12 February 2013

Links: 12 Feb 2013

David Thompson | I Demand You Demand My Art
It’s like complaining because you didn’t get paid for a job nobody asked you to do.
This right here is an excellent example of what I mentioned last week of Leftist artists and others hating markets because the values a market assigns to things conflict with their own narcissism.


Ideas | David Friedman | Blowing Second-Hand Smoke
A 2009 NBER study analyzed all of the data and concluded that there was no effect from smoking bans—cities where the ban was followed by a decline in heart attack deaths were about as common as cities where it was followed by a rise. If that result is correct, it strongly suggests that the conventional view is the result of cherry picking the data.

Which fits my suspicion of scientific "facts" asserted in political controversies, especially ones supported mostly by the fact that authorities such as the Surgeon General's Report and the CA EPA say they are true. It also fits my more general suspicion of the too popular idea of Official Scientific Truth, to be established by consulting the Official Scientific Authorities rather than by looking at arguments and evidence.

Of course, I too have my biases—not with regard to smoking, since I'm a non-smoker, but with regard to Official Scientific Truth.
I am this damn close to Walter Sobchaking all over the next person I see on UMD's campus or my twee, LEED-certified enviro-apartment complex who tells me second hand smoke needs to be eliminated "because Science." They are going to get a face absolutely full of "am I the only one who gives a shit about the rules anymore?!"



Light Blue Touch Paper | Ross Anderson | Hard questions about quantum crypto and quantum computing
We’ve been assured for 29 years that quantum crypto is secure, and for 19 years that quantum computing is set to make public-key cryptography obsolete. Yet despite immense research funding, attempts to build a quantum computer that scales beyond a few qubits have failed. What’s going on?
Is it possible that this is largely a social problem? I don't know how things look from the ECE side of things, but is it possible that we're not making sufficient progress on quantum computers because people don't want to have the label "quantum computer researcher" pinned to their CVs? Once you go down that road, are you eliminating the chance of funding opportunities/conference placements/etc. for more traditional research? If you write your dissertation on quantum crypto are you going to have trouble finding faculty appointments with departments who might want an expert in more traditional specialties?


Popehat | Clark | X → Y ; I don't like Y; therefore ! X
When I was a kid I had a family member who – with out realizing what he was doing – lived like Merlin.

Except that where Merlin lived backwards in time, this family member just lived backwards in logic.

Instead of starting with the facts on the ground and then reasoning forward towards conclusions, he would start with conclusions and then reason backwards to what the facts on the ground must be.
Hear, hear! Definitely read the rest of this.


ExcessiveBail.com | Matt Haiduk | Even Mother Teresa Might Confess
I’m not guilty. I have nothing to hide. I’m going to talk to the police because I don’t want to look guilty.
You know who looks most guilty? People who aren’t guilty, but whom the police say admit to crimes. In fact, they look so guilty that they’re almost always convicted. The reality is that by the time the cops want you to come down to the station you already look guilty to somebody. And, why are you worried about whether or not you look guilty to the cops, anyway? They don’t determine your guilt. A judge or jury do — and they can’t use your silence against you.
If I hadn't already learned not to say anything to cops,* what Haiduk says about the Reid Technique would be more than enough to convince me.

(* Excuse me. I didn't learn this. Between my father growing up in Somerville and my Sicilian maternal grandfather, I just absorbed it from the ether.)


Bit Player | Joshua Hayes | Joshua Trees and Toothpicks



I love digital/algorithmic/functional art. But I get very tired of seeing the same techniques over and over. Oh great, you can make a tree with an L-system or render a Mandlebrot set in psychedelic colors. (Or more likely, use a library you found.) Good for you. That stuff is fun to explore and good practice, but it's the digital equivalent of sketching a vase of fruit. Show me something different. Pick up a computational geometry or topology text, explore the OEIS (like Hayes does here), trawl Wikipedia at least.


WaPo | David A Fahrenthold | Many 2011 federal budget cuts had little real-world effect

By "little effect" they mean "'cuts' that didn't reduce spending." I'll save you the trouble of reading the article and summarize: there is no such thing as a budget gimmick in Washington, because the entire budget is nothing but gimmicks.

This is some real banana republic bullshit right here. Even the Italians &mdash the Italians! — have begun to embrace honest government accounting.

Self-appointed Reality-Based Community: where are you on this?


Forbes | Bruce Upbin | IBM's Watson Gets Its First Piece Of Business In Healthcare
Over the past two years, IBM’s researchers have shrunk Watson from the size of a master bedroom to a pizza-box-sized server that can fit in any data center. And they improved its processing speed by 240%.
I thought I was jaded to factoids like this, but... wow. Just... wow. In two years?!
Now what was once was a fun computer-science experiment in natural language processing is becoming a real business for IBM and Wellpoint.
CS experimenters everywhere: "no shit!"

BTW was I the only one paying attention to their marketing two years ago? They had their eyes on the health care industry the whole time. Of course that's what every other researcher has their eyes on too (the ones who don't have their eyes on the TLAs). Why? Ask Willie Sutton.


Rhymes with Cars and Girls | Can anyone on the left explain Obama’s ‘future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam’ post-Benghazi speech?
But look, here’s what I’m mad about – or more precisely, it’s a thing that annoyed me and which is symptomatic of the underlying Benghazi complaint – Obama, at the time, used the ‘youtube video’ to lecture us all on tolerance. He not only lectured us all, he went before the world stage and threw us under the bus by telling foreigners that (implicitly) we were intolerant and brought the attack on ourselves. What the heck, Obama?

More importantly, how to square that with the current prevailing lefty defense of ‘Oh stop being so picky, everyone knows intelligence is fuzzy in the first days after an event like this’? If intelligence was so fuzzy, why did President Obama use it to go off half-cocked on his stupid-ass ‘the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam’ campaign? Seriously, now that (everyone concedes) that event had nothing to do with anyone ‘slandering the prophet of Islam’, then please tell me what in the heck that stupid speechifying and posturing was all about?
I'll actually take this one further. Obama didn't simply throw us under the bus, his fellow travelers upped the ante by throwing Free Speach under the bus with us.

I'm sympathetic to the fog-of-war stuff. Really. But people who can't make out what they're seeing in the fog see what they most fear. Immediately jumping to a reaction of "not butthurting the angry religious militants is more important than free speech" and/or "people [i like] have a sacrosanct right not to be offended" is a very telling response.


Popehat | Clark | A Comparison

Enemies killed (Americans):5minimum 3, perhaps more
Nominal process followed:extra-judicial kill list with no checks and balances or due process"Department of Justice White Paper: Lawfullness of a lethal operation directed against a US Citizen"
Actual process followed:extra-judicial kill list with no checks and balances or due processextra-judicial kill list with no checks and balances or due process
Source of legal authority:nonenone
Thoughts on killing family members of political targets:full throated approvaltacit approval
Thoughts on killing dogs, farm animals of political targets:unknowntacit approval
Name:Christopher DornerBarack Obama

Check out the rest of the table. Clark is on a roll lately.


CNN | Brad Lendon | Iran's newest warplane something from 'GI Joe?'

Some of the aviation experts' comments in this slideshow are priceless. I like the one about the sailboat.


Popehat | Clark | One Wave Behind
Those who still think that there's a second wave shortage of capital want us to adopt redistributive socialism. You know what happens if we take away Elon Musk's money and hand it out to every American? Ten years later Elon Musk is a billionaire (again) and you're carrying a balance on your credit card (again).
My only complaint: Clark is being way too optimistic about people's ability to stay out of credit card debt. Other than that, bravo times ten.

Like I said, Clark is throwing rocks lately.

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