Bob Kolker

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Posts posted by Bob Kolker


  1. I am surprised that the entire executive branch of the Polish government flew on the same plane. That sounds like very bad management.

    Here are the facts:

    one Polish pilot + one over age Tupelov jet + one very foggy day at Smolensk = one disaster.

    The news accounts that I read indicated that the pilot was instructed to seek an alternate landing site but he came in anyway.

    The first impression is pilot error. But further investigation must be made. Question: is there going to be a neutral participant in the crash investigation? They should get in some experts from Canada or Britain to join in.

    Bob Kolker


  2. Bob, do you really think that I am so lacking in knowledge that I do not know the items you mentioned? And Charles Darwin did do his research on his own as every thinking person has to do no matter how many state otherwise. What I was trying to point out, and what it seems you missed, is that no one needs anyone else to confirm their knowledge and if you think so then you fail to understand the virtue of independence. In other words, I do not need you nor anyone else to agree with my thoughts on exercise and diet for me to accept them, all I need is for them to be varified by reality.

    Actually I don't know what you know. I only know what I read that you have written here and I respond accordingly. I have no way of reading your mind. I am genetically mind-blind (one of the benefits of Asperger's Syndrome).

    Now to the point: Every scientific hypothesis requires experimental or observational verification or corroberation. And it ain't reality that does it. It is people sweating blood and shedding tears to construct apparatus and design experiments. To get reality to talk you have to shine a strong light in its face and beat it bloody with a club (in a manner of speaking, of course). Reality does not reveal. It is people who find out. Nature reveals nothing to those who just sit and stare. To find out what Nature has to say, one must think, seek and work hard. Nature hides, people find.

    The root word of experiment is Latin for try. Every hypothesis has to be put on trial.

    Bob Kolker


  3. Bob,

    A person can do all the things you mention themselves if their allegiance is to existence not any preconcieved idea or theory, for example Charles Darwin.

    Charles Darwin was not the only scientist working on the problem of species formation. Lamarck and others also had theories of how species arose. In fact, Darwin himself, invoked the theory of use and disuse in his famous -Origin of Species-. In addition, Darwin was not the only one who came upon variation and natural selection. Alfered Wallace formulated a nearly identical theory. In fact it was Wallace's presentation that finally moved Darwin to publish his -Origin of Species-. Darwin did not want to be "scooped" by Wallace in 1858 and they agreed to a joint presentation of their common theory in 1859. Without Wallace, Darwin, most likely, would have delayed publication until his death and we would have had -Origin of Species- much later on.

    Darwin's approach was not nailed down until his hypothesis of variation and natural selection was bonded with rigorous biochemistry and genetics. It was the confluence of genetic science with natural selection that finally eliminated the other theories of species formation.

    This required the work of hundreds of top scientists. Very few scientific theories are the work of a single man (or woman). Even Newton said that if he saw further than others it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants. Without Galileo, Kepler and Descartes there would have been no -Principia Mathematica- by Newton. It was an antagonist of Newton, Robert Hooke who suggested to Newton that the motion of the planets was not merely the balance between centrifugal force and gravity, rather it was the vector resultant of centripital acceleration and the tangential inertia of a massive body. Newton never claimed to be the "lone genius".

    Bob Kolker


  4. Galt's speech was a major stumbling block for me on my first reading. I skipped over it :D and continued with the rest. It wasn't until after some study of Miss Rands non-fiction that I was able to read AS again, this time completely.

    She spent a couple of years writing that speech in a way that captured her philosophy in the framework of the novel. If you read it again after studying the historical background to the evolution of philosophy, such as presented in Leonard Peikoff's recorded lecture series on the history of western philosophy, you will see a lot more in Galt's speech than you ever imagined was there.

    While The Speech might have been a good condensation of her philosophical ideas, from an stylistic point of view, it spoiled the action flow of the novel. During Dagny's stay in the Valley, Galt plainly stated his goal and strategy. It was to go on strike and to convince the producers to do the same. That was the basis of Galt's actions. It explains what he did during the preceding twelve years. Galt's speech could be skipped entirely without spoiling the action and character structure of the novel.

    Frankly, I thought Galt's Speech was boring. All of the philosophical principle had been stated and restated both in the forms of soliloquies (for example, Franscisco's Money Speech) and in the actions of the protagonists. It was simply not good style to insert sixty pages of monologue in the middle of an action novel. Ayn Rand might have thought the Speech important to her, but it was bad novel writing.

    I have two comparative novels to -Atlas Shrugged-. One is -The Dispossessed- by Ursula K. LaGuinn which is to anarchism, what -Atlas Shrugged- is to capitalism -The Dispossessed- is a much shorter and better flowing novel. The other novel is -The Lord of the Rings- by J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien manages to make his moral point without the overburden of monolithic prose soliloquies. In place of soliloquies he inserts songs and poems. They are easier to take. As much as I like -Atlas Shrugged- (which I read as alternative history fiction), I prefer the writing of LaGuinn and Tolkien.

    Bob Kolker


  5. A large number to Archimedes was, e.g., 8(10000)^3.

    Inventor

    When you consider how cumbersome the Greek numbering system was (they used their alphabet to represent numbers based on a linear tally - just like Roman numerals or the Hebrew number system) this was a breakthrough.

    Unfortunately Archimedes did not have the zero. If he had, he very well might have (re)invented the positional number system (the Chinese had it at the time of Archimedes as did the mathematicians of India).

    Bob Kolker


  6. [Notice that the name of one of Archimedes' books was, The Sand Rekoner."]

    The Sand Reckoner had nothing to do with figures drawn in the sand. It had to do with estimating the number of grains of sand that would fill the universe (as was known to Greek astronomers). Archimedes developed an exponential system for expressing very large numbers. Here is the blurb from the Wiki article on -The Sand Reckoner-.;

    "The Sand Reckoner (Greek: Αρχιμήδης Ψαµµίτης, Archimedes Psammites) is a work by Archimedes in which he set out to determine an upper bound for the number of grains of sand that fit into the universe. In order to do this, he had to estimate the size of the universe according to the then-current model, and invent a way to talk about extremely large numbers. The work, also known in Latin as Archimedis Syracusani Arenarius & Dimensio Circuli, is about 8 pages long in translation, is addressed to the Syracusan king Gelo II (son of Hiero II), and is probably the most accessible work of Archimedes; in some sense, it is the first research-expository paper."

    Bob Kolker


  7. is an award-winnning short film of Ari Vatanen's 1988 record-breaking climb up Pikes Peak. (BTW: The view from the top of this mountain is said to have inspired Bates' American the Beautiful.)

    Bates stood at what is now called Inspiration Point which is 11,000 feet m.s.l.. It is a intermediate stop on the cog railway that runs up the mountain. The view from the top is even better. On a very clear day one can just make out the curvature of the earth. The best way to get to the top is on foot up the Barr Trail which gives one the chance to ascend 7700 feet vertical from the base of the mountain at Manitou Springs.

    Bob Kolker


  8. Dr. Harry Binswanger stated his own definition and explanation of a straight line in his lectures on science. The lectures are offered for sale by ARI.

    On another note, we may only wish that the mysticism of Pythagoras had not been recorded and that his system of geometry had instead been recorded.

    Continuing the thought that, "One can prove that two is not the square of the ratio of two integers," I would say, for example, that, "One can prove that the square root of two is the sum of the squares of two integers (for straight lines of unit lengths placed at right angles to one another)."

    Inventor

    Incorrect. An integer is rational. The square of an integer is rational. The sum of rational numbers is rational. Therefore the square root of two is not the sum of two rational numbers.

    Proofs: Let n be an integer then n = n/1

    Let n/m be a rational number where n, m integers. (n/m)^2 = n^2/m^2. but n^2 and m^2 are integers. So (n/m)^2 is rational by definition of rational. Let n/m and j/k be rational numbers.

    n/m + j/k = (n*k + m*j)/m*k but the numerator is the sum of integers which is an integer and m*k is an integer so n/m + j/k is rational.

    Q.E.D.

    Has Dr. Binswanger ever published a mathematical article in any refereed mathematical journal?

    Bob Kolker


  9. Just an afterword. I believe that people who eat crappy food, do not get enough exercise and who have bad habits such as smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol are going to get sick in large numbers, and probably have a shorter life span. One does not have to be a genius in forensic physiology to see that. One can simply observe modern folk who do not live a healthy life. The Kitava sutdy was performed on contemporary humans, not people who lived ten thousand years ago and it pretty well squares with simple observation of ill fed and none exercising people who live today. I believe, that to get near the full potential life span one needs to get plenty of fiber, vegetables and eat a diet that is not overloaded with fat, particularly non-saturated fats. I think exercise is required to maintain health and that avoiding destructive habits like inhaling the noxious fumes of cigarettes or drinking too much booze. Also staying away from soft drinks would be quite helpful. I base this conclusion on my own personal experience and what I see in people who eating and exercising habits I am familiar with.

    I get antsy when people make definite statements about cardiovascular disease and cardiopulminary disease in people who died thousands of years ago. I have already stated my reservations about such claims. It is clear that out long ago ancestors did not have many of the rotten things that moderns ruin their health with, but even so, we do not know what diseases ravaged the Long Ago Folks and we have only a rough idea based on the bones we have found, which is a small sample of those who lived thousands of years ago. While bones last, they have to be fossilized or buried in a dry place. That does not happen too often. None of us were around ten thousand years ago and there is barely any tissue remaining on which to base such definite conclusions. I doubt such positive conclusions. And on this matter I will say no more.

    Bob Kolker


  10. I have written on these subjects so many times that I really do not care to start it all again. If someone types in diet or exericse they will find a ton of evidence that I have already brought light to on this subject.

    What evidence? There is not a single vein, artery, gut, vital organ intact from the folks who lived 10,000 years ago. All there is are bones. Bones are the only part of human bodies that last, with the possible exception of very dried mummies from Egypt or the Land of the Incas. The tissue that a modern forensic analyst would use to determine cardiovascular damage simply no longer exists for those who died thousands of years ago. Anything that was moist has rotted, had been decomposed into elements by bacteria and other micro-organisms and worms in the soil. What is left to use to draw a conclusion? I would find any "evidence" which was not based on soft tissue rather questionable. I just don't believe the conclusion is justified by sound evidence.

    Bob Kolker


  11. I agree with you 100% that working to spread the ideas of Objectivism is much more important than complaining about the state of the world. Even though I have written many posts here recently, I invest much more time in constructive intellectual activism to spread Objectivism here in Sweden.

    It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

    Bob Kolker


  12. So, in summary, our paleolithic ancestors did not suffer from diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Ethnographic data shows that existing hunter gatherer populations do not suffer from diseases such as cardiovascular disease, psychiatric diseases, cavities and diabetes, yet they suffer from these diseases upon switching to a Western diet. There are also causal mechanisms that we can discuss here if anyone is inclined but every single disease will need in depth looking at. My personal conclusion has been that since I do not want to suffer from a host of diseases associated with Western civilization, that were absent in human beings before the agricultural revolution, and are absent in primitive peoples that have not undergone the agricultural revolution, then I will emulate their diets.

    How is it possible to determine that our long-ago ancestors did not suffer from cardiovascular and cardiopulminary diseases? All that is left of their bodies (if anything) is bone. No connective tissue, no skin, no traces of the veins, arteries or gut.

    We could say if our ancestors had arthritis or broken bones, but heart disease?

    Bob Kolker


  13. Of course, you can't get a decent meal in Zurich. The country as a whole is probably one of the most boring in the world. But the anti-civilization intellectuals are still finding it difficult to attack. They keep trying. Every time, they fail.

    About Switzerland. Here are the best lines in the motion picture -The Third Man- (1949)

    Harry Lime (played by Orson Welles) : Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

    This quote is not entirely fair to Switzerland. That country was native home to one of the great mathematicians of all time, Leonard Euler and the family consortium of brains - The Bernouli family.

    Bob Kolker


  14. Yes, that is what I did not really "get" until recently. Until a few years ago, I assumed that the majority of the members of mankind were innocent victims. Then I woke up and realized that "The Little Street" and Starnesville were realistic depictions of the majority of the members of mankind.

    Do you have a well designed sampling poll to support your conclusion? Your pessimistic conclusions might hold true in some pestilential third world hell hole (say Haiti) but does your conclusion hold in more advanced industrial nations where the level of education is much higher?

    Bob Kolker


  15. The best men are the only men who count. They should stop trying to save the damned world and start trying to save *themselves* - and leave the Immoral Majority to the fate they deserve: to be part of the expired dust of history.

    That is the entire thing right there.. Save yourself, and those whom you value. If you are not for yourself, then who will be for you? The John Galt character did not operate for the sake of others, he operated for his own. If this approach is somewhat anti-social, then so be it. You do not owe any more to others than you owe to yourself.

    Bob Kolker


  16. As for Galt, Francisco and Ragnar being normal - I think that Ayn Rand was making a valid point. Intelligence is probably much more a question of volition than of any other factor, and all men with normal brains could become enormously more intelligent than they are, if only they would *choose* to put forth more mental effort over a protracted time. I don´t know if everyone could become a genius on the order of Galt, Francisco or Ragnar solely by volition, but I view it as conceivable that they could, if they began choosing to think hard consistently at a very early age.

    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


  17. You appear to have missed the point of the passage. The characterization of "normal" was not about statistics on tests, nor are speculations about locations on a bell curve in terms of imagined sigmas relevant.

    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


  18. Bob, please point to one sentence where I have stated that we need to pick up weapons and go attack? I can tell that you will not find one. But if all you do is sit back and whine about what is being taken from you without forumlating a plan and taking action then the battle has already been lost. And it will not be me that leads this country into a physical civil war, it will be the government through the same way that Ayn Rands explained it some many years ago.

    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


  19. If most cases of alcohol addiction are due to a man's giving up self-responsible thinking, then getting him to replace alcohol with religion may seem like a successful solution. The question at the beginning is Why is a man getting drunk (as opposed to enjoying a drink now and then) in the first place?

    Brian, you hit the nail right on the head. It seems that most irrational addicitons are just replaced with other irrational addictions. In the case under discussion the people go from drinking to escape reality to religion to escape reality.

    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