Bob Kolker

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Everything posted by Bob Kolker

  1. I make the assumption that measured IQ (on standardized tests) and Intelligence are correlated. Studies have shown that high IQ is in part inheritable. In part it is due to learned behaviors. Not all people with normal brains are equally smart and smartness manifests itself in different ways. Some people are math-smart. Some people are music-smart. Some people are word-smart. Some people read body and face language expertly. They can do profiling. Part of that may be due to heredity. There is a physical basis for intelligence, to with the structure and function of the brain. Some of the physical characteristics of the brain are inherited. For example the dominant side. Left-handedness (right brain dominance) runs in families. It is an inherited characteristic. Relative development of the pathways to the visual cortex may be influenced by genetic factors. People with extra-ordinary visual ability often occur in certain families. In their book -The Bell Curve- Herrensteinn and Murray there is some strong statistical evidence presented showing that high measured IQ is (at least in part) inherited. There are valid identical twin studies that indicate that this is so. So it is not just a matter of will power. I could not will myself not to be tone deaf no matter how hard I try. I have imperfect pitch. I would find it difficult to carry a tune in a bushel basket. Tone memory is a mental ability and it is definitely inherited. That is why one finds entire families like the Bach family overloaded with musical genius. Similarly the Bernouli Family of Switzerland produced several generations of mathematical geniuses. I also make the assumption that any human with enough brain power to master a language is capable of logical thinking. Grammatical structure sense and logical ability are related. So people who are not profoundly retarded ought to be able to reason logically, even if not in an original fashion. If a person who is otherwise normal cannot handle the usual categorical syllogisms, I assume he is not trying hard enough. There are also people who do not think verbally at all, or hardly at all. Temple Grandin in her book -Thinking in Pictures- describes this condition. People on the difficult end of the autistic spectrum (the non-verbal end) have a great deal of difficulty working in a world where thinking is mostly verbal. People like this need special training to cope with this difficulty and put their hyper-visual abilities to good use. Grandin is one such person. If you eat steak, there is a 50 50 chance the steer from whom the steak was made was slaughtered in a slaughterhouse system designed by Grandin. People like me (on the Aspie end of the spectrum --- Super Nerds) do well by working in the computer business where the underlying processes are rules-based and being literal is no disadvantage. I do not have the intuitive ability to discern intentions or intuit feelings in others. It has nothing to do with not trying. It is due to a structural and functional difference in the way my type of brain operates. Similar wetware, different operating system. The way I cope and still cope is by enumerating behaviors and the intent that others associate with these behaviors and formulating rules to account for these facts. So I handle intention discernment the way non-artistic people paint pictures. I paint by the numbers, so to speak. It is an empirical method and it took me 40 years to get it right. I had to study pictures of various facial expressions for years, to correlate them with the mood or mindset behind them. A normal five year old gets it as naturally as he/she breathes. Basically I know why I do or think what I do and think. I have problems understand why other people do what they do. I very often don't "get it". It was not until I was over 40 years old that I learned how not to act like a social jackass. I said and did things that hurt the feelings of others and insulted them and I had no idea that I was having that effect. For years I thought the question: "How are you" was a literal genuine question, rather than a patterned way of exchanging greetings and good feelings. I used to bore people with my temperature and blood pressure. I don't do that anymore. I had to learn manually not to do it. So you see, it is not just a matter of will power. I am in the 95th percentile for IQ and I still do not fully understand how other people operate. I have to plug away at it in a detailed and mechanical fashion. It is like trying to memorize the periodic table. Lucky you. You can read other people's minds. I can't. And this is why I am not so anxious to judge others, unless the situation is obvious (to me). I simply do not have the talent. To put it bluntly, I am a social retard, but I have learned to hide it fairly well or more accurately I have learned not to inflict it on others. Bob Kolker
  2. I often miss the point because I always read what I read literally. I am a high functioning autistic (Asperger Syndrome) and that is the condition of my intellect. Fortunately for me, my wife (who is Normal) explains things to me when I am confused by the literal meaning of words. This particular "feature" (it is not a "bug") comes in very handy in testing and debugging software and proving mathematical theorems. It is not so good for reading poetry or listening to the lyrics of many songs. Since my trade, prior to my retiring from business, was software and applied mathematics I never experienced any difficulty in this area. A computer does not care what was intended (in a manner of speaking because computers really can't care), but what was compiled and executed and I generally do not care what is intended (because I can't) but what is observed and experienced. Such is my limitation. So, pray, do pardon my inability to "read minds". I am, for all practical purposes, "mind blind". If there were such a thing as a "seeing mind dog" I would buy one in a thrice. I have to use my wife in that role. Bob Kolker
  3. You don't really want Civil War II

    I misread you. You invoked your military experience so I thought you meant genuine combat in which hot metal flies and flesh is torn to bits. I have no objection to bloody war on principle, mind you, but I think it is ill advised to fight a war in such a way that our side is bound to be beaten and even destroyed. The war we are both fighting is a war of the mind. The only way we can win is to leave the other side either unwilling or unable to act. It would have to be a war of subversion and to some degree sabotage. Let me inject a lighter note here: The French Army had an outfit that did this: The Black Berets. This was an elite corps that injected the philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre into the other side leaving them in a state of utter despair and inability to act. Bob Kolker
  4. Push comes to shove it is better to be addicted to meetings, cookies and bad coffee than to booze. With the meeting, cookies and bad coffee it is possible to hold onto a job and earn one's living. Addiction is not a good thing, but some addictions are worse than others. Bob Kolker
  5. You don't really want Civil War II

    When the Other Side has tanks and we do not, when they have jet propelled fighter bombers and we do not, when they have 6000 round per minute Gattling Cannons and we do not, when they have JDAMs and we do not, when they have flame throwers and we do not, how do we fight them and win? Answer: not by frontal assault. You have to beat the opposition in the mind, not on the physical battle field. You have to get the Gov. Co. Army to not fight the people. It is possible, but it is also very difficult. Bob Kolker
  6. Celebrate Human Achievement Hour

    Way to go! I turned on every light in my humble abode. I also did the dishes and ran the electric clothes dryer starting at 20:30 local time (New Jersey). It probably cost me ten bucks extra at New Jersey Power and Light rates, but what the heck. I would have used my atmospheric electric generator, but it blew a fuse (just kidding). Bob Kolker
  7. Celebrate Human Achievement Hour

    Tom Edison gets credit for version 1.0 of an electrical lighting system. It was not a good system, but it was the first. Nikola Tesla gets the heavy credit for making it possible for moving electrical energy any significant distance. Edison cheated Tesla out of a promised bonus and when Tesla quite and got heavy backing from George Westinghouse to generate AC current Edison fought him, not always cleanly. Edison was determined to push DC current regardless of the fact it was not feasible to transmit electrical energy by DC long distances at low voltages. Tesla got his chance to show the brilliance of both his mind and his electric lights in 1906 at the World Exposition in Buffalo N.Y. His system provided both the power and the lighting. It was electricity transmitted more than twenty miles from the AC generators at Niagara Falls. Edison's DC system could not have done it. Bottom line: The world runs on AC, the current that Edison fought tooth and nail to push out of the market place. Your computer runs, and your house is lighted by Nikola Tesla's brilliance. Edison was an energetic businessman, but intellectually he was a blunt instrument compared to Nikola Tesla who was the theoretical and practical genius that truly lit up the world. PS: It was Tesla and not Marconi that first invented wireless electromagnetic transmission of data. In 1942 the courts finally ruled that Tesla had the priority of invention over Marconi. Bob Kolker
  8. Same atoms. Not the same molecules. Thank you for making my case for me. Bob Kolker
  9. The "Health Care" bill passes

    It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. Light enough candles and the darkness is banished. Bob Kolker
  10. I beg to differ. Several of the thoughts that Willer's creator, Ayn Rand, puts in his head are metaphorical and therefore abstract. Also he acts on moral principle, hence he thinks abstractly on certain issues. His brave and principled refusal to reveal Dagny's whereabouts to James Taggart shows that he thinks bravely, morally and abstractly. Willers is NOT a nincompoop. He is more limited in his ambition and intellectual range than the "major" characters, but he functions a full capacity, given his capacity. I happen to like his character. He shows that upstanding persons of limited ability can function at full capacity and have a constructive part to play in life. And there are more Eddies out that than Johns Galt. The world could not run smoothly without them. They are necessary, even if not sufficient. One of the thing another character, Hugh Akston, said of his three "sons" is that they were normal humans . Not so. John Galt, Franscisco and Ragnar were at least three sigma out on the high side of the Gaussian normal curve for intellectual genius and focused ambition. That makes them statistically not normal. 97 percent of the human race are three sigma or less deviated from the normal. The major heroes were in the 98th percentile or better. If I may be permitted an opinion on the matter - I think Ayn Rand was a bit too hard on "the little people", the lesser folk. Without well meaning and right thinking lesser folk, the world would come crashing down and geniuses would have to shingle their own roofs instead of inventing advanced energy machines. We all have constructive parts to play and roles to fill. Bob Kolker
  11. That is literally the case. No non-physical component to a human being has been objectively demonstrated. We are made of atoms. What is NOT the case is --- men are merely a collection of chemicals. The mode of organization of the components counts at least as much as the basic components themselves. A man alive and functioning is not the same as a man scrambled and pureed. Same atoms, different organization. If an utterance cannot be taken literally, it is not a true statement. It probably isn't even a statement. Don't mind me, too much. I am just being my natural literal minded self again. Bob Kolker
  12. You don't really want Civil War II

    Uncivil civil war. Bob Kolker
  13. The "Health Care" bill passes

    I suspect more Americans pay attention to the baseball standings than to intellectuals of any stripe. In the U.S. abstract thinkers are not held in especially high esteem. I forget who said this, but it is true: In a country in which plumbers are faulted for being too narrowly focused and intellectuals are held in low esteem because they are not "practical"; neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water. Bob Kolker Bob Kolker
  14. You don't really want Civil War II

    Do you think blind people could see if they worked hard enough? Would you not be better off if you were concerned by your performance, rather than the lack of performance of others? Feeling contempt takes time and burns calories. What do you get for the investment? Bob Kolker
  15. The "Health Care" bill passes

    In the U.S.A. it is voters who determine political outcomes. Bob Kolker
  16. You don't really want Civil War II

    The total death toll was closer to 620,000. The really painful toll was the number of soldiers maimed in combat. In those days of 52 cal. Minnie balls, cannister and shrapnel if one was hit in a limb, it was often amputated. Low velocity rounds did not clip bone, it shattered bone and the only way to save the wounded person was to take off the limb. There were 1.5 million wounded in the Civil War and nearly half of those lost limbs. That kind of butchery was not again achieved until the Great War (WWI). There were something like 9 million killed in that war. I don't have the number of maimed soldiers but it was large. In the Great War, un-bright generals charged machine gun nests in frontal assault. It was dreadful. Can you imagine what the slaughter would have been like in the Civil War, if the Gattling gun were adopted? The butchery of the American Civil War was done mostly with single shot rifled weapons. The rifles were quite accurate and could kill at 300-500 yards (unlike the smooth bore muskets of the American Revolution). Bob Kolker
  17. You don't really want Civil War II

    According to John Adams (who ought to know since he was in the thick of it), one third of the adult population favored independence, one third were loyalists to England and one third had a "wait and see" attitude. There never was a majority who favored independence. The representatives from the New York colony to the Philadelphia Congress were extremely reluctant to go with independence. It took some arm twisting to get the New York folks to go along. Ben Franklin himself, initially wanted some kind of reasonable reconciliation with England. An arrangement such as the Canada Dominion would have satisfied him. However, when King George and his buddies became intransigent, Franklin realized independence was the only way to go. But it was not his first choice. Many of the pro independence folks came to their position reluctantly. The fact that Canada never had a revolution indicated that some kind of reconciliation was possible. I suspect after the thirteen colonies successfully gained their independence, England took a very reasonable attitude toward Canada. I am sure the English did not wish to lose Canada as well. The British had enough troops to win. The revolutionary forces were routinely defeated on the battle field and it was the success at Trenton that kept the revolution going. If the Yanks had lost at Trenton we would be toasting Her Britannic Majesty's health. It was French assistance that made the difference. Without the French, the revolution would have failed. If the Brits had fought at the Battle of Saratoga more intelligently the revolution would have been a short lived affair. It would have been over in 1777, that is how close it was to failing. Bob Kolker
  18. You don't really want Civil War II

    Congress agreed to compensate General Washington on the basis of an expense account that he submitted: " Revolutionary War Expense Account, 1775 - 1783 George Washington refused to accept a salary as commander in chief, instead offering to claim only his expenses. Congress readily accepted this offer in 1775. At the end of the war, Washington compiled his own general accounts from the record books in this Revolutionary War section of Series 5. He calculated that £ was equivalent to $26, which was generous on his part because at times the dollar depreciated to hundreds of dollars to a single British pound sterling. Washington's total expenses of $160,074 included not only his personal accounts but expenses for his headquarters (which he referred to as his "military family"), secret intelligence (spy services), and traveling expenses for his headquarters and guards, commanded by Captain Caleb Gibbs. After a careful examination of these accounts and their supporting documentation, James Milligan, Comptroller General of the United States Treasury, found that Washington was due an additional eighty-nine nintieths of one dollar. This account book is accompanied online by explanatory notes from George Washington's Account of Expenses While Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army 1775-1783 reproduced in facsimile with annotations by John C. Fitzpatrick, Assistant Chief, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (Boston; New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1917). " Details at: this has pointers to his ledgers. General Washington did not render his services for free. George Washington kept extremely detailed records of his expenses and activities. He knew where every penny went. He was very much the opposite of Thomas Jefferson who was a spendthrift and very careless with his money, which is why Jefferson was constantly in debt. Bob Kolker

    The result of the last Civil War was to do away with "no force" statutes and other nullifications. The fact is that we are bound under the law whether we like the law or not. It will be enforced. Allegiance is a mental state, it defines your assent or protest against current laws. What it does not do is make you immune to the punishments of disobedience. The only way we lose our chains is to either change the government or change the laws. Denying our allegiance does nothing substantial. Which ever side the Army supports will be the winner. Are you ready for a Civil War? I am not. In the last Civil War (1861-1865) they used gunpowder, grapeshot, canister, Minnie balls, low calorie shrapnel and bayonettes. In the next Civil War it will be Jet Planes, JDAMs, Tanks, Helicopters, High Explosive and Napalm. In the last Civil War, the country was 80 percent rural and agricultural. Now it is 80 percent urban and industrial. I think it is safe to say you do not want a Civil War. After such a Civil War there won't be much left of the nation to fix. Bob Kolker
  20. The "Health Care" bill passes

    In districts that are overwhelmingly Democrat, the incumbents will be re-elected. In districts where independent voters are the swing vote, there may be blood on the snow this November. The key to putting the Fear into Democrats is the independent swing vote. Bob Kolker
  21. Ladyhawke (1985)

    Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post. "The Mouse" did his part. At the risk of his own life he saved Navarre's life, while Navarre was still in the form of a wolf. He also got Father Imperius the Monk sobered up to do what had to be done. Once again the "little guy" is heroic when he has to be. I think there is a lesson here. All the "good guys" both great and small have their part to play. Bob Kolker
  22. It can be proved, however, that the curve connection two points in a plane of least length is indeed a straight line and conversely a straight line connecting two points is the curve of least length. So the geodesic definition of a straight line encapsulates Euclid's intuitive notion of a straight line "lying evenly" between two points. Demonstrating this takes a bit of work since it requires the calculus of variations, but if you are up to it, please have a look at: which is a nice straightforward derivation of the result. In a sense the "straightness" of the shortest distance using the Euclidean Metric is really the Pythagorean Theorem in infinitesimal differential form. If a different metric were used then the geodesic curve would no longer be a straight line. For example try the "taxi cab metric", that is : Let (x1, y1) and (x2, y2) be two points in a plane and let D[(x1,y1), (x2,y2)] = (by definition) |x1 - x2| + |y1 - y2|. The reason that this is called the "taxi cab metric" is that distance is measured only along streets (which is what a taxi cab rides on). This metric yields the following result (I leave it as an exercise for you). Given distinct points (x1,y1); (x2,y2) there are an infinite number of curves connecting the points all having the same metric distance under the "taxi cab metric". It is precisely the metric property that leg-squared plus leg-squared = hypotenuse-squared that makes the straight line straight. Given that the Greeks did not have analytic mathematics (that was invented mostly in the 19th century and entirely in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance), the Greeks were in no position to get results like this. In fact it was K. F. Gauss, one of the greatest mathematicians of all times, who rendered the notion of curvature in terms of derivatives. Gauss was Riemann's mentor and Riemann perfected the notion of curvature by inventing differential geometry (cf Gaussian Curvature). This had great practical consequences. Riemann's geometry is the basis of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity so, in a sense, it is the work of Gauss and Riemann that as put a GPS device in your cell phone and automobile. Bob Kolker
  23. The "Health Care" bill passes

    The first thing a Washington D.C. Grade Politician will assume as that the People will never approve of rescinding a program that "benefits" them. That is why we still have social (in)security. And these types have more than enough reason for believing this. You are hoping for a great deal more courage and integrity than is generally found in the kind of people who want to wield political power. I would like to see what you propose also, but there are only two chances that it will come about; slim and none. Bob Kolker
  24. The "Health Care" bill passes

    This abominable bill is not the end of the world. It deals with health insurance policies but it does not, in its present form, include a Public Option (that is to say Government Provided health insurance) nor does it put the government in charge of the dispensing of health care. In short, it is not the dreadful National Health Service, the bane of Britain. But it is a nose under the tent. It is a first step in that direction and it must be stopped definitely and soon. In its present form it is no worse than Medicare, although it has a wider application. Think of it as Medicare extended to younger people. So the bill, per se, while undesirable is not a show stopper. What is scarier than the bill is the way Obama and his cronies in Congress forced this piece of wretchedness down the throats of the American public. Passing the Bill was mostly about Power, and little about Health. Chancellor Obama is positioning himself to become Fuhrer. We must not let him succeed. Here is a prediction which I plucked out of thin air: If Obama and his gang have a reversal in November, beware of a "Reichstag fire", i.e. a sudden but convenient emergency which will take the heat off of the Obamoids because of the Bill. Perhaps there will be a convenient terrorist attack on the U.S. which will require the Nation to Unify behind Fearless Leader and forget minor differences such as Fascist-Care. Yes, yes. I know. I am just being a bit paranoid here. Bob Kolker
  25. I would not use the word "contradict" here. Hilbert* corrected Euclid's mistakes and filled in some of the holes and deficiencies in Euclid's system. Aristotle had very little to add to mathematics. Most of his scientific works were in natural studies and biology. Which is not too surprising since he was a doctor's son. To the best of my knowledge, Aristotle did not contribute anyh original theorems or proofs to geometry. The Big Guns in Greek mathematics were Euclid, Eudoxus, Apolonius, Conon, and Archimedes. There are more numerous lesser lights, but the aforementioned were the giants of Greek mathematics, which is to say Greek geometry. Archimedes came close to developing a logarithmic/exponential number system in -The Sand Reckoner- but he did not have the zero nor did he have a symbolic system of quantity based mathematics. Greek number mathematics, what they called arithmos, was connected to geometrical quantities. Which is why the Greeks never got exponentiation beyond order three (as in three dimensions or volume). Algebra was half invented by Diophantus ** who lived in the Christian era (A.D./C.E.), for use in the theory of numbers, and truly invented by the Arab scholars. The Arab mathematicians handled cubic and quartic equations. This was the kickoff for European mathematics in the end of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Bob Kolker *David Hilbert, a German mathematician was probably the greatest mathematician in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work resonates and echoes even today. Think about Hilbert Space, the natural home of linear operators and the basic mathematical construct underlying quantum theory in physics. ** see