Rationality and rationalization

Strict rationality will never work as a philosophy in this universe for a few reasons.

The first is that there is no reason to undertake (or to fail to undertake) an action using a strictly rationalist framework. All of this at the human level requires morals, ethics, values and desire. Even at the animal level, choices must be made. Decisions depend always on more than mathematical calculations of utility or gain maximization.

The second is that there is no path from and never will be from particle positions and velocities to meta behavior. Possible in principle? Perhaps. But combinatorial explosion means that it’s a path we can never walk in practice to travel mathematically or rationally from the very small to the very not. It simply cannot be done. Thus no rationality because predictive power will always be minimal or at least far less than expected in any real-world system.

The third and more important is that the evidence that the universe itself is rational is not so clear as the empiricists would like you to believe. First, ignore the mumbo-jumbo dispensed by the quantum mysterians, believers that the universe is a simulation, Schrödinger’s damn cat or the usually-wrong statements about Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem. You don’t need any of that. All that is required to conclude that the universe lacks rationality is to simply believe as the empiricists demand that the universe is completely deterministic.

Believing this, then ask yourself if the universe is in fact fully deterministic, how can causality possibly work or have any meaning at all? If there is no choice, no volition anywhere in the stack (which is what determinism absolutely and inviolately demands), then everything that follows from causality is illusory: particle interactions, atomic configurations, choices, decisions, predictions, relations between anything and anything else (just another name for causality). Nothing can be said to have caused anything else because from the very first moment of the Big Bang (and perhaps before) it was preordained — coded into the universe as in a computer program. (Does causality make sense in a computer program? Nope! See above.)

In other words, causality and determinism are irreconcilable but both are at the heart of scientific enterprise. This is not some trivial objection. It is a fundamental failure that cannot be hand-waved away nor denied no matter the anguished screams of empiricists everywhere.

Fork in the road

The cover of this anti-evolution book made me laugh.

Yep, it is a real book. Alas.

The blurb is also funny — particularly this part as it’s actually accurate but whoever wrote it (like most of these types) knew nothing about evolution at all.

Are you really the descendant of chimpanzees? The latest scientific evidence says “No Way!”

True, because chimpanzees and humans are both descendants of a common ancestor that probably lived around 7 million years ago.

Sniper

The Girl Who Ran Away to Fight ISIS.

Interesting story and if she’s only done 1/10 the things she said she’s done, pretty damn impressive — but I was more interested in the weapons in her photo.

This one:

The weapon on the left is an easy one. That’s a PKM (BKC), or PK machine gun. That is found all over the world. I’ve fired one before. The barrel overheats easily but other than that it’s durable and reliable like all the Eastern bloc portable weapons.

The one on the upper right is harder. It’s an M4 variant, and I think it’s the Colt Umarex M4 AR 15 22 long rifle, but I am not 100% sure. But it matches the best the visual evidence. I’ve fired the M4 before, but never that variant.

The one in the bottom middle is either an AK-74 or a Chinese-made Type 56 clone of that rifle. The resolution is too potato to tell for sure. I’ve never fired this one before.

And the weapon on the bottom right is also pretty easy. That’s an M249 SAW. I’ve fired this before. It’s an extremely impressive and effective weapon.

Interestingly, in none of the photos is she holding the main weapon she would’ve used to kill ISIS fighters, which is this one, the SVD Dragunov. I have never fired this one before but would like to.

And that’s your weapons wrap-up for the day.

Smoking math

By the way, the primary reason for the mathematicalization of economics is not to improve economics (it doesn’t), but rather to give economists and related who wish to hoodwink and swindle the public an excuse for dismissing lay critics.

Economics could drop 90% of its math and actually be more effective because it’d force it to concentrate on sociology, psychology and other methods of assessing actual human behavior.

Economics in reality is just the sociology of money. The field should reflect this.

Bubbly

Among economists, I’ve often seen this odd idea that “there is no such thing as a bubble.”

While I understand their arguments just fine, I think they are dangerously delusional and since their analysis is limited to economics only — and not sociology or psychology — they (as usual) miss the largest components of what defines, gives genesis to, and deflates a bubble environment.

(As an aside, an indictment of our university system is that it is both too broad and too narrow: too broad in the sense that there is never any unification of fields, just a bunch of disparate electives with no connective tissue, and too narrow in the sense that when a person specializes they focus on one tiny little area and believe by organizational imperatives that nothing else is or can be important. Hence, our modern economists who only can see economics, and a narrowly-defined spreadsheet-fuckery-focused physics-envying economics at that.)

Working backwards, that bubbles cause harm* proves that something unusual and undesirable was occurring. Does one really need other proof? Or is this just assumed to be the normal operations of capitalism?

If you accept the DSGE as some from of truth, then you must arrive at bizarre conclusions that countervail reality as Sumner does.

Nowhere are so many economists so clueless as they are about bubbles. It’s like reading writings from an alien.

Also, the argument that a bubble did not really exist because prices eventually recover — well, that’s about the level of argumentation of a second grader. In other words, all’s well that ends well is not really an argument for anything, it’s more an argumentum ad magicum

*And if you don’t believe the bubble of 2008 popping caused great harm, well, I got nothing for ya.

Hey boss

The blog I ran around 2003 was much more popular than this one. I made more effort to market it, and I got linked by several A-list bloggers frequently so I had thousands of hits a day and hundreds of commenters.

Only one notable (for lack of a better word) troll/stalker type. Think he hated my politics. He’d gone on some ranting tangent one time about reporting my blog to my boss to “get me fired” and that he knew where I worked and provided some evidence of that.

Since he seemed to leave a valid email address in his comments, I composed and sent a response to that email address, CCed my boss and said, “Hey [Boss], you going to fire me today for this appalling blog? Or should we just have lunch and laugh at the troll?”

My boss read my blog daily and had for several years. She replied that we’d have lunch and that she always enjoyed hunting trolls.

Never heard from that particular commenter again.

Legionnaire

I don’t yet know if Legion is a good show or not.

But it’s a show with a beautiful, surreal, unified aesthetic and that goes a long way in itself. It’s far more cinematic than most movies — just beautifully photographed, with every shot containing something that makes you laugh, or that you rewind to catch some other detail or just to marvel at the audacity and that the audacity works.

If anyone claims (wrongly) that TV shows cannot be art, have them watch this. What’s brilliant about it too is that if you turn the sound off, it’s still a beautiful sight.

It’s all just so gorgeous and so effortless-looking. At the same time, though, it feels like a high-wire act in gusting winds. You just marvel that it can sustain such an airy freedom with so many possibilities to plunge into the abyss.

It is lovely in the best of ways and if you think you know what you’re getting when you watch it, you’re wrong.

Whoever the folks are who did the set design, location scouting, principal photography, costuming and makeup on this show should get all the awards.

SONET sonnet

I might be the only person in the world who has ever written a sonnet in a service desk ticket.

If not, I am surely among the few.

Pommecorde

I was doing research about apple snails for an aquarium we are considering putting together, and some wiseass like me posted this question on an FAQ site about them:

It did not have an answer, however. But it did indeed make me laugh.