Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pruned


I found Pruned by using Google Sets on a few of my favorite blogs. I found the article on the broken pillar house especially interesting.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Illusion


I think using Photoshop has made me immune to certain optical illusions. In this one I see all the men as the same size. I remember looking at this picture before, and seeing them as different sizes, but that's not the way it seems to me anymore. I perceive them as identical 2D cutouts sitting on a picture of a hallway.

This was from an interesting article. If I asked you: How much would you be willing to pay to save the lives of 100 children in Africa? You would name a certain amount. But if I asked you: How much would you be willing to pay to save the lives of 10,000 children? You would name the same amount. In fact, it would be close to the amount you would pay to save the life of one stranger child. It's only when the three questions are asked together do you give answers that would pay more to save the 10,000 than the one.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some open letters

An open letter to Republicans on global warming:
You picked the losing horse in this race. It's time to move on. Wouldn't it be nice every time the ice recedes over the artic for people to think "Uh oh, I'd better vote Republican?" Here's how to do it.
First, forget about windmills and geothermal and hydrogen-powered cars and living in yurts. Democrats can keep pushing those impractical green-living ideas. Instead, lets do something big. Alternative Fusion. Pebble-bed reactors. Microwave power from orbiting solar. Self-replicating lunar solar plants. Even bio-engineered algae. By funding research in these kinds of things in a big way (the way you would fund a war or a space race) you would:
1. Keep friends at places like Boeing and the energy companies. They'll be happy because you're sending billions of dollars their way.
2. Maintain America's lead in science, manufacturing, and engineering.
3. Increase our defense capability.
4. Win over people who care about pollution, ecology, and that kind of stuff.
5. Attract the best minds in physics and engineering from places like China.

If you're even moderately successful with any of these technologies, you'll:
6. Reduce our dependence on the Middle East.
7. Facilitate the industrialization of the third world, reducing world conflicts.
8. Open up new frontiers for development in space.
9. Win Nobel prizes for this stuff.


An open letter to Democrats on abortion:
Nobody likes abortion. Even the staunchest pro-choice supporters still flinch when someone starts showing pictures. It's a deep-seated, emotional reaction. They just look too much like babies. This problem will not go away, and as long as you support it, you look kind of like monsters. The same thing goes for fetal stem-cell research.
But you don't like abortion either. What you want is for women to be able to choose whether or not to bear or raise a child. So what you ought to do, with all this money and energy that's been going to defend abortion, is create new cheap, easy forms of birth control for women that prevent fertilization in the first place. It's not an easy problem (you have to avoid side effects), but it's not impossible, either. At the other end of pregnancy, work on developing adoption programs and social support to make it easier to make the choice to actually bear the child. Work on stricter programs to hold the fathers responsible. You've already changed society to reduce a lot of the stigma of single motherhood and made it so that women can better afford to raise a child without a father. Get out the message that fathers have the same reponsibility as mothers to raise children. Wouldn't you rather work on these aspects of it?
And if you still think there has to be abortion, don't push for late-term abortions. It looks kind of like you are willing to have children die who could otherwise live, just to make a point. That's how it seems to some people. Instead, talk about how important it is, if an abortion is inevitable, to end the pregnancy as soon as possible (for example, the day-after.) Fund free pregnancy tests. And encourage women to have the respect for themselves to date and marry the right kind of guys (the kind who will not leave women to deal with the birth control and the pregnancy by themselves) in the first place. Encourage people to make smart choices.

Friday, October 5, 2007

WWJD

Today I saw another bumper sticker asking "What would Jesus Do?" Let's ignore the fact that the two things that annoyed Jesus most were:
1. People commercializing the sacred (aka "the whip incident")
2. People making an outward show of their piety to impress bystanders (I believe the term "whited sepulchres full of dead men's bones" was mentioned)
Ignoring those points, the fact remains that figuring out what Jesus would do is kind of tricky. After all, He was the smartest person who ever lived, according to Talmage. Our mental model of His mental processes is going to be inadequate to the task.