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Friday, January 31, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why sports analogies for business and war are retarded

Sports have well-defined rules, time limits, and referees. It is rare for any game to last more than a few hours. Injuries and deaths are rare. Victory is determined by score. Practice is the most important thing.

Wars have few if any rules. They last until one side gives up- something which often takes years. "All's fair in love and war." Crushing your opponent by any means necessary is the only goal. Determination is the most important thing.

Business is more similar to sports than war is. There are rules, referees, and score-keeping. Unlike sports, business is long-term and the rules and players change often.  Flexibility is the most important thing.

In sum, sports, war, and business have nothing in common except strategy and teamwork. Just as boxing, figure skating, and golf have nothing in common except movement and breathing. It is stupid to apply the lessons of one to another. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Welcome to the future

Great moments in ATF stupidity

Moron G-man says toy guns can be converted to real ones:

I'd need to be a Hindu god to face palm sufficiently.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

USDA!- A YMCA parody

To the tune of YMCA!

You there!
Pour that milk on the ground!
I said you there!
You'd better put it right down
'Cause it's not pas-teur-ized

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫

You must obey the
You must obey the

We can ban what you like
It's for your own good
You must what we say you should

You prole!
Your papers, please!
I said you prole!
Get on your knees
Stop re-sis-ting

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫

This is a raid by the
This is a raid by the

We'll crash through your door!
We'll shoot through the walls!
All for a shotgun

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫

Are you listening to me?
I said rat fucks!
You're outnumbered
ten thousand to one

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫

Fuck off, slavers!
Fuck off, slavers!

Keep this shit up
And you're gonna see
That lamp posts have two uses

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫

Fuck off, slavers
Fuck off, slavers...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why people become liberals, conservatives, etc

The main reason is their parents raised them that way. The minor reason is their parents were too strict with them and their children rebelled. The third and least common reason of all is they researched the issue for themselves.

As far as I can tell, no one is raised as a libertarian.

Here's something for you Team Red and Team Blue authoritarians to ponder: Don't you think it's interesting that when adults research politics, economics, and history, they almost always become libertarians?  

Adults who research religion thoroughly almost always become atheists or agnostics. Adults who research government thoroughly almost always become libertarians or anarchists. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Karl Marx: The Ultimate Hipster Loser

1. He never had a job.

2. His hygiene was terrible.

3. He was always broke.

4. He tried to make a living as a writer and failed.

5. He had a massive beard.

6. He spent a lot of time in school but never learned anything useful.

7. He was miserable and complained about everything.

For more details, I highly recommend this video from Stefan Molyneux:

Friday, January 24, 2014

What is consciousness?

As I sit typing, I am aware of many things. I see, hear, and touch. I know where each part of my body is and can move. I am aware of the thoughts forming in my head and the words that symbolize them. All of this is made possible by billions of interconnected neurons trading chemicals. That and nothing more. 

The individual atoms that make up the brain cannot do any of these things. Nor can the more complex molecules or neurons. Nor can even a large group of neurons. So the question is, if none of those simpler things can think or feel, how is it that a brain can? 

A partial answer to this question is to say that thought is an emergent property of the brain. All that means is that the brain as a whole can do things none of its parts can do alone. A brain is like a machine that only works when all the parts are combined in the right way. This is a good enough explanation for me.

This isn't the end of the mystery though. The really great question is why am I aware as this particularly arrangement of neurons and not some other? Before I was born, all the atoms that would become my body already existed. And as I grew, I eventually gained awareness. But why is my awareness tied to this particular brain? Couldn't I have just as easily been born another person or an animal? Why are there many minds instead of just one big one? 

I doubt we will ever know the answer. The human brain is finite, so it follows there are limits to what it can do. Every brain is a kind of miniature universe. We don't interact with world. We interact with the model our brains have built to represent it. The brain has about 100 billion neurons, with each being connected on average to 1,000 others. A neuron can have only two states: it is either firing or not firing. So the lower limit to the number of possible brain states is 2 to the power of 100 billion, which is about 127 followed by 208 zeroes. Given the human life span, no one will ever live long enough to experience ever possible brain state. 
Even if you had been around since the beginning of the universe, you'd still have only scratched the surface. 

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory, which states that this has already happened"

-The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The AV Club's Team Blue Fluffers vs. Penn & Teller

As I scanned a recent AV Club article, I came across this gem:

"Well-deserved takedowns of aliens and creationism gave way to mean-spirited and puzzling attacks on environmentalism, reparations, college, and handicapped parking."

Here is a good example of what I call "belief clustering". Belief clustering is the tendency to assume that if a person agrees with some of your views, they agree with all of them. Hence the confusion by the AV Club when P&T bashed things they like.

Why exactly are the attacks on college, etc not deserved? They don't say, but I think I know why. You see, college, etc. are Team Blue sacred cows. And like all sacred cows, they produce vast quantities of bullshit. If you think your cows are sacred, you train yourself to ignore the smell. When others point it out, you get confused and angry. 

For the benefit of the AV Club, I will briefly explain the bullshit in these topics.

1. Environmentalism is bullshit because it's a leftist smoke screen. If so-called environmentalists really cared about the environment, they would be in favor of things like nuclear power and GMO crops. 

2. Reparations are bullshit because both the perpetrators and the victims are long dead. Guilt is not passed down. Reparations can only go to living victims from living offenders, not their descendants.  

3. College is bullshit because it's crazy expensive and most of the degrees are useless. Many recent grads have been finding this out the hard way. 

4. Handicapped parking is bullshit because just about anyone can get a permit. There are plenty of perfectly able-bodied people who have such permits. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mind-Boggling Government Stupidity: The Tale of Darrell Penwell

I met Darrell Penwell around 2000. I forget the year, but I remember being around 15 at the time. His office was tucked away in an obscure corner of the Charles Town court house. It was cluttered with boxes and loose papers. He wore a extra large "Big Dog" t-shirt which was stretched tight over his ample belly. He looked like a walrus with Down's Syndrome.

My dad and I were there to discuss Penwell's plan to change the addresses in Jefferson County. WV. That is to say, my dad came to explain why his idea sucked. You can read about the idea here. The gist was that by changing the house numbers of houses along rural roads, emergency vehicles would be able to find them more easily. So for example. a house whose original address was Rural Route 1 would get changed to 400 Rural Route 1, where the 400 signified the approximate distance from a stop sign or intersection.

Here's why it's dumb. Our house was in a subdivision. Its number was 20, the one before was 19, and the one after was 21. All adjacent houses had consecutive numbers. Penwell's address change would turn 20 into 198 and the other two into equally odd 3-digit numbers. The house numbers would no longer increase in a regular pattern, which would make it much harder for emergency vehicles to find them. My dad writes 911 software and knows from speaking with police and EMT crews that they find addresses by looking at house numbers. If the house numbers are all screwy, they're much less likely to get there in time.

Unfortunately, despite many protests, the addresses were changed. Penwell was later arrested for fraud for a travel reimbursement scam and was replaced. His idiotic address change lives on.

I consider myself lucky to have seen at young age how the government really works. Looking back, the scheme was like a miniature version of Obamacare or Prohibition. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A way to make any code harder to break

Some codes leave spaces between the words as in plain text. In a language like English that has many two and three-letter words, this makes code breaking far easier.

But suppose we treat the space as a character and encode that as well. The result would be a string or wall of text with a few spaces. Such a code could be broken with a brute force search but only if the cryptanalysts realized the spaces were being treated like letters rather than being omitted like in the Enigma code.

I think a modified Vigniere cipher would produce such a code and be challenging to break. The only way a code can be broken by brute force is if the code breaking machine can try and evaluate all possible interpretations in hours or days. So the key to a strong code is to make the number of possible interpretations as large as possible.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Al Franken FAIL

The following is a letter dated Oct. 2, 2015 from Al Franken's The Truth (with jokes):

"This letter is my legacy to you, my beloved grandchildren, along with the millions of dollars each of you will receive thanks to your grandmother's prudent investments in T-bills, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Thanks to the fiscal prudence of the Democrats after Bush left office, that makes them the most secure investment we can possibly leave you."

Fiscal responsibility of the Democrats? Time for a reality check:

Franken, you're a putz.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to be a moral outlaw

A moral outlaw? It sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't Morals and laws only agree sometimes. No victim, no crime.

You don't need to be a lawyer to see that most laws are bullshit. Laws can be put into two groups. Good laws protect everyone and bad laws are made to reward one group at the expense of another. Unfortunately, most laws fall into the second group.

So the question becomes how to deal with all these bad laws. The most important thing to realize is that it is impossible to obey EVERY law and still be free. Obedience is not an option. There's not much hope in changing the law through voting either.

The only answer is to be a moral outlaw. Being moral is easy though- follow the Golden Rule. Breaking the law and getting away with it is harder, but not impossible.

Here are some simple rules for dealing with stupid laws:

1. The first rule of being an outlaw is do not talk about being an outlaw.
2. Don't go if afraid. Once gone, don't be afraid.
3. File a tax return. It doesn't have to be honest.
4. Avoid the police- don't give them a reason to pull you over. Never call them.
5. If a minor crime has a stiff penalty, it's probably because they almost never catch the people who do it.
6. The odds of being caught for any crimes is low.
7. Speak out against stupid laws. They may change one day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

General Principles of Strategy

I define strategy as the principles that lead to a plan for victory. Here's what I have so far:

1. Speed

If you are faster than your enemy, you can hit while he is weak and run away before enemy reinforcements arrive. More generally, the early bird gets the worm.

2. Surprise

If your enemy doesn't know what you're going to do or when, you will win.

3. Focus

Pursue one great goal with vigor and determination. Find the critical point and concentrate your strength on it. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

4. Deception

This is the single most powerful principle in strategy. It is no wonder so many great strategists speak of its importance.  If your enemy's beliefs about you are false, you will surely win.

These principles apply mostly to war, but are also relevant to sports, politics, business, and any other kind of competition.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Stupidest Liberal Ever Is Not Matthew Yglesias

Her suggestions:

1. We need a perfect pesticide.
2. We food because "it's food and stuff."
3. Landlords need to lower rent because they have money.
4. The machine can make it for us.
5. On the east coast, they have slaves.
6. Vegetables come from vegetable trees.
7. Frozen fruits and vegetables last forever.
8. Food is free, so we should sell it at the farmer's market. 

Hilarious Gunphobia

A letter recently submitted to an advice column:

"Our toddler has been in a wonderful day care center since September, and she has grown particularly attached to her primary caregiver, a young single woman in her late 20s. She and I recently shared a casual conversation about dating, and she emailed me with a sweet video of our daughter and offered to babysit if needed. I looked her up on Facebook, and one 10-month old post—registering gleeful delight after a weekend shooting various guns, and declaring her interest in getting a gun permit—caught my attention. While we realize her adventure, and wish, are entirely legal, this makes both my husband and me very uncomfortable since we have absolutely no interest in having guns anywhere near our child, our family, or our home. Prudie, what should we do? Tell the director of the day care? Just avoid hiring her to babysit our child? Simply chalk this up to the Second Amendment?"

They say they do not want any guns near them, their child, or their home. I wonder what these people do when they see a cop? Run away and hide? Flail their arms while screaming "AAAAAH! GUN! GUN!" 
Do they plan on avoiding all sporting goods stores? How about museums? Or Wal-Mart? 

Did it ever occur to them that just because the babysitter like to shoot doesn't mean she's carrying all the time? Apparently, just having touched a gun is enough to taint her. 

These people think a gun is like the Ring of Sauron- no one can possess one without being turned into a murderous fiend by its corrupting evil power. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Obama's understanding of economics

Sam Seder & Progressive Projection

Sam Seder says: "The difference between liberals and libertarians is liberals look towards results."

Oh really?

Have liberals adjusted their views based on the disastrous roll-out of Obamacare?
Or the slow death of Detroit?
Or the trillions wasted on the war on poverty?
Or the failure of gun control?
Or unemployment caused by the minimum wage?
Or the success of school vouchers?
Or the effect of tax cuts?

Liberals have never cared about results- only intentions. When they accuse libertarians of utopian fantasies, they are merely projecting.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Parallel Thinking: Sun Tzu and Mohamed

"War is deceit"


"All warfare is based on deception."

-Sun Tzu

Great minds think alike. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Big Rock Statist Mountains- A Parody

One evening as the polls closed down
And the folks went back home grumbling,
Down the track came a voter hiking,
And he said, "Guys, I'm not staying 
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Statist Mountains

In the Big Rock Statist Mountains,
There's a land that's safe and clean,
Where you never need to lock your door
And folks of are never mean
Where no crooks ever get away
And the sun shines every day
And great public schools 
And clean swimming pools
The great big malls
Where prices fall
In the Big Rock Statist Mountains.

In the Big Rock Statist Mountains
All politicians never lie
And the laws make perfect sense
And everyone loves the FBI
The dollar is always strong
And everybody has job 
Oh I'm bound to go
Where we have no foes
Where no one robs
And there is no mob
In the Big Rock Statist Mountains.

In the Big Rock Statist Mountains
All the kids can read
And everyone has enough to eat
And all get what they need
There are no drunks or junkies 
And the streets are nice and neat
The whores are gone
And the children smile
The perfect roads go
for miles and miles
In the Big Rock Statist Mountains

In the Big Rock Statist Mountains,
We'll never lose a war.
All the kids are well-behaved 
and always do their chores
There ain't no smut on TV
No porn on the internet
I'm bound to stay
Where you salute all day,
To the smillin' face
Shown in every place
In the Big Rock Statist Mountains.
I'll see you all this coming fall
In the Big Rock Statist Mountains

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Lie of Equality

Is everyone the same gender? The same height? Weight? Age? Strength? Intelligence?

Clearly, no. Inequality is the norm and there isn't much that can be done about it. So why worry about inequality of money when people are unequal in so many other deep-set ways?

It can't be said enough times- the only way people can be equal in a meaningful sense is if they are held to the same standard. 

How to defend against an asteroid

The first and hardest method is the Armageddon approach- blow it up with a nuke. Depending on its size, many bombs might be necessary to break it into smaller pieces. Even then, the larger chunks would still cause a lot of damage and probably throw up enough dust to disrupt farming for a while.

Next we have the Big Push- use a nuke to push it out of the way. The hitch with this is that a nuclear explosion by itself would not produce much of a push. The blast from a nuke comes from air being heated rapidly and then expanding. If you wanted to use a nuke to push something in space, there would need to be some gas or liquid with the bomb to get hot and expand. 

I don't think attaching rockets would work. Although rockets are the only way to get things in orbit, they are not very efficient. You'd have to attach many, many rockets to get any kind of push. 

The last, and I think most practical option, is to build bunkers and shelters to ride out the impact and effect of decreased sunlight. Using technology like cloud seeding might be helpful in washing the dust out of the air. 

As an honorable mention, I'll mention a thunderwell type device- this uses a nuke to create steam which propels an object at a fantastic speed. It was discovered during a nuclear test when a hunk of metal was accidentally blast miles and miles into the sky. The hunk traveled so fast that it partially melted.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What is derp?

To understand derp, you must first learn about its cousins: ignorance, stupidity, lies, and bullshit.

Ignorance is a natural state and often found among the young. It is merely a lack of knowledge and is excusable in most cases.

Stupidity is what happens when someone is exposed to knowledge but chooses to ignore it. It is a self-punishing vice.

Lying is the act of knowing the truth and then saying something else to hide it.

Bullshit comes from not caring what the truth is. The goal is to distract.

All these are character flaws. Derp is different.

Derp is a state of mind. It is a celebration of ignorance. It is the strange pride that comes from ignorance and stupidity.

Perhaps this is the best way to explain it:

Lessons from the Dukakis Tank Ad

Yes, 1988 is ancient history by US standards, but let's have a look anyway. Here is the ad for those unfamiliar with it:

I have heard many times from progs that Dukakis lost because of this ad. Specifically, they say that he looks silly in that helmet, even though it only appeared for a moment at the end of the ad. 

But isn't the content compelling? The majority of the ad is just text explaining how he opposed various military projects and then at the last moment shows him posing with a tank. The contrast between his actions and his posing is powerful. Keep in mind too that the US at the time had been locked in a long struggle with a powerful enemy. 

This ad didn't make Dukakis look bad because of the helmet. It made him look bad because it showed that his actions didn't match the image he tried to put out. There is powerful delusion among progs to attribute their failures to anything except their own ideas. 

The paradox of air defense

In order for an aircraft to defend itself against incoming missiles, it must be able to detect them. The only practical method for that is radar. But the use of this radar puts out a signal enemy missiles can use to track the aircraft. I know that in the Vietnam War, a separate plane out of missile range would provide the radar coverage for the strike aircraft, so there's one way to resolve it.

I don't know, but I strongly suspect that ground-based radar has a longer range than aircraft radar. If that's the case, the best air defense has the edge over the best air attack. There's a limit to how much radar equipment you can fit into a plane, so there is a limit to how far its radar can see. Ground-based radar can be scaled-up indefinitely.

Whoever can see the farthest can shoot first. Whoever shoots first will win.  

Is the F-35 a flying Maginot Line?

Earlier today, I was reading a debate about the pros and cons of the F-35 fighter. The gist was 5th generation fighters like the F-35 are needed to counter the 5th generation fighters being developed in other countries. Supposedly, having better fighters than everyone else is the reason US ground troops have not been attacked by enemy aircraft since the Korean War. I think a better explanation is the fact that the US has not fought a war with any advanced nation since WW2.

Germany lost WW2 despite having the most advanced aircraft and tanks. They lost the air war because they ran out of pilots and they lost the ground war because they were outnumbered.. There are many examples in history where some new technology is seen as a magic bullet- tanks, aircraft, submarines, etc. Over and over again, military leaders learned the hard way that every weapon has a countermeasure. For that matter, every tactic and strategy has a countermeasure. Even the countermeasures have countermeasures.

This focus on air-to-air combat is a good example of missing the big picture- strategy. A strategy comes from identifying an enemy's vital organs and then making a plan to cripple them. The people the US are currently fighting have no air force and the US is unlikely to fight against any air force in the near future. So it is a waste to plan or build for such a war, at least for now.

Even when you know who the enemy is and where they will attack, it is hard to prepare. The US knew the Japanese were likely to attack the planes at Pearl Harbor, but they thought it would be by sabotage. For that reason, they parked them close together so they could be guarded more easily. Unfortunately, those planes were much easier to destroy when they were attacked from the air.

In chess, it's pointless to guess what a possible opponent might do. The only way to prepare for a chess game is to play as much as possible. This gives experience in improvising and deep-thinking. Likewise, I think the US should spend less on new weapons and much more on war games and studying recent wars, not ones from 50 years ago.

The Maginot Line failed because the French believed the Germans would not be able to go around it. I hope the F-35 is not built on faulty assumptions about the future of air warfare. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dumb Laws- Episode 3: Throwing away someone else's junk mail is a felony

Here it is:

Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
Most Americans commit several felonies unwittingly every day.

It's high time to start pruning away these insane laws. 

Dumb Laws- Episode 2: The Bradley Amendment

  • automatically triggers a non-expiring lien whenever child support becomes past-due.
  • disallows any judicial discretion, even from bankruptcy judges.
  • requires that the payment amounts be maintained without regard for the physical capability of the person owing child support (the obligor) to promptly document changed circumstances or regard for his awareness of the need to make the notification.

Some interesting cases:

Taron James, a U.S. Navy veteran from California, was forced to continue to pay child support until 2006, even after the child was demonstrated by DNA test in 2001 to be not his; James paid $12,000 in such payments. A California District Court of Appeal eventually set aside the paternity judgment against James in 2006, but the same court denied James' request to have his child support payments reimbursed 

Bobby Sherrill, a Lockheed employee in Kuwait from North Carolina, was captured by Iraqis and spent nearly five months as an Iraqi hostage. Sherrill was arrested the night after his release for not paying $1,425 in child support while he was a hostage.

Dumb Laws- Episode 1: Merchant Marine Act of 1920

This law requires that only US-flagged ships may transport cargo between US ports. This means that a foreign ship from Hong Kong cannot stop in Honolulu to pick up cargo bound for Seattle. Instead, once it stops in Honolulu, the cargo bound for Seattle must transferred to a US ship.

This law is merely the broken window fallacy applied to sea trade. If the goal is to protect the jobs of sailors and longshoremen, why not ban cranes, forklifts, and diesel engines? A sailing ship requires a far bigger crew than a modern ship and many more would be needed to carry the same amount of cargo.

There is no net benefit to doing things less efficiently. Doing things more efficiently is what makes progress possible, because it allows resources that were used on one thing to be used for something else. Agriculture freed up people to be craftsmen, warriors, thinkers, etc instead of just hunter-gatherers.

Bastiat wrote that laws like the above act like a negative railroad. A railroad makes it more profitable for the countries connected by it to trade. A negative railroad like tariffs, regulations, etc makes it less profitable for two countries to trade. If you build a railroad, you can cancel out the benefits of it by just passing enough tariffs and regulations.

Will politicians and their supporters ever learn to stop building negative railroads?