Saturday, October 02, 2004

Republicans, Democrats and Women

Michelle Malkin quotes Cameron Diaz:
We have a voice now, and we're not using it, and women have so much to lose. I mean, we could lose the right to our bodies. We could lo--if you think that rape should be legal, then don't vote. But if you think that you have a right to your body, and you have a right to say what happens to you and fight off that danger of losing that...
But just who is it that doesn't respect a woman's right to her own body? Well, the Republicans are opposed to abortion. Republicans believe that a child's right to life trumps a woman's right to eliminate said child. Point to Democrats, who think that a woman's right to be slim and not have to support a child trumps absolutely anything.

But it's the Democrats who don't think it's a big deal when women are forced to have abortions. What could be a bigger violation to a woman than tying her down and ripping her child from her womb? It's Democrats who don't think it is a big deal when women are pressured into prostitution. It's Democrat-controlled cities that don't do anything about sexual slavery so that the feds need to crack down on it.

Many Democrats don't even think rape is a big deal. They scream about it a lot. They have "take back the night" events and such. But look a little deeper. How many times have you heard a leftist say that rape is not about sex? That ridiculous statement is a defense of sexual libertinism. They want to take the sex out of sexual violence and in the process they remove it's unique beastliness. How many relatively trivial things have been compared to rape? A man leering at a woman. A man telling a dirty joke to a woman. President Bush carrying out his duties as president even though Democrats disputed the election. The fact that the left thinks these things can be compared to rape shows how serious they really think rape is.

There is a consistency to be found here: The Republicans put freedom from violence first. That explains why they don't want to allow violence against women or unborn children. The Democrats put sex first. That's why they support abortion (it makes sex safer) and why they don't think pressure and even violence in the name of sex is such a big deal.

Friday, October 01, 2004

CBS lacky helps prove fraud

David E. Hailey, a professor at Utah State University has answered two of the most troublesome questions about the CBS forgeries: "How could the forger be that stupid?" and "Why do some of the characters look different from Times Roman?" (link from Wisbang). The first question has been answered inadequately by just assuming that the forger was too young to know how recent laser printers are or just doesn't remember how different typewritten documents look.

Neither answer is entirely satisfactory, given that the forger did make some effort to have dates on the forged documents match with the dates in known real documents. The date matching took some research and forethought, enough to make me wonder how he could have overlooked the obvious problem of the font.

Now we know that he did think about the font. Hailey argues that the font used in the memos is not Times New Roman, it is a font called Typewriter. He shows how this font matches the CBS memos more closely than the Times New Roman font that is the default in Word.

If Hailey is correct, then the forger did go to the trouble of finding and installing a font that said "typewriter". Now, we only have to explain how he could have missed the fact that his typewriter font is proportional so its output still doesn't look like it was produced by a typewriter.

That doesn't seem so mysterious to me. I myself don't easily recognize the difference between proportional fonts and fixed-size. I have too look for narrow and wide characters like "i" and "w" and compare the width. Someone who doesn't know anything about fonts might not even know that such a difference existed, so he wouldn't think to check it.

I also remember one time selecting "Typewriter" from a font dialog box with the intention of getting a fixed-width font so letters would line up down the columns. I was surprised to find that the letters didn't line up --they weren't fixed-width. But they did look a bit like typewriter characters.

Hailey's theory also helps to answer the question of why some of the characters look consistently different from the Times New Roman fonts. I did some experiments that proved to me that you could get consistent differences by photocopying (I had to enlarge and shrink to get really striking results). But Hailey's solution is much more satisfactory.

Hailey also argues that there are signs that the documents were mechanically typed based on wear patterns of the letters. However, the kinds of changes he noted are just the kind I was able to reproduce by photocopying. To prove his thesis, it isn't enough to show that those wear patterns are explainable by typewriter wear, he has to show that they are not explainable as artifacts of photocopying, and he doesn't do that. The reason for this high standard of proof is that it is apparent that photocopying was used to deliberately obscure the documents.

Another reason that Hailey's arguments on the wear aren't very convincing is that they are based partly on his own subjective judgment, and he shows in that very paper that we cannot trust his objectivity. In a section entitled "Conclusions About CBS Role" he writes
There is no good way for proving the documents in question are authentic. If I were in the Texas Air National Guard, and I said, "I saw the documents in Col. Killian’s cabinet," who would believe me? The answer to that question depends entirely on the political point of view of my audience.
I don't think this is true at all. An eye witness who didn't have a history of anti-Bush or Democratic party activism would seem very credible to me. And I expect most Bush supporters would feel the same way. It wouldn't be conclusive of course, but it would be persuasive. And if they found the actual secret files with other memos written the same way, that would be pretty conclusive (pending examination).
Hailey also writes
It is possible however to infer from physical evidence that CBS (and Mr. Rather and his producers) justifiably believed the documents to be authentic. Given enough time and concentration, any competent "expert" would have concluded that they are typed in a font commonly used in the military at the time. There is currently outside evidence indicating that the documents are inauthentic, but none of it exists in the mechanics of documents themselves. They are completely in keeping with typewritten documents of the period in question – early 1970s. Whatever the outcome of this kafuffle, I am convinced that in the end, it will be generally recognized that the documents CBS released to the public were typed – probably on an old, military typewriter.
Hailey seems to be arguing that since it would have been possible for Rather to have eventually found an expert who would have said the documents might be authentic, that they justifiably believed the documents were authentic. One would like to think that this isn't his intended point. CBS had no evidence whatsoever for the document's authenticity other than the word of a rabid partisan Bush-hater who has been known to tell implausible stories about Bush in the past.

Perhaps in an alternate universe, CBS sent their documents first-thing to Hailey and he told them the documents were internally credible. In that universe, CBS may have had some reasonable confidence in the documents. But in this universe CBS shopped around for an expert who wouldn't raise suspicions about the documents. In this universe, CBS acted shamefully. The fact that Hailey is trying to defend them on this does not speak well for his intentions.

Hailey also writes (without citation)
The critical arguments of the above document experts are both spurious and uninformed. The ability of the military to produce the proportional text with a superscript "th" with a typewriter is beyond question.
His disrespect for the other researchers is a simple admission of bias, especially when his counter to them is so weak. As a matter of fact, there is some question of whether "the military" could do that. Just because typewriters existed that could do those things, that does not show that the military owned any of them. The other document experts are concerned with the plausibility of the idea that a National Guard post had such specialized document-production equipment or that they would have used it for private memos if they did.

Also, it seems to me that Hailey is trying to sweep the issue of the proportional fonts under the carpet by concentrating on font form. As far as I know, no one has shown that any National Guard office used proportional-font typewriters for daily business in the seventies. Hailey himself can't find any examples of this. And he has only his own speculation that there was ever a typewriter using the font of the Bush memos. He never found such a typewriter or any document that was written on such a typewriter.

Wizbang is still claiming that the font is Times New Roman. But I think Hailey made a pretty good case that it's a typewriter font. It would have to be a typewriter font with exactly the same (scaled) dimensions as Times New Roman.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

the thread that wouldn't die

More temporal anomalies in the blogosphere!

If you go to La Shawn Barber's Corner right now, you won't see anything published after 9/24, but I'm sure she posted some stuff since then. This is just more fallout from the destabilization of the blogosphere.

Explain that in terms of European date formats, monkey man.

I've been double smear-quoted.

how Republicans can draft a Democrat issue

Protein Wisdom comments on the CBS coverage of the draft issue. Pretty damning stuff. And INDC has some revealing interviews with the perps.

Let's say you run a news organization and you receive an email that is trying to influence a presidential election by lying to people about an important issue. You notice that this email is getting a lot of play and may actually be influencing people. Your job as a journalist is to
A. Examine the claims of the email and show your viewers where they are lies and distortions.

B. Present a show about the email, giving quotes by frightened people who believe it, make sure lots more people hear the false allegations, and never actually point out that it is false.
For CBS the answer is B.

But, this is a great opportunity for the Republicans. They have two things they can do that will completely turn this issue around and turn it into a plus for their side. First, in the debate tonight, Bush can mention the "fears of a draft" and propose the total elimination of the Selective Service Commission. Let's face it, it's a worthless agency that was established in the 80's so that Republicans could force some Democrats to vote against "national defense". It has served it's purpose and it should go.

Second, both houses of Congress should schedule votes on the bills that Democrats have introduced to restart the draft. Let America know where each party really stands on the issue. Now that CBS has made this an issue, they could hardly avoid reporting the voting on the bill. Well, they could, but it would be just another nail in the coffin of their claims of objectivity.

I'm an old-fashioned guy II

When I got to the office this morning, there were no caffeinated beverages left, so I had to make my own coffee. I decided to try overcoming my technophobia and use that new-fangled hot-water thingie. I must admit that it was very convenient: the water was already hot and all I had to do was pour it.

But I miss the soothing buzz of the microwave. You know that sound that says, "just a minute, I'm working on it." And I miss that friendly ding at the end: "Ding! I'm done! I'm done! Oh, boy! Food! Come and get it!" Pots don't talk. Not like microwaves.

And I think there is a tendency for modern people to get lazy and lose important skills when technology makes things too easy for them. With microwaves, you have to know how long to cook it. That requires some important memory skills. You have to know how to program complex devices. With the new heating pot, you just push one button and it takes care of all the complex issues for you. It takes away too much of the challenge of cooking.

So, although I'm glad I tried the new equipment, I think I'm going to stick with the old tried-and-true microwave. It keeps me close to my roots. It makes me a part of the great pageant of microwave-using history down through the ages. And I like the ding.


Milblog was liveblogging the SpaceShipOne flight. It was pretty exciting reading even the next day...

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

the draft thing

Remember that email where some Kerry supporter claims Bush plans to bring back the draft? Emigre reminds us who it is that called for mandatory service.

that mole in the Kerry campaign

The mole has scored another coup, getting the Democrats to talking about Bush's grandfather.

This past year has been a revelation for me. Democrats are always whining about negative campaigns and always saying how the voters don't like them. But I always thought they were caricaturing the idea of a negative campaign, implying that the attacks are always trivial, that they are only designed to hurt the opponent's reputation but have no relevance to his abilities to carry out the duties of the office he is running for.

I never think of that when I think of negative campaigning. I think of a candidate who knows something that does make his opponent less qualified for the office he seeks. How can it be bad to let the voters know about this? I even consider it a service to the community.

But now I see where I was wrong. This is another example of leftist projection. The problem is that leftists can't seem to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant attacks. That's why they are always making irrelevant attacks and why the voters turn against them. They are right that negative campaigns are unprincipled and counterproductive, but only when you are talking about a leftist-style negative campaign.

the debate gets ugly (or at least I'm trying to take it that way)

Back of the Envelope writes:
Doc Rampage offers a theory on what caused the problems at Instapundit, while spacemonkey has a simpler explanation.
Simpler? Simpler?! You call that far-fetched speculation about how Europeans don't use the correct date format (i.e.: the one used in the US) simpler?

And Space Monkey's theory has no explanatory power. My theory explains not only this particular instance of temporal dislocation, but also the thousands of others that occur in the blogosphere.

My explanation even mentions Star Trek. SpaceMonkey completely ignores that aspect. How can you discuss temporal anomalies without even mentioning Star Trek? It boggles the mind.

(By the way, I tried to get Will Wheaton to comment, but he ignored me. I'm currently planning to take the high road on this and not write a scathing post about how much I hate Wesley, but that decision is subject to change, based on how my day goes.)

Oh, and can someone explain why about every other time that I try to write "/blockquote" it comes out "/blockqoute"? It's really annoying.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

the good thing about warm beer ...

... is that you don't have to worry about drinking it all before it gets warm...

I'm a 48% snob

I guess it's to be expected from an old-fashioned but not antique guy like me. Of course I think my score was bit distorted since the quiz is written in British and I could only make out about half of the words.

toilet sundries

You know, it's not like I'm really looking to build an identity as the toilet blogger, but several pressing subjects have come up that require a third post on toilet-related subjects. Actually, this is three different posts, but I'm combining them to minimize the overall toilet footprint.

First, two German acquaintances have taken exception to my post on German toilet construction. They claim that German toilets do not splatter more than regular toilets. I remain skeptical, but it seemed prudent to pass along the information.

Second, it seems that the urban legend about the flush toilet being created by Sir John Crapper is, well, an urban legend. There was a Thomas Crapper who made toilets. And although the word "crap" predates Mr. Crapper's business in pluming fixtures, it did change it's meaning around that time period to, well, the meaning it has today.

Finally, a friend claimed to have seen a genuine Thomas Crapper in a home in England. I was dubious, but a quick search of the web revealed that he most likely encountered a semi-genuine Crapper. It's not my cup of tea, but then I'm not an antique kind of guy.

If you have any questions about flush toilets, please direct them elsewhere. Thank you.

who is the CIA at war with?

Robert Novak has some disturbing comments. Link from Public Enquiry Project.

nowing the NAACP

You know, it's been a long time since I've seen a reference to the National Organization for Women in the news. I remember when they were the terror of the airwaves. Back in the nineties, reporters used to go to NOW for opinions on practically everything. And they reported those opinions as the opinion of "women" or "major women's organizations".

Was NOW brought down by the hypocracy they displayed over the O. J. Simpson trial and Bill Clinton? In case you don't recall, National NOW made a specific decision to support O. J. Simpson, wife-killer, because the Democrat party was supporting him.

Then they supported Bill Clinton when he was accused of things that would have ruined any corporate president or Republican. We don't have to guess what NOW would have said if some corporate president or Republican were caught in a similar scandal because such situations happened and we know how viscious NOW was about it.

But now, NOW seems to be gone. What happened? Could it bee that those two cases showed NOW for what it was, the lady's auxiliary to the Democratic party and that's why they lost all their influence?

I wonder if something similar is happening to the NAACP. For years now, they have been partisan supporters of the Democrats no matter what Republicans did. They get all riled up about Confederate flags, but only when there are Republican governers to have to deal with it. They've also taken to repeating the most vile partisan slanders about Bush and Republicans.

And this time we have a lot of black commentators pointing out their partisanship --far more than at any time previous.

I wonder if this election will see the NAACP getting NOWed.

Monday, September 27, 2004

I'm an old-fashioned guy

My office now has an electric teapot. That's a plastic pitcher with a heating plate in the bottom that heats up water for you. I don't use it. I prefer the old-fashioned method of putting your decaf coffee single into a mug and microwaving it. Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways.

pop quiz

Who said this?
On the contrary. The administration is leading. The administration is making it clear that they don't believe that they even need the U.N. Security Council to sign off on a material breach because the finding of material breach was made by Mr. Butler. So furthermore, I think the United States has always reserved the right and will reserve the right to act in its best interests. And clearly it is not just our best interests, it is in the best interests of the world to make it clear to Saddam Hussein that he's not going to get away with a breach of the '91 agreement that he's got to live up to, which is allowing inspections and dismantling his weapons and allowing us to know that he has dismantled his
weapons. That's the price he pays for invading Kuwait and starting a war.
I mean, the fact is that over a period of time France and Russia have indicated a monetary interest. They on their own have indicated the desire to do business. That's what's driving this. I mean, as Tom Freedman (ph) said in a great article the other day, France, Inc. wants to do business with oil and they are moving in the exact sort of opposite direction on their own from the very cause of the initial conflict, which was oil.

Answer: John Kerry


The Storyblogging Carnival is up at Back of the Envelope. The last one was very good, so my blogging may be a bit light for the next couple of days as I read the stories.

new links

Tom Harrison now has a web page. I probably would have linked to his Slashdot journal before, but I was worried about the HTML. That link is known to have screwed up the comments section already. Welcome to the side-bar, Tom. Oh, and here are a couple of links you might find useful for your new web page. The second one will tell you about trackbacks.

I've added overdue links to Patterico, Soxblog, and Michelle Malkin. I think Michelle is just the second babe on the sidebar. La Shawn was probably getting lonely. Now that I think of it, I should try to expand my horizons and link to more women.

I also, sadly, removed One Hand Clapping since he's on furlough. I'll put it back when he returns.

And, I added a link for Mozilla. That's the browser I use instead of Internet Explorer. It has some really nice features and you might want to try it out.


Back of the Envelope notes a temporal anomaly in the blog world. I wonder if this could be a delayed consequence of Space Monkey's reckless destabilization of the blogosphere.

Could this be the cause of all the double posts and double comments you see in the blogosphere? Yes, most of them predate the destabilization so I never connected them before. But if the destabilization led to a temporal anomaly, then it could have effects that precede the cause. This is all well-known Trekian physics.

And should this be called the temporal blogomaly? OK, I kind of regret asking that.

How about a blogeral anomaly? No, have to get the time root in there.

How about a tempoblogaral anomblogoly? Sorry 'bout that.

How about a four-dimensional blogiversal dislocation?

UPDATE: I had the wrong link for SpaceMonkey. Fixed.

Hey, I got a monkeylanche (I just wanted to be the first to say that).

This story, by the way, is a prime example of the power of the blogosphere that Glenn Reynolds and others are always talking about. Here's the sequence of events:
Glenn Reynolds goofs, a rare but inevitable circumstance.

Instantly, Donald Crankshaw, one of his thousands of readers, spots the goof and offers a plausible explanation.

Doc Rampage (that's me) reads Donald's post and makes all sorts of connections that he (meaning me) was uniquely qualified to make, being a regular reader of both Back of the Envelope and Flying SpaceMonkey (and really, how many of us can there be?).

Then the story, as all really big stories do, wanders off into irrelevancy as SpaceMonkey spews out some ridiculously implausible theory about other countries not following the American lead in date formats.
Regardless of the silliness that occurred after my contribution, the blogosphere worked.

by the way...

If you are one of my newer readers, I'm very glad you stopped by, and please don't be put off by the following post. Most of my posts are a lot less, uh, inaccessible. It's kind of an ongoing project to prove that Mostly Cajun gives dumb advice. He once told me that I should write about things that I'm interested in and the readers will like it too, or something hippy like that. He probably thinks we if we all just visualized world peace, a couple of days later Osama would show up at the White House and want to buy George a beer and just like put all that those harsh words behind them and all.

So, where was I? Oh yeah. Well I'm fascinated by the philosophy of mathematics and logic. So I'm writing about it. And Mostly Cajun better be reading every damn word, no matter what throbs.

logicism as reductionism

Up to now, my discussions in the foundations of mathematics and logic have been more or less within a tradition of philosophy, even if it was heavily filtered through my own prejudices. Just to make sure I don't mislead anybody, I want to point out that the following is not part of any tradition I know of. I pretty much just made it up.

Here is, some, background.

The logicists tried to show that mathematics is analytical knowledge by reducing mathematics to logic. It is generally said that their program was destroyed by Godel's incompleteness theorem. But it was really in trouble before this. The problem is that some their axioms were synthetic. For example consider the law of identity. This says that if you have two objects x and y, and x=y, then for any property F, if x is F then y is F also.

It might be easier to understand with an example: George Bush is president of the United States. So we know that anything that is true of George Bush is also true of the president of the United States. If George Bush is a great war leader, then the president of the United States is a great war leader. If George is a drunken chimp then the president of the United States is a drunken chimp.

Frege and the other logicists require the law of identity or something like it to even get off the ground. But this law isn't analytic. A statement can only be judged analytically when it is no more than the elucidation of a concept. As I showed in a previous post, this is a very narrow range of statements. I can say that all bachelors are unmarried simply because the concept of being unmarried is part of the concept of being a bachelor.

When I say that George Bush is president of the United States, what I mean is that I have these two concepts in my head: "being George Bush" and "being president of the United States", and that these two concepts have the same extension --they are both satisfied by the same object. What the law of identity tells me is that when I have two concepts like this that have the same extension, then any other concept that shares the extension of one also shares the extension of the other.

But this is quite a remarkable thing to realize. It's obviously and intuitively true, no doubt about it. But the second part of this inference is not what I mean when I say the first part. Rather the second part is inferred with my mathematical intuition. It is synthetic knowledge.

In fact, analytic knowledge can only refer to concepts because it is knowledge about concepts. As soon as you bring an object into it, the extension of a concept, you are falling out of the range of analytic statements. Objects have a different sort of existence from concepts, even mathematical objects like numbers.

Concepts are the things that are directly present to our minds when we think. Concepts are about objects. When I think of the number 1, the number itself is not directly present to my mind. What is present to my mind is the concept "being the number 1". The concept is about the number. The number is not about anything.

I can no more import the number itself into my head to think about than I can import the Golden Gate Bridge to think about it. The only thing that can be "in my head" is the concept of the bridge or the number. And since I can only have concepts in my head, no objects, analytic knowledge can only concern itself with concepts, not objects.

This dichotomy between concepts and objects exactly mirrors the dichotomy between analytic knowledge and synthetic knowledge: we can have analytic knowledge of concepts, but all our knowledge of objects is synthetic. These are two different ways of knowing for two different kinds of things. Let's call these kinds "domains".

We have the domain of concepts. Concepts are directly present to the mind. They are about things, they have extensions. Concepts can entail other concepts. Concepts can exclude other concepts.

We also have the domain of objects. Objects are not directly present to the mind, but are only known mediately as the extensions of concepts. They cannot entail or be entailed, nor exclude because they are not concepts. Objects can be ideas like numbers or can be real things like bridges.

Now we can describe the project of the logicists like this: The logicists wanted to reduce mathematical objects to concepts. They wanted to show that each mathematical object was merely a stand-in for something built of concepts and that whatever you can say about mathematical objects can be reduced to something about concepts. In other words, logicism is just another species of the very common intellectual disease of reductionism.

The most pernicious species of reductionism today is physicalism. Physicalism is the extreme reductionist idea that every domain (including the domains of concepts, of mathematical objects, and of minds) is reducible to physical objects and that anything you can say about anything can be reduced to a physical fact. For example, physicalists believe that belief is a physical state of the brain (this is a self-refuting position, but try telling a physicalist that).

I'll tie the two (logicism and physicalism) together in a future post.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

trackback etiquette

When you post a simple pointer to a post in someone else's blog and you aren't adding anything to the conversation, should you post a trackback anyway, just so the blogger knows he's been linked?

If you do, then people reading the other guy's blog are going to be following a trackback that is just a pointer to the post they came from. It wastes their time. But, if people link to my blog, I like to know about it.

So what's the proper etiquette?

Broder's meme

Little Green Footballs is reporting that David Broder has taken a new tack: claiming that the Swift Boats have already been discredited and just move on quietly without the need to actually discredit them.

This isn't new. David Broder's site, Media Matters for America, was pushing this meme in August already.


Roscoe has come up with a brilliant strategy for boosting your traffic numbers.

Radio DGCI

I finally have my speakers hooked up and I'm listening to Radio DGCI. That's the internet radio station run by dgci.

Great music. It's been decades since I've heard "The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia". I'm not sure the song I just heard on Radio DGCI was the old Vicki Lawrence version though. It didn't sound the same, but that was a long time ago so it could just be my memory.