Calling Coyotes by Cross-Country Communication in all Counties

Saturday, April 30, 2005

This makes me very, very, very sad.

"Disney, my name is NF. You killed my fiction, prepare to die!"
The Return of Edloe the Hutt!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Aviation Watch

Airbus finally flew the A380. This plane has been a long time in the making. The crux of whether it will be competitive depends on two things, the cost per passenger to purchase, make the airports compatible, run, and maintain; and whether there is enough demand for air travel that the 840 seats will be filled. There is apparently demand for the plane from aircraft companies, as 154 advance orders have been made. Airbus is claiming the per-passenger costs are a fifth of that for the 747, so if it is even only the same as the 747, it is unlikely to suffer from the chief failing of the Concorde, ridiculous per-passenger operation costs.

An interesting side-note is that Boeing is not working on another large passenger aircraft, but a smaller long-range one. It's possible they're trying to sweep the market right out from under large jetliners by creating very high efficiency cost-effective jetliners that are significantly more economical than the larger ones. The one significant non-engineering problem with this strategy is that a limiting factor exists in logistics of airlines. There is a finite amount of runways, hangers, and terminal space so it may be impossible to substitue a large fleet of smaller more efficient jetliners for large aircraft like the A380.

The biggest issue with all modern airline development is that it is predicated on an imminent boom in air travel comparable to the introduction of the jetliner, as has been predicted for the last decade. If this does not happen, all we will see is the slow replacement of present airliners with the newer ones, and a lot of planes will end up sitting in the factory hanger or in the airplane graveyard in Arizona.

Monday, April 25, 2005

This is an absolutely horrible, horrible idea. The idea is so horrible I can't go into why it is so horrible right now. Our lawmakers are a bunch of idiots, and I will definitely xercise civil disobedience on this one.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Albert Einstein, 50 Years Later

Yesterday was the semicentennial of Albert Einstein's death.

Lost in Einstein's fame is the totality of why he was so famous. He can be fairly regarded as the founder of three fields; Special Relativity, General Relativity, and Nuclear Chemistry; and an assistant to the founding of Quantum Physics, whiich is ironic given his opinion that much of it was wrong.

His first accomplishment was the quantum explanation for the Photoelectric Effect that he published in 1905, a mere five years after Plank founded quantum physics. His solution implied the existence of the photon, and thus gave a physical meaning to what had previously been just math by Plank, and gave solid proof of the wave-particle duality of light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation.

His second discovery was the Special Theory of Relativity, which has become an integral part of quantum physics, and also led to the formulation of one of the most famous equations in history. The relativistic motion form of this equation, from which the rest form is derived, led to de Broglie's theory of the wave behavior of particles, which was the antecedent of the Uncertainty Principle which Einstein was convinced was flawed. The Uncertainty Principle is the basis for all quantum physics since becoming, in effect, the fundamental theory of quantum physics with the proof of Quantum Field Theory, which describes all particles as fields, similar to electric and magnetic fields composed of photons. This theory has been essential in mathematically describing all forces other than gravity, including the forces that cause nuclear decay, the other corollary to Einstein's mass-energy equation.

His theory that took the longest to conclusively prove, and to fully utilize (which, it could be argued, has yet to be done) is the General Theory of Relativity. Despite Einstein's mistake in assuming the existence of a cosmological constant, this theory gave a solid foundation to astrophysics, and is essential for planning the orbits and paths of satellites and inter-planetary probes.

All of the mathematics in the General Theory has been proven correct with great precision. Part of the reason for this is that General Relativity is not an equation in the normal sense, but is a collection of condition, differentials, and relations that the gravity around a system of masses is in accordance with. The first equation based on General Relativity was not discovered by Einstein, and was a description of the system of a compact massive object at rest, which was realized to be a black hole. A consquence of General Relativity not being a single equation is that an unexplained system in rotational relativity (which the explanation of was the main reason the only significant alternative to Eistein's General Theory was made) ended up being described by General Relativity through a new solution to the system of equations in the theory.

In conclusion, the continuing fame of Albert Einstein is well-deserved. He was an insightful and prodigous theorist who was a major figure in laying the foundation of modern physics. He was also involved in non-scientific areas of society, which I have not discussed here, and had a notably good sense of humor. He was truly a great man.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Resonance of Old Stuff

For example, the first Carnival of the Vanities:

Is blogging Art? It's bound to be, eventually. There are too many people participating for it not to eventually produce works of staggering intellect, transcendent beauty and infectious humor. Many will argue that it already has. But most of us aren't aiming for those Olympian heights, not just yet. Most of us want to cast one yard further than we did yesterday.

Read the rest.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Observation (9th in a series)

When Blue Herons move, they slice like a fucking hammer.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Zogby Keeps on Using Those Words, But I do Not Think They Mean What he Thinks They Mean

Sometimes I look at the work of people in "statistical" occupations, and think that it's a shame that I'm majoring in biochemistry, because I could do a better job than some of these numbskulls. However, I think Zogby knows exactly what he's doing in this poll. An expression I like is "garbage in, garbage out." This poll is a whole lot of garbage in, and a whole lot of garbage out.

The Zogby poll found that, if a person becomes incapacitated and has not expressed their preference for medical treatment, as in Terri's case, 43 percent say "the law presume that the person wants to live, even if the person is receiving food and water through a tube" while just 30 percent disagree.

There is nothing wrong with this question. However, that is because there is nothing useful about it. The law does presume that a person wants to live if they're on artificial life support, but the presumption is overridden by proof of a person's intention that they don't want to. That is precisely what happened with Terri Schiavo. This question has no relevance to the circumstances around Terri Schiavo.

Another question does, and it is biased by wording towards a certain result, so its result is bogus.

"When there is conflicting evidence on whether or not a patient would want to be on a feeding tube, should elected officials order that a feeding tube be removed or should they order that it remain in place," respondents were asked.

Some 18 percent said the feeding tube should be removed and 42 percent said it should remain in place.

See what's wrong? I hope that the people who wrote this article is misreading the poll and not telling the full results, because this question was phrased in a manner that gives a very narrow result. The question should have been phrased as two questions, with each one having a binary answer of yes or no, instead of having a bastardized question that does not suggest an answer of "none of the above."

However, the only other question in the article is the absolute worst, and is what is responsible for the title of this post. It should be a textbook example of ambiguous polling.

"If a disabled person is not terminally ill, not in a coma, and not being kept alive on life support, and they have no written directive, should or should they not be denied food and water," the poll asked.

A whopping 79 percent said the patient should not have food and water taken away while just 9 percent said yes.

I think I'll begin from the top on this one, because the whole thing is fubar.

Disabled is a general term. A person with a broken leg could be called disabled. So could a person with no leg. Same goes for paralysis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, etc. A person with Alzheimer's could be said to be disabled. There are many "learning disabilities" and it just so happens that someone in a persistent vegetative state is disabled. My question is; what is Zogby trying to find out here? That question recurs in analysis of this entire question.

For the use of such a general term, the next three clauses are highly specific, both in phrasing and in how Zogby is using the word. There is nothing wrong with intentionally excluding terminal illness, but the usage of "coma" is atrocious for a poll of the general public given the poll subject. Coma is being used here in the strict medical definition, which is distinct from a PVS. However, how many of the people being polled understand that? That there is any doubt on whether the question was understood as intended is reason in itself to not accept the results as valid. But things get worse.

They do not consider a feeding tube that is surgically implanted in the stomach "life support," then blithely ask if the person should be denied food and water! I call shenanigans. They can't have expected everyone to make the assumption that what Terri was on was not life support. By a straight linguistic analysis of the word it clearly was! If the feeding tube was removed she would die of dehydration! If it wasn't supporting her life there would be no problem with removing it! This clause is utter bullshit. (On further reflection this suffers from the same flaw of over-technicalitization of the "coma" point, and this question isn't really about Terri in the first place, so it is not comparable to what it claims to be, a referendum on removing Terri Schiavo's non-"life support" life support. This is, of course, a quality of a bogus poll question.)

And as far as having no written directive, they are playing off of either the lack of knowledge of the polled subject, or an opinion that is not measured in a separate question. This is because, while Terri had no written directive, Florida does permit oral directive to be accepted in a court of law, rendering what would have been an interesting poll question (Should oral directive be accepted in medical decision-making when no written directive exists?,) a potential confounding factor in a poll question not intended to be related. Again, what is Zogby trying to find out here?

The actual question, "should or should they not be denied food and water?" is the input of all this garbage in a manner that still lacks significant context, and the result of "a whopping" 79 percent opposed is just statistical garbage repackaged as mathematical gospel truth. I normally like to read Hindrocket's writing on Power Line, but when he says "That's obviously a fairer way of describing Terri Schiavo's situation than most polls used," he is making a completely subjective observation based on how he wants to perceive the question and how its results fit into how he wants to view the world, not on how the average person views reality.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

My explanation of my IFOC Dead Pool picks is up.
Music Coincidences

When I found out the pope died, by complete coindidence I was listening to the Talking Heads song, "Heaven."

"That's really freaky man."

Friday, April 01, 2005


Lair Simon declared the Pope's death a little too soon, and has called upon Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf for public relations.
Observation (8th in a series)

I miss Swallows and Goldfinches.
April Fools Update

Laurence Simon is no longer the blogger at This Blog is Full of Crap. He is now the blogger at This Blog is Full of Carp.

This has been an April Fools Update.