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  1. Yesterday
  2. Thank you for the helpful information and advice.
  3. Fannie and Freddie trying to make another housing bubble? Another bubble and collapse
  4. Pharma blogger Derek Lowe excerpts a paper from Nature, a preeminent science journal: Image by Lucas Vasquez, via Unsplash>, license.n two decades, we will look back on the past 60 years -- particularly in biomedical science -- and marvel at how much time and money has been wasted on flawed research... ...many researchers persist in working in a way almost guaranteed not to deliver meaningful results. They ride with what I refer to as the four horsemen of the reproducibility apocalypse: publication bias, low statistical power, P-value hacking and HARKing (hypothesizing after results are known). My generation and the one before us have done little to rein these in. The "publication bias ... against negative results," reminds me of a lost year of my life as a postdoc long ago. The PI ended up having his right hand man run the same experiments I was running as a pilot for obvious reasons. He also got negative results. This vindicated me, but netted me a grand total of ... zero publications ... for all that work. Lowe also mentions something that will seem comical at first: P-hacking is another scourge. And sadly, it's my impression that while some people realize that they're doing it, others just think that they're, y'know, doing science and that's how it's done. They think that they're looking for the valuable part of their results, when they're actually trying to turn an honest negative result into a deceptively positive one (at best) or just kicking through the trash looking for something shiny (at worst). I wasn't aware of the example that Bishop cites of a paper that helped blow the whistle on this in psychology. Its authors showed that what were considered perfectly ordinary approaches to one's data could be used to show that (among other things) listening to Beatles songs made the study participants younger. And I mean "statistically significantly younger". As they drily termed it, "undisclosed flexibility" in handing the data lets you prove pretty much anything you want. [links omitted] This is funny ... for the few seconds before you consider the cost in human lives in at least the following forms: the time spent earning the money, often taken as taxes to pay for it; the time of the scientists involved; the time wasted in the attempt to apply such "results;" and -- when the government sees a regulatory interest -- time wasted by anyone coerced into following a law or regulation excused by such "results." What Lowe reports is a travesty, but it isn't the half of it. -- CAVLink to Original
  5. Last week
  6. A few days ago, I mentioned in passing comedienne Julia Sweeney's one-woman show, "Letting Go of God." I found this soulful, humorous, and thought-provoking monologue about her intellectual journey well worth the time. (It's a little over two hours long, though. I found it helpful to download it and listen to it in chunks during a day full of errands.) For the curious, there is a shorter talk which is also worthwhile, that might give you an idea of what to expect, "The Gifts of Not Believing in God." I particularly like a point Sweeney makes in the middle portion of the latter, where she states the profound truth that being free of religion helps one appreciate how precious life is. In keeping with Sweeney's thoughts about helping children understand the psychological and cultural force of religion, I plan to recommend the longer show to my children at some appropriate future time. My own journey towards a better life started around seventh or eighth grade when, as a student at a Catholic school in Mississippi, I privately questioned the existence of God. (I recall admitting as much during Confession.) But for several years, I gave religion the benefit of the doubt. In part, this was because, like Sweeney, I was happy with my upbringing. In addition, I figured, Faith is just a stop-gap for my current educational level: They'll explain everything in college. They didn't, so I quit religion and let go in my own way. Theology class and a fundamentalist roommate served me in the same way that reading the Bible helped Sweeney: The vast difference between the benevolent imaginary friend that my God was and the neurotic monster I was supposed to accept on faith helped me understand that I was making the right choice. -- CAVLink to Original
  7. The typical advice from financial advisers to clients is to put their money into an index fund, getting a combination of: low commissions and lowered temptation to try an beat the market. In general, this is still good advice. but... ... it is based on a key assumption that the future U.S. performance will be pretty much like the past. Stocks can be hurt by inflation, but their prices inflate too. And, couple that to an unwritten assumption that statist governments have an incentive to subsidize the most common vehicle of investment. A true hyper-inflation type scenario is different. But, since such situation has not really occurred in U.S. history, a financial adviser will never advise you to plan for it; not qua financial adviser. A few economists might be willing to predict hyper-inflation in the U.S., but they're basing their advice on a theory that has not been borne out for a century. One can compare the DOW vs. Gold, but looking at the DOW "priced in gold", how many ounces of gold would it take to buy the DOW. Source: https://www.macrotrends.net/1378/dow-to-gold-ratio-100-year-historical-chart A big problem with this raw chart is that the price of gold was fixed in the U.S. from the great depression all the way to Nixon. So, the relatively bad performance of the DOW during the 1970s was gold shooting up in price from many years of pent up legal binding. Given that legal context, one really ought to look at post-1980 data. Which gives us this portion: Since 1980, the only time when one could have bought gold and still be better off than the Dow today was the years between 2000 and 2008. Notice that this is pre-Great recession, pre-housing-crisis, not post. Why? because the factor at play was the DOW rather than gold. It was the DOW that was shooting up. Since 2009, the DOW has shot up again, far beyond its previous highs. Since about 2012, the price of gold has not followed. Consequently, the DOW has risen significantly in gold terms. if you think the DOW is in a new bubble, then that might be an even better (as in history-based) reason to buy gold than a hyper-inflation scenario. However, betting against the stock market averages is something that a typical financial adviser will not recommend because it is usually a way to under-perform. My personal view on gold is that if I own it, it will likely under-perform the stock-market over most multi-decade periods. Personally, I don't see a complete break down of the U.S. system during my lifetime. I'm also aware that in a complete breakdown, either the government or some thug is likely to take my gold from me, and to prevent that it may become necessary to hide it and not actually use it... making its value theoretical. But, as I said, I don't expect anything even close to this scenario in my lifetime. I think gold is a decent multi-generation asset, if you want to buy some to leave to your grand children. Even here, buying something like a rental property is likely to have better returns, because it is a true investment. Finally, if you do buy gold, beware of the scammers out there. Companies that hype the coming inflation etc. are dicey. Many of them try to convince their customers to buy coins that are not near 100% gold. So, if you do buy physical gold, stick with regular U.S. Gold eagles and the like.
  8. I sometimes get solicitations encouraging me to buy gold and/or silver as a hedge against economic uncertainty and volatility. What do you think?
  9. Image via Wikipedia, public domain.It was not much of a surprise to see Joe Biden assume front runner status as soon as he entered the Democratic presidential field. The fact that he is its 800 pound gorilla has been, though. Towards the end of understanding what to make of it, I think reading two pieces, Jonathan Chait's "What Joe Biden Is Teaching Democrats About Democrats," and Dick Morris's "What Does Biden's Surge Mean?" can be profitable. The former argues that social media and sympathetic news coverage caused by reporters relying too heavily on same have caused many to overestimate how far to the left the Democratic party presently is. (In terms of average voters, I think he is right. In terms of its intellectual leadership, I do not.) Morris might agree, but adds the following interesting point: Agoraphobia -- fear of new situations and places -- is a key tendency in today's politics. With the nerve-wracking extremes of the left and the right, which our political parties often embrace, a solid, well-known face is attractive to many. But Biden's surge is also a reminder of how weak the commitment to a leftist agenda is even among strong Democratic voters. These are not avowed, dyed-in-the-wool socialists who indicate support for the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They are strongly opposed to Donald Trump and eager to embrace any alternative. They are willing to stray from the leftist principals of the Democratic progressive movement for the warm familiarity and comfort of good old Joe. How long will the Biden surge last? Not very long. It will begin to dissipate after the first debate this summer and will be a distant memory by Super Tuesday in March of 2020.Regardless of how far left Biden actually is, I think his familiarity does make him more palatable to many Democratic voters, especially those who are (or regard themselves as) "conservative," as well as those who do not understand the full implications of so much of the Democrats' agenda for the past several decades. These voters may not want full socialism, but they fail to realize that the mixed economy they want -- that feels like "home" to them -- is inherently unstable and prone to result in less and less freedom. If Morris underestimates what he calls "agoraphobia," Biden's lead could prove stronger than he thinks, and there will be a choice that will look "sane" to average Americans come November '20. If not, Trump of all people may well win reelection handily. Otherwise, perhaps Howard Schultz will eventually throw his hat into the ring. In any event, a danger Biden presents is that the same comforting fuzziness that makes him a strong candidate now (and could persist) could land him in the White House, where he will be under the unrelenting pressure of the left wing of his party to enact much of its agenda. As we have seen with Nancy Pelosi's failure to stand up to the anti-semitism of Ilhan Omar (despite initially appearing to do the contrary), the old guard will not be much of a bulwark against the young radicals, even if they do disagree with them. And I am not so sure Joe Biden necessarily disagrees. With Biden then, comes the threat of Americans voting for normalcy and getting a figurehead who will end up rubber stamping significant parts of a very dangerous agenda. -- CAV Link to Original
  10. It won't answer the title question, but to somebody enough interested in modus ponens I recommend Bland Blanshard's The Nature of Thought, Vol 2, the chapter Formalism and Necessity. The Feb 1963 The Objectivist Newsletter included a favorable book review of Blanshard's Reason and Analysis by N. Branden. That book also addresses modus ponens ("p implies q"), but not as much.
  11. Physical ought to mean merely causal for the philosophically minded, or else one run's the risk of committing oneself to dictating what the ontology of the universe is from a bedroom or porcelain throne based on a non-physicist understanding of physics.
  12. I read all that, and that's fine, but now I'm left wondering what you would say is in between an electron and a neutron. If spacetime is only a relationship, rather than some directly (albeit with tools) observable phenomena of something, then it seems like we have gaps of existence, i.e. nonexistence, throughout the universe. It would be like a propagating wave. Or maybe stretching. But then at some point it probably gets absurd, the smaller scale you get. The article that Grames linked about zero point energy gives some idea of how a true vacuum is (plausibly and up for debate) literally impossible, without assuming some material medium.
  13. There is something here that does not match my view of time. Yes, things of the past and things of the future do not exist. There is only what is happening now. In a sense, past things caused things now, through a chain of actions. But we cannot likewise claim a causal relationship between things now and things in the future, because the future hasn't happened; there is no effect that has been caused. The future is only a present idea in someone's head. If anything, the effect is the present idea, which would make the cause past choices.
  14. If everything moved together, collisions could not occur and momentum could not transfer. Also, we would have to assume that everything has been moving together throughout all of history, otherwise how did everything initially start moving? Swapping places is interesting, but doesn't it imply permeability, which implies space? What would "physical" mean in this view? To me, physical refers to the body of matter, whereas material refers to the substance of matter. Physical focuses on the thing as a whole; material focuses on the thing as a composition.
  15. I'm still considering your substantial replies, but I'll try to address a few points. This seems right. I'm using "medium" analogously. Basically, I'm struck by how physical media can be measured from high density to low density (solids, liquids, and gases). Then there is a perfect vacuum of space, which has zero density. Of course it's not a perfect vacuum anymore once material enters the space, and it's not a medium if nothing is in it. So, yeah, I have to think about that some more. If space is an immaterial, boundless existent, maybe we can only be aware of it indirectly through its dimensional relationships with matter. Also, when I say that an object is in space, I don't mean to differentiate it with the impossibility of being outside space. I intend to contrast it with being in matter, such as a physical medium of solid, liquid, or gas. I'm describing an environmental condition, not a spatial relationship. It's confusing, though, since I'm envisioning concurrent environmental conditions, where physical media exist simultaneously with and in space. Does that make sense? I should've said cubic foot instead of square foot, since we don't live in only two dimensions. I don't think space is stuff. Certainly not material stuff. To me, "stuff" suggests individual things. I don't mean a quantity of space things. A cubic foot of space would be a particular region of space. The region would have a spatial relationship to other regions or objects. I see the problem of spatial regions being relative to the position of material objects. But is that because space is a relationship, or because we can only know space through its relationships? Does calling it an environment help? I imagine that your two particles would act differently in a physical medium versus a perfect vacuum. They would be affected by other particles in a physical medium, but not in the vacuum. Distance is not the only external factor involved in the particles' interaction. Whether there is environmental resistance or other forces acting on them matters.
  16. I was not going to do this but just one more. If there were only two entities, I would say the distances between them are a relationship.... it is a specific distance at any one time but we also know at various times they can be at other distances and in general they could be at any distance but there must exist some distance relationship between them. That relationship is absolute in its existence but can potentially be any number of possibilities. What we happen to define and conceive of as space includes the particular relationships as well as all the possible ones. In other words, the way we think about space includes both the absolute particular relationship of the now: the distance they have between them now, and the potential distance relationships they could have in future as well as the previous distance relationships they had in the past. It should be noted that the distance between these two entities is a single relational existent which changes, not an infinity of relationship existents which rapidly pop into and out of existence. Consider space to be just as much of a construct as our concept of time. [In fact space as a concept is all wrapped up with time because things move in space over time... spatial relationships change] Things change and move and we conceive of time to understand and predict how these changes and movements occur. Time is defined and conceived of as including the past, present, and future. The events of the past existed .... they do not exist... but things of the now have a causal relationship with the past, they are a direct result via causality or simply continuity ... of things in the past... likewise things of the now have a relationship to things of the future ... the events of which do not exist now, but for which potentialities do exist (because of the relationship of now to the future). The sliver of now exists, the past does not exist... it existed, the future does not exist now, it will exist... so does time exist? Yes. Does our concept of time include potentialities... and things that are no more? Yes.
  17. Notable Commentary "As an overall principle, whenever 'somebody else' pays for your health care, inevitably 'somebody else' will decide what medical care you may (or may not) receive."She based a crusade to change our lives on a "joke." Do we want her joking around with our ability to seek medical care? (Image via Wikipedia, public domain.) -- Paul Hsieh, in "Health Care vs. Liberty in Singapore" at Forbes. "Because the Fed operates according to a myth, it's crucial to know how that myth works in practice." -- Richard Salsman, in "Buffett Falsely Assumes the Phillips Curve Is True" at The Daily Capitalist. "I was just banned for a month by Facebook for promoting my book, Peaceful Death Threats, which is filled with screenshots of rape threats and death threats made to me on Facebook by Muslims in response to my Mohammad cartoons..." -- Bosch Fawstin, in "If Facebook Were Actually Concerned With Violent and Dangerous People on Its Platform..." at FrontPage Magazine. "The Ruling Elite designs and enforces but rarely experiences the regulations and taxes that close plants and chase jobs overseas." -- C. Bradley Thompson, in "Donald Trump and the Revolt of the Unseen" (2017) at The American Conservative. "We must now carefully consider the possibility that there was, all along, more method and less madness in Trump's campaign than he was given credit for." -- C. Bradley Thompson, in "So Much Winning: How Trump Became President" (2017) at CRB Online. -- CAVLink to Original
  18. You were basically saying that all things that exist have a location, but not all locations have things. ("Thing" stated loosely): "BUT it is not true that every "there" needs to be occupied." What I don't get is your claim that there could be locations without things. If that were true, you would need to consider spacetime as something conceptual or representational (i.e., is a construct).
  19. Now space is a conditional existent? In any case the “there” is not the “what” that is there... A is A. Moreover for the “Location (x,y,z,t)” to exist, and exist BECAUSE of “whatever is there” it cannot BE the “whatever is there” anymore than it can be the cause of its own existence. A is A Imho rather than a conditional existent, it is an absolute and relational existent. If we disagree at this point I see no way to reach agreement, which is unfortunate because I usually agree with you. Anyway, it was fun!
  20. Location (x,y,z,t) only exists because of whatever is there.
  21. The article seems to state that energy “exists” (I’ll use the term loosely) every where. That implies energy or matter fields or something existing everywhere. The energy, those fields or that something which are everywhere, are not the “wheres” at which they are. E(x,y,z,t) M(x,y,z,t) or any quantity Q(x,y,z,t) at any location in spacetime (x,y,z,t) IS not the location of (x,y,z,t)... it is something AT the location (x,y,z,t)
  22. Space-time is not merely a relationship, it is an existent in itself. For all we know it may even be compound existent, made of more fundamental existents. Wikipedia can provide an introduction to the topic with the article Zero-point Energy .
  23. Entities are in Space-time relationships... whatever attributes or entities are observed anywhere, they are in those Space-time relationships, they are not Space-time itself.
  24. Space-time has measurable attributes in addition to curvature. If it has attributes then it is an existent. Space-time is not a type of nothing, nor is it a discrete entity.
  25. Are you saying “space” is filled with something and therefore not empty? or Are you saying space is filled with itself? or Are you saying there is no space to fill to begin with? or Are you saying there is space, you can’t fill it, but there is always something in it? You used the word “empty”, what is the meaning of the concept to which the word ( as you use it) refers? If you merely said that there are electric fields permeating throughout all of space, that would seem true. You seem to be saying something else. You base you conclusion that space is not “empty” because of the permeability and permitivity of what... compared to what?
  26. "Empty space" does indeed have attributes. The permittivity of free space is a physical constant relating to an electric field's ability to spread through empty space. The permeability of free space is a physical constant relating to a magnetic field's ability to spread through empty space. It just so happens that the speed of light, sometimes itself regarded as an independent physical constant, is actually predicted and calculated as the inverse of the square root of the product of the permittivity (Greek epsilon )and permeability (Greek mu). In the equation below the subscript 0 denotes the attribute of empty space. Space filled with some other material will have different values and a different propagation speed of light. c0=1/√μ0ε0 Space is not empty.
  27. What would a measurement of a "there" consist in? It could not consist in measuring things "there", because you would be measuring THINGS which happen to BE "there", and you would not be directly measuring the THERE. You could not measure some "attribute" or "property", since "attributes" and "properties" are attributes and properties of THINGs, and don't want to measure things that happen to be there, you want to measure the sheer "there". Here comes the difficult part, if there is a measurable thing that IS THE THERE, where is it AT? Is the "there" a thing AT the "there" .. i.e. is it AT itself? What kind of thing can be AT itself and what does that mean? If not "being there" but "being THE THERE", where is it? Nowhere? Where is the nowhere? But you want to measure a THERE so it must be a WHAT... and a WHAT always is SOMEWHERE... A philosophically coherent conception of "space" as a measurable thing rather than a measurable relationship is something I have yet to see.
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