Saturday, October 30, 2010

There was one person...

     There was one person who used to respond to me with quotes from "Publius (the real one.)" I am somewhat curious about whe he thought "the real one" was. My Latin dictionary lists four of them as sources for translations -- P Ovidivs Naso, P Papinivs Stativs, P Terentivs Afer, and P Vergilivs Maro. There have been many people to carry the name. Even though this fellow wished to deny me the use of the name, it is in no way clear whom he meant by "the real one." Of course, I thought (and continue to think) that he was full of -ahem- yeah. I delete comments for using such language, so I will not include the word here.

This is important.

     This is an important article that I found. I don't live in Ohio. But voter intimidation affects everybody. The relevant business owners claim that it wasn't intended to offend anyone. I don't care if they offend people. As far as I'm concerned, if they want to offend people, they can do so. But intimidating people in order to influence an election is completely inappropriate. Coercion like that is something that should earn them jail time.

He can't really believe all the things he says, can he?

     Stormbringer wrote a post about the "enemies of freedom and liberty." Now, it should be noted that the people who advocated secret prisons and holding American citizens in secret facilities without charge, access to lawyers, or access to the courts were Republicans. Remember that? Now, I'm not going to say that all Republicans advocate that, because they don't. But all the people who advocate that are Republicans. He clearly has not considered what it means to be "anti-freedom." Such a position opposes the right to dissent. (When was the last time you heard someone called a "Democrat In Name Only"?) And those who oppose freedom will necessarily want to build more prisons. (There can be other reasons for wanting to build prisons. But someone trampling freedom needs more prisons to accomplish his task.)
     I'm not going to tell anyone he has to favor the Democrats in this election. The Democrats will lose seats because the economy is struggling. I know this for a fact. And some people believe that Democrats push too much government spending. Of course, I happen to like spending on libraries and research. But I can't (and will not try to) dictate others' beliefs. The facts, however, are quite plain. Any anti-freedom movement we have seen has come from within the Republican party. I would recommend that the GOP try to lose those members. They are a small (but loud) part of the party and can be considered a cancer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The "Quiver Full" movement.

     I have recently heard about a movement called the "Quiver Full" movement. Apparently, it tries to tell christians to have as many children as they possibly can. Considering the fact that we already have an issue with overpopulation, I think that is a terrible idea. With the current population, anyone who has five or more children is being irresponsible. It is possible and reasonable to avoid too many children. Celibacy is quite effective. Contraception is also very useful for those who don't like that first option.

Monday, October 25, 2010

About Stormbringer's repetition of an old joke.

     Usually, the corrupt politician is listed as a conservative. I've seen the joke many times in many forms. Personally, I think it works best without trying to demonize any political party. But I can't really expect too much from someone who, despite all his protestations, is endeavoring to turn this country into a theocracy. His bias is quite blatent.

     I saw his post where he gives his list of "possible reasons" why people voted for Democrats in the last election. They are, of course intended to sound like no sane person would ever vote for anyone but a hard-line Republican. In reality, of course people are not so tethered to the political parties, especially since one has to hold one's nose to vote. The Republicans lost in the last election because the president launched a war in Iraq for personal reasons, the economy tanked on Republican watch (not that they had any control over it, but they were in power and got the blame) and let us not forget the "majority of the majority" nonsense. Seriously, it got to a point where lobbyists were told that, if they weren't acting to try to get every seat in Congress under Republican control, their proposals wouldn't be heard. And neither party can be trusted with that kind of power. So the people voted the crooks out. Sure, they were replaced with a new set of crooks. But the action was (more or less) rational.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Calling people "unamerican"

     It is, unfortunately, a common practice to call people who disagree with you "unamerican." This is, of course, never intended to facilitate rational discussion -- but rather to suppress dissent. Why is it that people want to prevent differing viewpoint being heard? Some of you may think that I am pining for the "good old days" when open discussion was encouraged and unpopular ideas were given unfettered access to the public so that people could more readily make up their own minds. I would, except for one thing. Those days never existed! The ideal of free speech has seen little more than lip service.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stormbringer now says...

     Stormbringer now says that he took the name from an album and has modified his profile to include the image of the album cover (apparently to "prove" that was the case.) Now, me, I think after he saw that I noted that he named himself after a certain black sword, he searched for some possible alternate source for that name. After all, he does try to claim that everything I say is a "lie." I have no doubt that, had I said he named himself after the song, he would claim he named himself after the book.
     But in a sense it doesn't really matter. Based on the source I identified, he named himself after evil. Even if you take his claim at face value (which I don't) he still named himself after evil. Whether he recognized it as evil when he chose the name...
     So what's the point of all this? Well, for my part, I am quite entertained by Stormbringer's antics. Stormbringer, on the other hand, seems deathly afraid that someone might actually listen to what I have to say. It explains a lot. He spends a lot of time railing about how I am "lying," "wrong," "filled with hate," and so on. This can be explained as trying to get people who have already seen what I say to dismiss me the way he would like. On the other hand, he makes sure not to supply his readers with any links, ever, that would lead them to what I actually say and enable them to make up their own minds. In fact, when Google automatically tracks back from when I link to him, he deletes such links because he doesn't want his readers making up their own minds.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Error on Wikipedia

     I found an error on Wikipedia. It can be found here. The formula reads: (pi / (2 * M(1, 4 / s))) - (m * ln(2)) where s = x / (2 ^ m); s > 2 ^ (p / 2); p is the desired bits of precision in the result; and M computes the arithmetic-geometric mean. The formula should be ((pi * (4 / s)) / (2 * M(1, 4 / s))) - (m * ln(2)). I confirmed this empircally, by testing the algorithms to see which one gave the correct result and posted the correction to wiki. After all, if I can confirm that information is incorrect, I don't want the error to stand on wiki. Some people might be relying on this. Unfortunately, it was futile. Someone deliberately restored the error. Perhaps I am overly worried. Anyone who wants to use the algorithm can do a sanity check on the results and see that it is wrong. But it is possible to overlook the fact that correcting the factor will make it work. And I know that I could never arrive at the algorithm from scratch.

Edit: It is perhaps fitting that my rendition had its own error. I was trying to maintain the general format of the formula as stated but thinking in different terms. As x increases without bound {[(pi / 2) * x] / AGM(1, x)} - ln(4 * x) --> 0. (AGM here stands for the arithmetic geometric mean.) My initial thought was in terms of a factor adjustment. However, in the original formula (not my correction) if "4 / s" is changed to "4 * s" it comes out correctly.

Maybe he's met his match

     The fellow who names himself after a black sword has made another post here. It looks to me like he may have met someone who is, in many ways, his equal. (I wouldn't want to be his equal. I hope never to stoop so low.) Black-sword guy called unknown guy an atheist. But... given how he uses the term, that could mean that unknown guy is a christian who doesn't share all the hate for dissent that black-sword guy has.
     "It is indeed unfortunate the this craven little coward cannot back up his (?) accusations, preferring to live in a neurotic, self-created world."
     Wow, that mirrors my opinion of the black-sword guy. As he doesn't identify the unknown guy, I can't even tell if the exchange he describes is real -- although I can't rule it out either. There are a few people at Ray's blog that could match that description; and they are not all christians. But black-sword guy is one of them.
     "This is the problem that I have with the aforementioned antagonist and to many other "new" atheists who claim to love "reason" and "science" is that they have their preconceptions and cannot be shaken by contrary evidence. In fact, contrary evidence is disallowed by default: If it is not offered by an atheist scientist, then it is not science and it is bad reasoning." [Emphasis in original]
     I'm not sure what black-sword guy's objection is. He disallows evidence contrary to his beliefs himself. He has even bragged that he doesn't really read the comments of people who disagree with him. The most he'll do is skim.
     "As I have pointed out before, atheists are demanding proof for the existence of [g]od, but refuse to look at apologetics links or other arguments that are offered because 'I know what it's going to say, and it's dumb.'"
     I don't know about atheists, or even most people that black-sword guy labels as "atheists." But I generally follow a link when I am intrigued. If the summary of an argument looks promising, I will follow the link for more detail. If it looks like I'm being presented with "these links will keep you busy for a few thousand years," then I won't. Black-sword guy will list his position in the links. But that alone does not persuade me that I will find anything of merit should I follow them.
     "If one of the few intellectually honest and courageous (or curious) atheists wants to examine evidence for the existence of [g]od, or for the validity of the Bible, I have apologetics links available near the top of the page, just below that introduction box thingie. Hopefully, you won't be like that coward and dismiss things out of hand just because you're afraid of being proven wrong. Follow where the evidence leads — I dare you."
     Give a quick summary of the evidence or argument so that I can be sure that I'm not chasing a wild goose. I dare you.
     "I try to get these people to think."
     If that is true, he is rather counterproductive.
     "When I catch them in errors of logic, naturally, I get excuses and the equivalent of a rude gesture to prove that they are my intellectual superiors simply because they said so and xtians are big dumb stupidheads. So they get offended because I show them flaws in the way they use the logic that they claim to admire so much."
     Like saying "living in mommy's basement"? I have never seen this guy point out a flaw in reasoning. Then again, if he doesn't actually read people's posts, he's in a rather poor position even to identify such flaws. I have seen him go on insult-fests and wonder why people aren't impressed by his obvious superiority.
     "I've lost count of the number of times I've advised people to dump the hate because it clouds reasoning ability."
     It's a little like the kid in the story who shouted "lvpvslvpvs."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Schweikhart's recent political advert

     I have seen Schweikhart's recent advert. And I am wondering: Does he think his audience is stupid? He makes a big deal about how you shouldn't vote for Mitchell be runs negative ads and the rest of the ad is negative things (or, at least, things Schweikhart considers negative) about Mitchell. Whether you agree with his policy ideas or not, it's hard to miss the fact that he is saying you shouldn't vote for people that rely on attack ads while himself relying on an attack ad.

     Erratum: It seems that name is Schweikert and I misspelled it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is "freethinker" used as a "reserved word"?

     There is a blogger who names himself after a certain black sword. He seems to object to my belief that christians are not free thinkers. He appears to be under the mistaken impression that I consider "freethought" to be a reserved word that some people are not allowed to use. I do not so think.
     When I say that I don't think that christians can be freethinkers, it is simply a statement of fact. In fact, I will go further and say that christians do not consider freethought desirable. The only reason a christian would even want to call himself a freethinker is because the term has developed a positive connotation in today's society. The idea of "freethought" is simply that no thoughts are forbidden. As near as I can tell, christians do not agree with that. Instead, they believe their god polices thoughts and is right to do so. Certainly there are various people (and groups of people) that police thoughts. And there are many people who call themselves "freethinkers" who are nothing of the kind. Well, the word may have picked up some unnecessary emotional baggage. But the fact is that some people are using the word because they think it sounds good.

     Oh, yes, his most recent post, as I type this, reminds me of the line "don't like abortion? don't have one." It impresses me just as much -- which is not at all. I have no great love for either political party. But, let's face it, the Republicans are not the believers in small government that they pretend to be. Nor, as Stormbringer likes to pretend, do they hold their tongues when there is public advocacy for something they don't like. When there is a rally for something they oppose, they do not just "change the channel." Nor would I expect them to do so. If you do not speak out to oppose what you consider a bad idea, it is more likely to take root.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is it possible to be a christian and a freethinker at the same time?

     There is one christian, of whom I am aware, calling himself a "true freethinker." It seems unlikely that a christian could be a freethinker at all. Christians consider certain types of thoughts to be "thought crimes" and so work actively to suppress some thoughts. As such, their thoughts are not free.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Tests of randomness

     If you do a Google search you can find several sites that have "tests of randomness." Of course, the tests do not actually test the randomness of a source. Is the sequence of bits "0000000000000000" random? It could be, if, say it were generated as the result of my flipping a coin sixteen times and having it come up heads each time. The odds of such an event are a little better than 1 in 66 thousand. Still, the result "0011111011011010" looks more random. Whether a sequence of digits is random depends on how it was generated; and that cannot be tested after the fact.
     The terminology is, in fact, a type of shorthand. It is easier to say "testing randomness" than it is to say "testing statistical results for conformity to the expected range produced by a truly random source." The people who do this know what they are actually doing. Outsiders probably don't often check the sites. Still, I find it interesting.
     One thing I do find objectionable is the fact that they use threshholds that are appropriate when only more limited data are available. The 99% significance level is appropriate for a drug trial in which it is - ah - impractical to use a million test subjects. But it is a simple matter to simulate a billion coin flips using a pseudo-random number generator. The tests could be made more specific without losing sensitivity.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

An interesting interpretation

     One blogger had an interesting interpretation of a proposed New York law (it was vetoed.) He first states, "The intended law 'would have allowed the city to seize cats if they could not be identified by a collar and tag, a tattoo or a microchip containing the owner’s name, address and telephone number...Cats also could have been seized if they were considered to be lost, stray, homeless or abandoned.'" Now, in layman's terms, that means that, if a cat is wandering the streets and the owner cannot be identified or is not in the general vicinity (e.g. moved out of state) the cat could have been impounded. I was under the impression that every city in the country already had a law like that on the books; but maybe it's just for dogs.
     Now, he interprets this as an attempt by "liberals" to "pick the pockets of residents." Presumably this is because it contained a provision by which the owners of the animals would be able to reclaim their animals by paying for the time spent in custody (and presumably buying a collar and tag *rolls eyes*.)
     Personally, I think this fellow is letting his bias cloud his judgement. If the legislation had been proposed by Republicans and included provisions to enter people's homes randomly (to make sure any animals had tags) he would probably be in favor of it.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Do you notice something missing?

     I noticed something missing. Before I posted my comment, I noticed that there was a response by Bahnsen Burner. I thought I could refer to that response when making my own comment. But I was wrong! By the time I hit "Post a Comment," Dan had removed that comment. In all likelihood he planned to say that Blogger simply put it in spam. But if Blogger had put it there, I would not have noticed it. Blogger approved it as a published comment. And Dan disapproved it.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Okay, some comments really are getting tagged as spam.

     I know this because there is a comment by "ZenaT_Pinter2284" that has shown up as spam without my placing it there. Unfortunately, Blogger will not let me mark the comment as "not spam." Instead, it says it is unable to complete the request and gives the error code: bX-r5ghnx.