Monday, June 30, 2008

The Form of the Argument

I spent the last several days going through big piles of books on Socrates. Oddly, the Chapter on Socrates only has 900 words and is not much different than it would have been if I did not read through the reams of books.

Socrates is clearly one of the most important philosophers of western history. You can follow threads of his thought throughout history.

Mentioning everything that is interesting about this great thinker would take days. The question in my mind is if I should point out the many things of interest or only mention those things that I will use later in the work. I chose to only mention the things I intend to use later.

This brings me back to myth. The process of cherry picking history to prove a thesis creates a myth of history. Of course, these myth-like distortions form the foundations of our language.

Socrates did not write down his words. So it is impossible to say definitively what he meant. The Library is full of large works speculating about what people think he might have said. It is impossible to move beyond speculation.

The goal of my chapter on the Socratic Method was to present the method as a form of open equiry aimed at clarifying definitions.

I also wish to emphasize that there is a similar style of argument where a Socrates-wannabe approaches an enemy with an absurdist QA sessions aimed at muddling their opponent's definitions. Often the goal of the Socrates-wannabe is to associate negative labels with the opponent.

Using a "Socratic-like" QA session to attack one's enemies is not open enquiry. It is a form of intellectual thuggery that ultimately destroys society's ability to engage in reason.

So my goal is not to examine Socratic Dialogues in detail, but to encourage people to think of the form of the argument.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Solar Energy Freeze

The Bush Administration and BLM are currently taking heat for imposing a freeze on new solar energy projects.

I applaud the freeze.

A smart alternative energy program would support alternative fuels when the market for alternatives is weak. The market for solar panels is through the roof and demand is exhausting supplies; Therefore, there should be a freeze on subsidized solar installations.

Placement of solar panels is key. A great deal of energy is lost during the transmission of electricity from the solar farms in the wilderness to the city. Solar farms in remote desert areas get less energy to the city than solar panels on roof tops. With solar in vogue, you will see solar panels being installed in urban areas where a greater portion of the electricity is used productively.

The next reason for a freeze is that making and installing solar panels consumes energy. The government should not be installing solar energy during an energy crisis because the energy they use for the project competes with the rest of the market. One should time the installation during off peak consumption of energy.

In other words, energy consumed by federal solar install happens now when the energy market is overwraught. The benefit happens 10 years down the road when a ton of other energy investments reach fruition.

The returns for this generation of solar panels is not there yet. With the current generation of solar panels, you don't get a net gain (either thermodynamically or economically) for the panels until over a decade (or possibly two). Manufacturing is going through a series of innovations that should bring this figure down.

A wise federal policy supports alternative energy when the market is weak, but lets the market lead when it is robust.

Freezing solar development on BLM for environmental assessment is the right course of action at this time.

Unfortunately, I don't think this wise decision is coming from Bush. It is coming from environmentalists. Regardless of the reason. I applaud the Bush Administration for this move. Freezing federal solar projects is the first smart political move I've seen taken on the environmental front this political season.

One of the ironies of politics is that a wise government often must act in the opposite direction of the popular sentiment. A wise government does not undertake a multibillion dollar spending plan when a sector of the economy that benefits from the spending is booming. A wise government makes its investments in a sector when the sector is artifically weak.

Outline Feature

BTW, I added an outline feature to the Rich Theory project. The resource pages now shows a record of revision.

If you write a blog post about any of the articles in this project, you can use the "request a link" feature on the resource page. If the post is real, I will approve the link back to your post. I like the "requested link" structure better than "trackback"

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Dialectics of Zeno

In the article on the Dialectics of Zeno I wanted to emphasize that many of our problems are not the result of character flaws of the people engaged in dialogue, but the form of the argument.

Parmenides and Zeno of Elea made astute observations about the nature of the cosmo. Their work also showed that the Pythagoreans, atomists and other schools of thought on the cosmos simply did not have the technology to answer the questions they were asking.

Zeno's overuse of reductio ad absurdum arguments (paradoxes) was not sustainable.

Meanwhile, the sophists were trying to find a way to bring intellectual discourse to the masses. They hosted public disputations to demonstrate rhetorical skills.

The sophists adopted the dialectics of Zeno. In their zeal to show intellectual acumen, the Sophists created a climate that was hostile to inquiry. Neither Zeno, nor the Sophists had ill intents. Their collective action, however, caused a deterioration in the quality of discourse.

Recreational Energy Consumption

Salt Cycle advocates a thing called Bikes and Bombs. In this sport, you take a kids bike up to the top of Trax, then bomb down city streets. Judging from the site, and, by people bombing down the main walk in the U, the experience is even more intense if you use a lot of obscenities.

I admit that, even before the installation of Trax, I had dark thoughts of taking a bus to the top of a hill and bombing down on the bike. I often had these dark thoughts will pedaling up the long steep hills in Salt Lake. It takes 15 minutes ride from my parent's house to downtown. It takes an hour to ride back.

While standing at the bus stop with my bike in hand, the green brain cells in the core of my being would scream that I would be raping Gaia if I were to ride the bus. Not wanting to be a Gaia rapist, I would hop back in the saddle and peddle up the hill.

Somehow, SaltCycle has found a way to mask out the fact that riding Trax to the top of a hill and bombing down is, in fact, nothing more than the consumption of energy for recreation. Trax uses electricity (much of it produced by [gasp] coal). The energy you release bombing down the hill came from the violent act of digging a deep pit for coal, burning it in a facility built by the industrial-military complex, releasing greenhouse gasses in the process. Greenhouse gasses that lead to the global warming and the extinction of the polar bear.

How could a person in good conscious bomb through the U knowing that their recreational consumption of energy is killing polar bears??????????

My guess is that they do this by disassociating collective energy consumption from private energy consumption. Since Trax is owned by the state, its energy consumption is not evil. Only private energy consumption contributes to global warming, capiche?

Unfortunately, I think the reasoning is flawed. The environmental devastation in the former USSR where everything was owned by the state, ended up being worse than the US, without the side effect of widespread prosperity.

I bring up the Bikes for Bombs issue because I think it is pertinant to the discussion of Obama's energy proposal. The proposal has a massive expenditure on energy. The massive expenditure on energy will cause a large artificial consumption of energy. The proposal would make sense if you held the view that it is only the private consumption of energy that is bad. If you held the view that all consumption of energy contributes to greenhouse gasses, the you one would reject the notion that replacing private with collective consumption of energy would do anything.

That means individuals will have to find a way to suck in the gut and peddle up the hill to find ways to reduce their total energy consumption.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Energy Gimmicks

I agree with Barrack Obama. McCain's program to give the company a $200 million award for inventing a better battery, fuel cell (or whatever) is a gimmick. The market already will award all of the best in category solutions. There may be some need for government in research investment, but not in the final reward.

Unfortunately, Obama's counter proposal of spending $150B on an energy initiative is even worse.

The primary problem in our country is that we waste energy. The solution to this problem will come by individuals figuring out how to waste less energy.

A massive government energy program won't cut back on energy consumption. It will institutionalize energy consumption.

Putting this another way … our resource intensive lifestyles has us consuming way too much energy. Because energy was cheap, we fell into patterns where we opted for energy intensive products over labor intensive products. The challenge for the market is to find ways to reverse this trend and to replace resource intensive products and services with labor intensive products and services.

When prices reflect reality, the market does this on its own. Products that consume a great deal of energy go up relative to other goods and services.

Barrack's program to slam onerous taxes on all of aspects of lives to pay for a big energy program will simply institutionalize the current imbalance. Spending $150B on energy does not address the fundamental problem that we aren't using our energy sources well.

High energy prices do this. The leadership we need is one that directs us from energy intensive solutions of our problems to labor intensive solutions.

There is a lot of hatred directed at speculators of late. The great crime of the speculators is that they made prices higher at the moment than they might be if our economy ran on a strict cash and carry basis.

Speculators are driving up prices because they believe that energy prices will continue to rise through the next presidency which, barring a miracle between now and November, will be Barrack Obama in the Whitehouse and a Democratic supermajority in the House and Senate. It is a good bet that energy will cost more. Since Barrack wants $150B to subsidize energy consumption, it is a good bet demand won't drop.

I've seen reports showing a very small (1 percent or so) drop in US oil consumption. The big problem is world demand. The US would do well if it increased oil production. The problem we've always faced in the past is that our government tends to thrash from underproduction to overproduction.

I doubt we will ever see anything but gimmickery and overreaction by the political class.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Grid

The main point I want to make in the Pythagoras article is in the section titled "Imposing the Grid. The demonstration showing that the hypotenuse of the unit square is not commensurable with the edges shows that it is natural to create systems that are not commensurable with each other. If you took two pieces of graph paper and turned one at a 45 degree angle to the other, you would find that you cannot match up the vertices.

(I made a bigger view of the image that shows more vertices and has the PHP code for the graph.)

The fact that there are entire systems which are not commensurable with eachother is extremely important. In the case of perspective. I could create a mathematical model that talks about everything relative to me. You could have a mathematical model with everything relative to you. Since we see things from different angles, the rational numbers in my system will appear as irrational numbers to you.

The fact that we are looking at the world through different world views does not mean that things are helpless. It means we have to be wary of the grids we impose on the world.


I finished the article on Pythagoras to Rich Theory. I did the orginal research on this work some 20 years ago; so I am going through books and online sources to verify things. It is long and tedious.

The hypotenuse of the unit squared

I admit, I am having a much harder time than I thought I would. Terminology in mathematics keeps changing. Of course, I am actually trying to make a point that terminology changes. The Pythagoreans did most of their mathematics drawing in sand or with rocks. Instead of dividing by two, they would have spoken of evenness balancing eveness. Anyway, I stayed up too late. I will put the section through a final edit tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Gloucester Myth

The Gloucester Pregnancy Pact story shows how difficult it is to separate myth from fact. Kathleen Kingsbury of Time Magazine wrote an article claiming that some of the 17 pregnant teens at Gloucester High School did so intentionally as part of a strange pregnancy pact.

The girls now deny that anyone would have done such a silly thing. It is possible that Kathleen Kingsbury did a poor job researching her story. Perhaps the pact was real but the girls, not wanting to appear silly, changed their story.

There is even a chance that parents, priests or teachers manipulated the girls into telling a different tale.

The Gloucester Teen Pregnancy Pact is now a myth. The existence or extent of such a pact is unknown.

The fact that it is a myth does not mean people can't talk about the issue.

If discussions about the pregnancy pact caused some teens to put off experimentation with sex, then the myth did a good thing. Reasoned reactions to the myth are not invalid simply because the factual basis of the myth is in question.

People surfing the internet should be wary of downloading programs that might be a Trojan Horse for spyware even though there is no evidence that Troy existed.

The story occurred while I was researching the rise of reason in Ancient Greece. For me this story provides a good example of the interplay of myth and reason. Good ideas drawn from myth are not invalid.

Reasoning is not invalid simply because one doesn't have all the facts upfront. Reasoning, after all, is a method to overcome lack of knowledge.

Regardless of the brand of stupidity that led to the baby boom at Gloucester High School. The fact is that there are 17 babies that were produced through a faulty reasoning process.

Speaking of myth, the modern myth is that marriage is about delirious happiness that magically follows meeting one's significant other. The leftist myth continues with the belief that traditional Christian society preference for monogamous heterosexual marriage is the result of ignorant hatred of different people.

I believe the Christian preference for marriage is a direct result of a high esteem for reason. Christian societies thought that the process of bringing children into the world was such an important decision that they demanded a rigorous deliberative process. People who want children are to suffer through a horrifically imperfect thing called marriage.

The stigma for out of wedlock birth was driven by a belief that people who did not go the deliberative route had little self control and fell short in the reason category.

Christian cultures clearly didn't think marriage was for everyone, because traditional Christian societies had all sorts of interesting things for single people to do.

Anyway, I wanted to get back to the Gloucester Public School. I spent several hours browsing through the academic offerings at the school.

No where did I find mention of logic or ethics. We dump trillions of dollars building these massive school edifices, but they are failing to pass on a high esteem for reason. A google site search on the school district's site found only one reference to "logic." That word was in reference to a math class talking about computer logic. Searching the word "ethics" found several documents about how teachers and board members must have ethical standards. Little about helping the students develop personal ethics. The site had 19 pages with the word "reason" but again none were about the school teaching students how to engage in quality reasoning in their personal lives.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Myth in the Making

It is strange how we end up spending time dwelling on issue that we don't like.

I've spent the last three days trying to write a page called of myth and math.

Myth is a loaded term like "propaganda." One might say that propaganda is the process of making myths for partisan gain.

The gist of rich theory is that the existence of myth is not a problem. Myth actually plays a vital role in the developing of language and the transduction of culture. In both mathematics and logic, people are generally more interested in the form of an idea than in the legitimacy of the source of the idea. A good idea that came from analyzing bad data is still a good idea. A bad idea that came from analyzing good data is still a bad idea.

Anyway, the theme of rich theory is that there was a radical reassessment of western culture that took place during the modern era. This radical reassessment led to a string of extremely destructive radical ideologies.

An impetus for this radical re-assessment was the idea that we could transition from a culture based on myth to one based on science. The reality was simply the creation of new myth.

This process also leads to the corruption of science.

A few of the points that I wanted to make are that there is not a perfect way to separate fact from error. That means that there is an element of myth to everything we think we know. I believe that, by accepting up front that there is an element of myth to all of our knowledge, we will find that we can work to overcome our imperfect knowledge through reason.

Our knowledge is imperfect, but through the process of reasoning we catch a fleeting glimpse of truth.

A person demanding that we have perfect knowledge before engaging in reason is apt to be disappointed and might develop the cynical view that there is no truth.

The demand that we have perfect knowledge before engaging in reason leads immediately to absurdity. Lets say there was a being endowed with perfect knowledge. Well, that being would have no need for the ability to reason because it has perfect knowledge.

Reasoning is a process where we improve upon our imperfect knowledge.

The existence of myth (imperfect knowledge) is not a problem. The real issue is one's reaction to myth. When people try to overcome the imperfection of their knowledge through reasoning, things tend to get better. When people take the alternative path and decide that all is myth and try manipulating myth as a path to power, then things get worse.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Fun Little Alternative Lifestyle

Working on the premise that anything one feels like doing is equivalent to a man and women making a commitment to raise a family ... Some young girls have just embarked on a super fun alternative lifestyle.

A group of teenage girls (all under 16) from Gloucester High School in Massachusetts entered a super fun pregnancy pact. 17 are having babies and it will all be super fun. The babies will all be so cute!

What's that you ask?

Well, I am sure they will be able to figure out all that stuff when the time comes. After all, These girls had one of them publick skool edjudcations; so I am sure they can handle anything that comes along.

The important thing is that the girls have a pact, and will stick together.

It is going to be so super fun.

As for moral equivalency ... Well, I am willing to concede that a note passed in gym class is the equivalent to the ceremonies performed by Gavin Newsom on the steps of the SF courthouse.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Modern View of Perspective

In the last post, I brought up the classical liberal view of perspective. This view has individual people running around with different view of the same reality (dare I mention that reality is truth).

The modern view (i.e., the tradition of Hegel and Marx) claims there to be an elite group of scientists who have a higher perspective. Hegel and Marx claimed to be using science to see the underlying conflicts that drive a society.

Modern thinkers ask: Should we trust our fate to petty little individuals who see things from their limited individual perspective, or should we follow an elite class of scientists who see the world from a higher perspective?

Golly, I think I will blindly follow the glorious leader with a higher perspective.

Unfortunately, The modern era has been a circus of intellectuals trying to frame "higher perspectives" that fit their partisan dispositions.

A primary thesis of Rich Theory is that these "higher perspectives" are really just smoke and mirror created by appeals to paradox, labeling and other underhanded tricks.

The overall result of this belief in elite intellectuals with higher perspectives has been a fractured, mean and violent society in which it is increasingly difficult to communicate with others.

The word "perspective" has become nothing but a buzz word as intellectuals slap it on every conceivable idea.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Classical Liberalism and Perspective

The term perspective refers to our view of the world.

Our planet is crowded with some six billion people running around seeing everything from their individual perspective. Not only do people see things from different angles. People have these little grabby hands that reach out from their cores, and bony little feet that they use to scuttle about. That means that people not only see things from different perspectives, there is a limited area where people are able to act.

Perspective is not simply an optical illusion. It is a fundamental part of the world where we live.

As mentioned in a previous post. Perspective is the process of projecting an n-dimensional space onto a (n-1)-dimensional surface. Perspective is ruled by the equation 1/n.

The things near each individual loom large and people have the equipment to act on such things.

Having spent late nights at the Marriott Library reading every book I could find on perspective, I came to an appreciation of classical liberalism.

I decided that the best way to organize society is to arrange things is so that all of the individuals have a sphere of influence where they are able to act.

Perspective was extremely important in the development of the classical liberal tradition that values property rights and the ability of the people to engage in free trade.

In my mind, the two keys to classical liberalism are the study of logic and the study of perspective. Both of these items were central to the curriculum in the classical education and art, and are no longer taught today.

The term "perspective" lingers around as a buzz word with the implication that there elite ruling class has a higher perspective than the little people. I think that people desiring to live in freedom would do well to teach their children the real hardcore mathematics of perspective.

Bridge Relief

I took photos of the molds used for the relief designs to be placed on the 3300 South bridge. The process is simple. They make styrofoam cut outs and paste them in the concrete mold for the bridge abutments. The workers then pour in the concrete (as you would any mold). Let it dry. After pulling off the mold they remove the styrofoam, sand blast and they have a simple relief picture.

Making the Reliefs ~ Relief Process ~ Design Work

I am happy that construction crews have started adding art to bridges.

The ancient greeks used to stick bas relief sculptures on everything. I guess you could make those by having people stick their face in plaster. The a mold from the facial indent.

Hmmmmm, if they need a model for an Adonis, I guess I could lend my chiseled visage. Of course I wouldn't want them to use my face for highway work as I would worry about all of the ladies becoming distracted while they drive by.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's My Death, I Will Lie Where I Want To

Scott Hinrichs is penning a tribute to his father who passed away recently. The tribute begins with an insurance bureaucracy story:

His father had a stroke and it was apparent that he would not last long. Apparently the family had wanted Mr. Hinrichs to spend his last days in a hospice. However ...

But we found out that Dad’s insurance wouldn’t help cover the first 30 days of the care facility unless he first spent three nights in the hospital.

Rather than gathering at a hospice to give final farewells to dad, the Hinrichs family had a harrowing emergency room experience. The end of life experience happened in a less than optimal space.

The end of life should have happened at the hospice which was designed as a place for terminal care with facilities arranged for families saying final farewells. Because the hospice is geared toward the end of life experience, they do a better job at a lower cost than the emergency room.

Of course the Hinrich's experience is simply the way that bureaucracies work. The bureaucrat has a sheet of paper that dictates action. As the left continues the progress from freedom to socialism, we find more and more of the important decisions of our lives dictated by caprices of our new feudal lords.

I've worked with a Utah State insurance firm and got to see the belly of the beast. The hospital has more political clout than the hospice; so the process demands a hospital stay first. The new think that builds bureaucracies is antithetical to life.

We would do far better if we organized our society so that people had the resources to make their decisions. The people who want to fight to the end can last days difiantly in the emergency room. Those that want a gathering of family and friends could spend final days in a hospice.

I know that the socialists reading this blog will claim that there is no way that the little people can ever have resources to handle the events that happen in life.

But, wait a second, the hundreds of billions that the little people dump into insurance is just such a resource. The bureacracy chose the most expensive route.

Unfortunately, rather than telling us to build our resources for anticipated expenses, our modern culture tells us to put trust our health care expenses to "professionals" in the insurance industry. We are then to fritter the rest of our resources away.

IMHO, insurance should only be for expenses outside the norm.

End of life is not an unexpected thing. It should not be treated as something outside the norm.

It would be far better to organize our society so that it was the norm for the little people to have some $60k saved up for inevitable end of life expenses.

If taxes on labor were lower, we would actually find that all of these services that we desire are affordable.

The primary component of both hospice and emergency care is human labor. Saving up for this care is largely the matter of people exchanging the excess labor they had when healthy for labor when they are in need.

The idea that it is outside the means of the little people to exchange their labor for the labor of other little people is as absurd as it is contemptuous.

BTW, I called the Hinrichs "little people" to emphasize that even contemptuous professors sitting in ivory towers should be able to recognize the fact that health care is a matter of little people exchanging their labor for the labor of other little people.

No matter how hard the professoriat works to indoctrinate the drones in the public schools, the indoctrination never changes the basic math.

The primary problem in health care is that we've employer financed insurance scheme has created a situation where a bureaucracies has captured decisions that we should be making on our own.

The Hinrichs experience was not driven by lack of resources, but by the fact that their resources were in the wrong configuration.

Anyway, I give my sympathies to a fellow Utah blogger who just lost a loved one. To add insult to injury some joker the guy never even met started calling his family "little people." It is harsh world.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Friday the 13th

Happy Friday the Thirteenth. I decide to pound out a chapter on Rich Theory about myth.

To be honest, I am not sure how to handle the question of myth. I need a section on myth because there is no way to talk about the history of math without bringing up the important role that ancient myths play in our understanding of math.

I like the idea of putting the discussion of myth right after a section on perspective. Perspective demonstrates that each of us has a limited and compressed image of reality.

My view on myth is that myth is simply part of the way that we compress and store information. IMHO, none of us have a complete view of the world. To a large extent, our minds are filled with myths about the world, and that we will never change this.

I don't like mentioning myth in the second chapter of the work as neither mythmaking nor mythbusting is a primary concern of mine.

I think it is a mistake for one to become consumed with either the idea that we must dedicate our lives to separating truth from myth (discarding all the myth), or with the idea that everything is myth; so life is a matter of creating myths that bring our partisan group to power.

In my opinion, the preoccupation with myth sits right there with the preoccupation with propaganda.

Anyway, Friday the 13th will come to an end soon. I hope all of you survived.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Vanishing Point

I got a break and pounded out the code for the vanishing point graphic. Isn't it purty? I now blog.

The primary reason why I wanted to begin Rich Theory (a refutation of Transfinite Theory) with an essay on perspective was to introduce the concept of the vanishing point.

The vanishing point is a real thing that appears when one projects a three dimensional space onto a two dimensional surface. It is not just a contrivance of artists run wild. You will find vanishing points in photographs and mechanical drawing techniques.

The vanishing point is real and it can be identified discretely. People can use the vanishing point in their various doing. In perspective drawing, artists start by identifying a vanishing point. They then draw straigh guidelines from the point and use those to determine the relative size of the objects in the picture.

Reducing by a dimension involves division. The relative size of objects in a picture is determined by the equation 1/n, where n is the distance of the object from the viewer. This is a dramatic equation! So, you will notice in the picture that the second pole is half the length of the first.

The straight guidelines in perspective pictures are real as well. They appear because the vertical and horizontal are ruled by the same mathematics. They are both ruled by the equation 1/n. The second pole is half the size of the first. It's position is half way between the first pole and the vanishing point. The third pole is a third the size of the first. It's position is two thirds of the way between the first pole and vanishing point.

There are 50 telephone poles in the picture. The closest few take up most of the picture. The rest blur into a single triangular blob. I could have drawn a hundred poles without adding much to the picture.

The vanishing point and straight guidelines are real things that you can find on a two dimensional surface.

Here's the kicker. The vanishing exists on the 2D representation, but it does not exist in the 3D space represented by the 2D surface. Roads don't vanish on the horizon. Both the vanishing point and straight guidelines are optical illusions. The don't exist in the 3D space, but are created by the the process of mathematical projection*.

It is my opinion that a great deal of the complexity of mathematics (calculus and transfinite theory in particular) is the result of mathematicians getting caught up in the logic of the representation of mathematical ideas and not the real substance of the subject which is this weird multidimensional space.

For example, the article mentions that one can define the vanishing point as the limit of a series. There is truth to this statement. However, I find it better to describe the vanishing point as a manfestation of the relation between the viewer and the frame of the picture.

This is all so super profound.

* (mathematical projection is different from psychological projection).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Renaissance Rediscovery of Visual Perspective

Someone is stealing the rest of my day and all of my tomorrow. I have one last graphics to create, but I decided to push out the first chapter of Rich Theory.

The chapter is called "The Renaissance Rediscovery of Visual Perspective."

Quite frankly, I believe that the rediscovery of visual perspective is the defining event of classical Western culture. It is this moment where western thoughts on mathematics, art, science, spirituality and logic all collided.

I want this first chapter to be very short and compelling (which is why it has the bold clain the Visual Perspective is the cause of the Renaissance.) The next chapters will look at ancient Greece, Rome and the Bizantine empire.

I will then come back and give a more balanced view of Brunelleshi's role in history.

Anyway, I must run off.

PS, I guess I should mention that one of the reasons that I flunked out of the University of Utah is that I was studying Visual perspective. The left-leaning professors of the math department were not pleased to have a student investigating verboten literature from the classical era.

Big Oil is Too Big

A guy named Derrick left an odd comment that I can't quite decipher. Apparently, he thinks that one of the advantages of Obama's profit tax is that it would force big oil companies to invest more in alternative fuels. That is, to avoid the profits tax, the oil companies would sink their money in alternative fuel as a tax shelter.

I disagree with this idea on many levels. The main reason is that I think that the big oil companies are big enough. I would rather see the wealth from the windfall profits distributed by dividends or as increased stock value. The private investors would then invest the profits in small alternative fuel companies.

The last thing I would want to see is the big oil companies dominating the new alternative fuel business.

Nuclear aside, almost all alternative fuel investments are best made on a small scale. The small bio-diesel operation that transforms excess crop and cooking oil from the county is a highly efficient and targeted concern.

An artificially subsidized regional bio-diesel refinery will not produce much more fuel than it consumes in transporting crop to the plant.

Alternative fuels are primarily about efficiency.

The cost of transmitting energy means that solar panels and windmills are best when distributed near the point of consumption.

Alternative fuel is largely about replacing big energy with small energy.

By their nature Federal subsidies for alternative energy or special tax constructs will end up favoring the big, inefficient solutions of the past.

Derrick's second claim seems to be that there was no investment in alternative energy in the Bush years. I watch the markets. Alternative energy is booming. Alternative energy stocks have been booming.

It is a risky investment. No-one knows which company will be the big thing. It is probably best to invest in alternative energy funds or ETFs. The other big risk of alternative energy is that governments control oil supplies. Since governments are driven by lust for power, they end up creating false markets by flooding the market with oil to drive small firms under. They then crimp the market.

For that matter, the history of big oil is quite disgusting. Monopolists would flood the market to drive out competition, then jack up prices. The Standard Oil Monopoly was as evil as the OPEC cartel is today.

The last thing this world needs is for big oil to buy a dominant role in alternative energy.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Oiling the Wealth Envy Engine

Sorry to burst bubbles, but Obama's oil profits tax is as bad an idea as McCain's Gas Tax Holiday.

Let's say we passed a really hefty tax and reamed it to the oil companies in a big way. The result of Obama's tax will be that American owned oil companies will shrink in relation to the nationalized oil concerns of China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and al.

America will be in a worse position after the collection of the taxes.

A hefty tax on private oil companies would only be valid if it was the privately held oil companies that caused the shortage in supply.

When I look at the world, it appears to me that privately owned firms have a direct control of a smaller portion of known reserves than at any time since the OPEC oil embargo of the Carter years.

It is government—not private enterprise—that is crimping supply.

In the US, environmentalists block access to known reserves. Abroad we find countries like Venezuela nationalizing the oil industry at a record pace.

The long term solution is to let energy companies make their profits. These profits are being re-invested in alternative energy.

The cause of the current energy crisis is that governments are restricting access to oil supplies. The energy crisis will resolve itself when private industry has the ability and economic resources to develop alternatives.

Once again Obama is pulling a page straight from Marx. He is using wealth disparities caused by government control of a market to spur wealth envy in an effort to demand even greater control of the market.

Java Tutorial

This Java Applet Tutorial seems more current than most of the Applet tutorials I've found. It explains the difference between Applet and JApplet and other useful things.

Some of the code has copyright date of 2008 (of course, that might just be an automatically updated date.) The tutorial recommends using the APPLET tag which has been deprecated.

I compiled several of the samples. They did not crash my browser.

I probably would have been happy if I found this tutorial before all the old ones with broken code.

I think I will give up on interactive graphics for the moment.

In this last week, I've read one too many essays on why Java programmers are superior to all other forms of life on the planet (Java programmers use superior thinking which makes them superior beings). Quite frankly, I have no need for superior beings with superior forms of thought.

GD Library Sample

Having spent a frustrating week trying to make a graph with Java. I sat down with PHP and pounded out the following graphics in 15 minutes. Click the picture and you will go to a page with the code.

I was able to write the program quickly because PHP knows the secret to making a programming language a success: They write clean documentation geared toward people who want to get the job done.

For some odd reason the "visionaries*" who write Java documentation are on some sort of kick where they spend their time talking about how great java is and never tell people how to do simple things like write a computer program.

(yes, Sun calls the documentation writers visionsaries)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Java Shakes

I have a problem. I want to include graphics in my current research project. The Adobe CS3 suite and flash animation would be the ideal tool for the job. Unfortunately, it is out of the budget for the project.

Anyway, a week ago, I decided to see if I could do the job with Java Applets. So, I dusted off all of my old Java books and have been trolling web sites for current best practices.

Most of the examples I found were dated in the 1990s. Several programs out there actually crash my browser (not a good sign). Sadly, the graphics in most the programs I've found lack quality and seem to be resource hogs.

Yesterday, I went to a local bookstore. I was considering buying a new book because I wanted to find current best practices. Do they have a better solution for reducing flickering than resource intensive double buffering?

I was shocked. Just a few years ago, Java books filled a full bookcase. Today, selection of Java books only fills half a shelf.

I was extremely disappointed with the books I found.

Java books tend to be full of prose lauding the greatness of the language. They are generally weak on showing what can be done with the language. Conservsely, languages like PERL admit upfront that the language is ugly, but are full of examples showing what can be done with the language.

I am wondering if the Java language is in already in its sunset years.

I admit, I have never used Java in a professional situation. Everytime I've evaluated Java, I ended up using other technologies that were better suited for the task at hand.

IMHO, the great fault of Java programs is that Java programmers tend to move the complexity of programs from the methods into the object model. This method of thinking works okay for desktop applications, but does not work well on the web.

The site jFreeChart has a program for producing nice looking charts. Unfortunately, the program is designed for producing charts, and not displaying them. None of their preformatted charts do what I want. Making jFreeCharts into a tool that displays graphs would take a massive re-engineering effort.

Oddly, the best graphics program I ever used was the original Postscript language. It took a little effort to get used the reverse polish notation. But it was possible to sit at a computer and write stuff with decent looking output.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Stealing the Limelight

A guy named Ed Hale is getting a ray of limelight. He slammed up a site called Hillary Clinton Supporters for John McCain. The central gist of the site is a complaint about the super delegate system:

What I saw today was what went on in the USSR (Russia) 30 years ago. The Boss's called the shots, and I decide that I did not want any part of them.

I voted for Obama during the Utah primary. I did so because I liked his 2004 Democratic Convention speech. I also liked that some of his supporters are arguing for improved political discourse. Obama's arguments against the 2003 invasion of Iraq fits closely with my beliefs at the time.

Obama and I differ on the troop surge, health care and education.

The Republicans often get the short end of the stick when there is a mass exodus from the Democratic Party. For example, the Democratic Party was the source of the Jim Crow laws. To the detriment of the Republican party, many racists switched parties during the Civil Rights Movement.

One can argue that many of the excesses of the Bush presidency came from philosophical quirks of neocons (at least those neocons that switched parties for political expediency.
I think that the reform of the Democratic Party would do more for this country than another political win for the neocon infused Republican Party.

The problem is that I can't figure out if Obama is committed to quality discourse or if he is just making a pretense to intellectualism. If Obama was committed to quality discourse; there would be a large pile of ideas on the table, and we would be discussing those ideas. Instead we have all this propaganda on the table, a politically active contingent on the blogosphere trying to make people unhappy coupled with a nebulous call for an undefined change.

All we know at this point is that the nebulous change has socialized medicine, a serious reduction in the private ownership of cars, houses and a precipitous drop in our consumption of energy. People who the world consider rich will pay substantially more taxes (all Americans are considered rich). What we don't have on the table is an explanation of how all of this dramatic reduction in private property ownership will result in happiness.

Related to Ed Hale's allusion to Russia, I am also hesitant to support Obama because I've read too much Marxist literature. This nebulous call for change is far too reminiscent of Mao's Cultural Revolution.

The point I was trying to make in on the Crass Commercial site (which is still down) is that Marx never defined communism.

What Marx did was to create a system of discourse that made people discontent with their current state. He then held out Communism as a change that would make things better.

Marx gave a formula for inciting people to action, but did not provide a constructive form for their action. The action led to widespread misery.

Moa's cultural revolution was engineered affair where Moa incited youth militias to a cultural purging. The youth movement took to purging with a vengeance, and things got really bad.

There are some youthful elements of the blogosphere which are a bit gaga for Obama and a bit irrational in their exuberance.

Recent trends in American politics is that presidents have rushed to the center after their election. The Clintons supported free trade initiatives and did not expand government quite as much I expected. The Bush administration took a wide stance and supported every big government boondoggle and earmark thrown on the table. Bush and Company rushed leftward with a hope of buying a permanent Republican hegemony. Consequently, Bush expanded government more than any president since LBJ.

My guess is that Obama is just using Mao's political platform as a way to gain power, and will drop it after the election. While there are many professors who cling to Marxist Dialectics with the same fervor as the ingornant Pennsylvanians clings to their guns and religion, most people realize that Marxism failed worse than United States failed.

My hope is that the Obama campaign will move toward the center.

Of course, both Bill Clinton and GW Bush ran as centrists.

Obama is running as an agent of change. Obama will have a super majority along with complete control of the schools and mainstream media.

One would expect an agent of change with a super majority to become more partisan after the election.

America seems to work best with a split government. The thrashing from a Republican super majority to a democratic super majority could prove fatal.

In this regard, I applaud Ed Hale and Hillary Clinton Supporters for John McCain. I hate that there is too much power in the president's hands. Anything that diminishes the power of the glorious leader is welcome.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Propaganda v. Reasoning

Continuing the yammering on propaganda.

The word propaganda really just refers to whatever a person or group does to propagate their ideas. People generally assign a negative connotation to the term; however, it is impossible to objectively distinguish "propaganda" from "objective" reasoning. People's definition of good and bad propaganda generally follows partisan lines.

Scott McClellan's accusation that that Bush administration engaged in propaganda is a non-event. Scott McClellan's job as press secretary is propagandistic in nature. His job is to present the world view of the administration. President Clinton had a press secretary whose job was propagandistic in nature as well; President Obama will have one as well.

The whole conflict between the Islamic and Western world is one of propaganda as the powers vie to convey their world vision.

The important questions involve the reasoning of the Bush administration. Did the Bush administration engage in a sound reasoning process. If they didn't engage in sound reasoning, then the next question should be why they engaged in unsound reasoning.

The Bush administration engaged in the reasoning processes that are taught in the modern education system. Our left leaning education system yanked logic from the curriculum decades before Bush was born. Our modern education system does an astoundingly poor job teaching math and other reasoning skills.

In 2003, there were all sorts of things that indicated that an invasion of Iraq would be a shortcut to progress.

Our progressive education system tells us that, when our sentiments indicate a short cut to progress seems promising, we should follow our feelings and take the short cut to progress.

Our Constitution was written at a time when the education system had a high esteem for logic. The founders believed that there should be a more deliberative process before doing something like invading another country. The Constitution demanded a Declaration of War.

Here is the problem. The founders assumed that the leaders would have reasoning skills that are simply not taught in our schools these days. In a world where progressive schools fail to teach logic, a declaration of war would be as non-deliberative as our recent bumbling into Baghdad.

The progressive idea of Democracy is one where a political class has a nexus of justifications for their desires. The sporadic actions of the government are a happenstance of partisan infighting as the polticians reach out to grab their desires.

The sad truth is that, in this modern political climate, the reasons behind government actions are weak.

For example, a primary reason for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq was that March was the ideal month for the invasion. A more deliberative approach to the war would have missed the ideal timeframe for the war. Putting off the invasion until 2004 would have put the decision in an election year. The tight timeframe for the invasion meant we gave Hussein a short three day ultimatinum to abdicate to avoid the invasion. It is highly likely that Hussein would have left on his own if the ultimatum were a bit longer.

It is possible that the reason for shortcutting the deliberative process and for the war itself might be the tight timeframe dictated by natural and political cycles.

The above observation makes me livid. It means that we rushed to war because Bush felt rushed.

Left leaning politics can be even more bizarre:

For example, people are livid with the out-of-control spending of the Bush administration. The result of this anger is we are likely to hand a super majority to a group that intends to socialize medicine.

So, the reason that we will have socialized medicine is because we think government spending is out of control.

Americans are justified to be livid with a government that systematically produces bad decision based on defective reason. Unfortunately, we aren't going to be able to fix the problem simply by accusing people of propaganda as our problems lay with the foundations of the modern system of reasoning and not with the method for communicating our reasons.