May 16, 2008
Taylor Polynomials in Global Diplomacy

Theorem: Taylor polynomials have the power to end all war.

Proof: Replace the world with its first Taylor polynomial. Since this is linear, its second derivative is identically zero. Since the second derivative measures acceleration, to a first approximation the world can not accelerate.

By Newton's Second Law, since the acceleration of the world is zero, so is the net force exerted on it. In other words, the world experiences no force.

It is well-known in the literature that war is an application of force.

Since the world experiences no force, it follows that there can be no war. QED.

Posted by aloysius at 05:52 PM |
March 02, 2008
An Oracle for NP

A delightful and morally-instructive little tale for our time, by the One Called Rebecca of Hitherby Dragons. A taste...

The nuclear device is going to go off in less than four hours," says Brad.

"And we don't even have a suspect," sighs Steve.

They look gloomily at the dingy gray wall of their lab.

"Would it help? I mean, at this point?" Brad says.

"We could torture them," says Steve. "And find out where the device is. Then we could evacuate people and save thousands of lives."

"Point," says Brad.

Both of them sigh.

"What if we torture you?" Brad asks.


"Well, it's doing something," Brad points out. "I mean, at least it's not just sitting here."

"I can see how you might feel that that might be necessary," Steve says.

What happens next? Who will live? Who will die? And who will give a true statement which is unprovable within the confines of quotidian logic to illustrate Godel's Incompleteness Theorem?

Keep reading...

Posted by aloysius at 12:04 PM |
January 22, 2008
These People are Evil

From The Guardian...

Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told

Ian Traynor in Brussels
Tuesday January 22, 2008
The Guardian

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

See if you can follow the logic here...

To prevent the first use of nuclear weapons by rabid warmongers, our rabid warmongers recommend the first use of nuclear weapons.

Why not save everyone a lot of trouble and just nuke ourselves?

Why are we even having this conversation? Why are supposedly civilised, liberal-minded Western people even contemplating the use of the most devestating and terrible weapons ever developed? After living through a forty-year nuclear standoff which literally threatened to destroy human life on Earth? Did I wake up on the wrong planet this morning? Am I taking crazy pills?

There's no excuse for this. Anyone who contemplates using nuclear weapons is a monster. If we as a society can't draw the line at that, then the West truly does deserve to fall; we'll have lost the last torture-stained shreds of our collective soul.

Posted by aloysius at 07:59 PM |
December 20, 2007
I can has subprime mortgage plz? OK thx bai!

funny pictures

Today in the swashbuckling world of high finance: an explanation of how the whole subprime mortgage crisis thing works for people who don't speak Business, which points out that this whole crisis came about fundamentally because the idiots who run these things don't understand basic logic.

Mark Chu-Carroll presents: The Total Stupidity of Crowds: Bad Mortgages and Circular Solutions.

So - the insurance company is guaranteeing the value of the banks mortgage loans, using money that it borrowed from the bank, which the bank had to borrow because it's got these bundles of leans insured by the insurance company. In other words, the banks are insuring their loans themselves, using the loans to pay for the losses on the loans. It's circularity on circularity on circularity - cycles within cycles of stupidity, relying on stupidity to prop it up.

The running-dogs of capitalist oppression who run the financial sector seem to have forgotten the #1 rule of running a scam, which not coincidentally is also the #1 rule of gambling: get out before anyone notices you're rolling them. Even I know that one...

Posted by aloysius at 03:11 PM |
December 08, 2007
What's in Your Fridge?

TV chef Michael Thomas asks, "What's in your fridge?"

You'd better tell him, or things could get ugly...

Posted by aloysius at 01:44 PM |
November 12, 2007
Yakov Smirnoff Rides Again

...Am I dating myself with my cultural references?

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Posted by aloysius at 07:12 PM |
November 11, 2007
"Put conventional logic to one side..."

You lucky duckies! Possibly the funniest thing ever to make it to television, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, is now playing on Adult Swim's website, free, online, right in the comfort of your own home!

Right here.

Episode One will be up until Saturday, with presumably another episode each week. Get them while you can. You'll be glad you did. If you've ever laughed at a B-movie, if you've ever read a trashy horror novel, if you remember anything about television in the Eighties, Darkplace is tailor-made for you.

Posted by aloysius at 02:01 PM |
November 08, 2007
Remember the War of 1812!

Good, wholesome, uplifting folk music from Canada, commemorating that time they totally kicked America's ass when it tried to invade. That second time, actually. The Yankees tried it once before during the Revolution, and that didn't go so well either. But I can't find any songs about it.

Are the Canadians the only people on Earth to have beaten the tar out of a US invasion twice? They're a scrappy bunch. Their obesity rate is only half the US's. When they're all hopped up on maple syrup they have the strength of a hundred beavers and can chew through solid oak. They can regenerate severed limbs using the power of socialism, and their thick, sturdy dollar is bigger than ours. Never underestimate them.

Posted by aloysius at 12:10 PM |
November 04, 2007
Why I Hate The Religious Left

Not every deeply-religious person with political leanings is an insane slavering fascist monster. But no matter how well-intentioned someone is and how leftist and progressive they might otherwise be, every, and I mean every time someone tries to blend religion and politics you end up with insanely stupid juxtapositions like this:

I believe that America is facing a culture crisis. Our national soul has been infected with a virus of selfishness. This selfishness takes on many forms, most commonly greed, extreme materialism, and instant gratification.

So far, so good. But then...

But it is not the obvious individual cases (Tyco’s Kozlowski, Bush’s Executive Privelege, internet pornography) that cause our national ills but rather the fact that they each are outgrowths of a culture that has lost its commitment to the common good.

Ding! That's right. This progressive Democrat just jumped the crazy shark by equating the President's lawbreaking, torture, lies, Constitutional malfeasance, and warmongering with Internet pornography.

And it really is just because he's religious. Because of sin and vice and bullshit like that. He's taken something beautiful and noble like the idea of the common good and ruined it with moralistic scolding.

Censorship may not be a viable or appropriate solution, but do any of us honestly believe that the ready availability of internet porn is not destroying something sacred within us?

Yes. See how he tries to universalise his own personal tastes here? The very wording suggests anyone who doesn't agree with him is likely some kind of Bad Person: they must hate the sacred! A filthy trick, and not one that a rational person who cares about preserving a pluralistic culture with free discourse should embrace.

Study after study shows that porn tends to depict women in violently subjugated positions, and can shift norms of sexual expectations.

Here he conflates two things which he'd like you to believe are the same, but which in fact are very different. It's true that lots of porn depicts situations or acts some might find shocking, and that it can be used to objectify and degrade women. At the same time, however, most people's "sexual expectations" are practically Victorian in their ridiculous prudery, and as a culture we'd be a lot better off if we had fewer hang-ups about sex, were more open about sexuality, and stopped telling people that their natural desires are bad and wrong and shameful and sinful. What could've been a perfectly reasonable statement about porn's negative consequences for women is destroyed by, again, blind obeisance to an outdated and repressive code of personal conduct rooted in religion.

Get a group of liberals in a room and there is little they will not pass judgment on, but when we start to talk about this in our politics, the conversation starts and ends with “So what are you going to do, censor it? Repress people sexually?” This is an irresponsibly false choice. Part of the conviction politics I outlined earlier this week is about calling things as we see it.

This is the real problem with religious politics: "conviction politics". Religious folk are convinced that certain things are true, often with no rational justification. They seek to impose their shining eternal truths on the rest of us in the name of the common good, when their convictions are often, alas, nonsense. Every time we compromise our secularism to make an alliance with the religious, even in a good cause, even to promote ends we can all agree on like less greed and materialism and a greater regard for our fellow people, we give tacit approval to a load of foaming hysterical dribble about private conduct and sky fairies cooked up by a bunch of sandy nomads with heat stroke. It becomes harder to attack that nonsense when the people spouting it are supposed to be your allies. This is how religion works. You give them an opening, and they'll start squeezing in their wedge.

Posted by aloysius at 12:06 PM |
October 29, 2007
"Evolution IS a Blind Watchmaker"

The greatest thing ever, or only one of the greatest?

A computer simulation of evolving clocks, demonstrating that, starting from generic initial conditions, the evolutionary process of reproduction with variation coupled with even crude selective forces will produce complex, specialised organisms that perform well under the selective criteria.

Posted by aloysius at 07:37 PM |
October 22, 2007

Dinesh D'Souza, the crank whose new book I'm told pimps the Ontological Argument for the existence of God, has many stupid things to say about Immanuel Kant, whom I know at least one of you out there has appreciated in the past...

I'm curious as to how grotesquely D'Souza distorts Kant's views. It's got to be pretty severe, as I'm given to understand that Immanuel Kant was not in fact a moron, and D'Souza's argument appears to have been cribbed from the Underpants Gnomes:

  1. Kant observed that it is impossible to gain knowledge of the exterior world directly, but only through the mediation of our senses and thus our understanding of the phenomenological world will of necessity always be incomplete.
  2. ?
  3. God

The title of his article is "Why Atheists are Not Very Bright". Further comment would be superfluous, but let that not stop you.

Posted by aloysius at 11:34 AM |
October 20, 2007
Did someone say "Robotic Dalek Pumpkin"?

Posted by aloysius at 01:10 PM |