Biff demands content. Content shall be generated

The prosecution responsible for the recent nation wide injunction against embryonic stem cell research has written this article, in their defense. A fellow neuroscience graduate student described it "one of the least factual arguments I have ever read". Many of the comments ( explaining why Mr. Bowmen is bad at science ), are insightful. I don't need to duplicate why Matt Bowman is oh so very wrong here, but it reduces one word : "epigenetics". Adult derived stem cells aren't going to replace embryonic lines any time soon.

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Beck has noted that we seem to have degenerated into commenting on events that happen in the news. This is fairly accurate. The truth is that few blogs sustain themselves with daily updates of original content. The ones that do are called news, webcomics, and the weather report. Blogs with large readership scrape the internet, post, link, maybe sometimes even analyze or comment. Who wants to spend all day looking for funny videos of rats staring at each other just to keep readers fed with a constant stream of novelty? We do not need to be such a blog. We have few readers, and therefore can post whatever the hell we want. I think we can even swear in posts without upsetting people.

Beck has noted that he feels bad about posting raw research on WeAlone. I say this is nonsense, all of us are in graduate school now, and most of what we have to say is going to take the form of raw research for the foreseeable future.

Here, I'll start : what do you think the most natural generalization of principle component analysis (PCA) to finite fields ( like bit vectors ) is ? In an offline discussion, Beck and I decided that the notion of "vector of maximum entropy" makes more sense than "vector of maximum variance", when your vectors have elements from a finite field. So, we think its possible to define a PCA like operation for distributions of vectors with elements from a finite field using entropy instead of variance. However, we have no indication that this is even remotely useful.


  1. Well, what are we going to talk about. Our thrilling lives, philosophical mumbo jumbo, or what we read in the news? The future is collapsing into today, and so the present is always a reasonable topic for We Alone.

    Now, as for Bowman, I have never seen such a reasonable set of comments on any news article anywhere. The only problem is that this man was given an national media platform for his completely untrue, harmful lies. Shame on CNN, hooray for internet commentators. ((Thought, maybe the worth of an idea is negatively correlated with the quality of the comments. See a lot of 'Barack Obongo is a Kenya Mooslim Terrist' comments and you've got a quality leading article))

    As for math, math is hard, and I am going to go and shoot guns now.

  2. So, for me the main thing is that I periodically forget why it is that I post here, and it just becomes something that I do. I have rarely posted technical ideas historically, but for no good reason other than, that's not usually what gets posted here.

    Mike, I thought this article was particularly encouraging and interesting:


    Also, I don't know if you guys read anything about this Christine O'Donnell person...

    I think we've really reached some kind of turning point in which the GOP implodes to appease the Tea Party, which will not be able to deliver in general elections. All of these Senate Candidates who are almost hand-picked by Sarah Palin... it seems to me will ultimately be hurt by her endorsement. She may be very influential in certain circles, but she is so incredibly polarizing and divisive... her approval rating is far below Obama's. The Tea Party is now as popular as either the Republicans or the Democrats, but only in the abstract, and anyways, in the abstract the Democrats and Republicans are reviled pretty much across the board.

    Among five thirty eight style election prediction experts, the vast majority of these Palin picks are considered to be real long shots...

    They are also so inexperienced, as to be almost unpredictable it seems. Consider:


    If this is really true, that the Republican base no longer cares about anything except a commitment not to spend anymore money, no matter how many bizarre conspiracy theories / utterly pointless social activist campaigns you have on your resume, then it seems they really will become the Party of No. This is what the Tea Party wants.

    If so, the Republicans will be completely irrelevant for the foreseeable future. The Tea Party Republicans want all their elected representatives to just defect as hard as they can from any productive activity, filibuster any spending bills, and refuse to negotiate.

    They won't have a majority in either house, because they will alienate the center, everyone who is interested in reasonable compromise. They won't be influencing policy, they will just be spewing rhetoric, and Obama won't hesitate to bypass them anyway that he can, the way he seemed to when passing Health Care.

    This writer on FrumForum (writing with a conservative disposition) puts it well:


    "They now believe that expressing their feelings (e.g. by nominating quixotic candidates) is more important than trying to influence government policies (e.g. by nominating viable candidates). They withdraw from practical politics and instead join a protest movement. They march in the streets in tricorn hats while the liberals (whom they unwittingly help to put in office) are creating new entitlements and raising taxes."

    I think November is going to be interesting, and I expect that, to some extent these Tea Party candidates will sink or swim together. The media is going to have a field day with each one of their outrageous and over the top statements, each time someone lied on their resume but continued to lecture publicly about the abhorrent immorality of masturbation. It may very well be that the Tea Party spells victory for Obama.

    That's most of what I've been thinking about the past 24 hours, plus a bunch of technical gibberish about finding approximate deep holes in linear codes. Let you know how that goes...

  3. yeah. 3D printing is fun and all... except MakerBot really doesn't work ... for any of the conventional definitions of work.

    So, the Republicans are aware that the Tea Party is a disaster. I don't know how these candidates are getting past the primaries, since they seem to be glaringly against the self interest of the party. Its possible that absolutely no sane candidates want to deal with the republican base anymore. Do you remember McCain having to explain to his supporters that Obama isn't really a terrorist and is actually a good politician, albeit one that he disagrees with ? That was embarrassing.

    I've got a friend in Scotland who's promised to help as much as he can to grant asylum to all his American friends if a Tea Party candidate ever wins the presidency.

  4. I remember, when watching the House debate on the health care bill, that we have some pretty strange congressmen, on both sides of the isle. I'm biased, so the republicans seemed unusually irrational and bad at debate, but the democrats were, with a couple exceptions, were hardly any better. I think its possible to claim that Tea Party congresspeople will blend right with some of our stranger and less sane representatives already in office.

  5. @Everett: Can you give examples? I mean there's lots of stupid policies Dems support, but I can't think of anyone I would say is comparable to Christine O'Donnell / Sarah Palin... in terms of, shear painfulness of watching them speak publicly, the constant realization that, this person is not just dumb, they are dumb enough that it causes a severe burden on their family members, wow, I really feel sorry for them.

  6. no specifics, not going to go back and watch that again to get them.

    I remember the summary : all republicans look bad, most democrats don't really make much sense even if I agree with their votes, and one or two democrats were actually decent at debate and seemed to know what they were talking about.

  7. the thing is, I guess, I had high standards for the democrats, since I expected them to wow us with eloquent arguments in favor of the health care bill. it turns out that only a few actually tried to do this.

  8. Congressional floor speeches are universally terrible, since their only purpose is allowing the Congressman to go before some small group of constituents, play a tape of C-SPAN, and say "I will fight for you!" They are factually and rhetorically worthless.

    And as much as it pains me to say this, the Democratic party is barely more ideologically consistent than the Tea party. At best, their policy choices will not be immediately and obviously disastrous.

    Longterm, both parties have major vision problems, the Republicans being the party of greedy and credulous fools, and the Democrats being the party of non-Republicans. I'd like to see an active Transhumanist Party, but that looks pretty low probability.

    What worries me is that O'Donnell will get enough money to just buy Delaware. It's a small state, and she's making waves nationally with fundraising. Hopefully the Tea Party is just just throwing good money after the bad, what with nominating her.

    At least she's hilarious with Lolcats style captions. No, seriously, try it. (http://cheezburger.com/View/3972061440)

  9. So I agree the Democrats lack sort of a cohesive consistent ideology, but viewed in the best light, the philosophy is this -- I don't have all the answers, but if there's a problem, I'll keep on putting one step in front of the other to fix it. The Republicans, basically, do have a grand theory of what is to be done, and they do have principles. But the problem is most of their principles are seriously flawed, and esp. their economic principles, although still widely accepted, in fact have been called into question quite seriously.

    I'd compare it to on the one hand, the auto mechanic, who every time you take your car into the shop, he throws on another fancy new part with 100 more computers in it than the part that came before it, until the car has lights and computers jutting out of it from every angle, and you look like you are driving the death star down the road as it beeps at you "beep beep boop", but breaks down more and more frequently because there's too many parts that are too complicated. He comes up with new ideas for how to improve the system -- your car seems to have lots of nuts and bolts shaking off the bottom, so he installs a robot arm which unscrews bolts from other parts of the and moves them over to try to distribute the remaining bolts you have optimally. You're still running out of bolts, so he decides to create an "incentive" for the system to fix itself -- a giant vending machine is installed on the hood of the car, with a slot where hobos can deposit nuts and bolts for you, and in return receive 25 cents. After serious problems with this system, it is modified to dispense food stamps, and finally to dispense carbon emmissions tax credits to encourage auto companies to help solve the problem. A different robot arm is then used to pass these nuts and bolts to the first robot arm, and also to repair the first robot arm when it inevitably breaks every two weeks or so....

    But on the other hand, you have the Zen Buddhist auto mechanic who just looks at you, waves his hand and says "Your car does not need fixing. Everything is working just fine." And then he points you to a line of scripture that says something inscrutable like "A thing which has been extended, can never be retracted." Then he closes the book and sends you on your way. On the way out you notice the book has a little picture of an elephant sitting in lotus position.

    So yeah, moral of the story is, if you can find someone to run for the Transhumanist party in NJ, they can probably count on my vote, Biff. :)

  10. Also random comment --
    The press is extremely melodramatic today! Three articles picked from Google news:

    Our Best Minds Are Failing Us
    Newsweek (blog)
    - ‎15 hours ago‎

    America Is a Joke
    New York Magazine
    - Chris Smith - ‎Sep 12, 2010‎

    Our moral code is out of date
    - Yaron Brook, Onkar Ghate - ‎21 hours ago‎

    Of course the exception is

    3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution
    New York Times
    - Ashlee Vance - ‎Sep 13, 2010‎

  11. Beck, that description of Democratic and Republican ideology is content (and fucking hilarious). You should slap it up as Friday content.

    Mike, any thoughts on 3-D printing in the times, as our resident expert. I saw that it topped the "most emailed" list for a day.