Archive for category knowledge base

Analyzing the 2nd Amendment Correctly

rippedThe 2nd Amendment is in the news again. As I come across various news stories and blog posts like this one, I repeatedly find attempts to present an explanation of this portion of the constitution. Some of these attempts err because they use modern definitions for terms that meant something else when the amendment was written; some fail because they don’t catch on to the difference between an instruction to government and an explanation to the reader; some are outright propaganda, written to conform to a point of view without regard to any intent to get at an accurate reading.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time looking at this over the years. Although you may begin to feel as you read this that I am pro-gun, in fact I am not. What I am is pro-constitution. As you’ll see if you read this completely, the constitution provides for change, and the obvious path is, if you want change, you should make that change — properly. Please read this to the end before you decide that I’ve got a foot in the door here, for or against the “rightness” of American citizens being armed.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Today is a good day to remember the true spirit of the pilgrims. They would occasionally take a day off from shaming community members in the town square stocks and recreational witch-burning to deliver typhus-infected blankets to the native American Indians nearby, in the fond hope that they be decimated under the loving eyes of God, consequent to the long European tradition of biological warfare against those one would prefer go away. Lest you think the Pilgrim’s work ethic be implicated here, know you that from time to time, they would also organize and do their very best to commit genocide on the local Indian populations in fine traditional fashion, utilizing both sharp and blunt objects – stabbing Indians was equally as well regarded as bludgeoning. In addition, Indian men, women and children received equal consideration in this matter, so you can see that this is truly a multi-dimensional egalitarianism. This may be regarded as one of the true seeds of American fairness.

These are true facts. If this is not how you regard Thanksgiving, perhaps you should re-examine your knowledge of history. Google for UAINE and/or the Wampanoag tribe. Spend a few minutes reading up on actual pilgrim practices.

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Demolishing AI’s “needs a body” argument

robbyI am engaged in research in the presently nascent field of artificial intelligence. I also do some work along the lines of artificial life and evolutionary software. One consequence of this is that I am often exposed to opinions and ideas from others with the same interests. Here, I’m going to take on – and take down – one of the less well thought-out ideas that are currently making the rounds; that idea that, in order to have intelligence, that device must also have a body.

Where does this idea come from, you may ask? Professor Alan Winfield, Hewlett Packard professor of electronic engineering at the University of the West of England, says “embodiment is a fundamental requirement of intelligence in general” “a disembodied intelligence doesn’t make sense.” Susan Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University’s Lincoln College, says “My own view is that you can’t disembody the brain.”

So there’s the setup, as it were. Here’s the knockdown.

If a person is born deaf, do they fail to develop intelligence? No. If deaf and blind? No. If deaf, dumb and blind? No. Further, if a deaf, dumb and blind person suffers a spinal injury and loses nervous system contact with the body, do they suddenly become unintelligent? No. And so it goes. Intelligence is not about any particular sense, and it is not about mobility, nor, in the end, is it about structure.
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Breaking things in martial arts

punchyBreaking things – boards, bricks, concrete, bones – is about the delivery of kinetic energy. I’m not just talking about the cheesy pine board breaks they have 6-year olds do at the kiddie martial arts class, either. I’m talking about serious breaks, with real bricks, concrete, and so forth.

Ke2First of all, the relevant physics terms are in the mass times the square of the velocity portion of the kinetic energy formulation. Mass and velocity are the user-controllable parameters that determine just how much kinetic energy will be delivered to the target. Let’s consider the fist.

Generally speaking, the mass is the fist, plus, if the wrist and elbow are held rigid, the mass of the two arm sections and even the shoulder; real experts can hold the shoulder rigid at the time of impact, and so a surprising amount of central body mass can be counted in the formula. From there, breathing (and yelling) techniques that give you a rigid structure through your chest and stomach musculature, and the locking of the hips and legs through the moment of contact. But once you get that far, you’re kind of stuck – because you don’t have any more mass.

Velocity, though, both counts more (because it’s squared) and is easier to boost as compared to your average other person, because we don’t really generally work at anywhere near our potential speed.
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What does TL;DR Really Mean?

This is the first in a series of helpful tips on Internet shorthand. Quite often, we’ll encounter an acronym and not know what it means. So, I’m here to help.

TL;DR is, at least at first glance, an abbreviation for Too Long, Didn’t Read. What it really means is that you have encountered a person with a pathological attention span; they are simultaneously saying that they have failed to bring adequate reading skills to bear, combined with the intent to cut someone down for “elitist” behavior. What elitist behavior? That of writing a literate post. Yes, really.

So when you encounter TL;DR, you can just ignore it. I put no small amount of blame upon the “sound bite” environment created by television. The erosion of the ability of much of the populace to deal with even a mildly extended presentation has closely followed television’s failure to present any such thing.

No discussion of this would be complete without a nod towards courtesy. If someone addresses an issue at length, this is an offering of information to everyone else. If you legitimately don’t have the time to read it, then the answer is not to say “you should have written a sound bite.” The answer is silence until you have read the material.

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3D displays – Not here yet.

There’s been a lot of hype recently about “3D displays.” Unfortunately, that’s all it is –– hype. This is because we are a long, long way from 3D display of anything but artificially generated materials.

A 3D display actually produces a 3D representation; that is, if you change your angle of view, what you see changes accordingly. Look at the display from the side, and you see the scene from the side. Likewise, if the display is turned 180 degrees, you’d be looking at the back of the scene being displayed.

Stereo displays provide a fixed perspective generated by providing two single-angle images of a scene that are designed to replicate the angles your eyes would achieve from the (single, unchangeable) desired vantage point. Changing your angle of observation will not reveal other portions of the scene in any way, nor will moving the display.
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On "The Price of Freedom"

The price of freedom is risk.

The price of safety is conformity, restriction, and repression.

You can bank on it. Our leaders certainly have.

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What could go wrong?

Seriously, what could go wrong?

As the ad says, bacteria is everywhere. All kinds. And I mean all kinds. So… let’s grow a nice, healthy pile of ‘em at home, kids! After all… what could happen?

** I want you all to know that I went looking for some bacterial infection pictures to add to this post. It isn’t that I didn’t find them. Oh, no. I found them, all right, I just couldn’t bear to add them, even just as thumbnails. Some things… ugh. Just, ugh. If you want to find them, here’s the Google Search. I suggest you take along a vomit bucket. NSFA (not safe for ANYTHING)

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