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Proof that irrational numbers cannot have repeating decimals.

Assertion: Irrational numbers have decimal digits that do not repeat, nor do they have a pattern of digits that repeat. An irrational number cannot be expressed as the ratio of two integers.  Proof by contradiction. Assume that the irrational number does have a repeating pattern of decimals. First, consider an assumed irrational number x = a1a2•••am . am+1•••am+l•••x1x2•••xn•••x1x2•••xn••• Where the digits a1a2•••am are the part of the number greater than one. Note the decimal point. The digits am+1•••am+l are a possible sequence of digits after the decimal that precede the repeating pattern. We will first show that we can eliminate these non repeating digits.
Multiply the number by 10m+l which gives 10m+l x = a1a2•••amam+1•••am+l . x1x2•••xn•••x1x2•••xn••• 
             = y + 0.x1x2•••xn•••x1x2•••xn••• Where y is some whole number. We can rearrange
10m+l x - y = 0.x1x2•••xn•••x1x2•••xn••• At this point we have reduced the problem to an assumed set of repeating decimals. We see that m or l could be 0, making for a simpler problem. Continuing, multiply by 10n 10n (10m+l x - y) = 10n 0.x1x2•••xn•••x1x2•••xn•••
                            = x1x2•••xn.x1x2•••xn•••
                             = w + 0.x1x2•••xn•••
10m+l+n x - 10n y - w  = 10lx - a1a2•••amam+1•••am+l On the right we have rewritten 0.x1x2•••xn••• in terms of x. In other words, we have written just the repeating part in terms of x. Note that a1a2•••amam+1•••am+l is a whole number, call it u. Algebra gives 10m+l+n x - 10n y - w + u = 10lx
x = (10n y + w - u) / (10m+l+n - 10l) Where the numerator and denominator on the right are both whole numbers, and therefore x is rational. This contradicts our assumption. To see this more simply, consider a case where x < 1 and does not have any decimals that are not part of the repeating series. This means m = l = y = 0, meaning all the a = 0.
  Ok the super scripts don't work so I will try to fix this later.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Horror Movies Suck

I am working on a hypothesis that horror movies suck. Even fans of horror admit that most of the movies suck. To support this idea, I have compiled scores from Rotten Tomatoes . I plotted the movie score vs release year. I wasn't able to get the movie titles on the charts, but you can cross reference the year with the movies listed in Wikipedia. So far, I look at Friday the 13th, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and for a comparison Star Trek. I then list what ratio of the movies got a score greater than or equal to 50% Friday the 13th, 12 movies with 2 greater/equal to 50%, or only 17% of them. Halloween, 11 movies with 3 greater/equal to 50%, or only 27% of them. Note that this counts the 2018 movie, which probably shouldn't count because it is too new. But even counting it improves the ratio. A Nightmare on Elm Street, 9 movies with 4 greater/equal to 50%, or only 44% of them. Star Trek, 13 movies with 9 greater/equal to 50%, or 69% of them. This preliminary analysis shows that the top 3 horror movie franchises don't even have half their movies with a score over 50%. But Star Trek, a series that is often made fun of, has the majority of its movies with a score greater than 50%. Further analysis could show score vs year, and the effect of reboots. But for now, I think I make a good case that horror movies suck.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

AVGN movie analysis

I start by saying that I am a fan of AVGN. However, I have not seen the movie. From what I have seen of it, it does not look like the kind of thing I would pay money for. In general, I do not buy content from internet reviewers. I believe that I could spend my money on better entertainment. My level of enjoyment of reviewer content ends at watching their videos on line.                 Since I have not seen the movie I cannot offer a scene by scene review, not that I would have a desire to do such a thing anyway. But I have seen enough and heard enough of it to give my opinions on why it has gotten bad reviews. My critique will come in two parts. The first part is more speculation on how and why the movie was made. The second part is an insight into the movie that I have not heard anyone else mention.                 James is a fan of movies, that is no secret. He went to school to study film. My suspicion is that he wanted to make a movie but could not fund it. He knew he could only get crowd funding if he made an AVGN movie, so he put that label on it.                 The movie turned out to be a disjoined mess of different genres, all put into one pile and mixed together. Just like you might enjoy individual meals but wouldn’t eat a blended stew of various entrees, mixing together different types of movies does not work. This is a combination of sci fi, zombie, monster, action, and fighting movies. Furthermore, it is all done on a low budget. People have said it is an homage to B movies. But that is just an excuse to make a crappy movie. If you want to make a cheap movie, then stick to one kind of movie. Or if you can’t afford to make a certain movie, then don’t do it.                 Here is the second part, and the big reason, I think, that the movie fails. The movie has nothing to do with video games. The basic premise is a spoof on the E.T. Atari 2600 game that was buried in the desert. (This is a true story, in case you didn’t know.) In the movie, of course they can’t use the licensed property, so they make a spoof Eee Tee game. I can’t fault that limitation except to say that a different plot would not have hinged on one game.                 This game, obviously, features an alien. In the movie, they discover that there is a real alien and the military chases them. What does a real alien and the military have to do with video games? That would be like making an action hero movie because there was a game based on Die Hard, and claiming it was a video game movie.                 So this isn’t a video game movie, but instead a collection of goofy, surrealistic, cartoonish events. Which brings me to the main problem with the movie. Understanding this point requires a few definitions. We have, at first, our real world. In our real world we have the AVGN internet skits. These skits exist in some kind of surreal world, where bizarre, cartoonish things happen. This is fine. This is why the show is funny.                 Then we have the universe of the movie, but this is tricky. We have the “real” world of the movie, where AVGN is a “real” person who makes internet skits. This, by itself, is not the problem. In fact, you could hardly make a story otherwise. But here is the problem. There is the “real” world of the movie, which is the world that AVGN/James lives in. Then there is the “internet skit” world of the movie, which takes us a level deeper. In the “internet skit” of the movie world, AVGN does his goofy stuff. But the “real” world of the movie has those very same surreal, cartoonish things! Is the real world AVGN skit world the same as the movie “real” world “internet skit” world? I guess it has to be. Are you confused yet?                 The reason the real world AVGN skits are funny is that we contrast the surrealism with our every day world. It would be perfectly fine to have a movie where we explore this surreal AVGN world. A 1.5 hour AVGN skit. This movie might not work, because AVGN would break the fourth wall and talk to the camera the whole time. This might or might not work.                 But the AVGN skits are merely “internet skits” in the movie world, but at the same time the movie world is surreal. This, essential, makes the movie “internet skits” not surreal because they exist in a world where that is mundane. This removes the very thing that makes his skits funny and disconnects the fan base and tries to set them into something totally different, yet seemingly the same.                 We see AVGN as a strange character living in a bizarre world where Buggs Bunny breaks into his house and fights him. It makes no sense to say that this world exists as a fiction on the internet in a movie world, but the movie world itself is just as surreal. This makes the AVGN skits merely a documentary of the “real” movie world. And now we are watching this movie world with surreal things happening. That’s not what I want to see. I don’t care about some goofy, cartoony adventure with cheesy fight scenes where the military is trying to catch an alien. This is not a movie about video games, and this is not the world I imagine AVGN living in.                 Perhaps the movie would have been successful if it were either 1) a 1.5 hour skit (which is not what it was) or 2) not surreal. This second option might work with what the movie was partly doing. Part of the premise is that some game company is purposely making bad games just so AVGN will review it and make it popular. What if this was the plot, but nothing surreal happened? I suppose people would complain that it wasn’t funny because it had not AVGN jokes. But, as I have argued, that is inherently flawed.                 I hope this explanation makes sense. I have not seen anyone offer that view point on the movie.
 

Game Mathematical Analysis 3

I was reading some old rpg books and they had this rule: if a monk hits he has a 75% chance of stunning his target and a 25% chance of killing it. This is a grammar and math issue. The conjunction "and" means both. Therefore if the monk hits then he rolls % dice to see if he stuns. He then rolls % dice again, regardless of the results of the stun roll, to see if he kills. So he rolls the % dice two times, and determines the stun and kill rolls separately. How does the math work on this? Is it better to roll one time or two times? If the rule said the he either stuns or kills, but not both, then it would have said, "if the monk hits then roll % dice. A result of 1 to 25 means he kills. A result of 26 to 100 means he stuns." In that case he is guaranteed to either stun or kill. If you roll separately then there is a chance that you will fail at both rolls. Let us calculate these probabilities. In the case where you roll once, this is easy. 0.25 to kill and 0.75 to stun, with no other possibilities. In the other case there are 4 outcomes. Stun and kill, no stun and kill, stun and no kill, no stun and no kill. The probabilities for these are, respectively 0.75×0.25 = 0.1875 0.25×0.25 = 0.0625 0.75×0.75 =0.5625 0.25×0.75 = 0.1875 Adding these up gives 1, as it should. Assume that a kill supersedes a stun and is more desirable. In other words, a stun and a kill results in a kill. The probability of stun and kill, or no stun and kill is = 0.1875 + 0.0625 = 0.25 which is the probability of getting a kill in the alternate situation discussed above. The probability of getting just a stun is 0.5625 as opposed to 0.75 in the alternate situation, and the probability of getting nothing is 0.1875. So this sitauation is worse than the case where you roll one time.
 

Sense of smell/taste experiment

I had a bad cold the past few days and I lost my sense of smell and taste. But I learned some things, for science! First, I ate some jalepeños. No taste but I felt the hot. The next day, I ate wasabi. I could not taste it but it still burned my nose, which is weird. Then today we unloaded ammonia at work. I could not smell it, but it definitely burned when I breathed some. Then, at home, I had a bottle of organic vinegar, which is supposed to be good for you. You're supposed to drink a little of it but it is gross. But, without a sense of taste, I could drink a lot. It caused me to gag and burned a little, but I drank like 5 times as much. So far these experiments have been interesting.
 

The Undateables

There is a British TV show called The Undatables where people with physical or mental disabilities are trying to find a date. It’s kind of sad and I feel sorry for these people because I know what it’s like. Specifically, there are a few people who were good looking but then they had some kind of accident or illness that left them disfigured or disabled. These people talk about how they had no trouble getting dates until their illness. There was one woman who was beautiful, then she had most of her nose and lips removed. Then should couldn’t get dates any more. This proves that looks do matter. I am so sick of people saying that looks don’t matter and it’s all about personality and “confidence.” The people in this TV show have the same personality before and after their accidents. So then why can’t they get dates after? It is an insult to tell someone that they can have a girlfriend/boyfriend if they just had “confidence.” That is the word I would hear all the time. It insults my intelligence. I am going to assume that there are men who feel the same way I do. Maybe some women too, but I’m not sure. I think most people who are unattractive know that they are unattractive. I know I am. I’m not stupid. I know what I look like. I know what good looking men look like, and they don’t look like me. I know the kind of guy that women go for. Good looking men get good looking women. That’s how it works. Don’t lie to me and tell me that I can have that attractive woman if all I do is blah blah blah. Like there is some magic word I have to say and that is going to trick this woman into falling in love with me. Some people are attractive, some people are not. That is the reality. Good looking people have the luxury of sitting on a high horse and claiming that they chose their bf/gf based on personality. But whenever I say that I want a good looking woman, I’m accused of being shallow. We are all shallow. Sure, you can find some examples here and there that go against my theory, but the vast majority of cases are exactly how I’ve described it. Don’t insult those of us who are “aesthetically challenged.”
 

Logic and Politics, Chapter 1

Logic And Society Let us review some problems in logic. If it is assumed that “society” must provide a service to a person, then how far must society go to provide that service? Also, if a person is entitled to something, then do they have an obligation to society? How do you determine the limits of that obligation? Take, for example, providing health care. How is health care defined? Must minor injuries be treated, or only major conditions? Go back to basic logic, meaning, model the situation in basic components. Go back to the simple village situation. What happens if there is one person who is a doctor? If every person is entitled to health care, then this doctor must provide that care. This doctor might be busy 24 hours a day. This might seem like a far-fetched situation, but logic must apply in every case. You cannot ignore the consequences of the logical system that you have set up just because they lead to ridiculous results. If your base principle says that you are entitled to X, then there must be a way for X to be provided. You cannot simply say, “A tax will go to pay the medical bills.” This assumes 1) that enough taxes will be available, and 2) enough doctors will exist. What happens if 1 or 2 are false? Mathematics is the pure expression of logic. Something that is mathematically proven must be true in all cases, no matter how extreme. For example, can I prove the assertion that all odd numbers larger than 2 are prime? Look at the first few primes larger than 2: 3, 5, 7. It looks like my assertion holds. Surely, there is no need to go to the next odd number, 9, and check if it is prime. This would be such an extreme case that we can ignore it. Thus, we will operate under the assumption that all odd numbers are prime. When we operate under a false assumption, we get unwanted situations. If our health care assumption leads to unwanted situations in extreme cases, then there must, logically, be a flaw in our assumptions. If it fails at the extreme, then how far back do we pull away from the extreme until we find a regime that seems to pass? If 15 is not prime, but we pull back to 13, this seems to satisfy our assertion. Perhaps we can modify our claim and say all odd numbers less than 15 are prime. 11 satisfies this condition. So we are good on the low end of 3, 5, 7 and on the high end of 11, 13. Surely, 9 must also be prime. What we have done is compromised our logic. We wanted something to be true. Then we modified the conditions to try to make reality fit what we wanted. But logic is a stubborn thing. When you have a patchwork system then you no longer have a logic. If you don’t have a logic then you can do anything and end up anywhere, even places you don’t want to go. If we insist on sticking with our assumption that everyone is entitled to medical care, then we must do things to satisfy that condition. Perhaps we encourage people to become doctors by paying them more. This means higher taxes. But following logic, what happens if we still don’t have enough doctors? What happens if a doctor has been over worked and he decides he wants to take a day off? What happens if someone is injured during his time off? In order to satisfy our assumption, it would be logically valid to force the doctor, at gun point if need be, to help someone. Explain to me how this would not be permissible? Logic demands that it be so. But perhaps you invoke another assumption. Namely, that a person has the right to decide what to do with their lives. But this assumption contradicts our first assumption. We have assumed A and also B. But, using logic, we have found that B implies not A. Formally, B →~A It is a logical contradiction to have A Å ~A. So what we do is cross our fingers and hope that we never end up in the situation where B →~A. But once we cross the line and go into the regime of contradiction, then we can justify anything. If I ask you to justify taxation to pay for some convoluted health care system, you cannot declare that it is because everyone is entitled to it. We have proven, logically, that this assumption leads to a contradiction. Unless we drop the assumption that people have the right to do what they want with their lives. It is unlikely that we will get these kind of systems if we build them logically from the ground up. Instead, these kind of systems are built in a hodge-podge manner. We have touched on this briefly, but let us explore it more. Many people believe that anything, including the complexities of human interaction, are subject to scientific investigation. Physics, as a comparison, is a science built in mathematics. The Holy Grail of physics is a theory that explains every sub field of physics with one unified theory. One set of assumptions and equations that can explain anything. One can image physics as a web. Everything, ultimately, is connected to everything else. If you are at the edge of the web, then perhaps you can change some assumption and it won’t affect something further along. Maybe I change Plank’s Constant and this does not change my calculations for the orbits of planets. The problem is that we have only a few assumptions and they are at the center of the web. If you change something deep in the web, then this will cascade outward. You cannot arbitrarily change something and expect no consequences. What you are doing is establishing your conclusions and trying to justify them by back-working to some premise. Society is, indeed, a complex web. A system that is not founded on logical assumptions is not a coherent web. Rather, it is a disjointed collection of islands. Each of these islands is an issue or problem. You decide what a solution should be because it seems like a good idea and it seems like it should work. In math, once a theorem is proven it can be used to establish another theorem. Each idea is a brick that builds the structure of math. There is a solid chain of logic, going all the way to the base principles. But if one “theorem” is not valid, it leads to other invalid ideas. Eventually the entire structure collapses. When you look at a problem in society and you establish a solution that is not logically founded, then you have laid another brick in the road to Hell. The road to Hell is paved by good intentions and the bricks crumble under your feet. Getting back to our health care example, we have looked at it as an isolated idea, not connected to a foundation. We want the conclusion that health care must be provided. We do not care what logical principles lead to this conclusion. Thus this idea becomes a foundation of its own. As we have seen, logic dictates that force must, not may, be applied, if necessary, to satisfy this principle. We can build corollaries to this “theorem.” If health care must be provided, then it logically follows that actions can be taken to control a person’s health. Prohibiting a person from smoking would, in some way, statistically improve their health and thus reduce their burden on the health care system, which leaves more care for others. What we see here is the “system” is more important than the individual. At no point have we established the value of the person. It may seem that entitling a person to health care does this, but logic shows otherwise. The reason for this can be found by following the premise backward. There is a flaw in the logic. An entitlement to health care logically requires that someone else take action to give it to you. This is a logically inescapable conclusion. Can you explain to me how you can be entitled to health care without someone else taking a positive action in order for you to have it? These things do not fall from the sky. This “bad brick” leads to things like bans on smoking or bans on junk food. These things would seem ridiculous by themselves, but they are the logical consequences of bad premises. How far can you go with this? It can easily be argued that it could be economically feasible for officers to come into your house and look through your cupboards. This has already been proposed in UK. It may seem impossible, but why should it be? It logically follows that such a thing could legally happen. What principle would be violated? When every issue in society is viewed as a case by case basis, there is no consistency. Without logical consistency anything can happen. A logical chain, starting from a bad premise, is supported by “studies” and justified by “the common good.” It requires a faith in “the system.” You cannot follow a path down to a base principle. What mathematical theorem is not supported by a series of logical steps, founded on base principles? What physics theory would survive if it could not be traced back to fundamental ideas? The only thing you have is the system because anything simpler than that falls apart immediately. The system is irreducibly complex. This point is very important and bears repeating. A system (of laws in a society) that is not based on principles and build up logically is a system where anything can be justified. You can pick any issue or problem, decide that action X seems like a good idea, and do whatever you need to carry that out. That isolated island in the web is justified by any reason whatsoever. All you need is some “positive outcome” and you have justified the action. “The government has the right to do X because there will be some positive outcome Y.” This island rests on one flimsy justification, yet will go on to support a gigantic system. Much like a religious practice that is based upon some quote, taken out of context, in an old book. But what are the base principles of a conservative libertarian? They are spelled out in the Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. There is a lot here, but there is a lot more to explore once we understand this. These ideas are not arbitrarily pulled from thin air. They are the summary of an entire philosophy. Let’s example each part of this. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” This means these are starting assumptions. They are axioms. They do not need to be proven, but this is not to mean that they can be arbitrarily replaced with anything. Speaking from a purely logical stand point, they could be. You could just as easily state, axiomatically, that white people are superior to anyone else, and then go from there. What we mean is that these principles are base, but are motivated by human history, logical consistency, and our ideas about what should be important with respect to humanity. Indeed, volumes have been written on the topic. For this introduction to the topic, we will take these ideas as well-motivated starting points. “that all men are created equal,” Of course “men” can be replaced by “people” and nothing more need be said on the meaning of the word, taking into consideration the meaning of the word at the time and now. This is a profound starting assumption, but there is an important point that needs to be addressed. Critics would argue that the history of the United States is full of inequalities. We will not dispute history. But there is a distinction between the ideal and the reality. No system is perfect. No country is without sin. But it is profound that this principle be written as a founding idea for a society. All of the progress toward equality (whatever that means) in Western society might be good, but it is a founding principle in the Declaration of Independence. This means that it is not an isolated island in the web of society. In fact, this idea will be explored later, in an advanced topic dealing with the justification of actions that a society can take vis a vis national defense and the like. “that they are endowed by their Creator” A favorite point of debate. Does a reference to a (some believe) nonexistent creator invalidate the belief system? Not at all. This is not a religious document. In the context of the time, belief in a Creator was a natural point of view. The more modern take on this idea is the belief in “Natural Rights,” meaning our rights are inherent to us as human beings. They are axiomatic, as stated. A reference to a Creator is a justification for them, but you can replace “creator” with “nature” and you get the same thing. Actually, in an advanced topic in the study of Progressivism, the rejection of God is part of the basis for the justification of the horrible actions taken by Progressives. In a nut shell the reason goes: “No God, not right, no wrong, no problem!” “certain unalienable Rights,” These rights cannot be taken away. They exist above and beyond any government. These rights existed before government was created by Man and they will exist long after every capitol building has crumbled to dust. No justification by Man, not institution created by Man, can take these rights away. This is where we begin to see where Conservatives place their values. Not in the institutions created by humans, but in the principles that exist inherent in humanity. But remember these ideas must be logically consistent. This means these “certain” rights cannot be arbitrary. Logic demands certain constraints in them. For example, you cannot just make a wish list of goodies that you want, like health care. These rights must be basic and logical. The point here, though, is that these rights are rock solid and cannot be taken away. But again, volumes have been written on when and how a government can abridge a right. This is an advanced topic. “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Interestingly, this originally read “life, liberty, and property” because property rights are the foundation of freedom. But this was changed because, at the time, slaves were considered property, and it was feared that slavery might not be ended if “property” was written as an unalienable right. In other words, these words were chosen so as not to cement slavery as a principle. In any case, these are but three examples of rights. You might ask what is meant by “life,” “liberty,” and the “pursuit of happiness”? Here we begin to debate what the fundamental rights should be. Life. It should seem obvious that you are entitled to your own life. But it is not simply the biological action of life that is important. It is not enough that a person be allowed to merely be alive. He must have liberty. But what is liberty? A catch-all term for those things that are logically consistent? Viewing this mathematically, what are all of the logically consistent axioms that we can have? One thing we can do is test each new idea to see if it fits in the system. In other words, go down the “wish list” and see which ones fit logically. We can see later, through examples, which ideas should be included. But for now, the basic idea is that you can do anything you want as long as you don’t hurt other people or take their property. You are not entitled to the fruits of others’ labor. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men” This is the only justifiable reason for the existence of government. It exists to secure your rights. It does not exist to take my property and give it to you. It does not exist to provide you with the things you want. Before the government can pay someone a dollar it must first take that dollar from someone else. Government is a creation of people, and such a creation cannot supersede the basic rights that existed before it. A theorem cannot invalidate an axiom. How can you go to your neighbor, knock on his door, and say, “hello, I and a few other people made something called government. We are here to take your property.” The existence of government, to any level, must necessarily abridge your rights. The bigger the government, the more abridgment. Perhaps some small amount of government is a necessary evil, so the goal should be the minimization of government. “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” Here we see where government gets its authority. Note that government can only have “just” powers, meaning it shall not have arbitrary powers. Further, these powers come from the consent of the governed. But, logically, the more people you have, the more disagreement you have. Therefore, logically, in order to minimize the abridgment of your rights the government must be kept to a minimum. Furthermore, you cannot surrender your consent to an elected official. You cannot say, “well, it’s ok for government to take your property because you voted for your representative, and thus you vicariously agree with his actions.” This would be tantamount to voting for your slave master. Your rights still rest with you, and they cannot be watered down and passed along the food chain. It would be like declaring ketchup to be a vegetable since tomatoes were killed in the making of the product. In fact, the government did this very thing. Foolish, because we all know that tomatoes are a fruit. “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” The people have the right, and perhaps the duty, to abolish a bad government. This goes beyond merely voting for new slave masters. Given the fact that rights exist independent of government, it follows that government is only a human creation, and thus has no inherent authority. History is littered with examples of tyrannical governments. Building a government from scratch is the last ditch, turn the power off and reboot, method of stopping tyranny. History is also littered with revolutions and the creation of new governments. I am not an expert in history, but, as far as I know, the US declaration of independence is a very modern, forward thinking, philosophy of humanity. There have been ideas before, like the Magna Carta, that talked about the idea of government not being all-powerful. Various, mostly Western, societies, like English common law, toy around with the ideas of citizens having inherent rights. But all of these still carry the baggage of the preexisting governments. The US Revolution was novel (as far as I know) in that the foundation of this government was starting from scratch, in a legal sense, yet still based on a history of a certain philosophy. In other words, they took the idea of the individual human being sovereign and decided to base a society on that. What would happen if you, as a free human being, had the right to do whatever you wanted with your life, as long as you didn’t infringe upon other people? “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;” They did not take this revolution lightly. They tried working in the system, and that failed. I don’t want this to be a history lesson, so I’ll move on. “and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” People will get used to tyranny. It is easier to put up with the tyranny than to risk everything for freedom. Especially when people are kept content. In the Roman Empire it was bread and circuses. In the modern world, it is “free” health care and “free” education. Consider China, which we can agree is not the most free country. But there are a lot of people in China making money and living a nice life style. Would a typical Chinese person risk a good job, a house, and a first world life style for some esoteric ideas of free speech? Is it really worth it for the right to criticize government? It is a lot easier to just go along to get along, and argue about whether taxes should be 10% or 15%. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Here is the justification for a revolution. People have the right to decide they don’t want to be ruled by a distant empire. Why should someone, living in a palace, on the other side of the planet, dictate to you how you live your life? What is the logic in saying that you, as a human being, are subject to the whims of some other human being, no matter how benevolent that person claims to be? Remember that all of this is founded on much philosophy that came before it. But I believe you don’t have to be an expert on Enlightenment philosophy to understand the principles of freedom. You should also not confuse freedom with perfection. For example, a society with a lower crime rate is not necessarily better than one with a higher crime rate. You could make any number of parameters and rate a society on these, and then declare a “best.” But this is all irrelevant if you don’t reference base principles. A comparison to religion comes to mind. Perhaps this would appeal to someone’s anti theistic proclivities. I have had the experience of arguing with theists about the existence of god. I assumed that I could appeal to logic and lay out the basic nature of thought, the universe, and how one could understand the universe. I thought that someone could accept the premises and follow the logic. What I found, instead, was people would stare blankly, think for a moment, and then declare that none of that mattered and they still believed in god. It was as simple as that. It did not matter what I said because they already made up their minds. I find this same response when trying to explain the concepts of freedom, natural law, and individual sovereignty. A part of the problem is the lack of common understanding of the words. I assumed that people would know what I mean by freedom. Further, I assumed that people would agree that freedom, as I knew it, was a good thing. It turns out that both of these assumptions are not true. What is most disturbing is when I find people who actually oppose freedom. Usually I would try to explain the concepts of freedom, the base principles from which these ideas arise, and then the person would say something like, “Well that doesn’t matter because it is still right that we provide free (health care, education, welfare, whatever) for people.” People are not interested in believing in basic principles of right and wrong and then following the logic from there. People much prefer to take things case by case, regardless of the consequences. It would be like teaching a math class, proving the Pythagorean theorem, and having someone say, “well I just feel like this right triangle’s sides should be 3, 4, and 6.” How do you argue with someone like that? We are no longer in the realm of teaching and explaining. We are not in the realm of, “oh my god, this person is allowed to handle sharp objects!” Theoretically, a limited government, free society would allow for people to believe whatever they want. You can believe in stupid, destructive things, but it doesn’t affect me. But a government with more power needs to try to appeal to people by pandering to their misguided beliefs. In a limited government, people can want your property, but the most they could do is try to steal it from you, and you have the police or your own defense to protect your property. But in a big government, politicians will try to appeal to these people by promising to steal your property on their behalf. So now you are in a position where you have given these people the ability to affect your life. Would it be right to take everyone in a neighborhood, pool their incomes, and then elect a 3 person committee to decide how that money will be spent? Seriously consider this idea. In most neighborhoods, the income is probably within a narrow range. Let’s say you make $100 k per year, while other people make between $90 k and $110 k. This committee will decide what car you can buy, how much you can spend on a TV, groceries, or anything. Would you say this is outrageous? What if the money is merely split evenly among everyone? I bet the person making $90 k would approve of this. If you think this scenario is outrageous, what if only 50% of your money is pooled? What about 5%? What is the difference between a small committee in your neighborhood versus a city council, or a state government, or a federal government? Why is it so outrageous on one scale, but perfectly reasonable on the other? It is easy to get lost in the weeds here. You could say the difference is blah blah blah. It doesn’t matter. Remember from the discussion on logic that it is always possible to find some kind of justification for a government action. But how does this situation look when referenced to base principles? Perhaps an allegory would best illustrate this lesson. Continued in chapter 2.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Advertising and Marketing Blog 1

I saw an ad for a restaurant that said it had half price appetizers from 2 pm to 4 pm. This is because that is a time between lunch and dinner, so there isn't much business. The restaurant is trying to get people in. I get that. But what if it was advertised as "appetizers are double priced 9 am to 2 pm and 2 pm to closing." In other words, the price structure is the same but it is advertised differently. If an item is $10 normally, and $5 from 2 pm to 5 pm, then why call $10 normal and $5 half? Why not call $5 normal and $10 double? How about when something is sold as buy 1 get 1 free? Can I just have the free one? Can I return one, get my money back, and keep the free one?

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Carrying my pistol around town.

This blog is not intended to give legal advice. If you want to learn more, check your state’s gun laws.   I have been openly carrying my pistol around town for a few months. It is legal to carry openly without a permit in this state. Years ago, I carried my gun in a different state, where it was also legal, and the city police charge me with disorderly conduct, but the city dropped the charges because they had no case But where I live now most people own guns and don’t freak out when people calmly exercise their natural right to self-defense.   In one restaurant, the waitress asked if my gun was real. I told her it was. When I was waiting in line to get the Nintendo Switch someone asked me the same thing. I told him there was no point in carrying a toy gun. But I’ve been to many stores, including big-box stores, with no problems.   It turns out that people aren’t so stupid, at least where I live, as to freak out by the sight of someone with a gun. Logic dictates that a criminal would hide his gun, even if it was legal to carry it openly. Someone intent on committing a crime would not want to draw attention to himself. But someone buying groceries, carrying a pistol on his hip, is not likely to use that pistol to rob that store.   I started doing construction work for a major retailer. I’m working at their distribution warehouse. There is a sign that says that no guns or knives are allowed in the building. I wonder if the 1st amendment is also banned there? During the safety orientation, they told us what to do in case of fire or tornado. And then they mentioned what to do if there was an “active shooter.” I so badly wanted to say, “but how can there possibly be an active shooter? You have a sign that forbids guns. Surely, a criminal intent on murder would comply with your sign, right?” They basically said that we would be allowed to defend ourselves if we had to. But he was quick to add that guns were banned. So, in other words, we can defend ourselves in theory, but not really.   As far as I can tell, businesses want to ban guns so that they don’t have liability if someone is hurt or killed. If someone hurts himself or someone else, accidentally or on purpose, with a gun, then the victim could try to sue. But if the business puts up a sign then they can declare that they are not responsible for any crimes that might occur there. That basically means customers are out of luck.   I don’t understand the logic in banning guns in banks, for example. There is a bank here that says “For your safety, hoodies and sunglasses are not allowed.” First, don’t tell me what to do and justify it on this nonsense, catch-all term of “safety.” You can justify anything in the name of “safely.” Second, I can just imagine a bank robber, wearing a hat and mask, running to the bank. Then he sees the “no hoodie” sign and says, “Damn! I guess I’m not robbing this bank.” If the bank doesn’t want me to carry my gun in there, fine, let’s set that issue aside for now. But wouldn’t it be logical to let the bank employees carry guns under the counter? As a customer, I want the employees, who are handling my money, to be armed. I want the guards to have AR15s. Which sign is more likely to discourage robbery: “No hats, hoodies, or sunglasses allowed. All employees and customers in this bank are disarmed.” Or, “Employees and guards, as well as customers, in this bank are armed. AR15s provided by Bob’s Gun Shop.”

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Grammar, "this" versus "next."

Assume it is Friday, the 1 st of the month. What does it mean when someone says, “this weekend?” Are they talking about tomorrow, the 2 nd? What if it is Monday, the 28 th and someone asked, “What did you do this weekend?” Do they mean yesterday, the 27 th? Surely not, because in one case “this” means the upcoming weekend, while in the other case it would mean the past weekend. In fact, it makes no sense to say “this X” unless you are in X.   Consider the logic. If you say, “this year” you mean the year you are in. Right now it is 2016, so if I say “this year” I mean 2016. If it is December 31 at 11:59 pm, “this year” means 2016. At 12:00, 1 January, “this year” means 2017, because that will be the year we are in. If I say “this month” I mean the month we are in. If I say “this week,” I mean the week we are in. If we shrink the time window from year to month to day, saying “this” means the one we are in. Further, saying “next” means the immediate one coming up. If it is Friday, and I say, “next Saturday,” then logic demands that I am referring to tomorrow. If it is Friday and I say, “this Saturday,” then this produces a logical error.   Making a comparison to computer programming, we can “cascade the operator,” or whatever the correct terminology is. Maybe we can define the rules as such: “this X” refers to the X we are in, unless we aren’t in a X. If this is the case, then we refer to the one next. In this case, if it is Friday and I say “this Saturday,” then I mean tomorrow. But saying “next Saturday” would also refer to tomorrow. Would you want “this” to refer to tomorrow and “next” to refer to 8 days from now? This could, technically, be made a consistent rule, but it would be so awkward and confusing. Let us stick to simple, logical rules. “This” means the one we are in, and “next” means the immediate upcoming, regardless of how soon or far away it is.   Today.next produces tomorrow. This.day produces whatever day it is, for example Saturday. This.day.next(Saturday) also produces tomorrow.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

RPG Rants

Random Stat Generation   I do not like games where you randomly determine your character's statistics. Dungeons and Dragons is the most famous example of this, and that is the game I will be talking about for the most part. There is a fatal flaw in creating a character this way. The problem is you could end up rolling a really bad character. Who wants to play a character with bad stats? Some will claim that this is not a problem because you could also roll a character with really good stats. But just because you have the possibility of rolling well doesn't justify the case when you roll poorly.   Let us review the concept of averaging over many rolls. Consider rolling for an attack. Sometimes you hit and sometimes you miss. This doesn't matter as long as you win on average over many attacks. Failing the roll a few times doesn't matter that much. If you miss this time, you know that you will hit at some point in the future. But this is not the case when rolling your initial stats. For these rolls, you get one chance. Therefore, there is no averaging process. Over the course of many campaigns perhaps you play many characters. In this case then maybe you have some weak and some strong characters. Maybe only in this situation do you find consolation in an average. But who plays with the philosophy, “It's ok to have a crappy character this time because maybe next time I will have a better character”?   Some people have said that they like playing flawed or weak characters. They claim that the characters are more interesting to play. This makes no sense to me. I'm not talking about a personality flaw. I'm talking about a weak stat. So I'm talking about the numbers. Perhaps I can understand someone having fun playing a character who can't lie. But what is so fun about playing a character with a low wisdom score? I think someone claiming that this is fun is simply justifying a bad game design. For example, consider a game with a point-buy system. Players are given a certain number of points to assign to their ability scores. Would you decide to throw away one or more points in order to purposely make a weak character? I can't imagine someone doing that on a point-buy system, yet someone would justify that on a random roll system.   Another part of this discussion is the idea that you should come up with a character concept first, then come up with the numbers. What happens if your randomly rolled numbers don't match your concept? Why would you let random dice rolls dictate your character? I am not so interested in a character concept, as such. Meaning, I'm not so interested in a background story. Why can't my concept be that he is a fighter? If the DM tells me that I need a back story then I will come up with the bare minimum that he wants.   Getting back to the idea of having a weak character, would you choose a weak character over a strong one? In D&D, the stats can range from 3 to 18. If the DM told you that you could choose your stats, wouldn't you choose all 18s? I see no reason not to. The older editions of D&D are notorious for being difficult and deadly. Having a maxed out character does not really make the game too easy.   Combat Without A Map   Put simply, it can't be done. More accurately, it can't be done well. Of course people play this way, but the combat has to be simplified. You can't have more than about two enemies attacking each character. Any more than this and it would be too awkward to keep track of where everyone is. You also can't employ advanced tactics. For example, one strategy is to know what your range is on a ranged weapon, the distance to a target, and the target's movement. You can put yourself at a distance such that the enemy can't reach you in his next turn. You can also flank, calculate area of affects for spells, environmental effects, and other things. There is no way you can do these things without keeping track of character positions.   Having high detail in combat does not preclude role playing. People have used the term “theater of the mind,” as if this were inherently better than miniature combat. I think this is a cop out. You lose too much when you can't employ tactics. A game, by definition, has rules. The rules are meant to adjudicate actions. How can you have a situation where the DM just makes it up as he goes along?   Wizard: “I target my fireball so that it hits the orcs but misses my allies.”
DM: “Um, ok, I'll say that your allies are out of range.”
Archer: “Wait, if I'm out of range of his fire ball, then am I still in short range with my bow?”
Thief: “But I'm at the door trying to pick the lock, wouldn't that put me in the blast radius?”
DM: “Um, I don't know.”

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

In defense of power gaming.

Power gaming is defined as optimizing the rules of a role playing game in order to create the most powerful character possible. The implication is that this is done with no regard to the story of the game. In other words, the player cares about being powerful and does not care if it makes sense in terms of the plot of the game. Power gamers are often derided and ridiculed. Why? It irks me that people criticize players who do nothing more than read the rules and strategize.   Power gaming, also called “min-maxing,” is particularly a problem with D&D 3rd edition it's derivatives (such as Pathfinder). The reason for this is the feat system in these games. The older editions of D&D, under TSR, did not have a feat system and so power gaming was not much of a problem. The feat system breaks the game because, for the most part, feats offer the character exceptions to the rules.   The rules of the game are designed to be balanced. This means that if a character class has an ability, it also has some kind of limitation so that the class does not become too powerful. Offering rule-breaking abilities is an easy way to give a character more power. But it is like a drug: the first few times offer some benefits, but too many of them add up to a catastrophe. The problem is that the writers of the feats, especially supplementary books, don't cross reference every feat to see what the effects could be. There are too many possible combinations to test. Being able to ignore one or two rules is not a problem. But players have figured out which combinations make a character super powerful. The feat system is inherently flawed.   But this is not the fault of the player. Why wouldn't you choose a combination of abilities that would benefit you the most? At what point do you say that it is too much? What if I accidentally stumble upon a powerful combination of feats? If I were playing a game and the DM told me that I couldn't pick a feat because it would make my character too powerful then I would quit the game. If the DM put restrictions on my character from the beginning then I wouldn't start the game.   It is a game, and a game has rules. If a player is staying within the rules then he is not cheating, by definition. You also have to remember that a game has to take some liberties. In a novel, a Mary Sue character would be boring. But in a game, you are going to do everything you can to survive.   I also find it annoying when players take on a limitation just for the sake of story or tone. For example, a player might only fight with his family's sword, even if he found a better weapon. Yeah yeah yeah, your character is so interesting because he has that trait, but screw that! I'm going to pick up that Sword+4. What do you gain by intentionally limiting yourself? A dead character, that's what. “My character hates water, so he won't get on a boat.” Why? It makes no sense.   Don't blame the player for following the rules. If the game is broken then that is the game's fault.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

You're cos playing as that?

This is a companion piece to my article on the nerd culture. I don't go to many conventions, but I have been to a few MLP cons in the past few years. At these cons I have seen people cos playing as Dr. Who, the Assassin's Creed guy, Storm Troopers, and Master Chief from Halo. I have to wonder why people are doing this. Keep in mind that these are MLP conventions, not general “nerd” conventions. So why do people cos play as non MLP characters?   The reason I come up with is that these people want to wear their costumes as much as possible. But I don't understand why they feel that it is appropriate to dress as someone from a totally different fandom. I'm not going to say it ruined my experience, but I think it's dumb.   Now some comments on cos playing more generally. I do not cos play, but it does look fun. I just haven't gone through the effort to make a costume. But I think that if you make the costume yourself it is more impressive than if you bought the costume. I am more impressed with a poor, homemade costume, than I am with a store bought one. <sarcasm>Oh, you bought a Storm Trooper costume? Now you look like 10 other guys here. Bravo.</sarcasm>   The Dr. Who cos plays are the most annoying to me. 1) You and twenty other people are dressed like Dr. Who. 2) how hard is it to put on a tweed jacket and bow tie and buy a sonic screw driver toy? The problem is you are dressing like a human being, as opposed to a cartoon character. This means it is difficult to make yourself look like somebody else. So if you're going to dress as a human character (don't say he's not human, he's a human actor with no prosthetics, so you know what I mean), then you have to get the costume exact. You can't wear a jacket that has a different color. It all has to match exactly, or else you're not really dressed like that character. You're just a guy in a jacket.   You should also try cos playing as something unique. Do you really one to be yet another Storm Trooper? Come on, man. I guess it's a catch 22. You want people to recognize your character, but you don't want to be like everyone else.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Looking for new friends.

I'm looking for new friends, people who share my hobbies, interests, values, and beliefs. I have basically turned away from my old friends, mostly because I have nothing in common with them. A couple of them are married. As some of you know when your friends get married it means they are no longer your friends. It means every free moment of their lives is dedicated to their family. No more hanging out, no more playing games, no more having fun.   Besides that, none of my friends are interested in the things that I like. Also, I don't like my friends' politics, and I don't really want to spend time with them any more. I know that politics is a dumb reason to not be friends with someone, but that's just the way I feel. It's my problem, so it is what is is.   I'd like to talk to some people who like what I like: video games, cartoons, Star Trek, D&D, MLP. I also like math and guns, but I am more interested in talking about the former things. There is another problem. I am not part of the “nerd” culture. You would have to read my blog about the “nerd” culture http://mlpforums.com/blog/1004/entry-11305-is-there-really-a-nerd-culture/

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Game Puzzle Analysis: Levers and Wheels

levers and wheels.pdf   I wrote up another mathematical analysis of a puzzle I have seen in video games. I wrote the analysis in Latex and created a pdf. I have tried attaching the pdf to this post. I thought there used to be a way to post Latex typesetting here, but I don't see how to do that now. I would appreciate it if someone could tell me how to do that. For now, try downloading the pdf.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Statistical Analysis of Dice Rolls in Gaming

probability.pdf   The attached pdf is the same as the post below, but with the histogram pictures.   I like to do mathematical models and analyses of gaming, and I was thinking of this one lately.   Dungeons and Dragons Next has what they call an “advantage” and “disadvantage” system. For an advantage, the player rolls 2d20 and keeps the favorable roll. For a disadvantage, the player rolls 2d20 and keeps the unfavorable roll.   Advantage System If the player needs the number n to succeed, then he must roll at least one n on the roll of 2d20. The cumulative probability function is   P(n) = (-n2 + 2n + 399)/400   Disadvantage System If the player needs the number n to succeed, then he must roll n or better on each of the 2d20. The cumulative probability function is   P(n) = (n2 – 42n + 441)/400     Single Die Rolls Versus Multiple Dice Rolls The probability distribution function for a single die is a constant. For a die with N sides, the probability of rolling any number is 1/N. Over many die rolls, the average number rolled will be (N+1)/2. For example, the average of d12 is 6.5   Rolling 2 dice produces a bell shaped probability distribution function. The probability of rolling a particular number depends on what dice are being rolled.   Let us compare a 1d12 to a 2d6. The average damage done per roll, averaged over many rolls, for a 1d12 is 6.5. The average damage done by 2d6 is 7. The range of damage for the 1d12 is 1 to 12. The range for the 2d6 is 2 to 12. By this comparison, the 2d6 looks slightly better because you are guaranteed to do at least 2 damage. But the maximum damage you can expect is 12 from both situations. The average of 7 from the 2d6 is slightly better. Overall, the 2d6 so far appears to be better, but only slightly. However, considering the range and average is not enough to give a complete picture of how to compare these rolls.   Consider the situation where the character is doing many hits on one creature that has many hit points. In this case, the damage done is approximately the average times the number of hits (assumed to be large). In this situation, an average damage of 6.5 from a 1d12 is close to the 7 done by 2d6. If the character does 100 hits, then the expectation value for 1d12 is 65, while that for the 2d6 is 70. These two values are not very different. So by this metric, the two dice rolls also seem to be close, with the 2d6 being slightly better.   Now consider a situation where the character is attacking many small creatures, each of which has only 4 hit points. Let's say there are 100 such creatures. This means the character can kill a creature in 1 hit if he rolls a 4 or better. It would be nice if the character could plow through the creatures, killing a lot of them in 1 hit. Which roll, 1d12 or 2d6, would be better?   First consider the 1d12. The probability of rolling 4 or better is 9/12 = 0.75. So the character can expect to kill 75% of the creatures with one hit.   For the 2d6, the probability of rolling 4 or better is 33/36 = 0.9167. So the character can expect to kill 92% of the creatures with one hit.   What about a 2d6-1? The average is 6, which is slightly worse than the 1d12. The range is 1 to 11, again worse than the 1d12. But the probability of rolling a 4 or better on 2d6-1 is 30/36 = 0.8333 or 83%. This is still better than the 1d12 in the situation where the character is up against 100 creatures, each with 4 hit points.   Looking at the distribution curves explains the behavior. The multi dice rolls, 2d6 or 2d6-1, are bell shaped distributions. The bulk of the probability is centered around the average, which means you are more likely to roll the average than other numbers.   If a weapon does 1d12 damage, it is just as likely to roll a 12 as it is to roll a 1. With bell shaped distributions, you get one result more often than others. A 2d6 will most likely give a 7 than anything else. On rare occasions you will get a 12 or a 1.   Generally speaking, adding more dice will increase the probability that you will roll the average. Rolling 100d6 has a high probability that you will get the average of 35 = 3.5 * 100. More dice narrows the bell curve.   I think the best way to design weapons is it use all different combinations of dice. Some weapons might do 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, 2d4, 2d4+1, etc. Maybe you want a weapon to do a 1d12, because you have a higher chance of getting a 12 than you would from a 2d6. But the drawback is that you are likely to roll a 1. The point is, you can design many different distribution functions by having various combinations of dice.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Stop saying "literally"!

Just stop! If you think you need to use it, you are probably wrong. The incorrect use of the word “literally” has become an epidemic. It keeps getting worse. I seem to hear it every day. I have started keeping track each time I hear it. It is 11:30 am and I have heard it 4 times today! I listen to a couple of radio programs, and I know one of the guys I listen to uses it a lot. I know that biases my sample, but I still hear it from others as well.   The site www.dictionary.com has 4 definitions. One of which is “actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy.” However, the 4th definition contradicts this and says “very nearly; virtually.” But a note does mention the controversial misuse of the word.   Basically, the word is meant only to indicate that what you have said is not to be taken as a metaphor or exaggeration. There are 2 ways in which the word is misused.   1: It is incorrect to say “literally” as part of what is actually meant to be a metaphor or exaggeration. Here are some misuses I have heard. “My jaw literally hit the floor.” If that is so, you need to go to the hospital. “I literally died laughing.” Really? You had a heart attack and died? I know it’s possible, so I have to believe it. “The media is literally on the war path.” No, they are not literally picking up weapons and marching to a fight.   The whole point of exaggeration is to emphasize the magnitude of the situation. A metaphor is meant to help us understand something in a colorful way. Using “literally” as a modifier is not just unnecessary, it is also incorrect.   2: The use of “literally” to add emphasis when none is needed. Here are some real examples I have heard. “You literally can’t not like the guy.” No, I’m sure it is possible that someone can not like him. “I literally have no idea.” Oh, I’m glad you clarified that, because if you were to simply say “I have no idea” I wouldn't have believed you. This use of the word might technically be correct, in the sense that the statement is true. But adding “literally” doesn't make it any more true. This is not the intended use of the word.   The word is meant to tell the listener or reader that the statement is to be taken at face value. It should be used only if there is a possibility that the listener might mistake what you have said to be an exaggeration. This does not mean, however, that you can merely use the word because you really want the person to believe you. The person will believe you, don’t worry. But if you do want to add emphasis, choose a correct word, such as “really” or “very.” Let’s work some examples.   “That was literally the first concert I ever went to.” This is a type 2 misuse. It might be true that it was your first concert, but using “literally” does not add anything. There is no reasonable expectation that I wouldn't believe you. Even if you wanted to add emphasis, a correct way might be: “That was really the first concert I ever went to.”   “The amusement park is literally in my back yard.” The person meant that the park was close to his house, not literally, actually on his property.   Let’s say a man is proposing to his fiancé. Maybe he tries to jump over a bench but he trips and falls. You might then legitimately say, “He literally fell head over heels in love. “   If you were attending a boring lecture or speech and you fell asleep, you could then say, “The speech literally put me to sleep.”   Simply try to avoid using the word. Do not use it to emphasize your point. When those rare instances when it is appropriate come up, you will know. If you aren't sure if it is appropriate then chances are that it is not.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

A pi based counting system.

I came up with a pi based counting system. The place holders are thus   ... pi^3, pi^2, pi^1, pi^0, pi^-1, pi^-2 ...   The digits are 0, 1, 2, 3. So you count 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 20, 21, etc just like you would count in a four based system. Note, however, that 10 etc are irrational, because they contain multiples of pi. It's a lot like a four based but pi instead. Since pi is irrational, the only "rational" numbers in this system are integer numbers of pi, and 1, 2, 3 themselves. But all other numbers come out irrational. Thus 4 (base decimal) is   4 => 10.2201..... and it goes on forever   I don't think it's possible to really count in this system. For example, you can't easily count the fingers on your hand because beyond 3, the numbers become irrational. So to you the number of fingers on your hand   => in pi base 1, 2, 3, 10.2201..., 11.2201..., 12.2201..., 13.2201..., 21.201... => in decimal 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8   I had to calculate the conversion each time. In any case, I think it's interesting.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

"Digital download" is a bad descriptor.

Continuing in my line of grammar rants, I talk about the phrase "digital download" or "digital content." The problem is when the term "digital" is used to mean "...as opposed to content on physical disk." For example, a movie package might say "DVD, Bluray, and digital download."   The truth is DVD and Bluray are digital as well. Wikipedia defines digital as information being stored in discrete segments. People say "digital" when perhaps they should say "medialess." I have seen DVDs that say "digital copy on disc." Well I sure hope so, that's what I'm buying! DVD means "digital versatile disc." The information is digital regardless of how it is stored.   In fact, digital does not imply electronic. A punch card machine is digital. Also, you can have analog electronic machines. You could say that the telegraph was a digital communications device, since it used dots and dashes.   So if someone says "I don't buy CDs any more, I buy only digital," you can remind them that CDs are digital. What is a more correct term? Medialess? You could call a download a form of media. Electronic copy? A file on a USB stick is no more or less electronic than a CD. Maybe we should just refer to file type or encoding scheme. An mp3 can be on any media. You could store an mp3 on ticker tape.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

"Head canon" is an oxymoron!

I hate when people use words incorrectly. The term "head canon" does not make any sense. "Canon" does not mean "back story." The word "canon" is used in the religious context to basically mean official. Using the term for fiction, such as a television show, means that something is officially recognized by the owner of the intellectual property. The only people who have the authority to make something canon are people who own the product, or who have been officially licensed to produce material for the product.   Anything created by fans that has not been officially sanctioned by the owners of the intellectual property is merely "fan fiction." Therefore, anything you come up with on your own cannot be canon. However, people use the term "head canon" when they should say "head back story." That term doesn't have the same ring to it, so perhaps a different term is more appropriate. Maybe something like "fan back story." In any case, canon does not mean back story. Stop using the word incorrectly.

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Gun Rights Post 2

A response to questions from my earlier post http://mlpforums.com/blog/1004/entry-11356-gun-control-does-not-work/   There are already laws that state that a person can be denied the right to own guns if they are declared, by a court, to be mentally incompetent (or whatever the proper legal term is). The point is, they deserve their day in court. I'm not against a mentally ill person, having proper legal representation, having certain of their rights curtailed to protect themselves and others. But, as I said, it is unconstitutional to deny someone a right without a trial, or to make sweeping laws that deny rights to entire groups of people.   Most of the time, a friend or family member or someone close to a person knows if there is a problem, and can report the person. That person can then get treatment, and in some cases can get a court hearing. But it is not right to deny everyone the right to self defense just to keep a few dangerous people from getting them. This doesn't address the real problem.   Requiring a mental examination before getting a gun is declaring someone guilty until proven innocent. How do you prove a negative? How do you prove you aren't crazy? It creates a slippery slope whereby the government can create arbitrary criteria for mental illness. It evokes memories of the Soviet Union where criticism of the government was declared a mental illness.   The government has been amassing databases on us. They know our emails, what we read at the library, who we call, and what we had for breakfast. Doctors ask kids if their parents have guns at home. Maybe you think guns are bad and should be banned, and so you don't have a problem with this. But is this a society you want to live it? It's all fine and good when the government uses its overwhelming power to enforce laws you like. What happens when they do things you don't like? Internet censorship, anyone? It's for our protection, after all.   It all goes back to fundamental morality. People are sovereign. They have the right to determine their own lives. As such, they have the right to defend their lives. The government, as constructed in the USA, does not have the authority to abridge the right to own guns. In that sense, it does not matter what the consequences of gun banning is, good or bad. The government does not have that authority. We have the right to have access to the best tools to defend our lives.   I said in my last post that the type of gun used in a crime has little affect on the outcome of the crime. The logical conclusion of this is that, if you want to ban guns, you have to ban all guns. You cannot ban “assault rifles” and allow hunting rifles. Plenty of crimes have been committed with hunting rifles. A deer rifle is just as capable of killing a person. Most gun banners do in fact want to ban all guns. They just aren't honest about it. In the 1980s and 1990s, the talk was about banning hand guns and not rifles. Now it's all about “assault rifles” and “high capacity” magazines.   If there was another mass killing and hunting rifles were used, would anyone say, “well, the assault weapons ban worked. Good job, no problem.” Basically, I'm forcing the issue: Either you ban all guns and hope it works, or you admit that there isn't much difference between guns and focus efforts differently. The gun banners know that they wouldn't be successful in trying to go after all the guns at once. But they can chip away at gun rights, little by little.   Gun banners want to put the second amendment in a box. Then they want to make that box smaller and smaller. Most politicians are smart enough to declare that they believe in the second amendment. But they answer the question, almost word for word, this way:   “I believe in the second amendment, for purposes of hunting, sporting, and self defense.”   A focus-grouped response, well-rehearsed. But why the qualifier on a basic right? What if politicians were to say:   “I believe in the first amendment, for purposes of news, art, and entertainment.”   Um, no, I believe in the first amendment. Period. In Diane Feinstein's latest attempt at a gun ban, she listed some thousand or so guns that were specifically protected from a ban. I didn't check the list, but I would guess they are hunting rifles and shot guns. I doubt there was any AK variants on that list. During questioning, she mentioned the list of protected guns and said, “isn't that enough?” I'd like to know what would happen if someone wanted to ban several hundred books, and said, “there are tens of thousands of protected books in the Library of Congress. Isn't that enough?”   Getting back to “... for the purposes of...,” let's look at it piece by piece. For the sake of illustration, I will take the point of view of someone wanting to ban guns.   Hunting: You can, in fact, hunt with an AR 15 or AK style gun. You can hunt with “assault rifles.” Restrictions on hunting have to do more with the type of ammunition you use. I'm not a hunter, but I did take a hunting safety course in Wisconsin. The law states that you must use a shoulder fired gun and use soft point bullets. Soft point bullets do more tissue damage and are more likely to kill, rather than would, and animal. Requiring a shoulder fired gun means that I could not use my Browning 1919 belt fed, bipod mounted 308.   Even though you can use a black polymer, semiautomatic, AR 15 with 100 round drum, it is not necessary. You can hunt just as well with a wood grain, rifle stock, bolt action rifle. If you miss with your first shot then the animal will run away and you don't get a second shot anyway. That being the case, you really don't need the 5 rounds that a hunting rifle usually holds. A single shot will do just fine. Therefore, a ban on everything but single shot, wood grain rifles with no pistol grips would satisfy the second amendment.   Sporting: In Canada, you can get a hand gun but it can only be used at a range. You can't even shoot your hand gun on your farm. Hand guns are to be used only for sporting purposes. In the USA, people shoot any and all guns for all manner of sporting: paper targets, clay targets, bottles, cans, old cars, just about anything can be shot up in one's back yard, at a range, or at competitions. People shoot everything from 22 lr to 50 BMG. People even get together to shoot machine guns. So the question is, what is a legitimate sporting purpose? Is is a government licensed gun range, or can it be in your back yard?   Clearly, you don't need a 50 BMG to shoot a target. A rim fire will do just fine. Therefore, we can ban everything except bolt action and revolver, rim fire guns. In fact, you can hit a target with an air rifle. But we'll let you have your rim fire. Thus, such a ban is consistent with the second amendment.   Self defense: Vice President Joe Biden said that the best way to deal with a home invasion is to fire two blasts into the air from a double barrel shot gun. What if you live in an apartment in the city? What if you are in your bedroom and the invader is in the living room? Do you run past him in order to get outside to fire the warning shots?   There can be a hundred different self defense situations. It is not possible to have a response method that will work for all of them. But, since I'm trying to take the point of view of someone who wants to ban guns, I will do just that. I could say that a shot gun or revolver is the best weapon for self defense. Pump action shot guns are not necessary. As Uncle Joe says, a double barrel will work just fine. If you want a hand gun, a 38 Special revolver is all you need. Therefore, a ban on semiautomatics is consistent with the second amendment.   Taking the three situations, we can ban all guns except hunting rifles, rim fire rifles, break action shot guns, and revolvers no bigger than 38 calibre.   There is also the issue of how difficult it can be to get a gun. In some states or cities in the US, it can be very difficult to get a permit to buy a gun. Forget about how hard it is in certain countries. But what usually happens is that punishments for minor gun infractions get stiffer and stiffer. “Zero tolerance” policies mean that judges don't have the ability to look at a situation and use common sense. It might make good political headlines to declare that police will “crack down” on illegal gun ownership. But does it make sense to arrest someone who inadvertently violates a technicality?   In New Jersey, it is illegal to stop for something to eat on the way home from the gun range. You must take your gun directly home. According to New York's ironically named SAFE Act, you can own a high capacity magazine but you can't put more than 7 rounds in it. A judge ruled this provision arbitrary and capricious. Some states require weapons registration. What purpose does it serve for the government to have a list of your guns? Most guns used in crimes are stolen. Even if the gun is used by the owner, the police will say “yep, it says on the list he owned the gun.” What purpose was served by that?   Do any of these laws really stop a criminal from committing a crime? Does it make sense to arrest a man who stops to use the bathroom on his way home from the range? Does it make sense to arrest someone who has 8 rounds in his 10 round magazine?   Here is a fun exercise for you. Go to your state's website and read the gun laws. Unless you are a lawyer, you won't make heads or tails of the mind-numbing legalese. I researched Wisconsin's gun laws when I lived there. I wanted to know what the limits on open carry were. But there is a fundamental problem with researching laws: You cannot prove a negative.   Navigating state statutes is very difficult. Is it legal to carry a loaded hand gun in public? If it is, then maybe you can find the law stating such. But what if you just didn't look hard enough? My research said it was illegal to take a gun within 1000 feet of a school. But people had told me that the law was thrown out. Do I trust that advice or take my chances? 1000 feet is a long distance. What if there is a school a block away from me? What about that office building used by the school, is that considered school property? Can you carry your gun in a place that serves alcohol? What if you go to a family restaurant that has a liquor license, have you violated the law?   A short search on line will reveal many cases of good people falling afoul of the law due to violations of stupid technicalities. Again I ask: Do criminals really care about these laws? How can they be, when chances are that you yourself don't even know what they are, let alone have the intent to violate them.   Nobody but a lawyer is going to read state and federal statues. Most gun owners find out what the law is by talking to dealers or taking a concealed carry class. It is also a fact that legal gun owners are very law abiding. Most of us don't know what the law actually says, on any issue. We just use common sense and don't do stupid things.   For example, in your state, is it illegal to steal from a store? Are you sure? Then tell me what the statute is. Is it a misdemeanor or a felony? What class felony? There is a 99.9% chance that you have no idea. You simply assume that stealing is illegal. You live your day to day life without ever knowing what the law actually says. We use common sense to know the difference between right and wrong.   So why not apply those standards to gun ownership. There are some 80 million law abiding gun owners. There are a lot of people who have a lot of guns stored safely in their homes. These are people you know and even trust. If someone already owns a gun, then there is nothing anybody can do to stop them from using that gun to commit an act of evil. So what is the point in this “security theater” of having these gun laws that only punish good people? If you trust a person to keep his gun locked at home, why wouldn't you trust that person to have it strapped to his hip? The truth is, millions of people legally carry their guns in public, every single day. There is a good chance you walked by someone carrying a gun. You might have even talked about the weather with him or her.   Gun banners talk about “gun safety” and “common sense” gun laws. Nobody knows more about gun safety than the NRA, which has the Eddie Eagle program designed to teach children to not touch a gun that they find. Yet the NRA is enemy number 1 for the “gun safety” groups. That's because it's not about safety. “Safety” has been used an excuse by governments to violate many rights. National security, safety of our country, and so forth. To me, common sense says that if we can trust a person to own a gun, we can trust him to carry it. Common sense says that if I don't want to rob that store, then carrying a gun doesn't change that. Common sense says that you need a very good reason to deny someone of their rights, and “safety” isn't good enough. Common sense says that if someone breaks into your home, the police are 15 minutes away but your gun is right there. Common sense says that an “active shooter” can best be dealt with by several “armed responders.”

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Gun control does not work.

Gun control advocates believe that restricting the types of guns available will have an effect on crimes committed with guns. This idea is untrue. The type of gun used has very little effect on the outcome of the crime. To understand this, we first have to understand the different types of crime that might involve a gun, and we have to understand the different types of guns that exist. Foot notes are provided for some interesting data, but for now we shall look at the argument from a theoretical point of view.   The types of crimes we consider are: robberies, aggravated assaults, breaking-and-entering, pre meditated murder, and mass murder. Other gun related incidents are suicide and accidents. For the sake of completeness, we will first consider these topics before addressing the crimes.   Suicide is a tragic issue, obviously. Gun control advocates claim that guns make suicide too easy and too lethal. The claim is that a person is more likely to survive suicide attempts if they use other methods. This may be true, but what does it have to do with gun owners? How can you take away an item from many people just because a few might use it to hurt themselves? Is any consideration given to the basic right of gun ownership? Not by gun banners. If we are to be concerned with suicide, then cars, medicines, rope, knives, bathtubs, and other common items should also be banned or highly restricted. The same can be said with regard to gun accidents. Nobody wants an accident to happen, but no law can make a dumb person behave in a smart way. Most gun owners understand the dangers inherent in handling guns. If someone is irresponsible enough to leave a loaded gun in a place where a child can get it, then no law will change that person’s behavior.   Underlying the gun haters’ claims is the idea that a gun can do no good, and can only do harm. It is like having an open spike pit in your front lawn. From this point of view, then of course it makes sense to take it away. But the truth is a gun is like any other object: its danger lies with the person who uses it. We will leave this part of the discussion for now.   It is important to understand the types of guns that exist. Guns come in many different types and modes of operation. Books have been written on single models of guns. For purposes of this discussion, it is important to know only some broad categories. Two broad categories are handgun and long gun. These are actually legal definitions with specific qualifications. Rather than sticking with the legal definition, we will instead define a handgun as something small and easily concealable. A long gun would be a rifle or shotgun, something with a long barrel and stock. According to legal definition, there are large handguns and small long guns, but regardless, we will simply distinguish between small and large sized guns.   Guns have different types of actions, or modes of operation. Most gun haters don’t even know enough about guns to distinguish amongst the many types. For this discussion, we will make broad categories, rather than dwell on the details of how each type of gun works.   The first type is fully automatic. This gun fires at a high rate, typically 10 rounds per second. Again, a machine gun has a legal definition. Essentially, it is a gun that fires more than one shot with one pull of the trigger. Legally, a gun that fires two shots per trigger pull is a machine gun. But most commonly, a machine gun is thought of as a gun that will fire continually as long as the trigger is held. There exist machine pistols, which are fully automatic pistols. There are shoulder held fully automatic rifles. There are also tripod or truck mounted machine guns. However, due to federal laws (National Firearms Act of 1934, et al) machine guns are very expensive and difficult to buy. They are heavily regulated federally and illegal in some states.   The next type of gun to consider is semi automatic. These guns fire one shot with one trigger pull. The cartridge, or bullet, is loaded automatically. Therefore, this gun will fire as fast as you can pull, release, and pull the trigger. Typically a person could shoot 3 times per second. Both hand guns and long guns can be semi automatic.   Another type of gun to be considered is the slower firing bolt action or revolver. A person could fire at a rate of 1 shot per second. A revolver can hold up to 7 shots, and a bolt action typically holds 5 but in some cases could use a detachable magazine that could hold 30 or more. Finally, the slowest type of gun is a single shot. For this gun, the cartridge must be manually loaded each time. A person could do this in about 5 seconds. The difference in the rate of fire between these guns seems great. But we will see that it makes little difference in a crime situation.   Turning to the types of crime, we consider the first: robbery. This can be mugging a person on the street or robbing a store. It makes no difference to the robber what gun he has. A single shot .22 lr is just as deadly as a fully automatic M16. What robbery victim would scoff at a revolver or hunting rifle? Would banning “assault rifles” make any difference? No. When a robber points a gun in the face of a store clerk, that clerk is not going see that it is merely a revolver, and then laugh and tell the robber to leave.   The same can be said for aggravated assaults, rapes, and breaking-and-entering. These are all crimes where one or a small group of criminals attack one or a few victims. In fact, many rapists don’t even use a gun at all. A large man with a knife can easily have his way with a small, unarmed woman.   Consider now a mass killing. Gun banners like to think that banning semi automatic guns and so called “high capacity” magazines will make a difference. But let’s consider the truth. Most semi automatics have removable magazines that can be switched in about two seconds. The difference between one 30 round magazine and three 10 round magazines is about the two seconds it takes to drop out one magazine and load another. Now, someone could say that a few seconds can make a difference. Perhaps it can, but how significant?   In a combat situation, every little advantage can mean the difference between life and death. If you are a soldier on a battlefield then people are shooting back at you. One second is very significant. The type of gun you use is very important. You might need a fully automatic, or a certain type of pistol, or a certain type of long range sniper rifle, or certain type of bullet. There is a reason why we give our troops the most advanced weapons.   However, in a civilian, crime situation, the criminal has every advantage. When nobody is shooting back at him, he has the luxury of taking his time. Since victims do not wear body armor, it does not matter what type of bullet the criminal uses. A .22 lr is just as deadly as a 7.62 x 51 mm armor piercing. Some would debate the lethality of various calibres, but as was said before, nobody is going to scoff at a mere .22 lr, something that is typically used to hunt rabbits. It may be true that your chances of survival are higher if you were shot with this round, but nobody would hear gunshots and say “oh, that’s just a .22, don’t worry about it.”   The rate of fire of the gun also has little effect. A fully automatic M16 with a 100 round magazine would not kill 100 people. Perhaps if the shooter were to stand in a dense crowd and rotate slowly, he might be able to get a high percentage of hits. But realistically, victims run away from the shooter. Therefore, a high rate of fire doesn't make much difference for the killer. Fully automatic weapons are normally used to lay suppression fire at a target. Spraying 10 shots into the back of a running victim perhaps has a higher likelihood of hitting, but not significantly more than taking a second to aim. A killer with the M16 and 100 rounds might take 10 bullets to hit one victim because it is difficult to fire fewer than 10 shots in one second. On the other hand, a killer with a bolt action deer rifle can kill a person with 1 shot. Thus he can kill 5 people with his 5 round rifle.   The other factor is time. Sure, a killer with 100 rounds in an automatic does not have to reload for a while. But he could reload a 5 round rifle in 5 seconds, and he does not have to worry about being attacked. Some would claim that a victim could rush the shooter. But how likely is that to work? The shooter does not have to fire his last shot before he reloads. He could easily fire 4 shots from his hunting rifle and then reload. If someone were to try to rush him, he merely has to raise the gun, cycle the bolt, and fire. This can be done in a second. Are we to expect victims to be hiding, counting shots, waiting for an opportunity to rush an armed madman? No, most people run away from a gunman.   Let us imagine that all semi automatic guns were unavailable. Do we really believe that there will be no more mass killings? A gunman with a bolt action hunting rifle could walk slowly through a crowded place and shoot 20 or more people at his leisure. Would anyone declare that gun control has worked in that situation? Would we then say that gun laws work because the killer was not using a semi automatic?   The FBI has a plethora of crime data. We can look at murder data per state for 2011 [1] . California, the most populous state, also has the highest number of murders due to firearms. But California has the strictest gun laws. How can there be so many gun murders if they have such strong gun laws? This data table is interesting because it breaks down murders due to hand guns, long guns, and other weapons. Handguns are, not surprisingly, the preferred murder weapon. But does anyone really believe that a ban on handguns would mean that these murders would go away? We don’t know the specifics on all of these murders, but it should be safe to say that, for the vast majority of these murders, the killer would have chosen a rifle if a hand gun were not available; and if a gun were not available he would have used something else. The table shows that in California there were 261 knife murders, compared to 1,220 firearm murders. How many of the firearm murders would become knife murders, if guns didn't exist? There were 101 murders with no weapon used. We can’t be sure whether or not a murder would have happened if the given weapon were not available, but it is clear that at least some people decide to kill regardless of the weapon available to them.   Look at Vermont, which has very lax gun laws [2]. There were very few gun crimes (again one must consider total population). But in Vermont you can carry a gun openly or concealed without a license. But if more gun laws mean less crime, and easier access to guns mean more crime, then wouldn't Vermont, and other states with lax gun laws, be awash with blood and dead bodies? Cross referencing murders with gun laws shows that places with the toughest gun laws have the highest crime, especially when looking at cities versus rural areas, not just state by state.   Chicago and Washington DC had (court rulings have changed this in recent years) total bans on hand guns, yet these are very dangerous cities. Wouldn't cities like Chicago and DC have the lowest crime rate? If you want to argue that criminals get the guns from other states, then doesn't that prove that the gun laws are still ineffective? And why do rural areas have lower gun crimes than cities? A lot of people in rural communities own guns, yet it is the city, where guns are restricted, that show more crime.   A quick search on Switzerland and their gun laws [3] shows that their citizens are required to keep guns in their homes, yet they have very low gun crime. The facts bear out [4] [5] that countries with restrictive gun laws have higher, or at best, no different rates of gun crime. Unfortunately, time does not permit me to show detailed analysis on the topic. But hopefully I have shown some interesting data. Keep in mind, too, that policy is not just about statistics but also about the nature of our relationship with government.   In a study done by Cato [6] reports 5,000 incidents in an 8 year period where a gun was used in self defense or to stop a crime. Some would argue that they have no problem with self defense, but that we don’t need certain types of guns for that purpose. The problem with this logic is that gun banners, both inside and outside government, are not interested in self defense. The goal of gun haters is to ban all guns for everyone, and they do it by small steps. It is easier to first ban large magazines, then semi automatic hand guns, then revolvers, then semi automatic rifles, then all rifles.   We can compare the issue of gun death to automobile accidents. Data can be obtained from the US Census Bureau [7]. The data is available up to 2009. The numbers seem fairly constant, and we might assume that the numbers are comparable today. Document 1111 shows that there were more than 33,000 traffic deaths in 2009. More than 10,000 deaths were due to someone with a blood alcohol level of over 0.08. One could then say that if we ban alcohol we would save 10,000 lives every year, due to car accidents alone! Maybe a ban on alcohol is something America should think about. I can’t imagine anything going wrong with such a policy.   Driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Of course, a ban on cars is impractical. However, what we need is reasonable car control and car safety laws. For starters, there is no need for military style assault vehicles, such as Hummers. These are trucks used by the military and belong on the battle field, not on our streets. These dangerous vehicles can be modified to be armored. Remember that the Bill of Rights was written in a time when horse drawn carts were the fastest mode of transportation. The Founders never envisioned V8 engines with fully automatic transmissions in cars that could go 180 miles per hour.   Clearly there is no need for dangerous sports cars. Why does anyone need a car that goes faster than 80 mph? There are virtually no restrictions on who can buy one of these cars. A teenager could buy a used car without a background check. True, you need a license to drive a car, but not to buy a car. Someone with a criminal driving record and a suspended license can still buy a car. There is nothing to prevent him from getting on the road. Furthermore, when you get a license, you drive slowly in a modest car. There is no required training on operating large SUVs or dangerous sports cars. Again, why does anyone need a car that goes that fast? Even in an emergency you wouldn't need to go more than about 80 mph. People buy fast sports cars because they want to go fast. Nobody buys a new sports car and intends to keep it below 70 mph.   Further, a restriction on when and who can drive is needed. Perhaps a limit should be placed on the number of miles you are allowed to drive each week. You could be allowed to drive to work, the store, and maybe some discretionary miles for whatever incidental things you might need to do. But there is no reason to allow anyone to drive their car at any time for any reason. It creates unnecessary traffic which makes the roads dangerous. It also contributes to pollution.   To a progressive, these ideas about car control would actually seem reasonable. The issue is not safety. The issue is freedom versus control. Let us also compare the second amendment to the first. Recently we have learned that the federal government has been collecting phone and internet data an every American. Why would anyone have a problem with this? When the Bill Of Rights was written, the only forms of communication were posting flyers on posts, yelling on a street corner, or making a few dozen pages per hour on a manually operated press. The Founders never envisioned radios, telephones, Internet, and smart phones. Radio was first used by the military. There is no reason for civilians to have military style assault radios. The Internet was also developed by the military. Why would we allow untrained civilians access to a military weapon? Clearly the Bill Of Rights does not protect modern, high capacity, military style forms of communication.   Speaking of military applications, video games are used by the military to train soldiers to shoot and to operate equipment. The military even endorses some video games. Further, studies [4] show that violent video games affect children’s perspective on reality.   Getting back to guns, if they are so dangerous then why do we let police have them? The greatest threat to humanity has always been and always will be government. One man can kill perhaps 50 people, but it takes a government to kill millions. If free citizens cannot be trusted with guns, then why do we trust government with them? Ultimately it is some person, a police officer or soldier, who is holding the gun. Are we to believe that police are infallible and can be trusted 100% of the time? Do police never become corrupt? Some make the argument that police have special training. But what is the nature of this training? A police officer’s job is to put himself in harm’s way. He chases after dangerous criminals and runs toward the scene of the crime, not away. But does this physical training mean that the officer can be trusted? It is not hard to find stories of police corruption at every level, including up to the Department of Defense, search Fast and Furious. Considering police-states throughout history, it was the police, the armed thugs of the government, that enjoyed the greatest privilege.   The very idea of the founding of the United States was that people in government are no better than average citizens. The rights of the citizenry are supreme, while the powers of government are limited and specifically defined. A police officer was merely a person whom we hire to do things that we ourselves don’t have time or ability to do. The government, and therefore the police, does not have the authority to do that which an average citizen does not have the authority to do.   Most people would probably say that our cities would be safer if there were an armed police officer on every corner. But why not an armed citizen on every corner, in every store, at every school? Why can I not be trusted with a gun as a civilian, but I can put on a badge and uniform and then I can be trusted? You live, work, and interact with hundreds of people in your community. You walk past people on the street and don’t expect them to attack you. What difference does it make if those people have guns? Does the gun turn a calm person into a madman? We trust our children with teachers. The teachers have access to sharp scissors. Why would we no longer be able to trust that teacher if she had a gun? Why would you not want to station an armed police officer at the school? Some schools already allow teachers to carry their guns.   It is a matter of “might makes right” when it comes to government. If you are 100% confident that government can never, will never become corrupt, then you can safely give up your guns. But a view at history will show that the level of government corruption is directly related to government power.   If the problem is that we want certain people to not have guns, then this can be done constitutionally. The constitution forbids the government from stripping rights away from entire groups of people. It is unconstitutional to make blanket laws that debar people of their rights. This is contrasted with the idea of debarring rights from a person through due process. For example, it may be reasonable to take guns away from a person who has been declared dangerous, but only after that person has his day in court. But it is unreasonable to broadly declare that anyone who has been prescribed a drug, for example, is forbidden from owning a gun. It is a matter of philosophy. Are we free human beings, or are we subjects of a government? Where does the government get its authority? If you believe that the government’s power should be limited, then how do you ensure that limitation?   [1] FBI crime data: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-20 [2] US gun laws by state: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_(by_state) [3] Switzerland’s gun laws: http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/switzerland.asp [4] Control: Exposing The Truth About Guns, Glenn Beck, ISBN-10: 1476739870 [5] More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, John R. Lott Jr., N-10: 0226493660 [6] Cato study: http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/7589-guns-used-in-self-defense [7] Automobile accidents: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/transportation/motor_vehicle_accidents_and_fatalities.html

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Is there really a "nerd" culture?

Something has been bothering me for a while. This whole idea of the “nerd” sub culture. It used to be that a nerd was someone who worked with computers and math, and participated in a few obscure hobbies in some dank room on Friday nights. But now “nerd” is the new hipster. Everyone is a nerd now. I've seen people call themselves a nerd because they watch the History channel. The term is meaningless. If everyone is a nerd then no one is.   I'd like to focus the term down to describe people who might go to something like Comicon. There was a convention in Calgary a few weeks ago. I didn't go, but I was talking to someone about it and I looked up what events were happening there. Basically, the only thing that was remotely interesting to me was that a couple of Star Trek actors were there. There was nothing else I would even want to see.   Basically what I'm saying is that the “nerd” or “geek” culture has so much stuff in it that it is pointless to classify it as a sub culture. There are a few branches in this conversation I want to explore.   For one thing, the way that stuff is merchandised these days seems really stupid to me. When I lived in Los Angeles I went to the Star Trek rides at the Hilton. The rides were fine, but the gift shops were disappointing. They had teddy bears with red, gold, or blue Starfleet shirts and drinking cups with plastic borg heads on them. What does this have to do with Star Trek? I was at the comic book store for free comic book day and I got the latest My Little Pony comic. I saw bobble headed toys with Marvel characters. What does a bobble headed toy have to do with Marvel?   We see this kind of merchandising all over the place. Let's stick with the Star Trek example. As a Star Trek fan, I would appreciate tshirts, bumper stickers, posters, action figures, models, and maybe Vulcan ears. But why would I want a pizza cutter shaped like Enterprise? Why would I want a Kirk toy cross-branded with some Lego knock-off?   I can understand someone being a fan of comic books. Maybe they really like Thor. But why would they buy a bobble head doll that is shaped like every other bobble head, with just a different paint scheme? Why would a Star Wars fan want a Pez dispenser with a Yoda head?   My second point has to do with the parsing of the nerd culture. How many sub categories of this culture could you name? Let's just keep it simple and break it down into a few of the major ones: science fiction, fantasy, and comics. You might put video games in there, but I think that video games are so broadly played that it is it's own category.   These categories can be split even more and listed by media: movie, book, comic, or game. So the question is, does one category over lap much with another? You might be tempted to say yes, but I assert that the answer is no. At least, the over lap isn't that big.   If someone likes sci fi TV shows, do they read comics? If someone likes fantasy novels, do they like Star Wars? Now of course you can claim that there are a lot of people who have multiple interests. And for just a few categories, it might be easy to find that over lap. But imagine if someone was a big fan of DC comics, but had no interest in Star Trek or science fiction or fantasy or anything else. If that person were to go to a convention, he would look for the DC booths but would ignore everything else.   Now consider how each of the listed categories can be split even finer. Science fiction can include hundreds of novel lines, TV shows, and movies. How many hundreds of fantasy novels are there? Where do role players fit into this? There are thousands of comic book issues, with a lot of popular characters being created decades ago. What about horror movies? What about the movie adaptations of all of these things?   Let's consider a sci fi fan. How many TV shows and movies has he seen? Does he read sci fi novels? So even in the sub category of sci fi, it is hard to find people who share the same interest. So do we make more sub categories? Science fiction → tv shows → Battlestar Galactica → classic series. The number of interests grows exponentially.   So what would you expect to see at a convention? Hundreds of booths with nothing to do with each other? In practice, you will only see franchises that are currently making money. That means if you are a fan of something that is no longer on air or in print, then there is no point in going.   Which would be my situation. I finally came to the conclusion that I am not a nerd or a geek or whatever the term is. I am Star Trek fan, I am not a science fiction fan. I've seen other sci fi movies and shows, but I am not a fan of anything else. So in the vast category of science fiction, I am only a fan of Star Trek.   I am a fan of Dungeons and Dragons, but only old, TSR branded editions. 2 nd edition and older. I have a lot of the D&D branded novels, but I have never read any other fantasy novel. No, I've never read Lord of the Rings, and no, I've never seen the movies. I have no desire to see them. Therefore, I am not a fantasy fan. I have played a couple of rpgs besides D&D, but I am a fan of only D&D. Following my logic, I am not a rpg fan.   I collect video games. I have 1500 on 40 consoles. But I am too busy to really play them much any more. And when I do play, I finish a game and move on to the next, and I don't really get into them that much. So I am not a video game fan.   I do love cartoons. I have 600 dvd sets worth. However, I hate cgi movies. I do enjoy a wide range of cartoon shows. So I do consider myself a cartoon fan.   In conclusion, I have come to the realization that I am not really a “fan” of anything, other than cartoons. People will ask me if I watch this show or read that book, and the answer I keep giving is “no.” I've never seen or read Lord of The Rings. I don't watch Dr Who or Game of Thrones. The only non cartoon TV show I like is Star Trek. The comic book universes of Marvel and DC seem too bloated and nonsensical. On average, I go to the movies less than once per year.   What do you think?

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A

 

Weird stuff that happens to me.

I seem to have an inability to interact socially on a day to day basis. I have a lot of examples that I will have to post later. But an odd thing I want to mention is this. A lot of times when I order food at a fast food restaurant the server at the counter will put my food in a bag to go when I intended to eat it there. So I have to take my bag to a table and look stupid. I know it's a strange thing. Does the server look at me and think, "oh, this guy is in a hurry, he wants it to go." Does anything similar happen to anybody else?

Merry Brony 2A

Merry Brony 2A