Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wizenberg Law Firm Plug

Please be sure to visit my brand new website, (created hours ago in about 15 minutes, and it looks it!)

Wizenberglaw.com

--
Peter Wizenberg, Esq.
The Wizenberg Law Firm
662 SW 158 Terrace
Pembroke Pines, Florida 33027-1134
(954) 889-4715
Wizenberglaw.com

I Opened Up a Law Firm

I have opened up a law firm entitled "The Wizenberg Law Firm". There are, of course, innumerable tasks associated with opening up any new business -- especially a law firm -- and right now, my priority is finding a suitable office to rent.

--
Peter Wizenberg, Esq.
The Wizenberg Law Firm
662 SW 158 Terrace
Pembroke Pines, Florida 33027-1134
(954) 889-4715
Wizenberglaw.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Learning Spanish

Due to rush hour traffic, my commute to and from work is approximately one hour. Living in the Miami area, I've wanted to learn Spanish. I had never studied Spanish, (I took French as a schoolboy), and so I got Pimsleur Spanish audio CDs to use while driving. I enjoy them, and my learning seems almost effortless. Indeed, I find that when I respond to the prompts to say a phrase or sentence in Spanish, I do so often without much conscious effort.
 
I highly recommend Pimsleur for gaining conversational proficiency (not fluency) in a language.

--
Peter Wizenberg, Esq.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Primer on Arab/Israeli Conflict

<http://www.terrorismawareness.org/what-really-happened/ >

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"How to" Videos on the Web

How to videos on all sorts of topics. Worth a visit. Many of them truly helpful!

<http://www.videojug.com/ >

--
Peter Wizenberg
Pembroke Pines, Florida

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Google Ads

I've decided to accept Google Ads with all monies received to be donated to the Triple Nine Society.

A Little Self-Promotion...

I have just started a blog on business & real estate litigation with a focus on Florida. If interested, please visit it at <http://businesslitigation.blogspot.com/>

Resumption!

This blog became moribund due to my stopping posting. However, I intend to resume posting (at least sporadically). I will also seek to encourage other Triple Nine Society members to contribute.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Stringing Out Einstein

a Novice's Review of NOVA's "The Elegant Univverse"
by Ted Robinson
www.thegodhead.net

2005 being the hundredth anniversary of Einstein's "miracleyear", during which he published the first five of his mostsignificant papers, including special relativity, it seems onlyright to talk now about the possible answer to his final, mostfrustrating goal. Unreached by him, unfortunately, this drive for a Theory of Everything, but his earlier studies at least started others toward what might end up meeting the criteria for such a theory, according to the first part of a 3-hour series onNOVA, titled "The Elegant Universe". I missed the program when first shown in 2003, so, on hearing it would be repeated in one 3-hour clump this year, I flagged thecalendar, stationed myself before our plasmatized wall, yellow tablet and multi-pens poised, and awaited. The product of my scribblings follows, together with a couple of my dilettante musings on the subject (usually hiding within parentheses), although it loses something without the quite imaginative visuals used in NOVA. This is not intended as any kind of scientific dissertation, of course, certainly not from any shopping center developer, but it might lure some responses and clarifications from the real physicists among us.
NOVA begins the journey toward a Theory of Everything by first exploring Einstein's attempts at tying together the only two forces known at the time -- gravity and electromagnetism -- with some common element. He previously solved the macro-workings of gravity in 1915 with his theory of general relativity, a warping of space-time "like a trampoline", wherein the indentation (my word, Ithink, although an obvious one) in the trampoline by a large mass causes smaller masses either to fall into it or, angled at the right speed, to circle around the curvature of the indentation. (My grasp of this is that mass just gets in the way of an otherwise ongoing space-time, which would seem to give the mental picture more dimensionality than a trampoline, but I'm not sure whether this would be either adequate or correct.)
The main problem with finding a common element, however, was the enormous difference in strength between the two forces, since the electromagnetic force is "some thousand billion, billion, billion,billion times stronger than gravity." (Direct quote.) His efforts along these macro-world lines fell apart when young upstarts like Neils Bohr found that atoms were not the smallest particles in nature, but instead were themselves made up of a proton-neutron nucleus, orbited by electrons. Einstein's macrotheories were useless, as I understand it, at explaining how these tiny bits interact with each other. Then it got worse, and a lot more weird, with the development of quantum mechanics, which made a further shambles out of Einstein's "orderly universe". At the scale of atoms and particles the world appeared to be a game of chance, with only a "probability" of one outcome over another, and now two new forces needed to come into play -- the "strong nuclear force" to hold protons and neutrons together in the nucleus, and the "weak nuclear force" that accounts for radioactive decay (although I didn't catch what necessary function this plays), which creates radioactivity. The strong force is so powerful that if it could be broken, splitting the atom in a specific way, a chain reaction would follow and the energy released could become, among other things, an atomic bomb, with the weak force releasing the radioactive residue. Ergo, again, there seemed no way to relate relatively weak gravity with the power of either the strong force or electromagnetism.
The refinement of quantum mechanics eventually did tie together and explain three of the above -- the strong and weak forces and electromagnetism -- but at the possible cost of our sanity. The physical rules in our macro-world do not exist at the quantum level, which also spookily infers the existence of parallel universes within all the other combinations of probabilities. (I once attempted to start a discussion of these multi-world possibilities with the real physicists in the TNS e-discussions, which caused them to huff themselves off the list, hurling the epithet "pop science!" as they went. However, this NOVA program has given me a whole list of physicists from MIT, Columbia, Harvard, Cambridge and the like to hide behind as we progress into the even stranger "string"phase of this discussion. Although, as Prof Edward Farhi of MIT asks and answers himself during the program, "Do I feel likeI have a deep intuitive understanding quantum mechanics? No." So if he doesn't, me neither.)
Ah, strings. Each one a hundred billion billion (yes, a hundred billion billion) times smaller than an atom, each having their own vibration, or "song", which, in turn form together into the components of force, mass, and all things universal. (On seeing this, I could not help wondering if this was akin to reduction to such a tiny number that it becomes a common denominator for any numerator of force or mass, which would make it more of a mathematical trick. Or not. Don't ask me anything more onthat.)
Apparently the boiling down of the calculations of string theory culminated one summer night in 1984 when two scientists, Michael Greenand John Schwarz, were trying to apply the mathematics at a depth that would encompass all four basic forces. This apparently required both of two calculations (quantum and general relativity? I missed that part) to be totally free of anomalies, and, for this, both needed to come out with the same number. "On one side of the black board they got 496," said the NOVA narrator. "And if they got the matching number on the other side it would prove string theory to be free ofanomalies". They did, and therefore it was. (I have double-checked these calculations and also did not find any anomalies. . . . Just kidding.) But again (the horror, the horror), their calculations predicted a universe of more than the three-plus-one dimensions in our space-timeworld. The first calculations called for six extra dimensions, and from there it went downhill as others began jumping on the string bandwagon, creating four other string theories. Each required different numbers of dimensions, each performing without mathematical anomalies, one using 26 dimensions. Now what?
Then comes Professor Edward Witten, whom all the other scientists describe as the genius above them all, who determined that what they thought were five theories were actually just five different ways of looking at the same thing. He was able to combine them into one, his "M" theory, that recognizes that "strings need to move in more than three dimensions", but the M theory calculated that the real number of dimensions required was 11, and that number apparently has now stood unchallenged to date, more or less.
So here they've arrived at the Theory of Everything sought byEinstein, at least they've done so on paper, albeit being virtually untestable. They have, that is, if one can grasp the concept of the universe being composed of unbelievably tiny, squiggly strings. (My first thought on this, for what it's worth, was that although these calculations mathematically describe string-like elements, that might be all they do, only because strings are understandable objects in our macro-world. But these elements, having the characteristics of strings, vibrating squiggles of energy, or fields, or points of non-existence, might not be as graspable as simply picturing strings. What they really are might not be graspable at all by the current mortal ways of thinking.)
One other interesting extrapolation of this theory, a step beyond the multi-worlds of quantum mechanics or the multi-dimensions needed by strings, is that our universe is only a membrane of one dimension among many membranes that form into a larger reality. (I recall reading in an issue of Scientific American last year that, rather than the Big Bang, the origin of the universe might well be the collision of two of these so-named "branes". This further theory, apparently by applying string theory math, does calculate out without the need of supra-natural physics, such as that required by the believability-challenged expansion following the Bang.)
But, these other dimensions might indeed be provable, someday, maybe. The string theory has determined that most strings are open-ended and attached to the membrane of our dimension. Gravitons, on the other hand, are unattached closed loops and therefore are free to travel between dimensions, this slippage being a possible explanation why the force of gravity is thus so weak in our dimension. Fermilab, located near Chicago, is busily shooting hydrogen protons toward each other within a 4-mile tunnel at nearly the speed of light, hoping that the shower of particles from the collision will show a graviton in the process of disappearing into another dimension. Thus farthey haven't, but hope remains that they will before the giant CERNlab, seven times more powerful than Fermilab, comes on line in Switzerland.
Anyway, as the narrator of NOVA concluded, a hundred years from now this Theory of Everything and its inferences might be looked upon as quaint, or not, but for now at least we have one that fits, so for now the only difference between you and me appears to be the way our strings wiggle. -- T.R. __ __ __

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Apple bloggers get press support


Eight US newspapers and the Associated Press agency have thrown their support behind three bloggers sued by Apple.

In March, Apple won the right to see the bloggers' e-mail records to find out who leaked information on upcoming products to them, which they published.

The news organisations have now filed a court brief which says they should be allowed to protect their sources.

If not, they said, it could make journalists wary of publishing stories which are in the public interest.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Philosophers Behaving Badly...

Saturday, March 12, 2005

New Sport...Chess Boxing!

Eight Ancient Roman Recipes

Pantanassa, (who styles herself an "Ancient" Greek), says that some of these ancient dishes remind her of her grandmother's cooking.

Bon Apetit!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Rats!

Gives a whole new gloss to the phrase 'dead duck' .....

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Where Have All the Children Gone?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Coming Crackdown on Blogging

Because of the McCain-Feingold law the Federal Election Commission may get involved if someone posts a link on a website to a campaign, or even if they reproduce a press release on their site.

California Judge: Shield Law Protecting Jounalists Doesn't Apply to Bloggers

California has a shield law that protects "journalists" from revealing their sources. In a case involving Apple Computers, the court agreed with Apple's claim that people who publish on web sites are not "legitimate members of the press."

What's scary to me is that if this ruling were to hold up, it's conceivable that some of the free speech protections that people who publish on the web enjoy, could be jeopardized.

Of course, we haven't heard the last of this issue.

Friday, February 25, 2005

What Are the Chances It’ll Happen?

The following point is very obvious—but only when one thinks about it. The reason I bring it up is that I suspect, all too often, many people, especially when in haste, don’t think about it.

I was discussing something with someone and he said that a certain event we were discussing would likely occur. I pressed him and asked him how likely he thought it would be. He said he guessed it’d be about 80%.

When I asked him why, he said, event A is about 80%, which leads to B which is about 80%, which leads to C which is about 80%. So, he concluded, the likelihood of C occurring is about 80%.

Now this man is not a stupid man; he just wasn’t thinking. When I pointed out to him on that chain of probabilities, C is about slightly better than 50%, he immediately realized I was right.

I suspect that all too often, when people are estimating probabilities they merely average them out in their heads rather than multiply them; what I mean is, that if you asked many people about the probability of an event occurring when the prior events leading up to it all have a probability of around 80%, many people would unthinkingly answer about 80%. Yet, if there are five events in the 80% chain of events, the likelihood of the final event occurring is less than 1/3.

Just something to be mindful of.

Increasing Happiness

Thursday, February 24, 2005

New Yorker Article About Godel & Einstein

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Injustice, in Secret

From the February 21, 2005, Washington Post:

"ATTORNEYS FOR the Justice Department appeared before a federal judge in Washington this month and asked him to dismiss a lawsuit over the detention of a U.S. citizen, basing their request not merely on secret evidence but also on secret legal arguments. The government contends that the legal theory by which it would defend its behavior should be immune from debate in court. This position is alien to the history and premise of Anglo-American jurisprudence, which assumes that opposing lawyers will challenge one another's arguments..."

Click the title above to read the entire article. (Registration may be required.)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Evolving Law

Many people are opposed to the idea that the U.S. Consitution is a 'living document'. For example, some people argue that the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause doesn't mandate that same-sex couples be allowed to legally marry, since none of the people who were involved in enacting the 14th Amendment would have supposed that that would be the case, or indeed would have supported the legalization of same-sex marriage. I'm sympathetic to the idea that we should interpret laws in light of our best current understanding of the manifold purposes of law.

The Talmud, (the Jew's NEW Testament, in the sense that it amplifies and supersedes, in some sense, the Torah), evinces the argument that our understanding of law evolves and develops; read below.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Halakha_&_aggadata_&_midrash.html

One particularly well-known bit of aggadata is found in the talmudic tractate Bava Mezia 59b. The aggadata follows a halakhic discussion in which the rabbis debated whether an oven that had become impure could be purified. While almost all the sages felt it couldn't be, Rabbi Eliezer, a lone voice but a great scholar, disagreed:

"On that day, Rabbi Eliezer put forward all the arguments in the world, but the Sages did not accept them.

"Finally, he said to them, 'If the halakha is according to me, let that carob­tree prove it.'

"He pointed to a nearby carob-tree, which then moved from its place a hundred cubits, and some say, four hundred cubits. They said to him 'One cannot bring a proof from the moving of a carob-tree.'

"Said Rabbi Eliezer, 'If the halakha is according to me, may that stream of water prove it.'

"The stream of water then turned and flowed in the opposite direction.

"They said to him, 'One cannot bring a proof from the behavior of a stream of water.'

"Said Rabbi Eliezer, 'If the halakha is according to me, may the walls of the House of Study prove it.'

"The walls of the House of Study began to bend inward. Rabbi Joshua then rose up and rebuked the walls of the House of Study, 'If the students of the Wise argue with one another in halakha," he said, "what right have you to interfere?'

"In honor of Rabbi Joshua, the walls ceased to bend inward; but in honor of Rabbi Eliezer, they did not straighten up, and they remain bent to this day.

"Then, said Rabbi Eliezer to the Sages, 'If the halakha is according to me, may a proof come from Heaven.'

"Then a heavenly voice went forth and said, 'What have you to do with Rabbi Eliezer? The halakha is according to him in every place.'

"Then Rabbi Joshua rose up on his feet, and said, 'It is not in the heavens' (Deuteronomy 30:12).

"What did he mean by quoting this? Said Rabbi Jeremiah, 'He meant that since the Torah has been given already on Mount Sinai, we do not pay attention to a heavenly voice, for You have written in Your Torah, 'Decide according to the majority' (Exodus 23:2).

"Rabbi Nathan met the prophet Elijah. He asked him, 'What was the Holy One, Blessed be He, doing in that hour?'

"Said Elijah, 'He was laughing and saying, "My children have defeated me, my children have defeated me.""'

The British-Jewish scholar and writer Hyam Maccoby has commented: "This extraordinary story strikes the keynote of the Talmud. God is a good father who wants His children to grow up and achieve independence. He has given them His Torah, but now wants them to develop it...."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Really Cool Visual Periodic Table of the Elements

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Princeton Philosopher's Unprintable Book Title

The New York Times > Books > A Princeton Philosopher's Unprintable Book Title: Harry G. Frankfurt, 76, is a moral philosopher of international reputation and a professor emeritus at Princeton. He is also the author of a book recently published by the Princeton University Press that is the first in the publishing house's distinguished history to carry a title most newspapers, including this one, would find unfit to print. The work is called "On Bullshit"...

... What is "bullshit", after all? Mr. Frankfurt points out it is neither fish nor fowl. Those who produce it certainly aren't honest, but neither are they liars, given that the liar and the honest man are linked in their common, if not identical, regard for the truth.

'It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth,' Mr. Frankfurt writes. 'A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it.'

The bull artist, on the other hand, cares nothing for truth or falsehood. The only thing that matters to him is 'getting away with what he says,' Mr. Frankfurt writes. An advertiser or a politician or talk show host given to [bull] 'does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it,' he writes. 'He pays no attention to it at all.'

And this makes him, Mr. Frankfurt says, potentially more harmful than any liar, because any culture and he means this culture rife with bullshit is one in danger of rejecting 'the possibility of knowing how things truly are.' It follows that any form of political argument or intellectual analysis or commercial appeal is only as legitimate, and true, as it is persuasive. There is no other court of appeal."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Quotable Quote

“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.” – Bertrand Russell, Roads to Freedom

Friday, February 11, 2005

Koranic Arguments Convince Terrorists to Renounce Terrorism

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Reinventing Physics

A Nobel Laureate reflects...

Sunday, January 30, 2005

"Escape From the Universe"

Great article!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Interesting Article About Gifted Children

Monday, January 17, 2005

How to keep an idiot busy...

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Scanning for Schizophrenia

The Scotland Sunday Times reports on a new method to detect schizophrenia up to three years before onset.
Researchers at Edinburgh University believe their test — which measures IQ, memory, motor skills and verbal learning — can be used to take action against the illness, which typically strikes people aged between 17 and 30, from being triggered.


[Crossposted from PlagueBlog.]

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Suicide and IQ

There's a brief blurb at GNXP about the positive correlation between suicide and national IQ.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Turning Pi into Music!

Click HERE to go to a site that enables one to turn the digits of the decimal expansion of Pi into music. You pick ten notes to represent the ten digits and then hear what the music sounds like when the notes are playing out the decimal expansion of Pi!


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study...

...is the title of a newly published paper.

Abstract:

The links between income, sexual behavior and reported happiness are studied using recent data on a sample of 16,000 adult Americans. The paper finds that sexual activity enters strongly positively in happiness equations. Higher income does not buy more sex or more sexual partners. Married people have more sex than those who are single, divorced, widowed or separated. The happiness-maximizing number of sexual partners in the previous year is calculated to be 1. Highly educated females tend to have fewer sexual partners. Homosexuality has no statistically significant effect on happiness.

If you want to read the paper, Blackwell Publishing is charging $25 for the download. Click HERE to visit the site to pay and download it. By the way, I have not read the paper.

2005 EDGE Annual Question, Asked of Prominent Scientists & Thinkers: "What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Cannot Prove It?"

Monday, January 03, 2005

The 21st Century Will Belong to China

Brainy Women & Marriage

News item reports that British study says a high I.Q. reduces women's marriage prospects.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Helping the Most With Your Charitable Donations

With the tsunami catastrophe in the Indian Ocean area numbing us as to the immensity of human suffering being endured, people all over the world are giving money to help.

Readers may be interested in a website that asseses the "efficiency" of charities, and displays results for specific charities along a number of factors. Here is a link to Charity Navigator. Also, here is a link to a part of the site that specifically focuses on helping the victims of the tsunami.

Marking Time

With 2005 approaching, I started thinking about the ways we mark the passage of time. (E.g., trips around the Sun, the Earth rotating about its axis, etc.)

I stumbled across a site (click here also click here for the home page) that has a "calculator of useless facts." One inputs a date and time, and it calculates what a subsequent date and time is in so many seconds, minutes, hours or days. Areas of the website enable one to mark time in any number of seconds, minutes, hours and days.

For example, it calculates time intervals and presents one with a list of for example 1 billion seconds, 25 million minutes, 1/2 million hours, 25,000 days, etc.

Mathematically inclined children of all ages enjoy this, and it also informs one of the next "celebratory" event. For example, one could use it to plan a surprise party for someone when he or she turns 20,000 days old, or one billion seconds old!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Amish & the Law

Monday, December 27, 2004

Piping Up

Harvard Magazine has an article about Daniel Pipes and his views about Islam.

Money quote:

"It's a mistake to blame Islam, a religion 14 centuries old, for the evil that should be ascribed to militant Islam, a totalitarian ideology less than a century old. Militant Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution."

~Daniel Pipes

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Aristotle "versus" Ayn Rand

Here's a reference to an interesting exploration of what the author believes that Ayn Rand should have understood with regard to the philosophy of Aristotle, in support of perhaps a more complete and consistent development of her own thought.

An Auburn University professor of philosophy offers new interpretations of Aristotle and Ayn Rand in ethics and epistemology.

Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand, by Roderick T. Long, Ph.D.

The Author says:

Two of the central questions in philosophy are: What are the foundations of knowledge? and What is the nature of human well-being?

Ayn Rand regarded herself as a follower of Aristotle. I argue, however, that in answering the above two questions she unfortunately deviated from Aristotle in ways that subverted her own philosophical intentions.

In particular, I maintain that Rand's rejection of Aristotle's coherentist, testimony-based epistemology in favor of her own version of foundationalist empiricism both opens the door to a corrosive skepticism that she rightly wishes to avoid, and forces her into defending an instrumental survival-oriented conception of the relation of morality to self-interest, even though a constitutive, flourishing-oriented relation along Aristotelian lines would more closely match her basic ethical insights.

Hence Rand's admirers may still have something to learn from Aristotle, their "teacher's first teacher."

About the Author:

Roderick T. Long is a professor of philosophy at Auburn University, as well as Editor of the Free Nation Foundation's journal Formulations. His principal research interests are moral psychology, Greek philosophy, and libertarian thought.


iPods Ain't Just for Tunes...

Elementary Web Presentation of Libertarianism

Click HERE for a web presentation of a very elementary introduction to a version of political libertarianism. I just thought this was interesting/provocative enough to post. My reaction was a bit mixed to it.




EU Overturns British Banning of Canadian Berry

The Telegraph reports that ever vigilant British bureaucrats banned the (unfamiliar to them) saskatoon berry, eaten by people in Canada for God knows how long. Because other EU nations were importing it, Brussels overrode the British ban.

Money quote:

"[T]he berry is illegal in Britain, and will be for as long as two years while tests are conducted to find out whether the population of Canada is right in thinking it to be edible, and that is all there is to it."

A Godfather of "Neo-Conservatism" Explains His Views on 'World War IV'

2nd Wives (of the Polygamous Sort) May Get a Tax Break in the U.K.

Faced with men who have (under the laws of the religion they subscribe to) more than one wife, the U.K. Inland Revenue is contemplating recognizing those marriages for tax purposes.

Click here for the Times of London article.

Money quote:

"It is seen as a breakthrough by Muslim leaders who have been campaigning to incorporate sharia into British domestic law."

"What the #$*! Do We Know?!"...

...is the title of a new film that explores in a 'popularized' fashion, (not in the good sense of the term), the interrelationships of quantum mechanics, reality and consciousness. Click HERE for the Scientific American article on the movie.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Sidney Morgenbesser...

...Sidewalk Socrates.

Click here (registration may be required) to read about him.

Money quote:

"There is a danger, of course, in being too clever, and no one knew this better than Morgenbesser. He was exceptional at taking ideas apart, but not at building them up. No argument ever satisfied him, least of all his own, and his exacting standards made it hard for him to publish..."

Birth of a Rabbi/Carpenter

Geza Vermes discusses here who the real Jesus was.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Nativity Scenes & Aluminum Poles: Festivus Joins Christmas in the Public Square

In December in the U.S., when government property is used to display Nativity scenes it leaves the door open to other groups to erect their own displays. Typically Chanukah menorahs, since Chanukah is also in December. (Incredibly, courts have ruled that Nativity scenes and Chanukah menorahs are NOT religious symbols! What an insult!) Consequently, besides the placing of menorahs near Nativity scenes, government property may now be adorned with other holiday symbols.

A Seinfeld fan club in Polk County, Florida, in celebration of Festivus, erected a display that read: "Festivus for the Rest of Us". Click HERE to read an acount of it. Moreover, a Zoroastrian display was also put up.

Expect of course, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and all sorts of other displays (including pagan and Satanic ones) to become more common on government property.

Years ago, when the constitutionality of Christmas being a government holiday was litigated before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court ruled that it was constitutional for Christmas to be a legal holiday, because, the Court held, Christmas is NOT a religious holiday!

Merry Christmas!

Group Opposed to the Death Penalty MURDERS 23 People on Bus

Philosopher-Mayor

Hat Tip: A Triple Nine Society Member via the Triplenine Message Board.

The Unusual Situation of the Druze

Interview With Penn Jillette

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Do Not Pass Go....

Have a Festive Festivus!

Click here if unlike the rest of us, you're unsure of Festivus.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Death Knell of the West?

In what seems to be simultaneously a disturbing restriction on both freedom of expression & freedom of religion, two Christian ministers have been found guilty of "religious vilification" in Australia. Click here to read it and weep.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Battleground God

This was linked to in an earlier post (among other games), but I wanted to ensure that more readers were aware of this fun game which consists of a series of questions to test the consistency of one's beliefs about theistic matters. Click the title above to start the game!

Ex-Best Friend, Now Enemy, Shines the Spotlight...

Bill Clinton has numerous enemies. But to me, his most fascinating nemesis is Dick Morris, because Morris was once Clinton's closest friend and advisor and knows him better than virtually everyone else.

Morris has written a book entitled Because He Could in which substantial portions are rebuttals to Clinton's autobiography. Here is a thoughtful review of Morris's book.

Monday, December 20, 2004

E Anti-Americanus Unum

Here is a review of a book entitled The United States of Europe by T. R. Reid. The reviewer proffers the notion that anti-Americanism underlies the agglomeration.

"The United Nations is the pre-eminent trade association for people involved in the business of government power."

Read the whole thing by clicking here.

Why Stand When You Can Sit?

(Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Firefox vs. Internet Explorer

Read this article from the New York Times about the relative advantages of Firefox vs. Internet Explorer by clicking here. (Registration may be required.)

Then, if you want to download Firefox for free, click here.

I heartily recommend Firefox.

Update: A newly reported security problem shows that Internet Explorer is vulnerable to Phishing. Click here for a 12/20/04 article on the topic.

Let's Stop All the Abominations!

Dear Nigerian Scam Artist,

A recipient of Nigerian scam spam engages his would-be predators in hilarious correspondence...

Click HERE to be amused...


Frank Costanza Would Be Proud!

The growing popularity of Festivus for the rest of us! Click here! (Registration may be required.)

Is Syria Next?

I just overheard John Loftus (someone in the past whom I've found to be quite reliable, and I enjoyed one of his books) say on Fox News Television something to the effect that when Israel informed the White House that it was interested in negotiating with the present government of Syria, (under dictator opthalmologist Assad) over the Golan Heights, the White House told Israel, don't bother negotiating with them they won't be in power for long!

Important Caveat: I was only half-listening in the beginning and all of this is totally unconfirmed. Moreover, perhaps I heard it wrong.

Anyway, if Syria's Criminal Gang does come tumbling down soon, remember where you heard it first!

Update: This article (registration may be required) affirms what Loftus was saying.

Money quote from the article:

"It really wouldn't look good if Israel legitimizes Syria's regime by resuming peace talks when there is talk in Washington about striking Syria militarily," said one Israeli diplomat.

Blog, Blog, Blog...SEX

Today's New York Times Magazine (registration may be required) has an article about blogging & sex...

Saturday, December 18, 2004

World's Greatest Pickup Line...

"What are you doing after the orgy?"

0/0 = ?

If a is NOT equal to zero, we say a/0 is undefined because it has no real solutions. No real number multiplied by 0 gives a non-zero product. Hence we disallow division by zero.

If a =0, then a/0 which is the same as 0/0 is also considered "meaningless" or "undefined", yet it seems to me that 0/0 has an infinite number of solutions, namely the set of real numbers. Any real number multiplied by 0 gives the product zero.

It's true enough that 0/0 doesn't indicate or demarcate any particular real number, but so what? Other operations can have more than one solution, (When X "squared" = 4, then X = +2 or -2), and that's considered perfectly acceptable. [Maybe mathematicians want to set things up so that "fundamental" operations (like +, multiplication, of course, is just repeated addition) have only one solution.] So, this operation, 0/0, has an infinite number of solutions. I guess because 0/0 has an infinite number of solutions it's characterized as "meaningless".

Maybe it's all just a matter of pragmatics in mathematics, insofar as since 0/0 is equal to any real number, it wouldn't do any interesting work.


Update: The above was just written off the top of my head. (Obviously.) As a commenter correctly points out, in some areas of mathematics, division by zero is accomplished. Albeit with different mathematical rules. I should have made it explicit in my posting above that I was referring to the rules in ordinary arithmetic and algebra. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_by_zero for more information. (Note: Wikipedia's reliability cannot be vouched for.)

Actually, this buttresses my point that pragmatics is involved with whether mathematics accepts division by zero. Different rules can be used to achieve different purposes.

The Economist's Competition for Wisest Fool

Send in your nomination for "The Wisest Fool". Click here for the gory details or email competition@economist.com. Winner gets a King James Bible dedicated to the memory of the first wisest fool.

Erections & Fresh Breath! What a Combo!

Wrigley has patented a chewing gum that enables erections (and gives you fresh breath). I kid you not...

Click here for a discussion of two books, one entitled The Rise of Viagra, and the other the Updated Joy of Sex.

Only Nixon Could Go to China...

This was said (partly) because of Nixon's unimpeachable (pun intended!) anti-Communist credentials. Analogously, Hosni Mubarak, the President (i.e., dictator) of Egypt said recently:

"Sharon is the only one in Israel who can take the courageous step toward peace".

When some people were wailing and gnashing their teeth upon Arik Sharon's ascension to the Prime Ministership of Israel, I told them that it was just like when Begin was elected. (It's also reminiscent of Reagan's peace breakthroughs with the U.S.S.R.) Only someone like Sharon (with unimpeachable Israeli security credentials) would be capable of making great progress towards peace.

Click here (registration may be required) to read the full story.

Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman on the Battle Half Won

Invitation to Triple Niners

Triple Nine Society members wishing to contribute to the Triple Nine Blog are invited to email their names to wizenberg@yahoo.com.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Revolving Apartments!

Historian: Honest Abe was Gay...Honest!

The New York Times (registration may be required) has a review of a new book by C. A. Tripp entitled The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln in which he argues that there is substantial evidence to conclude that it is more likely than not that Lincoln was a homosexual.

I wonder how opponent of same-sex marriage George W. Bush would react to the poem the G.O.P. hero penned in which two men marry each other.

An American in Berlin

Click HERE to read a fascinating interview with one American working and living in Berlin. I was personally pleasantly surprised to see that the interviewer's last name, Gerstenfeld, is the same as my mother's maternal grandmother's maiden name.

Pop-Tart Expertise

This is why you visit the Triple Nine Blog--to read here about a court allowing an engineer to testify solely on the basis of his being an expert on toasting Pop-Tarts!

How the Drug War Undermines the War on Terror

My favorite self-described hard-core Leftist, Christopher Hitchens, explains HERE how the U.S. Government's "War on Drugs" aids terrorists.

Victor Davis Hanson on the Left's Credibility

I enjoy the writings of Victor Davis Hanson. Moreover, people who vehemently disagree with him grudgingly acknowledge that he's quite thought-provoking. (His allusions to ancient history are also very refreshing.)

Click HERE for a very interesting and controversial column from National Review in which Hanson contends that "the Left" has lost credibility in foreign policy matters. I'm hoping that readers who disagree with his thoughts will post their opposition.

Money quote:

"All the standing ovations for Kofi Annan cannot hide the truth that the Oil-for-Food scandal exceeds Enron. Indeed, Ken Lay’s malfeasance never involved the deaths of thousands, while cronies siphoned off food and supplies from a starving populace. The U.S. military does not tolerate mass rape and plunder among its troops, as is true of the U.N. peacekeepers throughout Africa. There can be no serious U.N. moral sense as long as illiberal regimes — a Syria, Iran, or Cuba — vote in the General Assembly and the Security Council stymies solutions out of concern for an autocratic China that swallowed Tibet. Millions were slaughtered in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur while New York bureaucrats either condemned Israel or damned anyone who censured their own inaction and corruption. Rather than faulting those who fault the U.N., leftists should lament the betrayal of the spirit of the liberal U.N. Charter by regimes that are neither democratic nor liberal but who seek legitimacy solely on their ability to win concessions and sympathy from guilt-ridden Westerners."

Judicial Propriety

Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit, is widely acknowledged to be among the smartest judges around.

Click HERE for a very interesting article by him on ethical issues facing judges.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Killing Time: Godel & Einstein's Friendship

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

You're Visiting the Triple Nine Blog...

...so, tax your brain & click here!

Christmas gifts for the scientifically inclined

Whither Intellectuals?

Click here for a review of a book entitled "Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?"

Money quote from the review: "[British philosopher A. C.] Grayling argues that surprisingly few university academics in the English-speaking world are intellectuals 'in the sense of having wide interests of the mind and deep commitments in moral and political terms, often together with a vocation for deploying these in debate about matters of public concern.' A university academic is a specialist in a narrow field who publishes, usually in jargon, technical research in journals of interest only to other specialists."

A hefty percentage of that research is purely careerist, and only read by a relatively small subset of the specialists in those areas.

Academia's Sincerest Form of Flattery?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Was Kerry Poisoned??

Click here.

Japanese Parisians Depressed...

Click here to read about it in the Australian...

Monday, December 13, 2004

Human/Animal Chimeras

Free Global Virtual Library on the Way...

Google agrees with Oxford University and leading libraries to make their holdings freely searchable and available over the net...

Click here for the New York Times article, (registration may be required)...

2004 Junk Science Awards

All the Junk That's Fit to Debunk!

Click here for Junkscience.com's Top Ten Most Embarrasing Moments of 2004.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Update: Antony Flew: "I'm Still an Atheist"

Click here for the latest!

National ID cards with biometric markers

December 9, 2004

The United States Congress passed legislation yesterday that requires the States to surrender their regulatory rights over driver’s licenses and birth certificates to The Department of Homeland Security.

The massive US Intelligence Reform Bill weighed in at over 3,000 pages and though unread by individual Members of either the House or Senate nevertheless passed all of the legislative hurdles needed in order to become law.

President Bush lobbied hard for these provisions, only objecting when Senator Sensenbrenner attempted to require these same provisions for illegal aliens but which the President opposed. This provision was dropped from the final bill.

Beginning in 2005, the Department of Homeland Security will issue new uniformity regulations to the States requiring that all Drivers Licenses and Birth Certificates meet minimal Federal Standards with regard to US citizen information, including biometric security provisions.

Added to currently existing Federal Laws and Supreme Court rulings American citizens when born will be issued a Social Security Number that will be included on their Birth Certificates, along with DNA biometric markers. All birth certificates will also be registered in a Federal Government database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. No child will be allowed enrollment to schools or be entitled to either State of Federal Government benefits programs without first presenting a certified Homeland Security registered Birth Certificate.

Drivers Licenses will also contain DNA biometric markers and include the holders Social Security Number and be required for receiving and applying for all State and Federal benefits programs. Previous Supreme Court rulings have also upheld State and Federal Law Enforcement authorities right to request Identification from any American citizen, for any reason and at any time as not being violations of their, the citizens, constitutionally protected rights.

Major Banks and credit card companies have applauded the adoption of a National ID system as being important to counter fraud and increasing instances of identity theft. National ID cards with biometric markers will eliminate them from having to issue Credit and Debit cards, which for the first time in US history have surpassed the usage of checks and cash. Utilizing The Department of Homeland Securities centralized federal database, Banks and credit card companies will only require the presentation of a citizens Driver’s License to make purchases as all of the persons financial information, including credit and cash balances, will already be known in ‘real time’. (The combining of Homeland Security and Banking databases on citizen’s balances and purchases, along with their past and present purchasing information, has been allowed under previous Federal Laws including the Patriot Act.)

from Jonathan Wheeler http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index575.htm

In Feb., 2002, Dr. James H. Johnson Jr., distinguished professor of management at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, said the country needs all adult citizens and residents to carry national ID cards with biometric markers.

"Some people are squeamish about national ID cards, but I think it is the only way we’re going to get around issues of racial profiling and violations of civil liberties. Those cards would speed up free movement of travelers throughout the United States."
http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/feb02/rand020802.htm

Euroblogging Catches On...

Click the above heading for the story.

Stephen Hawking Implicitly Disses Triple Nine?

Click here (registration required) to read an email interview with Stephen Hawking in the December 12, 2004 issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Interview tidbits: Hawking answers a question about I.Q. and calls President Bush's plans to put a human on Mars "stupid".

Money quote: "People who boast about their I.Q. are losers."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Suggestions

Any suggestions as to how this newborn blog may be improved would be appreciated...

Bush Nominates Nanny to Replace Kerik

Click the above title for the story; this one should stick...

Philosophical Activities & Games

Click here for a page of activities & games dealing with philosophical concepts from the same site that has the "TABOO" test in a post below. If you like philosophy, you'll likely find many of these activities fun!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Atheist Now A Theist

Click here for a transcript of an interview with formerly one of the world's foremost atheist philosophers and now a theist, Professor Antony Flew.

Though his theism is highly attenuated, and subject to revision in the light of his further evaluation of the evidence, as a fan of his atheist writings which span a half century, I am shocked!

The Slippery Slope Express

As same-sex couples are increasingly receiving forms of legal recognition in the U.S. and around the world, --most recently New Zealand and Israel--non-gay sexual minorities, such as polyamorists, are likewise organizing for their rights.

When gay rights activists who advocate same-sex marriage are asked whether polygamy should also be legalized, the question is most often brushed aside.

Click here to see why this tactic won't work for very long.

I've long believed that the ultimate solution is to separate Marriage from State, and permit consenting adults to set up whatever mutually agreeable contractual arrangements they wish. Don't hold your breath. It likely won't happen in our lifetimes.

Hop aboard the Slippery Slope Express...final stop, the Logical Conclusion!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Yuk!

The self-righteous S.O.B. who scores the taboo test thinks I'm inconsistent because (a) I don't think morals come from God or any other external source, and (b) I think personal actions which cause no harm are not wrong, and yet (c) I find it a little wrong for a family to eat their dead cat, even though they didn't kill the cat and no one was harmed in the process.

I'm still thinking about the guy who has sex with a frozen chicken before cooking and eating it. The information given was incomplete. Did he thaw the chicken before having sex with it? Did he wash it before cooking and eating it? And, yes, it would bother me to watch him having sex with the chicken, whether he thawed it first or not.

Thanks for the link, Peter.

Planetary Dynamics and Climate

Or, evidence that the real hot air of the climate scare is coming out of hungry pseudo-scientists' mouths on the global warming bandwagon, aka "scientific consensus", of the UN's program to initiate an even bigger scam than the oil for food charade...

http://www.crawfordperspectives.com/ClimateKeplerianPlanetDyna.htm



Unplug...

Don't read this.

Federal Appeals Court Weighs Journalistic Privilege

The New York Times reports here on arguments that took place before a Federal Appeals Court over whether journalists (as opposed to non-journalists) have a privilege to refuse to obey a court order to reveal confidential sources.

While driving and listening to the radio, (I'm pretty sure it was NPR), I heard someone claim that one of the First Amendment's purposes was to protect members of the press.

I completely agree that the First Amendment protects the press's freedom of expression.

But this raises the question: Who, precisely, is the press? And does this imply that the "non-press" (whatever that is) are not protected?

Luckily, courts have been loathe to even attempt to differentiate between which entities have a right to freedom of the press and which don't, and have held that all should enjoy freedom of the press.

Consequently, in the eyes of the law, there can be no difference in the legal rights between a New York Times reporter, and a lone blogger with a miniscule audience.

If "journalists" have a privilege to refuse to obey a court order to reveal a confidential source, that privilege must extend to anyone who disseminates ideas to others. (Virtually everyone.) If my elderly aunt who disseminates ideas (she gossips to her friends) and I (who blog) don't have this privilege why should a Times reporter?

How in the world do you draw a principled distinction? Moreover, do we want to empower government to determine which disseminators of ideas are worthy of journalistic privilege and which are not?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Happy Chanukah!...

...T'is the season,

My little nephews, ages 5 and 7, loved this flash animation. (Confession: Pantanassa & I loved it too!) Click the candles on and off individually to hear the individual sounds.

(Hat tip: David Bernstein from The Volokh Conspiracy.)

Google AdSense?

I'm thinking of signing up this blog with Google AdSense. Google will place "unobtrusive ads" on the site and will pay me (probably pennies) if people click through them and/or make purchases.

Google Adsense's site is: https://www.google.com/adsense/?hl=en_US&sourceid=aso&subid=us-et-ads

I did not start this blog with any intention of making money. If it does make money, and I'm sure in the beginning it'd be very, very modest, perhaps I can donate some (or all) of it to a worthy cause such as the Triple Nine Society. I don't however want to create any "official" connection, legal or otherwise to the Triple Nine Society.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Expected a whistleblower, got... this, so far

The big argument about the strange gap between exit polls and election results - no, not in Ukraine, here - was that a conspiracy of that size would necessarily involve a number of people, and what are the odds that it could happen without a whistleblower stepping forward?

So now there appears... maybe... a whistleblower. Is he real? It's still early days on that (original BradBlog post was Dec 6th), but the story has broken and we will all just have to get our investigation piecemeal. Another blogger using blogspot as of today is Brad Friedman (http://BradBlogToo.blogspot.com). His own blogsite has been so inundated with hits since yesterday that he can't even get to it - so he's moved in with the rest of us :-) He provided a PDF of the whistleblower's Maryland affadavit, and it has been picked up by Blue Lemur and RawStory and a TV station in Texas, and can be viewed in all its seamy scariness here:
http://rawstory.com/images/pdfs/CC_Affidavit_120604.pdf

That whistleblower is Clinton Curtis, a software engineer from Florida, with a story about which someone may someday make a cinematic spy thriller. Staffers at the House Judiciary Committee are looking at this info even as the rest of us Google "Clinton Curtis" "Florida" and anything else to narrow the search. Go read and enjoy - either it's true, or it's nutty, or it's a red herring dragged across the trail of a bigger story... (woohoo, Advanced Paranoia 310 is just down the hall)... but any way you slice it, at the moment it's also entertaining.

Quote from the Brad Blog: "The programmer claims that he designed and built a "vote rigging" software program at the behest of then Florida Congressman, now U.S. Congressman, Republican Tom Feeney of Florida's 24th Congressional District."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Prettying Up the Blog...


Triple Nine Society member Pantanassa Wizenberg, definitely not just another pretty face! Posted by Hello

Taboo

I highly recommend the website butterfliesandwheels.com as it has lots of fun articles articulating its skeptical stance towards all sorts of issues, particularly religion.

Click this link here to an amusing and interesting "test" to rationally scrutinize one's moral intuitions concerning taboos.

Journalistic Privilege

Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times, faces possible imprisonment for refusing to obey a court order to divulge a source for a new story. She is claiming “journalistic privilege.”

As her case wends her way through the courts, one of the things that’s problematic about her defense is coming up with non-question begging criteria of who is a journalist. All would agree that Ms. Miller is a journalist, and a fine one at that. What’s problematic is whether a reporter for the New York Times can be distinguished from an individual who publishes on a blog freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection or a small town newspaper reporter who writes for a circulation of 200. Surely, the size of one’s readership is not relevant to defining who is or who is not a journalist. (What if I print out my writings and hand them out free to passersby on street corners?)

Today, there are bloggers with thousands, even tens-of-thousands of readers, more so than many traditional newspapers. (Think of Matt Drudge and Andrew Sullivan.) So defining a journalist in terms of numbers of readers is fruitless.

If anyone who publishes on the internet, (or communicates his or her ideas to others in other ways) is a “journalist”, then virtually anyone could claim the “privilege”, and the privilege being well-nigh universal would defeat the purpose of laws which require people to reveal the source of illegal leaks to courts. (Which may or may not be a good thing.)
The upshot is that it seems that the courts will either have to extend the “journalistic privilege” to virtually everyone or deny it to everyone. What would be dangerous territory would be for the government to set itself up as an arbiter of who is or is not a “journalist”. Although the government licenses broadcast media, the consequences of print media being required to have a government imprimatur have frightening implications for freedom of expression.

Update: Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy links to this dialogue about journalistic privilege in which a Constitutional Law Professor points out that the courts are loathe to define who is a journalist as that is repugnant to the First Amendment.

String Theory

This morning's New York Times has a very interesting article on the current state of string theory which you can access here. (Registration at www.nytimes.com required.) The world awaits testable predictive consequences.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A Brief Commercial Break

I have a couple of blogs already: PlagueBlog, devoted to disease news, and a writing link blog. If anyone's interested in joining PlagueBlog, I'd love the help. There are so many exciting diseases out there!

I also follow Gene Expression, a community blog with occasional posts about IQ and related topics.

Welcome

Welcome to the Triple Nine Blog.

The Triple Nine Society is an international association of persons who have documented evidence of scoring under supervised conditions at or above the 99.9th percentile on a standardized adult intelligence test.

For more information on the Triple Nine Society, please visit their website at http://www.triplenine.org

This blog is not in any way officially connected to or affiliated with the Triple Nine Society.

The Triple Nine Society has not authorized this site and is not responsible in any way for the content of this site. This site is the creation of one of its members, Peter Wizenberg.

It is expected that this blog will evolve. It is envisioned that it will consist of postings from members of the Triple Nine Society. The general public is welcome to comment on the postings on this blog. Please come back at a later time for new information on this evolving blog in progress.

Triple Nine Society members are invited to contact me to become contributors to this blog.

You may email me at wizenberg@yahoo.com .

Peter Wizenberg