not evenly represented in all jobs. Men work most of the high-paying and dangerous jobs. But even when men and women work the same job, men often work more hours. This is because women prefer to work part-time when they have young children. Women also tend to leave the workforce for years at a time which lowers their lifetime earnings. Finally, there's the logic of it- if women were really willing to do the same work as men for less money, why don't businesses just hire all women and cut their labor costs? It's not an accident that there are very few women on oil rigs and fishing boats. 

I am perfectly fine with female pilots, soldiers, surgeons, police, and so on as long as they met the same standard as the men. The only way people can be equal in a meaningful way is if they are held to the same standard.  

Lastly, I encourage you to watch this video from non-feminist Karen Straughan:


Thomas Harty 

Valerie Jarrett Explains Obama's Personality

“He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

-Valerie Jarrett 

Feminist Fraud II: Useful Idiots

Yeah, I know it's old news, but how galling it is. Lubricated William was the personification of everything feminists claim to hate. He repeatedly cheated on his wife and used his power to seduce and coerce his subordinates for sexual favors. 

Below is a representative sample of the feminist reaction to Clinton's behavior:

"Oooh, imagine swallowing the presidential cum."- Erica Jong, writer and self-described feminist

A few others attempted to deflect blame by saying the Bill's sex life is private and who cares who he screws as long as he defends abortion. Being pro-choice covers a multitude of sins.

In other words, it doesn't matter if a politician treats women like hot garbage as long as they hold the correct stances. See also Ted Kennedy. That drunken womanizer actually killed a woman.

And the feminists still defended him!

And finally, on a completely unrelated note, here is the definition of the phrase "useful idiot":

In political jargon, useful idiot is a pejorative term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.
The term has been used to refer to Soviet sympathizers in Western countries. The implication was that, although the people in question naïvely thought of themselves as an ally of the Soviet Union, they were actually held in contempt and were being cynically used. The use of the term in political discourse has since been extended to other propagandists, especially those who are seen to unwittingly support a malignant cause which they naïvely believe to be a force for good.

Feminist Fraud- More Team Blue Stupidity Dismantled

Part 4- Based on real conversations

A: The gender pay gap is a myth.

B: Women get paid less than men for the same work.

A: Not when you factor in the number of hours worked. Women prefer to work part time so they can spend time with their children. They also tend to drop out of the workforce for years at a time to raise children. Men also tend to work more dangerous and unpleasant jobs. Even leaving out the military, over 90% of workplace deaths are men.

B: Treating women differently than men is sexist.

A: Is it sexist when the military holds women to lower standards than men? A passing score on the Army's physical fitness test for a woman is a failing score for a man.

B: Women can be just as good soldiers as men. They should be allowed in infantry and special forces. Many countries have co-ed armed forces. Grrrl power!

A: Don't you think it's interesting that around the world and throughout history, war has been the domain of men? Do you think this is just a coincidence or perhaps it might be due to the fact that men are on average taller, heavier, stronger, and more aggressive than women?

B: Why are you such a sexist?

A: Do you believe men and women are equal?

B: Yes.

A: OK, then why are sports segregated by gender? Why don't we ever see boxing matches between men and women of equal weight? Or weightlifting? Or running?

B: You're just another sexist neanderthal who wants women to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

A: I'm glad you brought up pregnancy. Did you know the Navy experimented with co-ed ships during the Persian Gulf War? On one ship, over 30 women got pregnant- 10% of the women on that ship.

B: Why won't you let women serve their country just like men?

A: There are many roles for women in the military, including some combat ones. But infantry, special forces, and ships, just don't work out, and there is plenty of evidence to support that.

B: Too few women are CEOs, scientists, engineers, and politicians. We need diversity.

A: Are women the same as men?

B: Yes.

A: OK, then why is it necessary to encourage more women to enter those jobs?

B: OK, women are different. Diversity is important.

A: If women are different, does that mean they should be held to a different standard or even excluded from certain things?

B: No! Women are equal to men.

A: So they're equal to men, but you still think they should be held to different standards?

B: You always make my ideas sound stupid when you rephrase them.

A: That tends to happen when you apply logic and common sense to Team Blue slogans.

B:  We need laws to protect women like the Violence Against Women Act.

A: If women are equal to men, why self-described feminists supporting special laws to protect them? Make up your mind. If women are equal to men in a given situation, they must be held to the same standard. If they are held to different standards, they are not equal.

B: I can see there's no getting through to you, you ignorant misogynist.

A: I predict your future husband will be 37 cats. 

Derpin' 2: Electric Boogaloo- Min Wage Debate Redux

Behold part 3 in my continuing series to expose Team Blue talking points. Again, the following exchange is based on real conversations.

A: The minimum wage is unnecessary and increases unemployment.

B: You heartless, money-grubbing bastard! Without the minimum wage, we'd all be working in sweatshops for a dollar a day!

A: Really? Henry Ford doubled the wages of his workers in 1914 because it was cheaper to pay them more than pay the costs from high turnover. That was before any minimum wage laws. At that time, US factory workers were the best paid in the world.

B:  Working people with families deserve a living wage!

A: Less than 3% of American workers earn minimum wage. Almost all of them are high school or college students working part-time for pocket money.

B: Companies can afford to pay more. Look at the obscene salaries CEOs make.

A: If you make anything more expensive, you create an incentive to buy less of it. If you make unskilled labor more expensive, you create an incentive to buy less of it. Do you think gas stations or consumers would benefit if they government if the government set a minimum price for gasoline?

B: There plenty of states and countries that have high minimum wages and low unemployment.

A: The 5 states with the highest unemployment have the highest minimum wages. Ditto for all the countries. Singpore has no minimum wage and the lowest unemployment in the world at 2.5%. Switzerland has no minimum wage and its unemployment rate is 3%. Hong Kong had no minimum wage until 2010 and its unemployment rate was during that time was also less than 3%. During the Coolidge years, the US had no minimum wage and an unemployment rate of less than 2%- the lowest in US history.

B: You're a racist.

A: I knew that was coming. Say, did you know the unemployment rate for black teens in the US has gone up in tandem with the minimum wage? The minimum wage hurts black people more than any other group. Doesn't that mean the minimum wage is racist?

B: I'm taking my ball and going home! 

Matthew Yglesias: A Victim of Solvent Abuse?

The following are actual quotes from Matthew Yglesias. His current job title is Business and Economics Correspondent for Slate. Keep that in mind as you read these. He actually gets paid to write this stuff.

What if we had a 95 percent marginal tax rate on income over $10 million? What dire consequences would flow from this? Perhaps a certain outflow of top-flight baseball talent to Japan. But I don't see this leading to any kind of economic calamity. 

Conventions around dead people are ridiculous. The world outlook is slightly improved with Andrew Breitbart dead.

Bad Decisions Don't Make You Poor. Being Poor Makes for Bad Decisions.

National governments go into debt frequently, and some indebted states suffer growth slowdowns that mechanically increase their debt:GDP ratio. By contrast through what mechanism do these high debt levels cause slow growth? 

Gee Matt- ever think that money paid on servicing debt is money that isn't around for something else?

The Case for Getting Drunk at Work 

Is that how he comes up with ideas?

The housing bust, meanwhile, has been followed by an epic construction slump that’s actually left us with a shortage of homes.

I can't go on any more. If you absolutely must, you can find more of his empty-headed opinions all over the intertubes.

Obituary for the Dollar

The Dollar passed away yesterday after a long battle against inflation and fiscal lunacy. The world's reserve currency for over 50 years, the Dollar was treasured as a hard currency for the purchase of oil and for global trade.

The Dollar enjoyed over 150 years as a standard of value backed by gold and silver. Sadly, the Dollar entered a long decline in 1973 when it lost its gold backing.

The Dollar was preceded in death by the Zimbabwe Dollar, the Yugoslavian Dinar, the Hungarian Pengo, the Weimar Mark, and many others. It is survived by the British Pound, the Australian Dollar, the Euro, the Yen, the Swiss France, and the Yuan.

In lieu of flowers, the following videos may be sent to the current chairman of the Federal Reserve, the President, every member of Congress, and every voter:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Standard Team Blue Propaganda on Racism

I decided I'm going to spend the next few posts outlining all the tired Team Blue Propaganda I've heard over the years. Below is a composite dialog of many real conversations:

A: In the US, black men are 7% of the population and commit 50% of the homicides.

B: That's not true. And even if it is, you are a racist for saying it.

A: But it's true- look it up if you don't believe me. How can a fact be racist? Is it racist if I say black people are more likely to get sickle-cell anemia?

B: Just because it's true, doesn't mean it isn't racist.

A: Do you think that statistic might be the real reason black men have trouble catching a cab a night?

B: No. It's all racism.

A: But a lot those cab drivers are from places like Ghana and Haiti. Are those black people racist against other black people?

B: [long pause] I don't know. Maybe. But black people in the US are still suffering from racism. Blacks earn less than whites. That's proof that racism is still a problem.

A: But on average, black immigrants earn more than white Americans and have more education. Jews and Asians also earn more and have more education than native whites. If the powers that be in America are white racists, why are black immigrants, Jews, and Asians better off than whites?

B: [long pause] But black Americans still suffer in numerous ways- lower income, more poverty, more unemployment, more in prison, and so on. All that is from the lingering effects of racism.

A: What would your reaction be if I told you that the black unemployment rate was lower 50 years ago? Or if there was lower percentage of black people in prison 50 years ago? Because that's what happened. If both those things have gotten worse since the Civil Rights movement, how can racism be the cause? Has racism gotten worse over the past 50 years?

B: Black children go to terrible schools. How can they catch up?

A: And why are they stuck in terrible schools? Could be due to teacher unions and other pressure groups that oppose private schools and vouchers? Could it be that many blacks do badly in school because studying is derided as "acting white"? Could it be that the bad English many black children learn from their parents makes it harder for them to learn how to read? Could it be that many schools quietly hold black students to lower standards?

A: Affirmative action programs are still needed to ensure diversity. Disproportionate representation is proof of discrimination.

B: Really? Blacks are disproportionately represented on basketball teams. Is this because the owners & coaches are racist against non-blacks? Should affirmative action be used to increase diversity on basketball teams?

A: Liberal programs like affirmative action and welfare have helped black people.

B: If that's true, why did the rate of illegitimate childbirth for blacks skyrocket in the 1970s? How about the skyrocketing number of black single mothers? We know that boys raised by single mothers are far more likely to be criminals. Could it be that these well-intentioned programs backfired?

A: There are more white people on welfare than black people.

B: False. White people aren't even the biggest recipient, which is shocking considering they're more than 80% of the population.

A: You're a racist.

B: In the words of Thomas Sowell, racism is Team Blue ketchup- they put it on everything.

A: Thomas Sowell is an Uncle Tom. So is Walter Williams.

B: Do you see anything ironic about beating your chest about how tolerant you are and then smearing people you don't like with an insulting label? Sowell and Williams were both liberals in their youth. Aren't you even the slightest bit curious about what caused them to leave liberalism?

A: LALALALA-I-am-not-listening!