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    Jacob Woolcutt
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    UH Manoa by way of University of Illnois
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    Graduate Student

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  1. I am in possession of ignorance pertaining to our (US) judicial system. Please help. I was thinking about it the other day and I became shocked at how little I actually knew about the way anything in politics works. What is the proper role of the US judicial system? How much has it been politicized by the two-party system? It seems as if the judicial system were in the pocket of one of the major parties that it could pose a dramatic barrier towards personal freedom. By way of example the constitution is often quoted in argumentation by leftists using a completely different "interpretation" than I might have. If a significant portion of the judicial branch were comprimised to sway towards one particular interpretation of a law then it really would affect people's lives. Are there any checks to insure the integrety of the judicial branch? I read that Rove fired some high-ranking judges. By what authority can a politician or head of another agency fire a judge? How is the judicial branch funded? Who determines the budget?
  2. I apologize, this post belongs properly in the Productivity section of the forum. If a mod happens by and wishes to correct this it would be appreciated.
  3. jwoolcutt


    Thanks for the ideas so far. I understand also from another friend that Augustus Compte's original definition (?) of the word was closer to Rand's. Perhaps that is to say, Rand was closer to the original meaning than most people understand the word today. I consider the possible effects of my actions in the following way (extremely general of course). Every action I take has an effect on myself and on others. The effect in each case can be positive, negative or neutral. Altruism in the original sense was a negative-self/positive-others interaction. It places the highest priority on the satisfaction and happiness of others. Many things fall in this category like going out of your way to hold a door open for a stranger (almost a negligible altruistic act) to adopting beliefs that allow yourself to be starved to death for the good of humanity (extreme--I'm thinking bread lines in old USSR). There are positive-self/positive-others interactions where all parties benefit. These are in one's rational self-interest. Also in one's rational self-interest are positive-self/neutral-others type actions since no one is harmed. Similar break-downs and classifications apply to the other categories. This is of course fairly general and some situations may be hard to classify, but I find it an effective tool. One practical problem I find with altruism, especially *ahem* those with bleeding hearts, is that it can be very very difficult to determine what is best for another. Your solution to their problem may be the last thing they need. Think raising taxes to spend on a failing education system, or forcing wages to be set so high that a company can't afford to do business thereby causing everyone to lose their jobs, think printing money superfluously to pay debts without actually creating wealth to support it.
  4. Oooo... the People's State of England. Good luck! Have you asked for permission for your television set yet?
  5. Perhaps the word sum and product show up reversed in the text (it's been 3 years since I read the problem). However, I don't think it is significant in solving the problem, since you don't know bounds on the numbers to begin with--the number of windows on the building and the age of the guy are the very last thing you find out, technically, if you solved the problem right. The key is the fact that the postman can't solve the problem until the last statement which determines the solution. There is still only one reasonable triple of numbers that solves the problem. I will work out the problem tonight on Mathematica and check your solution. Best, Jacob
  6. I think you're definitely on track. I've been at work today, and don't have Mathematica handy or I would double check your work. [spoiler warning] Call a number "ambiguous" if it factors into three numbers in two different ways such that those factors add up to the same number. Make a list of the "ambiguous" numbers up to some reasonable limit (like 200) there is only one "ambiguous" number such that knowledge that there are no "twins" in the factorization determines the factorization That number with that factorization is the one you're looking for and the factors are the ages of the children.
  7. There are other institutions of course. In fact the uncritical acceptance of _any_ dogma is an evasion of the mind and leads ultimately to the inner conflict you speak of.
  8. As I said in the preface to the puzzle, it doesn't seem like there is a solution, but there actually is and it is solvable. There is no information missing and the solution is unique. One further hint: Place yourself in their shoes. If you were him you would know the number of windows and your own age, so WHY couldn't you figure it out even then? Best, Jacob Whoops! You're absolutely right. I've got a bunch of these introductory math book lying around and I picked the wrong title from memory. In fact the problem was pulled from his book "Mathematical Thinking: Problem Solving and Proofs" This is especially embarassing--he was my undergraduate advisor! I apologize for the wrong citation. That said, his book is a great way to start learning abstract mathematics, it has a ton of problems to solve and fantastic exposition. *shameless plug*
  9. Indeed that would facilitate the solution, but it is NOT NECESSARY You do not require those numbers to solve the problem, though you _could_ make the reasonable assumption that the man was less that, say 200 years old or so. Enjoy!
  10. The following puzzle I got out of Doug West's "Fundamentals of Mathematics" book. It doesn't look like it has an answer, but it does. I will double check to make sure my wording is correct so there are NO TYPOS below and there is no "extra information" to be had. Two mail carriers are on their route and happen to run into each other. Let's say their names are Bob and Tom. Bob: "Tom it's been awhile since we met. I remember you had three kids but I forgot how old they are!" Tom looks around, "Well Bob, the product of their ages is the number of windows on the building across the street." Bob looks at the building, "Well, Tom, that doesn't tell me how old they are!" Tom thinks for a minute, "You're right! The sum of their ages is your age Bob." Bob thinks, and says, "You know, I STILL can't figure it out!" Tom says, "Oh silly me how could I forget: My middle child has red hair!" Bob says, "Oh thats right! Now I know how old they are!" Assuming Bob is perfectly rational (i.e. doesn't make any arithmetic mistakes) how old are the children, and how does Bob know? Enjoy! Jacob Woolcutt -- Math Major
  11. I just took a cursory glance at the article, and I could be mistaken, but I think there might be a difference between the measurements of Ghz for a _transistor_ and for a computer processor. A hertz (and gigahertz) is a measurement of how many "operations" or oscilations occur in the device in one second. I've always understood that the measure of the Hz of a processor involves how many operations that processor could perform in one second, while measuring the Hz of a transistor (just a component!) would involve how many "toggles" that it could perform as a switch in one second. So I guess I'd be more interested in seeing a comparison between the speed of this new transistor versus current transistors instead of to the speed of whole processors made up of millions of transistors. I imagine that the entire processor does not run at the same speed as a single component.
  12. This is a great idea--and I think you find that the motivated and interesting people you meet in life have already done this. I've been working on something like this for a long time, and I found that it is a hard problem! I have a medium-term goal of "get a masters degree and find a job in research or teaching." A longer-term goal of "finish my PhD and find a higher paying job in research or teaching." Also the big side-goal of "find a nice girl to settle down with and raise a couple of bright children." I posit that a good life long goal is a tough thing to find. There are some mathematical problems that I find very interesting that I could spend a lifetime researching and working on. Maybe someday I could solve one--but then what would be left? My lifelong goal right now goes something like: "Share my enthusiasm for mathematics and reason with the people in my life and push the science forward as much as I am able." I achieve this right now by teaching some classes at the University of Hawaii and doing independent reading on my own time. Your values should determine your lifelong goal and that goal should influence the choices you make in your life. I prefer a more "fluid" goal--one that I can always find new ways to work towards. Others may prefer a more concrete goal: solve problem X or create product Y. Does anyone think one type is better than the other?
  13. Something funny and related to the topic... I went to see Andrew Bernstein give his talk on the immorality of religion (about a year ago at the University of Illinois) and at the end during questions and answers he talked about the "problem" of obesity in America. He said something to the effect that we should be so lucky to even HAVE that problem which is only possible due to our incredible wealth as a nation. Best, Jacob
  14. It may be that values require action, but must that action be physical? I'm thinking of the prisoner scenario (which by extension can apply to many people without the immediate capacity to perform some specific action). Perhaps the action taken by the prisoner is mental--rehearsing his beliefs or formulating a plan upon his release. In fact thinking is a physical process (it happens in reality and accordingly with the function of the brain), but of course my point is that this "mental" process does constitue action. It would be impossible to speak out or act on every possible human rights violation that occurs which doesn't mean you don't value human rights. It just means that you were not aware of it or you made a judgement to do something else--like going to your job--than to, say, rally against the latest infringement of the freedom of speech.
  15. I'm a new member to the forums, so first off I'd like to say hello to everyone out there. As I mentioned in a previous post I am a PhD student in Mathematics and as such have read a lot of the posts in the Mathematics and Physics sections. I'm seriously motivated about my subject and my work at the University of Hawaii (I'm TA-ing for a Precalc course and taking the introductory grad class gamut along with a seminar about the interplay between Abstract Algebra and Set Theory). I'm relatively new to Objectivism and have only had a chance to read Anthem and The Virtue of Selfishness, though Atlas Shrugged is next on my list once I'm done with The Meme Machine which I'm currently reading (any one else read it? thoughts?). I came to Hawaii for a number of reasons (I'm sure you can guess a few!). As for choosing the University of Hawaii, they have some really good algebraists and lattice theorists which is a plus, but to be honest they made me a really nice offer and the other schools I applyed to didn't have money for me. So I've got a couple questions: What can a graduate student do to improve the quality of his department? That is, I could do the minimal work necessary to get my degree, but like I said I'm motivated and want to make the place better for my having been here. I think its beyond me to change the image of the entire school, but I want to do something. This is purely in my own self interest because in the process I could potentially increase the value of my degree as well as earn some nice recommendations (high hopes?). Second, are there any objectivists in Hawaii? I have made my way around the island in the past few weeks, but would like to make some social contacts. Many people here represent themselves as borderline socialists, and just knowing there are some rational people out there would be reassuring. So hello and I look forward to hearing your suggestions and meeting you guys.
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