Apr 302007

The state of Maine has also attempted to provide “universal coverage” for its residents for many years, with predictably poor results. According to this recent NY Times article, instead of saving money, the program costs continue to explode, and the state officials are considering what sort of cutbacks to implement. Rationing is just one short step away.

Interestingly enough, one of the supporters of the plan is quite explicit about the central problem. She states, “This program needs healthy people who don’t get subsidized so it can prosper.” In other words, it needs a massive forced redistribution of wealth from one group of citizens to pay for the health care of another group of citizens who otherwise couldn’t pay for it themselves.

Yet for some reason, supporters of “universal health care” refuse to call these systems by their real name — “socialized medicine”! (Via Jason Spears.)

(Also crossposted to the FIRM weblog.)

More from the Archimedes Palimpsest

 Posted by on 30 April 2007 at 5:39 am  Uncategorized
Apr 302007

WOW: Yet another ancient text has been found buried in the Archimedes Palimpsest. This time, it appears to be a commentary on Aristotle’s Categories by Alexander of Aphrodisias!

Text reveals more ancient secrets
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

Experts are “lost for words” to have found that a medieval prayer book has yielded yet another key ancient text buried within its parchment. Works by mathematician Archimedes and the politician Hyperides had already been found buried within the book, known as the Archimedes Palimpsest. But now advanced imaging technology has revealed a third text – a commentary on the philosopher Aristotle. Project director William Noel called it a “sensational find”.

The prayer book was written in the 13th Century by a scribe called John Myronas. But instead of using fresh parchment for his work, he employed pages from five existing books. Dr Noel, curator of manuscripts at the US-based Walters Art Museum and a co-author of a forthcoming book on the Archimedes Palimpsest, said: “It’s a rather brutal process, but it means you can reuse parchment if you are short of it. You take books off shelves, you scrub off the text, you cut them up and you make a new book.”

In 1906 it came to light that one of the books recycled to form the medieval manuscript contained a unique work by Archimedes. And in 2002, modern imaging technology not only provided a clearer view of this famous mathematician’s words, but it also revealed another text – the only known manuscript of Hyperides, an Athenian politician from the 4th Century BC.

“At this point you start thinking striking one palimpsest is gold, and striking two is utterly astonishing. But then something even more extraordinary happened,” Dr Noel told the BBC News website. One of the recycled books was proving extremely difficult to read, explained Roger Easton, a professor of imaging science at Rochester Institute of Technology, US. “We were using a technique called multispectral imaging,” he said. This digital imaging technique uses photographs taken at different wavelengths to enhance particular characteristics of the imaged area.

Subtle adjustments of this method, explained Professor Easton, suddenly enabled these hidden words to be revealed. “Even though I couldn’t read Ancient Greek, just the fact that I could see the words gave me shivers,” he said.

Foundations of logic

An international team of experts began to scrutinize the ancient words, explained Reviel Netz, professor of ancient science at Stanford University, US, and another co-author of the palimpsest book. A series of clues, such as spotting a key name in the margin, led the team to its conclusion. “The philosophical passage in the Archimedes Palimpsest is now definitely identified as a relatively early commentary to Aristotle’s Categories,” said Professor Netz. He said that Aristotle’s Categories had served as the foundation for the study of logic throughout western history.

Further study has revealed the most likely author of this unique commentary is Alexander of Aphrodisias, Professor Robert Sharples from University College London, UK, told BBC News. If this is the case, he said, “it gives us part of a commentary previously supposed lost by the most important of those ancient commentators on Aristotle”.

A provisional translation of the commentary is currently being undertaken. It reveals a debate on some aspects of Aristotle’s theory of classification, such as: if the term “footed” is used for animals, can it be used to classify anything else, such as a bed?

The passage reads:

For as “foot” is ambiguous when applied to an animal and to a bed, so are “with feet” and “without feet”. So by “in species” here [Aristotle] is saying “in formula”. For if it ever happens that the same name indicates the differentiae of genera that are different and not subordinate one to the other, they are at any rate not the same in formula.

Dr Noel said: “There is no more important philosopher in the world than Aristotle. To have early views in the 2nd and 3rd Century AD of Aristotle’s Categories is just fantastic. We have one book that contains three texts from the ancient world that are absolutely central to our understanding of mathematics, politics and now philosophy,” he said. He added: “I am at a loss for words at what this book has turned out to be. To make these discoveries in the 21st Century is frankly nutty – it is just so exciting.”

WOWEEEEE! This discovery is really exciting!

More Virtues of Capitalism

 Posted by on 29 April 2007 at 10:14 pm  Uncategorized
Apr 292007

One of the virtues of capitalism is that it provides a wide variety of services for all sectors of the market. From “You Might Be A Redneck If“:

You might be a redneck if your wife is quoted in the local paper saying the following,

Greek Civilization

 Posted by on 29 April 2007 at 7:30 am  Uncategorized
Apr 292007

Ancient Greek civilization was one of the greatest in history. But I’m not so sure about some elements of modern Greek civilization.

Leiter on Churchill

 Posted by on 28 April 2007 at 5:58 am  Uncategorized
Apr 282007

Yesterday, a professor in Boulder’s philosophy department forwarded this post by Brain Leiter minimizing and excusing Ward Churchill’s dishonesty to the department’s “disscuss” list. I was floored by Leiter’s remarks. Here’s what I wrote in reply:

Brian Leiter approvingly quoted someone who wrote: “Churchill is guilty of occasionally shoddy scholarship and the dubious practice of ghostwriting, and perhaps even more.”

The “dubious practice of ghostwriting”?!? That has got to be joke. (Yeah, I know it’s not.)

By his own admission, Churchill published his papers under the names of others. As if that’s not bad enough, he then cited those papers as independent sources to corroborate false legal and historical claims. That’s not some kind of mistake or oversight. It’s not merely dubious: it’s twice-baked academic fraud. Contra Leiter, it’s very serious.

A graduate student would surely be kicked out of the program for ghostwriting papers for other students. Fabricating sources would be a serious offense. So why is that behavior excusable in a professor?

If academic freedom is understood as granting professors freedom to engage in the same kinds of dishonesty for which students are flunked and/or expelled, then academic freedom won’t be around much longer.

As for the rest of the blog post, it’s not consistent with what I’ve read in the various CU reports on Churchill. See:




Augh. I don’t understand how academics can punish plagiarism and cheating in their students while excusing Ward Churchill. Yet they do.

Infuriated Socialists

 Posted by on 27 April 2007 at 9:13 am  Health Care
Apr 272007

A few days ago, Paul published this letter to the editor in the Denver Post:

Health care is not a right, and it is not the proper role of government to provide health care for all citizens. Instead, this should be left to the free market. It is precisely the attempts of the governments of countries like Canada (or states like Tennessee) to attempt to mandate universal coverage which have led to the rationing and waiting lists for vital medical services. Similar problems are already starting to develop in the Massachusetts plan as well. Any plan of government-mandated “universal coverage” is nothing more than socialized medicine, and would be a disaster for Colorado.

Paul S. Hsieh, M.D., Sedalia

In response, Denver Post staff columnist Jim Spencer attacked Paul (without identifying him by name) in his column “Reforming the health of our care“:

The craziest letter to the editor that I’ve read in some time came from a physician who claimed that Coloradans have no right to health care.

Seems the guy not only forgot his Hippocratic oath but also the law.

If you’re sick enough or badly injured, they have to treat you at the emergency room regardless of your ability to pay.

The doctor aimed his editorial rant against socialized medicine. But he wrote it because a state blue-ribbon commission is now cobbling together a plan for medical treatment and prescription drugs for Coloradans.

The column then discusses the supposedly noble work of the 208 Commission in determining the proper “private/public mix in the provision of health care.”

I’m tickled pink to see Paul causing such a stir. It shows the power that physicians have when they speak out against socialized medicine.

For more information about the fight against socialized medicine in Colorado, visit FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine. For Paul’s more detailed case against socialized medicine in Colorado, read Socialized Medicine in Colorado – An Open Letter to Colorado Physicians.

Stand Up for Reason

 Posted by on 26 April 2007 at 12:36 pm  Uncategorized
Apr 262007

Richard Wills, whom I know from the “1FROG” discussion group of Front Range Objectivism posted the following as a comment on my post on Jesus Camp and Friends of God a while back. I thought it was way too fantastic for just a comment, so with Richard’s permission, I’m posting it as its own blog post.

When I see blank-eyed God-squaders destroying children’s minds by preaching blind obedience, and destroying their self-esteem by teaching them to cower, I’m reminded of the old hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.” The opening lines go:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner,
It must not suffer loss.

(See http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh514.sht for complete original lyrics and music.)

As an adolescent forced to go to church, I’d listen to the congregation singing this hymn and imagine they were singing “Suck Up to Jesus” instead. A religious service, after all, is nothing more than an exercise in sucking up to God.

Years later, I came up with my own lyrics for this hymn, imagining them sung by the faithful flock of the little Congregational church I attended near Boston. These are the words they would sing, that is, if they were honest about the meaning of their worship (see first three verses, below). Of course, if they were fully honest about their religion, they’d repudiate it entirely (see remaining six verses).


Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
This is our battle cry.
All ye who don’t believe us
In Hell will surely fry.
To dogma we bow gladly;
To reason we don’t bend.
The truth does not concern us;
We’d rather just pretend.

Kiss up, kiss up to Jesus,
Imaginary boss.
Oh, Great Hallucination,
Without you we are lost.
Our self-respect goes down with us
When we get on our knees.
But if we really grovel,
Salvation is a breeze.

Suck up, suck up to Jesus,
Imaginary friend.
It’s party-time at your place
After our lives end.
To reach your cosmic Disneyland,
We’ll genuflect and cower;
We’ll kiss your ass forever,
Pretending you’ll save ours.

But now I’ve done some thinking
About this savior-dude,
And after due reflection,
Here is what I conclude:
This mindless little carpenter
Was mentally unglued,
And thanks to his religion
Humanity got screwed.

I live my life for me now;
This is my sacred right.
I scorn all gods and masters;
On mankind they’re a blight.
I’ll raise the torch of reason,
Our one and only hope,
Until the cross of Jesus
Goes up in holy smoke.

Beware of true believers
Who try to suck us in –
Snake-oil hawkers selling
Imaginary sin.
They’re dying to convert us
By sword or by the pen,
But if we fall for their lies,
We’re suckers born again.

They have the nerve to tell us
We’re sinful from our birth.
Their God is cruel and jealous,
Disdainful of our worth.
A pompous little potentate,
He’s peevish, he’s perverse.
Down with cosmic tyrants;
We have enough on Earth.

Now, pride and self-reliance
Are virtues to admire.
Be noble and defiant;
Live life as you desire.
The heaven that you seek is here;
It’s well within your reach.
You hold it in your own hands
And need not God beseech.

May humans thrive forever –
Man, woman, girl and boy.
Our noblest endeavor
Is living life with joy.
And so with reason’s counsel,
Stand up and go forth –
Claim your glorious birthright:
This life, this time, this Earth!


Police Interrogations

 Posted by on 25 April 2007 at 5:23 pm  Uncategorized
Apr 252007

A good police interrogation is a skillful use of applied psychology:

There are “Law & Order” addicts everywhere who think they could get a perp to confess. A little glaring, some getting in the guy’s face, a revelation that his fingerprints are all over the murder weapon and voila! He’s recounting his crime. In real life, police interrogation requires more than confidence and creativity (although those qualities do help) — interrogators are highly trained in the psychological tactics of social influence.

Here’s how it’s done.

How (Not) to Use PowerPoint

 Posted by on 24 April 2007 at 9:25 am  Uncategorized
Apr 242007

This is both a PowerPoint presentation and a self-referential comedy routine at the same time.


 Posted by on 23 April 2007 at 8:17 pm  Uncategorized
Apr 232007

I wrote this note more quickly than I would have liked, but I thought it better to post this than nothing at all.

For all FireFly fans, Nathan Fillion is starring in a new drama: Drive. Tim Minnear — long time associate of Joss Whedon’s — is writing, directing, whatevering.

I’ve watched the first two episodes. It’s really good so far. The writing is excellent. The characters are interesting. Most of all, the story is gripping, dramatic, and ingenious. (It’s also a real pleasure to see Fillion in action again. Particularly with Minnear writing, he’s definitely got something of that fabulous “Mal” feel.)

Three hour-long episodes have aired already. I strongly recommend against skipping those, as the two I’ve seen so far include tons of important backstory. However, you can buy those first three episodes on iTunes for just $2 each.

It’s on Mondays at 8 pm. (That might be eastern time. Paul and I tivo, so we pay no attention to air date/time.)

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