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ruveyn ben yosef

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  1. Your America consisted largely of church-going folks in the 18-th and 19-th century. And it still did in the 20th century. Your America was never overly fond of atheists, and many atheists (and agnostics) had to disguise themselves as church going Americans. Many people in the Unitarian-Universalist church were "closet" atheists. Did you know that Tom Paine, the advocate and spokesman for independence was, after his death, reviled as an atheist by many Christian folks. They spit on the memory of the man, whose writings had a great deal to do goading Americans into fighting against England for their independence. Paine, in the later portion of his life was spurned by many, and died lonely and isolated. This was partly because of his anti-religious attitude. And be careful of what you wish for. You probably would not be comfortable living in a Secular-Humanist Community. Atheists and agnostics they are (for the most part). They are also dedicated altruists who live to share not only their wealth, but other people's wealth. Being secular is no guarantee of being acceptable to Objectivists. I would rather live in a town that consisted mostly of New England Congregationalists (who are Christians, but very tolerant of other beliefs) than among dedicated Secular Humanists. I live in New England, so I know what I am talking about. The Congregationalists go to church on Sunday and are righteous folk who mind their own business during the rest of the week. The ones I have lived among or met are (for the most part) decent and honest folk. They do business straight and square and they do not "get in your head". Not bad, yes? Some of the secular humanists I have met are self-righteous anti-Christian bigots and very far to the left politically. Ideologically their movement is slanted left politically. They tend to be statists. This people want to make other people -Good-. They want to create a world without Sin. Beware! Consider Horace Mann, the father of public (mis)education in the United States. He was a Unitarian Universalist who probably prayed to whom it may concern, and he substituted the State for God. He latched on the the Prussian model of State run, State funded schooling which commanded that all the little boys and girls go to State schools where they would learn to be good little citizens. Und Zey Vill Enchoy It! Mann and his ilk won out and now we have schools were good little boys and girls pray to the U.S. Flag but don't learn to read very well. Is this what you really want? Think about it. ruveyn
  2. It depends what you mean by -religious-. The majority of the Founders were Deists (non-Trinitarians). Most believed in some kind of g/God. Jefferson (for example) was a believer but rather unorthodox in his faith. He also felt that the established churches were corrupt. Most of the leading intellectuals of the Enlightenment were believers. ruveyn
  3. The economist joke I heard goes as follows: If you laid out all the economists that ever were in a straight line (head to foot) you could not reach a conclusion. Which raises a genuine question. If the economists know so much, why aren't more of them millionaires or billionaires? ruveyn
  4. Rand used sarcastic humor in -Atlas Shrugged-. For example at Cheryl's wedding, Cheryl says to Dagny -I am the woman of the family now- (or some such to which Dagny replies -I am the man of the family- (or some such). Francisco uses sarcastic/humorous quips. So Rand used one kind of humor, at least. I don't think Rand went in for puns. If she had here is how Dagny's arrival in the Valley might have gone: Galt: What are you doing here? Dagny: I just thought I would drop in . (rim shot). ruveyn
  5. I doubt it. The question to which I responded is: why do (some) people like sunflower seeds. I simply pointed out that sunflower seeds have several healthy components (and I cited a place that lists them). And properly prepared, they are quite tasty. ruveyn
  6. 1. They are tasty, especially if hulled, roasted and salted. 2. They are healthy to eat: From the Wiki:: Health benefits In addition to linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, Vitamin E, B Vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, selenium,calcium and zinc.[6] Additionally, they are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.[7] They are also low calorie food in regular sized servings[clarify]. Eating sunflower seeds is more healthy than inhaling tobacco smoke. ruveyn
  7. -Origin of Wealth- by Eric Beinhocker You can get the page on amazon.com by typing in "Origin of Wealth" ruveyn
  8. I think the bloated evil thing was a symbol of global corporatism. The little people took it down and bound it, just like in -Gulliver's Travels-. The whole video was a tad over the top and was conceptually muddled. Note low the Leaders in Government are muddled and helpless. It is the masked man who broke his chains that is focused and knows what to do. ruveyn
  9. Klaatu asks Gort for a smoke: Klaatu, Barada, Nicotine. ruveyn
  10. Edison and Faraday were both poor boys, autodidacts and geniuses. They had many similarities. ruveyn
  11. Klaatu used enough force to convince the earth folks he was serious. His purpose in coming to earth was not to destroy it, but to warn earth folks against bringing their warlike ways to the races on The Other Planets. In fact Klaatu invited the earth folks to join his -in peace. I loved that movie. It was Thomas Hobbes -Leviathan- in capsule form. ruveyn
  12. This article is to continue a discussion that emerged on the thread about anti-union ads. Thomas Alva Edison is rightly hailed as one of America's geniuses. He invented everything from sound recording, to motion picture cameras/projectors to incandescent glow lamps and the power systems necessary to light them up. His style is very much his own and he several things going for him. He could concentrate as few others could. He also needed very little sleep. And he was -smart-. I found a rather good summary of Edison's style on the wikipedia. Please have a look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edisonian_approach and in particular the summary given by Thomas Hughes (a historian) under http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edisonian_app...ison.27s_method. Edison's intellect and mode was not like that of Newton or Einstein who were inclined to develop general theories. Hughes points out that Edison worked on particular applications and did not develop general theories about the inventions he and his team created. Edison was interested in inventing and producing his his inventions. He made use of theories that were at hand to him and when no theory was available, he did systematic hunt and try. This is how he developed metallic filaments for his incandescent glow lamp. Edison also worked on systems. So he not only invented a glow lamp (which was invented earlier and independently by John Swan in England), he produced a system of generating the electricity and carrying the current to the point of application. Swan did not do this. Edison's style was very American. America did not become home of theorists (with a few notable exceptions) until it inherited the cream of Europe's science community just prior to WW2. Edison was first and foremost a -practical man-. He was not interested in general results, rather he concentrated on specific products which he could produce and sell. I guess one could contrast Edison with Einstein. Einstein, did not start his scientific career in some German university. He worked several years at the Swiss Patent Office and he was no stranger to practical (and sometimes impractical) inventions. But his heart and soul was committed to finding out how the universe worked. At Einstein put it, he wanted to read the Mind of God. Even so, Einstein had over 20 patents in his name. Edison created a team of top-notch engineers and craftsmen. He inspired them, the goaded them, he brainstormed with them (as you will see if you read the above reference article). He created one of the earliest and most effective industrial R and D head-shops in the world. Einstein was closer to being the isolated thinker, although he had no qualms about picking the brains of some close friends who did have university connections to find out what applicable mathematical techniques he could make use of. But Einstein was at his best alone and at his writing tablet or blackboard. Edison was a bottom up man and Einstein was a top down man. Consider another interesting pair of differing intellects. Michael Faraday, who had barely a line of mathematics to his name and James Clerk Maxwell who in addition to being on of the most brilliant theoretical physicists was a top of the line mathematician. Faraday was both bottom up and top down. Maxwell was mostly top down. Faraday started off as a bookbinder's lad and working in a book binding shop gave him access to many books on science. Faraday was a poor boy and could not attend advanced schools (the English class system made it very difficult for poor boys to get to university). Faraday was an autodidact and he got the attention of Humphrey Davie one of England's top scientist. H.D. gave Faraday a job and that is how Micheal Faraday bootstrapped himself into the English scientific establishment. Faraday was one of the greatest experimentalists of all time. In addition he had a fantastic ability to -visualize-, a characteristic the Edison also had. Faraday's ability to visualize compensated for his lack of mathematical background. Faraday was not locked into the Newtonian view of interacting bodies. Faraday's came up with what Maxwell turned into the field concept, one of the foundation stones of modern physics. The colaboration between Faraday and Maxwell was one of the most fortunate in the history of physics. Out of Faraday's experimentation came the first electric motor and with Maxwell's superb theoretical mind the theory of electrodynamics, as we know it, came to be. Now who was Edison most like? Faraday or Maxwell? Faraday for sure. Edison found his Maxwell in Nikola Tesla who in addition to be an inventor and as close to a wizard as ever there was, was a theoretical genius as well. Unfortunately the association between Edison and Tesla did not turn out as happy as the association between Faraday and Maxwell (neither of whom were businessmen and neither of whom had egos on steroids). Nikola Tesla** with his first rate theoretical talent developed the superior form of electric power generation and movement of current from generator to point of application. Edison, in addition to being focused also had a stubborn streak and he refused to see the virtue of alternating current. Edison invented direct current generation and that was his baby and, as far as he was concerned, there was no other. Even geniuses like Edison, can go off the track. But so did Tesla. Tesla blew two fortunes trying to develop wireless broadcast power transmission. He failed at that. Edison had his d.c. obsession and Tesla had his wireless power obsession. In any case Edison was the quintessential bottom up practical scientist and inventor. People like Newton, Maxwell and Einstein were mostly top down. Newton, it should be noted was not just a theoretical genius. He too was a practical inventor. His greatest applied/experimental work was in optics. Newton invented the reflecting telescope with a parabolic light receiver. It is the prototype of most of the great telescopes of the world, including radio telescopes. Where ever one sees parabolic dishes pointing to the sky, there is the spirit of Newton. I want to make it plain that the bottom up vs top down approaches are not a better/worse kind of thing. Both are necessary for progress in the natural sciences and they correspond to differences in how people think. Among the great bottom up men you will find Lavoissier, Faraday, Charles Darwin* and Mendele'ev who formulated the periodic table of elements by empirical investigation. There was no quantum physics or Pauli Exclusion Principle to guide Medele'ev. The periodic table is an example of brilliant empirical work. It was the springboard for modern chemistry. Leo Szillard was like Faraday. He was a top down bottom up man. Leo Szillard patented the chain reaction (actually a specific design to achieve a chain reaction). Another bottom up man who never received the praise that was due to him in his lifetime was Gregor Mendel, a priest, who spent years studying plant heredity. He invented the gene concept, but as a result of his systematic and minute study of plants. Darwin never had the gene concept, so he could not correctly specify the mechanism of variation upon which natural selection works. ruveyn *Charles Darwin wrote at least as many words on barnacles as he did on natural selection. ** Nikola Tesla was also the true inventor of radio, more so than Marconi.
  13. Hannibal Barka was surely one of the top five commanders of ancient times. The man who defeated him, Scipio Africanus is up there too. Hannibal made the same mistake as Isoruko Yammamoto. He awakened a sleeping giant. He did not destroy Rome in his initial attack and Rome emerged stronger than it was. There is an old saying: any blow that does not kill, strengthens. In the same class as Hannibal was Spartacus. He was outnumber and "outgunned" by Rome, and he gave the Romans holy hell for a while. But he did not defeat Rome. Spartacus made one serious error. He stayed to fight longer tha he should. If he had led his army of ax-slaves north over the Alps, the outcome would have been much different. But numero uno in the ancient world was Alexander, the son of Phillip, he who was called The Great. Alexander conquered Old Persia and it never could put itself back together again, even after Alexander died. Alexander and his cronies remade the Near East. Ptolemy not only conquered Egypt, he even figured how to become Pharo. And it was he, also tutored by Aristotle, who built Alexander's city in Egypt, which eventually become the Brain Capitol of the World for several hundred years. Indirectly, Alexander gave us Archimedes. ruveyn
  14. The Axiom of Choice is a set theoretic axiom (which is independent of the other axioms of ZFC). It has no directed significance with respect to a physical theory of the world. It is purely mathematical. ruveyn
  15. Tesla was a theory-first man and he invented and patented lots of stuff including the power generation and delivery system we use most (a.c high voltage delivery, low voltage end use) and the transformer system required for efficient and effective a.c. power (the Tesla coil). Tesla was also the true inventor of practical radio transmission (not Marconi). In 1942 the courts finally recognized Tesla's priority in the invention of radio transmission of data and intelligence. Tesla was an old man at this time and did not profit from the recognition he finally attained. Tesla's inventions were a consequence of his theoretical mastery. Of the thousand Edison patents, not all were his work exclusively. As I mentioned he had one the earliest (and most effective) industrial applied R and D head shops. He had a stellar crew and he knew how to goad and inspire them to produce highly profitable inventions and improvements. One of Edison's little known attainments was his system of notes. He was the world's champion note writer (would you believe over a million pages?). He also developed a cross referencing system for his notes so he could easily find older stuff related to current work. In short, he invented a database system which not only ensured that he did not re-invent his own wheel, but was potent documentation to solidly establish his patents. When he came to court on a patent matter, he was loaded for bear. Edison was the consummate practical inventor. Which was good news and bad news. In 1883 he developed what amounted to a thermionic vacuum tube (a diode). He came upon it by accident as there was no well-known theory (Hertz had not yet tested Maxwell's theory of electromagnetic fields and light). If he had been more theoretic he would have had the makings of fairly broadband wireless broadcasting which would have been greatly in advance of Marconi's wireless telegraph system. Alas, Edison did not fully understand what he had in hand. Edison was well developed on the empirical end, but somewhat under powered on the theoretic end (see Tesla's comment on that in a previous post I made). Voice radio had to wait for Armstrong 30 years later. Many theoretical giants were productive inventors. For example, Newton. As a boy he was well known for his model machines and windmills. Later his method was to develop hypotheses from experiments. His experimental work in optics, still evokes admiration. Among other things, Newton, the theorist, invented the reflecting telescope which bypassed many of the problems that refracting telescopes had in his day (distortion and chromatic abberation). Even in modern times parabolic reflectors (both optical and radio) are the workhorses of astronomy. Maxwell was an inventor and a equipment designer who is best known for his theoretical achievements. Michael Faraday is best known for his experiments, equipment design and the invention of the electric motor. But Faraday had a nearly unequaled conceptual grasp of electric effects and their related magnetic effects. It was his notion of lines of force that gave rise to the theory of electromagnetic fields. Ironically, Faraday had almost no formal mathematics, but his ability to visualize and express those visualizations in metaphor was grist for Maxwell's mill. Maxwell was the greatest mathematical physicist (in his day) since Newton. He invented field theory, but only because of Faraday's seminal work. So, in his way, Michael Faraday was a great theorist but he is best known for his inventions in the fields of electromagnetism and his work in gases. Faraday succeeded in liquifying chlorine gas, for example. He was a giant. ruveyn
  16. Here is what Nikola Tesla had to say about Edison: The day after Edison died, the New York Times contained extensive coverage of Edison's life, with the only negative opinion coming from Tesla who was quoted as saying, "He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene" and that, "His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of the labour. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor's instinct and practical American sense." When Edison was a very old man and close to death, he said, in looking back, that the biggest mistake he had made was that he never respected Tesla or his work. I got this from the Wiki article on Edison. Edison's approach was ultra empirical. If Edison had read Maxwell's 1865 and 1868 treatises on electromagnetism, I suspect his head would have exploded from excessive exposure to partial differential equations. None of this detracts from Edison's legendary concentration, focus, drive, ambition and single mindedness. His inventions (or the inventions whose development he initiated and managed) speak for the man. In addition to be a top notch tinkerer, he was more importantly a coordinator of industrial scale research and development. He was no lonely inventor in his garret (Caricatured by Doc Brown in -Back to the Future-). He created and ran a productive shop which synergized and coordinated the work of top flight technicians and engineers such as Frank Sprague who developed the high torque electric traction engines used on subways, trolleys and electrical railways, world wide. Sprague was a better mathematician than Edison and he corrected many of Edison's errors. Edison's approach is not called trial and error in vain. Edison's errors also speak of the man. His single-minded concentration of direct current (in the context of the technology and theory of his time) was one of his major blunders. The future for long distance delivery of electrical current was clearly with alternating current. A grasp of the theory of resistance and inductance wound indicate the superiority of a.c. transmission. A.C. transmission at very high voltage is much less lossy and a.c. voltage can be stepped up and down by use of transformers. D.C. current can not be so regulated, at least not with the technology that existed at that time. To make d.c. "nice" one needs to regulate it with semi-conductors, not then available. In the face of he clear superiority of a.c., Edison resorted to cruel publicity stunts such as electrocuting elephants with a.c. to show how "unsafe" a.c. was. A curious side effect of Edison's campaign was the electric chair, a mode of execution used for six decades afterward. Edison was a super businessman, something that Nikola Tesla was not. Edison was called "the Wizard of Menlo Park" by the newspapers, but in truth it was Tesla who was the Wizard. Edison was the Capitalist of Menlo Park, and for that we should be grateful. ruveyn
  17. Edison is out of place in that collection of names. He was a staunch anti-theorist. What he was, was a tireless, efficient tinkerer (2 hours of sleep a night) and he managed the efforts of the first industrial applied R&D organization at Menlo Park. He had no theoretical grasp of electricity which is why he completely misunderstood Tesla (who was a brilliant theorist as well as an inventor). Edison and Tesla were at the antipodes in terms of how their intellects operated. In 1883 Edison accidentally invented the first diode. If he had understood what he had done, we would have had t.v. as early as 1900. ruveyn
  18. This sounds like the good old Law of Supply and Demand. Which is totally at opposition to the medieval notion of "just price" which the Catholic Church pushed in the Bad Old Days. Any prices other than the strike price that comes out of voluntary trade is whim and decree, or extortion. I was a young during world war 2 and what we had was rationing. Everything from meat to gasoline and tires was rationed at prices set by the OPA (Office of Price Administration). Guess what. A lively "black market" flourished, where one could get the stuff one needed if he were willing to pay the price asked by the supplier. There is simply no way to keep the Law of Suppy and Demand from operating. Even in the late and unlamented Soviet Union, which was a police state, there was a vibrant market where prices were set by Supply and Demand. Even that son of bitch Vladimir Ilyich Lenin recognized this when he instituted the "New Economic Policy" in 1924, which grudgingly granted a free market in necessary goods such as food. Without this concession the Soviet Union would have starved. Right now, the more or less free market price of gasoline in the U.S. is around $4.00 a gallon (and rising). If the government, God forbid, institutes price control what is going to happen (as sure as the sun rises and shit flows downhill) will be long lines to buy limited amounts of gasoline a regulated prices. Very long lines (just like in 1974). And there will be plenty of gasoline at say 7.00 a gallon bought from the back of fuel trucks during midnight fill ups. I guarantee it. Just wait. ruveyn
  19. I am in the 95-th percentile for intelligence, by psychometric standards. That makes me superior to most people in the matter of abstract intelligence and reasoning ability. Even so, this does not give me a warrant for abusing other folks. Not everyone acts in their best interest all the time. Many of us have moments of error and foolishness. Some more than others. This is no excuse for bad behavior. Nothing on the planet Earth gives me (or anyone else) a right to micro-manage any life but their own, and that of one's very young children while they are unable to operate autonomously. After a certain point one's children act on their own. They don't need micro-managing from anyone. And so on and so on. ruveyn
  20. Google <hidden variable> or wiki <hidden variable theory> ruveyn
  21. Actually we are this "WE" in the following sense: None of us are hermits. All of us were nurtured in families (or the equivalent) and required nourishment and protection by others until we reached a stage where we could be autonomous. We are all engaged in a system of specialization of labor, production and trade as well as mutual defense. We all live according to laws, customs and conventions. While all of us are individuals, none of us live atomically or in an isolated fashion. So there is WE, namely the society in which we live, work, prosper and do all the other things that we need to do. I seriously doubt that there are ten thousand true isolated hermits on the planet at the moment. And even hermits needed parents to keep them alive while young and teach them a language. There are maybe a dozen verified cases of truly feral humans who somehow survived infancy taken care of by non-humans. These feral folk never learned to talk during the critical stage at which human youngsters acquire speech, so they never think at a fully human level. Humans by their biological nature are social animals, but not hive animals like bees, ants, wasps etc.. ruveyn
  22. Getting hit with an asteroid or a meteor a mile across could be an extinction level event. The meteor that blasted out the Meteor Crater in Arizona (you might have seen it in -Star Man-) was only a hundred feet in diameter or thereabouts. The problem is spotting these bodies sufficiently far out and applying enough force to divert it slightly (it need not be destroyed, just diverted). If we do get hit with a meteor (or asteroid) a kilometer in diameter the impact is sufficient to destroy civilization. It would be possible for the human race to survive if it could go underground with sufficient food and energy stored to wait out the dark period that would follow the impact (it could be several years of darkness). There is a .7 probability the body would hit the ocean and the resulting tsunami would wipe out not only coastal cities, but go inland several hundred miles. It would be necessary to hunker down somewhere in the middle of the continent and in relatively high ground (say the Rocky Mountains). Because of the crop failure that would follow the impact most of the 6 billion or more humans would die. With sufficient preparation, several millions could survive. If the colliding body is several miles across then do the following: Stand with your legs apart, bend down, put your head between you legs and kiss your ass goodbye. The only good news in that case is that it is big enough to see and we could perhaps divert it a bit. The usual Hollywood fantasy is to use a nuke. Here is the problem with that. Many asteroids are accretion bodies. That is they are essential rubble piles held together with weak gravitation. If the body is large enough a nuclear blast would just break it into several big pieces, each of which can do vast damage to the planet and to civilization. The better way would be to mount low thrust rocks on the body far enough out to divert it. But, as I pointed out, the difficulty is seeing bodies big enough to destroy civilization (on impact) but small enough not to be seen for a sufficient time to get a fix on the orbit. If you see a small body one night and then don't see it again for months and see it yet again, how does one know it is the same body? One needs at least three good fixes to get a decent estimate of the orbit. And even so, the orbits of small bodies can be perturbed by gravitational interaction with larger bodies. So if the Killer Meteor flies through the asteroid belt, its orbit (even if known) is likely to be perturbed. That cuts both ways. A meteor that, if unperturbed, would not hit us, is perturbed just so, it could it us. Then a meteor we think would hit us might be diverted by gravitational interaction in the asteroid belt, but we could not assume that so we would have to be prepared. It is obvious that the preparations for an extinction level event would strain the material and social resources of all the nations of the world. And choosing the survivors (assuming there could be survivors) would be the largest act of triage in the history of human kind. Say only ten million could be placed in sites all over the world. Which ten million out of six billion (or more) will be the lucky ones? And will they be lucky? The psychological impact of coming out of hiding after two years underground might make a dent. Here is the little good news I can think of. Building telescopes (both earth based and orbital) is relatively inexpensive. Which means private investment could produce sufficient number of Watchmen in the Night to spot many earth orbit crossers we don't yet know about. This could be done without government. However if we are going to get a hit, it would probably take the kind of resources that only governments can steal to give millions a chance to survive. It would be possible for sufficiently rich folks to prepare there own hide hole for themselves, family, friends and associates. This would amount to thousands of survivors, rather than millions. The human race need not go extinct, but it is good bye to civilization if only thousands survive. Why? Because a critical mass of skills sets would be required to rebuild civilization in say two to three generations. If only a few thousand survive, as did the human race did when the super volcano Toba erupted then it would take thousands of years to rebuild. It takes a culture (even one with warts) to provide the matrix within which knowledge and technique could be retained. So even in an "optimistic" scenario, the human race survives but civilization is pretty well wrecked. Our only real long run chance is emigration off earth. Perhaps I will write a piece showing why that at best is a gloomy prospect given our current level of propulsion technology. In days of yore humans got from the Asian mainland to Australia on crude rafts. But there was an Australia to go to. Unfortunately there is not another planet in the Goldilocks Zone for us to paddle our crude rocket ships to. Here is the long and skinny: We are aboard the Titanic and there are not enough lifeboats. The ship is sinkable and there are lots of icebergs out there. PS: The bad guy of the Tunguska blast never made it earth. Whatever it was disintegrated before contact with the surface and it was a blast wave that did the damage. No crater and no pieces have ever been found. If that baby had leveled London or New York we would still be talking about it. ruveyn
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