Archive: March 30, 2008

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another double

Sunday,  03/30/08  10:01 AM

More cycle-blogging: Yesterday I completed the Solvang Double Century - 200 more miles.  (Yay!)  This was a great ride all the way up the central coast to Morro Bay, and then back down again, with a little climb through Drum Canyon to wrap it up.  Took me 10:58 of riding time, which is pretty darn respectable, and 12:45 overall.  This is over two hours better than I did in the Butterfield Double, and although that one was harder (more climbing), I've made pretty good progress.

Here's me and Mark Burson, my riding partner:

Next up for us is the Hemet Double Century next Saturday (yep; that will be two doubles in eight days).  If we survive that we'll have achieved the California Triple Crown!  After that, who knows...  maybe we'll have to do the RAAM :)


Sunday,  03/30/08  10:59 AM

Sorry for the gap; Friday night I was busy eating, getting ready for the ride yesterday, and last night I was busy eating, recovering from the ride.  Or something... 

Anyway here's what's happening, and yes I am feeling feisty today:

The Economist presents bad news from California.  Check out the chart at right.  Now this is actually mislabeled; it is presented as differential birth rates among unmarried women of different races, but really it reflects differential birth rates between unmarried women of different economic classes (nobody has shown that unmarried birth rates between, say, inner-city blacks and whites are that different).  We can all agree this is bad (for the women and their kids, and for our society), so what can be done? 

AsI have argued before, the main influence on people's decisions to have children is economic.  (The Economist article suggests a societal influence, but if "traditional" values are giving way to more "modern" values; but where do these values come from?)  We need to make it harder for unmarried women to have kids.  Which means we have to reduce child welfare.  It is that simple.

Is the Al Gore solution realistic?  I don't think so.  Although having voted for him eight years ago, I would consider doing so again; certainly over Clinton or Obama.  He would give the Democrats a credible candidate.  I thought Obama was a credible candidate, but this Wright / church thing has him fatally wounded.  Not because of what he did or didn't do, but because of what he hasn't said since

Meanwhile I am reading more about Condi Rice as John McCain's VP candidate.  I liked the idea from the start, and it is wearing well.  With McCain at 72 (admittedly an apparently robust 72) he had better choose someone who could conceivably be President, like Rice...  Her experiences certainly emphasizes both Clinton's and Obama's lack thereof.

Good for Google: they're hosting Fitna.  "What Google does now will be an interesting test for a company that claims 'do no evil' as its company mantra. The video is hosted in the US, and we presume with part or full support of the creators of the film negating any copyright considerations, so ultimately it will be up to Google to decide between free speech and global jihad."  This cat is out of the bad, and it is not going back in. 

Meanwhile U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon condemns the film, and claims "The right of free expression is not at stake here".  What a sad tool.

This is excellent: Telling Stories on Maps.  Interesting how iconic the Google Maps look has become, in such a short time... 

Jeff Atwood: I�Unicode.  A great rant about Unicode, UTF-8, and the problems of developing software in a world with more than 128 text characters.  Brings to mind Joel Spolsky's classic: The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!). 



how to disagree

Sunday,  03/30/08  01:59 PM

Paul Graham provides a valuable public service with an otology of ways to disagree.

  • DH0.  Name-calling.
  • DH1.  Ad hominem.
  • DH2.  Responding to tone.
  • DH3.  Contradiction.
  • DH4.  Counterargument.
  • DH5.  Refutation.
  • DH6.  Refutation of the central point.

"Now we have a way of classifying forms of disagreement. What good is it? One thing the disagreement hierarchy doesn't give us is a way of picking a winner. DH levels merely describe the form of a statement, not whether it's correct. A DH6 response could still be completely mistaken.

"But while DH levels don't set a lower bound on the convincingness of a reply, they do set an upper bound. A DH6 response might be unconvincing, but a DH2 or lower response is always unconvincing.

I've felt this instinctively, but it is great to see it cleanly laid out like this.  Especially helpful is the distinction between DH5 and DH6.  Often in debate a counter-argument will attack the weakest side point, without touching the central point.  While such an argument might feel convincing - in fact, it might carry the day - it is logically invalid.  Only DH6 really matters. 


Sunday,  03/30/08  09:18 PM

Big week ahead for me - many meetings, much to do, and then at the end of the week Aperio moves into a new building.  Yay! and Whew.  I'm having a Sunday night meltdown wherein I feel bad that I didn't get enough done over the weekend.  That's when you know you're a workaholic.  Not that I didn't know it before, but still.

The Economist: Where angels no longer fear to tread; scientists attempt to explain religion.  "Religion cries out for a biological explanation. It is a ubiquitous phenomenon - arguably one of the species markers of Homo sapiens - but a puzzling one. It has none of the obvious benefits of that other marker of humanity, language. Nevertheless, it consumes huge amounts of resources. Moreover, unlike language, it is the subject of violent disagreements."  Interesting stuff.  [ via Panda's Thumb ]  I think Daniel Dennett's seminal Breaking the Spell does a great job of investigating religion from a scientist's point of view. 

Powerline explains the current fighting in Iraq.  If you don't understand the significance of fighting in Basra vs. fighting in Baghdad (I didn't), you will appreciate this clear explanation.  And you will not get anything like this from the MSM; they seem to equate fighting = bad = Bush-is-bad without further insight. 

Reuters: Zimbabwe's meltdown in figures.  These numbers tell the story of one of the worst governments of all time, amid heavy competition.  [ via Glenn Reynolds ]  Dare we hope that Mugabe will be defeated?  We dare. 

The fascinating inhabitat showcases Sustainable towers in Malaysia.  Beautiful, practical, and environmentally sound...  and still in the planning stages, unfortunately.  But we'll see. 

The Dash Express is now shipping!  A two-way GPS, including realtime traffic information.  How cool is that

Mark Evans ponders Why Original Blog Thought is So Difficult.  Not a deep analysis, but a good question.  I guess there are a lot of linkers out there; I'm one, a lot of the time...  but there are also thinkers, and I'm one, at least some of the time.  I think linkers provide a useful service in that they act as filters for material created by thinkers.  Otherwise why would you read this blog :) 


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