Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Dark Side

The dark side's callin' now, nothin' is real

"On the Dark Side" by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band

Sometimes I have the opposite of Messianic fantasies. Sometimes I wish I could be the vigilante anti-hero who rids the world of all the asshole bullies running around being mean and nasty. If I had the gumption to write fiction I'd tell the story of Rae the Emasculator, a modern female incarnation of Vlad the Impaler. But instead of impaled bodies the Emasculator would string up all the nuts of the asshole bullies. Of course, my weapon of choice would be a hoe. ;-) Maybe sometimes it would be a razor sharp one for when time is at a premium, and maybe sometimes it would be a dull, rusty one for when I want to devote a little more time to my task (and want to inflict more pain.) Some men truly do not deserve to have testicles.

You can't have light without dark. Just last night I was watching a show and heard a guy say that if you played a guitar on Mercury you wouldn't hear the sound because there is no atmosphere to transmit the sound waves. Well, of course, I had learned that in school but hadn't thought about it since then. It was one of those "oh yeah" moments. Just because we have no way of detecting or sensing something does not mean it doesn't exist. Those guitar strings are still vibrating and sending out waves of energy even though we can't hear them. We all have a dark side even if we don't recognize it or acknowledge it. The Universe has its Darkness too.

Not to sound all Star Wars or anything, but this light and dark balance stuff has been around a lot longer than George Lucas. When I was a kid I sometimes secretly wanted to be Darth Vader. The power of the dark side is seductive. The ability to crush your enemies with your mind was very appealing to a girl who was frequently by bullied by boys. Before the boys grew bigger than me I used to kick them between the legs when they were mean to me. (the Emasculator tendency started young) But after they outgrew me I had no physical means of fighting back. But if I could have crushed their nuts with my mind, there would presently be quite a few sterile bullies in the Southeast.

Well, I suppose I've frightened every male who has happened to read this. Trust me, you have nothing to worry about as long as you are nice. And why would you expect anything less from a Vicious Momma? ;-)

PS Another little bit of disclosure: the truth is unfortunately that I am genetically 25% pitch fork.


Amos Elberg said...

Rae Ann:

It is disingenuous for you to say that "the scientific method requires that when you disagree with someone's conclusions you can't just say "but economic theory says otherwise" and leave it at that. You have to "show your work" and show exactly how and where it is wrong."

I've explained, repeatedly, in detail but very simple terms, where Lubos went wrong. You chose to ignore those posts.

Rae Ann said...

Congratulations Amos, you've been this month's lucky recipient of my hormonal rage. ;-)

Some of the things you said to me were frankly quite rude, and that is not a good footing upon which to start any discourse. On the one hand you misstate one of my comments and call it "absurd." But then on the other hand you turn around and say pretty much exactly what I said that you said was "absurd."

And you really can't compare a scientific theory to patents or copyrights because scientists don't *own* theories.

And by the way, I've never had any desire to try to uphold some kind of reputaton of being "intellectually serious" (even when I graduated Magna Cum Laude from a small private, locally prestigious college - see, I can brag a little too). But really, that's just your term meant to intimidate me into not speaking. Well, that's just rude and reflects a very low character on your part. And in my world, character counts for a whole lot more than "intellectual seriousness."

See, that is how things are valued in *my* marketplace of ideas. You've illustrated some traits that have 0 present value as well as 0 time value. Maybe you're a nice guy, but you haven't shown that to me so far.

Anyway, let's try to get past all that. I just want to say that actually, I tend to agree with Bee of Backreaction that a "marketplace of ideas" isn't the best way to approach the progress of science. I don't always agree with Lubos, and if you've followed his blog for very long you'd know that. And honestly, the whole concept of a "marketplace" of ideas kind of rubs me wrong because I just don't think that ideas should be valued for how much money they can make. I think ideas should be valued for their validity and usefulness in a broader sense. Even ideas that can't be or aren't yet confirmed have a lot of value. Religion, for example, has a lot of value than can't exactly have a price put on it, although people do try and some other people wish it weren't so at all. (I'm not really trying to fit ideas into some kind of economic market model though I do appreciate that this world seems to be moving in that direction.)

I'm not sure you're really who you say you are because my hit counter logged you from a suspicious ip. Well, whoever you are, and if you really are from that ip, I think I can understand why Lubos hated Harvard so much. (I won't reveal the depth of my knowledge on that topic, but I assure you it's a whole lot more than most people will ever realize.)

Well, that's about all my unintellectual, constantly kid-interrupted mind can come up with for now.

Bee said...

Hi RaeAnn:

wow, today your blog is definitly the most energetic one I've come across! You sure it doesn't affect global warming? just kidding - yesterday I read an incredibly silly article according to which eating meat causes global warming coz cows fart or something like this. I mean, I'm a vegetarian, but the whole argument was just so absolutely vacuos and evidently designed to make the point.

I didn't follow the discussion at the Ref. Frame to closely, there was just too much mess in the comment section, and I've been stuck in transit. But I was actually quite serious with my comment saying that there is a danger we end up with a lot of bridges connected with each other, but what we actually need first are the islands to built up upon. And these islands will have a hard time of finding a proper 'value'. I'm not saying it can't work, but just that it's not as easy as Lubos made it sound. If I look at the arxiv that's exactly what I see today: a lot of bridges connecting bridges with other bridges. There are whole 'theories' consisting of nothing than bridges. That's mathematics, not physics.

Anyway. I don't mean to be nitpicking, but if the guitar's strings vibrate in absolute vacuum without friction they indeed don't radiate off energy.



Rae Ann said...

Hi Bee, thanks! I do sometimes find myself getting caught up in these crazy discussions, but maybe that's the result of being intellectually adventurous instead of intellectually serious. ;-)

I guess maybe I really am as dumb as some people think, but is there such a thing as an absolute vacuum in the "real" universe? What that guy was talking about was if it was a guitar on Mercury. Isn't there some kind of "stuff" (like solar wind and raditation, etc.) around to carry the energy from the vibrating strings? Sorry if that is a stupid question, but since I don't have a serious reputation to uphold I'm not too embarrassed to ask. ;-)

And yeah, things at the Ref. Frame have degenerated into a real mess. I try not to contribute to its decline, but sometimes I just can't resist messing with the crazies. ;-)

I understand that different ideas in science have to "compete" for funding, but it really bugs me that it gets reduced down to a question of money when there are many other more important factors to consider.

I keep recalling that back in the "old" days artists, writers, and scientists often had to rely on generous benefactors for support. If someone liked their work then they helped support them. Of course, that system had its problems too. It definitely is a big, complex issue.

Thanks for your comment and have a good weekend!

Ann said...

Hi Rae Ann, I'm sneaking over here for my daily blog fix - I enjoy your writing, and always love the metaphors and puns with gardening!

It's really a shame that crazy Annette-David creature has gone on for so long on Reference Frame. He/she/it really seems disturbed.

I think love and family bonds are aspects of human life that seem to lie outside a marketplace. Who thinks of the time value or opportunity cost involved in raising one's family (maybe some people do).


Rae Ann said...

Hi Ann! Thanks so much for coming by and commenting. You're always so nice and diplomatic. :-) You're right about the family bonds being beyond the marketplace, but some people do seem to try fitting them in there along with so many other intangible things.

I guess child tax credits and such are one extension of that line of thought.

I hope I haven't offended you. It seems that every month or so I am possessed by some kind of evil demon for a few days. ;-) Just a while ago, I went off on the ADT person on the phone because she was condescending in her tone and words. Well, maybe it's just my perception that's off right now? That's the most frustrating part of that hormonal thing - the not knowing if I'm just being way oversensitive or if people really are being crappy. ;-)

But you are never crappy! I really do admire your restraint. Thanks again for your comment and have a great weekend!

Ann said...

Hi Rae Ann,

You give me way too much credit! I once told a guy I worked for that his management style was like rearranging the deck furniture on the TItanic; I said it in front of everyone and then I quit, and was happy to do so, but he probably would have fired me if I hadn't quit.

You have -never- offended me - I admire that you punch back at the guys on Reference Frame. :-) I think the guys like it, too! You have very good instincts about things and you are very articulate and witty. Have a great weekend, yourself.

the notorious bg said...

Rae is right about Ann being a diplomat:

[To Ann] -- . . . Time was, 40 years ago, that it was considered rude and gauche to discuss "religion and politics" in social situations. That's done routinely today. There used to be an understanding of separation of the social sphere and the ideological and political sphere. Nowadays, it's not enough to be good at what you do, you also have to play the social/political game, or you're an outsider.

Which explains how they can have the audacity these days to claim a "consensus" on anything, and shun the nonconformists. Intellectual diversity is definitely out of fashion.
Larry R. | 03.28.07 - 1:14 pm | #

>>...40 years ago it was considered rude and gauche to discuss "religion and politics" in social situations.

Forty years ago was the Summer of Love.
bg | 03.28.07 - 2:26 pm | #

Larry R, interesting insights. Do you think this breakdown of the wall between social etiquette and political ideology has made people unhappier in general? Did the 'summer of love' lead to the 'winter of disillusionment'?
Ann | 03.28.07 - 2:42 pm | #

Smooth as silk. Most graceful thing I've seen...

Bee said...

I guess maybe I really am as dumb as some people think, but is there such a thing as an absolute vacuum in the "real" universe? What that guy was talking about was if it was a guitar on Mercury. Isn't there some kind of "stuff" (like solar wind and raditation, etc.) around to carry the energy from the vibrating strings? Sorry if that is a stupid question, but since I don't have a serious reputation to uphold I'm not too embarrassed to ask. ;-)

Hi RaeAnn,

You've never left me with the impression of being dumb, and it's not a stupid question. No, there's no such thing as an absolute vacuum in the real universe, but it's pretty close by. To transport sound one needs a minimum density. If you think about sound waves as periodic changes in the density of a medium, the mean distance (or mean free path) between two particles has to be smaller than the typical wave length of the sound - otherwise the medium can't transport the density change. Outer space is too thin for that.



Rae Ann said...

Ann, thank you!

Notorius BG, I like that new handle. ;-) But where have you been? If all men could be like Gene Day and all women could be like Ann the world would be much more pleasant. Thanks for commenting!

Rae Ann said...

Bee, I really do appreciate that you take the time to answer my questions. Thanks so much!

Ann said...

Yes indeed, BG, long time since we've heard from you! This blog site is a breath of fresh air. I feel as though over at Reference Frame people are standing around trying to have a discussion and there is this shrieking she-male (Cynthia's coinage) beast hurling excrement from its cage now and again, and one tries not to be hit in the eye by it.

Gotta travel for a few days on business, I'll try to check in and read what's going on. :-)

Rae Ann said...

Ann, enjoy your travels!

Bee, I thought of another question. If the strings are moving (even in a vacuum) then are there no 'consequences' to that movement? Thanks(!), if you have time to answer.

the notorious bg said...

Hi Rae, Hi Silk ;-)...

Sounds like I need to have me a look at this Tasmanian Devil y'all have got treed over at the Reference Frame. Maybe it's just hungry. They like meatballs, you know. Never run out of meatballs, that's the trick...

the notorious bg said...

By way of follow-up, I took a look at the RF yesterday and scrolled quickly through some of the comments. Seemed pretty much the same to me: operating systems, global warming, Czechoslovakia. And mostly the same people. Cynthia sounded a little different maybe, nobody else did. I didn't come across your chupacabra but maybe it only comes out with the full moon, which isn't till Sunday.

Rae Ann said...

Hi notorious bg! most of the offending comments are from some weirdo who switches between the names David Martin Degner and Annette Dartier (it's the same guy though).

That thread has most of his crap and also some in some older posts. No recent comments by him, so maybe Lubos blocked him? Most of his comments were of the "string theory is shit" variety and personal insults directed at me or anyone who challenged him.

Maybe you're right that the full moon will bring him back out?

Thanks and have a good day!

the notorious bg said...

Thanks for the link, Rae. I read the whole hilarious thing and I'm still laughing, though it gave me a bit of a headache. Kind of a madcap Mel Brooks quality, maybe we could make a musical out of it...

Ann, you ever get an answer to your question about the subjectivity of information entropy? I thought it was good one. Incidently, sorry about nicknaming you 'Silk' -- I was thinking smooth, strong, classy, entirely organic, and a little retro in just the way you'd want, but I don't mean to objectify you and I'll be good from now on, I promise...

the notorious bg said...

Ooooh, look what I found. Amazon-dot-com claims it has seven copies of a vanity-press book by--wait for it--David Martin Degner. It's called 'The N-particle Model,' and do be sure to scroll down and read the 5-star Customer Review entitled ' Ruminations of an uninstructed insubordinate,' by "Celeste L. M. Joy (Forlorn Hope, Yukon Territory)"...

Rae Ann said...

Thanks, nbg! Very interesting, but not too surprising. ;-) That review is hilarious, so maybe we should give this Degner some credit for at least being funny sometimes.

I don't think Ann would be offended by your calling her "Silk." It's a nice thought.

Though your other favorite female at the RF is more like cheesecloth that tries to pretend that its silk. Sorry, but I'm a seamstress, among many other homemakerish things, and can spot inferior fabrics pretty easily. But I never try to act like any more than the rough but sturdy burlap that I am. ;-)

the notorious bg said...

I'm sure I'm old enough to know better than this but, as long as you brought it up, Rae, y'know I used to wonder about Cynthia sometimes. Look at this, here's a short sampler of Cynthianisms culled from days past:

it may very well be the case that too many bubbles from the multiverse have invaded my brain

from time to time, I show a terrible tendency to oversimplify Nature

perhaps my thinking has gone too far astray

perhaps I'm just too much of an idealist when it comes to such matters

maybe I'm just too much of a hardliner on such matters

maybe I'm extremely naive

maybe my line of reasoning is far too fantasy-oriented to bear any truth to this matter

Striking, isn't it? Has sort of an odd, slightly off-center quality, it's hard to know just what to make of it. I poked around on the Web once and found the CV of a certain 'Cynthia' who had taken a doctorate in computer science back in the late 90s. I'm guessing she'd be around 40 or so now. The interesting thing is she lists her research interests since then as "research on spoken dialogue systems that change their interaction behavior based on past interactions with users." And her research for her master's thesis was on "machine learning of rules to be used in abductive reasoning"...

I don't know if it's our Cynthia or not (what are the odds?) but it made me wonder whether she might not have been using RF as an AI experiment. Clever if so, but it's probably a silly hypothesis. At any rate, as I said yesterday, she sounds quite different now...

Finally, on Degner, besides the Amazon-dot-com offering, I found that his alter ego, Annette Dartiere, has been shopping him around to other science blogs besides RF. So you guys aren't alone. Google 'her' and you'll see what I mean...

Rae Ann said...

Hi notorious bg!

Yeah, like I said, cheesecloth. ;-) My impression is that she's not that educated or she would have bragged about it at some point. Sorry, I don't have much nice to say, mainly because most of the time she's made fun of me or has otherwise joined in with the other bullies (at the RF and the pigsty)... always trying to make me look bad to certain individuals, if you get my drift. It's that catty woman competitiveness that men often don't perceive, but be assured her efforts haven't been successful. That might explain that "differentness" you've noticed? Though I haven't really noticed much difference other than more absence. Maybe she figured out Lubos was the wrong blood type? ;-) (sorry, sometimes my claws come out too and cheesecloth does tear easily)

Dartiere/Degner seems to have disappeared from the RF at least. Looks like he's been posting exact copies of comments on various places.