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Posts posted by KurtColville

  1. It seems almost unfair to single someone out of the the winning Olympians but I found Lindsey Vonn's gold medal performance yesterday especially inspirering. She handled the pressure of grand expectations well and won despite her recent serous injury (if you watch it closely she was protecting her sore shin throughout the run and reached the finish line on a one ski). What a fighter! (And she has done something similar before on more than one occasion).

    Then to see her elation afterwards... awesome moment. B):) :)

    I agree -- totally awesome! Her race was so inspiring, especially considering how technical the upper turns were and how trecherous that last jump was. In her post-race interview, you could hear how proud she was of her effort and determination and how much work she had put in. Lindsey is phenomenal, embodying the best in athletic competition!

  2. I'm not sure if I did a good job on the 4th dimension or not... I actually said that it is a little complicated and he said "If you can explain it to me, I can understand it." I tried a variation on an Einstein thought experiment I think I remembered correctly (lighting and train tracks - Simultaneity is Relative Section here). I basically explained how people would see a single event at different times depending on what space they are standing in.

    Ok... I just hope he doesn't ever hear someone mention string theory. :confused:

    Thanks for the help, btw! Much appreciated.

    Hey, sweet, your link is to my alma mater, Syracuse University. If this doesn't click with him -- and that would be understandable, because the propagation of light is hard to relate to in everyday terms -- you might try an example using sound, to show how two people can see/hear the same thing at different times. Like how someone standing close to a loud boom hears it slightly earlier than someone standing far away, and how light travels through space like sound. That will give him the feel for how the things that we see come from light traveling through space, and that that traveling takes a certain amount of time, depending on how far away the thing is.

    Yeah, I'm not really sure what you tell him about string theory, other than that it's something that physicists work on. I'm glad the ideas helped. You're most welcome!

  3. This is the thing that I don't know how to explain to a 5 year old. What you said here is a clear contradiction on the surface.

    Context 1 (spatial):

    U = Infinite

    Context 2 (entities):

    U ≠ Infinite

    That makes me think: U(s) ≠ U(e)

    But U is U

    Dog = Brown

    Dog = Not Brown

    (This can be true logically, but we know that we're talking about two different dogs)

    Sure. Totally understandable that it would be tough to explain, and I'll be happy to elaborate.

    In one sense, we talk about the universe as the sum of all things. It's as if you said, "I want to consider everything as one giant thing. It's everything. What shall I call that? How about 'the universe'. When I say 'the universe', that's my term for everything that is." (That also distinguishes it from everything that isn't, such as your 83-year-old granddaughter, George Washington's living body, ghosts, and the warp engine.)

    In another sense, we talk about the physical size of this sum of all things. Physical things have size. How big is the thing that contains them all? Well, it's endless. It has no boundaries. If it did, it would be a thing that exists within the boundaries of something else, but since the universe is everything that exists, that can't be something that exists physically apart/outside the universe. It's all there is.

    So you use the same word to mean two rather different, but massively useful, ideas. One sense focuses on the container of all existence, the other sense on the physical extent of this all-encompassing container.

    So how to explain this to your son? Well, off the top of my head, I might say this. Let's look at your room. Your room has only so much stuff in it, right? You know all the things in your room. There's a certain amount of stuff there. So let's say your room is everything in your room all added up. Now let's imagine that your room had no walls, ceiling, or floor. Your stuff is just floating in the same spot, but in space. Does that change the amount of stuff there? Nope. It's still exactly the same amount of stuff in your room. But there's no container for your stuff anymore. Your stuff could go and be anywhere. It isn't limited spatially -- it has no walls. But it's still the same amount of stuff that you had all along. Two senses of the same word: amount of content and physical extent.

    You could also explain how a word can have two different meanings. Such as, he's "five-years-old", which means the length of his life. But "old" can also mean a lot of length of life, such as someone who is 83. When you say that someone is "five-years-old", you're not saying that they've been around a long time, like they're old -- you're just using it to say how long they've been around. Two different senses. You can probably think of better examples.

    When it comes to the universe, we're just talking about one universe, right?
    Right, hence the "uni-", meaning "single". There's only one sum of everything. Mutliple sums of everything is a contradiction in terms.

    Last month we touched on space and time a little bit (me and Nicholas). He wanted a synonym for circle, and the thesaurus said "sphere" in there. Explaining the differences got me to mentioning 2 dimensions vs 3 dimensions... After getting that, he wanted to know what the 4th dimension is.

    My explanations included the thought experiment about the ant on the globe that could walk in one direction forever.

    When he asked about the 5th dimension, I punted. I honestly can't explain it to myself.

    It might be tough, but I think you can relate it in familiar terms. Show him a string. Explain what motion is possible along that string, and how that's called motion in one dimension. Then take a piece of paper. Now your range of movement expanded. Still no up and down, but you've added left and right to your original back and forth. Now take a box. You've got all three dimensions inside the box. (This will be the tough part.) Every time you added a new way to move, you did it at right-angles to your original way. That is, left and right on the sheet of paper is motion orthogonal (at right-angles) to the back and forth on the string. Likewise with the up and down of the box to the (effectively) two-dimensional paper.

    Physicists talk about time being the fourth dimension, but I've never understood the justification for this. The first three refer to spatial extent. Time refers to extent of motion, not spatial extent of motion, but an entirely different concept: duration of motion. So time may warrant status as a dimension, and my understanding of general relativity confirms that, but not in the same sense as length, height, and width.

    As for some purported 5th dimension, there is none. Easy. Hope this helps! :)

  4. Freestyle, good post. Your suspicion about infinity not being a potential is correct -- it isn't. Infinity is a pure, albeit extremely useful, abstraction. It has no physical form -- none. One has to be careful not to get hung up on a particular instance of a word. When you see a puzzling usage, you have to ask, "Wait, what is the context in which this is being used?" In Peikoff's quote, the "it" that he's saying is potential is not infinity as such, but merely the fact that there are always other numbers to be potentially counted that you haven't enumerated yet. In 1, 2, 3, 4... "5" and everything else can be thought of as a potential, a potential quantity in your list of numbers. But infinity is a different concept. It is "endlessness". Its quantity will never be named; it has none. The thing to remember is that the concept "potential" is only meaningful with respect to some thing that actually could exist. Clearly, a physical infinity is impossible. To be is to be something.

    As to existence, that's another understandable miscomprehension. "Existence" is all that exists, whether man knows about particular far-off or subatomic existents or not. If it is, it's included in that biggest of all things, existence. It doesn't matter whether man has discovered it or not. Man is saying, "There are things out there. Things are. I don't know all the things that exist, and that's demonstrated by the fact that man regularly discovers new existents. I want a concept that stands for everything that is, known or unknown. There's no problem of appealing to the arbitrary, because I'm not saying anything about anything that is unknown to man. I'm simply saying that for anything that is unknown to man, if it exists, then it exists in existence. I'll talk about it itself when it gets discovered."

    That could only be arbitrary if you extended your statement to saying something about the unknown, such as its attributes, its location, etc. Observe that you're not talking about a particular unknown as if it existed. That would be arbitrary. No, you're just saying that everything that is, is in existence, with the implicit recognition that man's knowledge doesn't encompass every existent; that claim is for a primacy of consciousness.

    Lastly, the universe is infinite only with respect to its spatial boundaries. There is nothing outside or apart from the universe. But in the context of the universe being the sum of all physical objects (entities), that is most definitely finite.

    You have one hell of a sharp five-year-old. Your conversations must be a blast!

  5. I am pissed that the laws are fundamentally wrong and nobody seems to care enough to change them.
    Having lived in Switzerland myself, I can attest to the apathy. I gather you're in one of the smaller German-speaking cantons, where folks are extra conservative. The pervasive mantra is "don't rock the boat". The Swiss like things the way they are, and political and cultural changes move at a glacial pace. Sorry to hear about your plight.
  6. True. Yet even many of them aren't set as starters from the beginning of their careers. Favre in particualr first came on the field to sub for an injured Don Majkowski (who?). And remember Aikman and Walsh (who?)? It's even ahrd to believe a dead-last draft pick like Big Ben was thought to be a mere adequate back-up to Tommy Maddox (who?).
    Right, I'm saying that Favre got great relatively quickly. He was rather poor in his first two seasons, but still managed to chuck up 3,000 yards. By season three, he figured it out. That's quick. By contrast, Jon Kitna took a good seven years to get going, and Carson Palmer is still trying to figure it out.
  7. I really should stop rehashing this. I just can't get over the fact that two of the most successful QBs in recent years were 1) shunned by the NFl and 2) drafted dead last.

    To be fair Warner proved problematic and Roethlisberger's second season made it look as though his fantastic first season was a fluke. Whereas Brett Favre and Peyton Manning consistently put up big numbers and racked up winning seasons. And there ahve been Qbs with a great rokkie seson who then are never heard from again. Still, I keep thinking the various coaching staffs are missing something.

    Yeah, Warner is a good example of just how tough assessing QB ability is. While I'm sure nearly every coach has sizeable flaws in his objectivity and epistemology, most of these guys are very sharp. Often enough, the player has the talent, but just takes a while to put all the pieces together or needs the proverbial "change of scenery". Drew Brees, Jeff Garcia, and Jake Delhomme all took several years to figure it out, and at least the first two were high draft picks (not sure about Jake). Matt Cassell toiled in anonymity for years behind Brady. A lot of teams would have liked his stats from last year. Now he's pretty old, and he's just beginning his career as a starting QB. Then there's guys like Manning (Peyton) and Favre who get it right away.
  8. Regarding quarterbacks, there's another issue: how do you judge a QB? Usually by the numbers, which are readily available, can be easily manipulated and every coach understands. But the ultimate objective is to win games, eventually the Superbowl at least once. Will a QB with impressive numbers help you achieve that, or do you need a different kind of QB, one who can lead the offense, read the opposing defense, rally the team around, etc, and how the hell do you determine that anyway?
    Well, there are plenty of objective criteria for judging a QB (or any position). Generally, better stats indicate greater ability to win games. Leadership, coolness under pressure and late in games, and intelligence applied to running the offense are all skills that coaches have made a science out of assessing. Training camp is a proving grounds for finding out if your QB understands the playbook, recognizes defensive alignments, blitzes, and feints, audibles successfully, looks off receivers, and dozens of other essential skills.

    For example: Joe Montana. So-so arm. Superb leadership. Off the charts feel for the game. Adds up to one of the greatest ever.

    Ryan Leaf: Outstanding arm. Rocks for brains. Spastic loser. Thanks for playing.

    Arm strength and accuracy contribute considerably less towards consistently great play than automatizing the complexities of opposing defenses. You still have to have enough arm to get the ball in the right guy's hands, but knowing when and where that should be is more important than shaving a couple tenths of a second off your pass.

  9. Perhaps we are starting from a different premise? Have your employers been less formal?
    In some cases yes, and in some no. But my personal experience doesn't determine what principles should govern employment. That is derived from grasping the nature of man's rights.

    So what I was saying, and am restating is that if someone gives you a job description along with a wage....

    You take the job, based on that description and wage meaning that you turn down other jobs, at other wages.

    By, after acceptance of one description, attempting to force you to do work outside of the job description for which you aren't paid an employer is commiting fraud. And deserves to be sued.

    How does the employer force the employee to do work? Physical assault? All the employer can do is threaten to fire the employee, something that is well within his right to do.

    The protection for the employer (I have my own business and am now the employer) is the "must comply with any reasonable workplace request" part of the job description.

    This means if you work as a prep cook in a kitchen you could be asked to do other kitchen work, or things pertaining to the operation in which the food is prepared or even stocktake, bussing, etc and as a reasonable request could be fired immediately for refusal to do so. However if I demand they spend the night at my house cleaning, attempting to train my ill-tempered German shepard and entertaining my children they have every reason and right to refuse.

    All this of course is moot if one is too foolish to get a written job description.....

    This is the law being used to engineer society, forcing men to deal with each other not through mutual agreement, but according to the capricious whims of bureaucrats. Nor do one's rights hinge on whether one has gotten (or provided) a written job description. I'll say it again: apart from contractual terms, enforced by objective law, people are rightly free to associate and dissociate from each other however they wish.
  10. Oh sweet fancy Moses... here we go..
    It sounds like your employer was guilty of breach of contract. As has been noted here, that does warrant your suing him. Contract breach is fraud, which is a form of force, which is prohibited in a free society.
  11. The only reason anyoe outside Sioux CIty, IA, knows about its existence is that a United flight crashlanded at its airport some years ago (why the airport was ther ein the first palce is a mystery).

    Anyway, how big is Kansas City, MO?

    Yeah, that was a horrible accident. The city proper is about 450,000, while the Greater Kansas City area (which is the city + suburbs) is right at 2,000,000.

    Many network analysts are former players and coaches. Either they should be able to tell, too, or they should know what the coaches are looking for.
    I don't envy NFL coaches their jobs. Assessing the ability of a player to transfer his talent to game performance is a real art. There are so many variables, the best coaches learn how to limit uncertainty and risk, rather than expecting to groom every draft pick to the roster. So many studs looked horrible in college or the combines, and vice-versa. Preseason games only give you the slightest hint of a player's actual ability over several NFL seasons. Final roster cuts are a major roll of the dice. It's a tough, tough job.
  12. You could note that

    a)I mentioned the understanding of what is and is not in a job description and that

    b)we are in fact talking about the world as it exists now, I stated clearly that I was not talking about the right or wrong of contractual/job description agreements because that would be completely off topic

    Well, is this merely a statement of the status quo, or an analysis of proper employment law? If your answer is the former, my response is, "So what? It's wrong, here's why it's wrong, and here is the right view of the employer-employee relationship."

    If we are going to go off topic though... are you telling me that if you are working as say... an office manager.. that you might not consider suing a boss that fires you when you refuse to ..say... come to work in a skirt and dance for him?
    I most certainly would not. I respect every individual's right not to deal with me as a moral absolute. No one owes me anything that hasn't been mutually agreed to.

    Because to a many a skilled labourer being told to pick up someone's laundry could be just as offensive- and just as far off their job description.
    So what? That is subjectivism, the idea that a person's view of something makes it a fact. It doesn't matter whether an employee is offended by some task. Don't like it? Leave. Men must deal with each other by mutual consent.

    I have to ask, have you read Ayn Rand's ethics, and specifically, her explanation of how men are to deal with each other?

  13. A secretary whose understanding is that part of his/her job is to bring you things you could fire but a welder at your manufacturing plant could sue you for wrongful termination (depending on applicable local laws etc) for insisting they make you breakfast or fetch your drycleaning.

    An employee is most often empowered to refuse an unreasonable request and have recourse in the case of termination based on this (whether this is right or wrong is completely off topic).

    This is a completely irrational analogy.

    Thanks to corrupt law, people have legal protection to sue for wrongful termination as you have described it, but they don't have the moral right, and in a proper society, would not have the legal right. Individuals have the right to refuse to employ others for any reason they wish, except for cases that violate the contractual terms of employment that both parties have agreed to.

  14. You mean MAD Magazine is not a reliable source of geographical information? I am shocked and apalled.

    That sounds alot like the great pair of metropolises of Sioux City, Iowa and South Sioux City, Nebraska, no offense.
    None taken, except that Kansas City is just a little bit bigger than Sioux City. :)

    I'd swear I've heard just about every sports broadcaster reffer tot he Chiefs as merely "Kansas" during games.
    Hmm, don't know what to tell you about that. I've heard it once, maybe twice, in my entire life.

    Coaches are supposed to be able to tell. That's why the second- and third- stringers get lots of playtime. ON the other hand, there hasn't been much reaction to League propposals to extend the season by one or two weeks, which would mean one or two weeks less of preseason.
    Oh, I thought you were talking about the casual fan. True, a coach is supposed to get a pretty good idea about his team from the preseason, though it's still difficult to judge rookies or players in a new scheme (as is the case with the Chiefs).
  15. I know. In fact, acording to MAD Magazine there's a Kansas City in Missouri and other states, but not in Kansas. In NFL terms, however, Kansas is short for Kansas City, understood as being in Missouri where the Chiefs have been a disappointment (more or less) ever since Hank Stram left the team
    Uh, no. Not meaning to give you a hard time about this, but just offering a friendly correction (I live in Kansas City). There is also a Kansas City, Kansas adjacent to Kansas City, Missouri and separated by the Kaw (Kansas) River. Maybe in Mexico "Kansas" is short for "Kansas City", I don't know, but not in the US. Here it's just "Kansas City" or sometimes "KC". "Kansas City" is understood to be the one in Missouri, as that's where downtown and the bulk of the metropolitan area are. "Kansas" refers only either to the state or The University of Kansas.

    I wonder how many players have been good in preseason then went down in flames during the regular season. Preseason is to the NFL what sex is to puritanical adults: they don't talk about it except when it's going on :D
    Agreed. You can't tell much at all from preseason.
  16. Will Kansas City regret acquiring Matt Cassel, or will the Pats regret trading him? I suppose if Brady gets hurt again we'll know for sure, or if Kansas goes 5-11. Kansas is one of the prennial not quite good enough teams. They manage to gather incredible talent and put together amazing teams, yet they fail somewhere in the post-season.

    Kansas is the state, Kansas City the city. :D It looks like Cassel will be a good pickup, but everything hangs on our (by all appearances) godawful offensive line. Larry looks very good, I don't think our receivers will scare any secondaries, and the D is a lot better. We play a pretty soft schedule, so we'll be better than 5-11 -- probably 7-9. The mediocrity parade continues in KC! Pioli and Haley have their work cut out for them.

  17. Uhm, ok.

    I know the definiton of a universe, point is if MWI is true, there are infinite universes and we live in a multiverse, not a universe.

    How can you say superposition is BS? soundwaves are in superposition?

    Do you know QM ?

    I'm not an expert in QM, but I've studied it at the university level and understand it fairly well. I say that physical superposition is nonsense because it claims that objects exist in multiple physical states simultaneously, according to their wavefunction, and that "observation" causes objects to go from a state of superposition (multiple possibilities of identity) to an eigenstate (one state of identity). That is complete garbage. Things are something, not possibilites of something just waiting for an observation to give them a single identity. Superposition is BS because not only does it contradict everything man has ever observed, and has no evidence to support it, but it contradicts existence itself.

    Soundwaves are not in superposition -- whatever gave you that idea?!? They are defined oscillations in pressure through a medium, such as a gas or liquid. Soundwaves don't exist as a potential of multiple physical states -- what superposition implies -- but they are real, localized phenomena. Perhaps you're unclear on just what "superposition" means (see above).

    If you know that the universe is everything that exists, then it doesn't make sense to talk about multiple universes. What are multiple everythings? How would "universe A" be everything that existed if there were something else that existed in "universe B"? If it exists, it exists in the universe, not a universe.

    If you really want to understand modern physics, and from the safety of a layman's perspective, I would heartily recommend the Feynman Lectures in Physics.

  18. What does this amount to though?

    The classical Schroedinger cat, do it live or die, both, or does it do both in 2 different universes?

    The cat either lives or dies, because it is bound by the Law of Identity, which means that things cannot exist in contradictory states. Schroedinger wants you to think that there is some physical reality to the superposition of states that falls out of his equations, that things can exist suspended in multiple, mutually exlusive states, waiting for their wavefunction to collapse to force them into one state of existence. That is flat out nonsense. A thing exists as it is, not as a collection of maybe's.

    Nor does X happen to the cat in "our universe", and Y happens to it in "another universe". The universe is everything that exists; there are no "other universes". If it exists, then it exists in our universe, because, by definition, that's the only one there is. You can talk about what happens in different regions of the universe, but that is not what Schroedinger and the other Copenhagen Interpretation peddlers are pushing.

    If you want to get anywhere in QM, you'll need to understand why the physicality of the superposition of states is nonsense, and that the universe is everything that exists.

  19. It's more important to recognize that the question is nonsense and does not merit mental focus than to try to tweak it to eke out a jot of moral understanding. The question does have value: an epistemological one, illustrating the identity of the impossible and the futility of analyzing it, as opposed an ethical value, which with this scenario, is zilch.

  20. Can anyone tell me the objectivist position on the ends justifying the means?

    I know this is another silly life boat scenario, but hear me out:

    Let's say you were alive in 1890. Hitler was one year old. Somehow, you knew that this baby was going to kill millions. Would it be moral to kill the baby? I know we can get technical, and ask questions about context/choice/feasibility, but please focus on the idea at hand...do the ends ever justify the means?

    If yes, does that mean that objectivism has an element of utilitarianism?

    If no, isn't that anti-human life?

    The Objectivist ethics does give you answers to important questions, and you have asked some important ones here. But your secenario is unreal. There is no answer to it, because it has no basis in reality -- the premise is based on an impossibility. So in order to get something useful out of morality, consider real, reasonably likely cases. And in the meantime:

    Objectivism rejects the ends justifying the means. Actions are morally evaluated by their implication for human life, not by how some series of events turned out at some arbitrary point. Thus, Objectivism is not utilitarian at all. Rather, its moral focus is on the individual, not the collective. A morality that places the individual as the fundamental unit recognizes an essential fact of reality: that man functions as an individual, and he therefore needs of code of values geared towards a successful life as just that -- an individual. That is a morality that is human, and anything that fails to recognize man's nature is inhuman.

  21. It's both. As you noted, existence/the universe cannot have been created, because creation presupposes an entity doing the creating. If God created the universe, then existence existed with God's existence, and thus the universe with God in it existed before God created the universe, and round and round we go...

    God purports to be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. All three of those attributes violate the Law of Identity, for reasons not the least of which is that a physical infinity (such as an omni-attribute) is an impossibility. To be is to be something (something finite -- distinct from other finite things). What is an infinite anything?!? It's nonsense.

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