Author Archives: Anthony Martin

Using The Higgs Boson To Prevent Terrorism

Filed under Diary

Imagine an elaborate system to prevent terrorism by using the theoretical quantum particle known as the Higgs boson.

To do this, one must build a rigid set of guidelines with a directed point of failure.  The point of failure will be used to decide if a Higgs boson particle should be created.

This boson doesn't "want" to be created.  The Higgs boson is a particle that should not exist in this spacetime frame.  It only exists in other frames of space-time.  If we cause this boson to appear in this frame of space-time, we will create a paradox.  But basic causality will prevent the Higgs boson from appearing in this frame.  It's just a fact of nature.  It's a scientific law.

In this way, it's similar to lightening.  Lightening travels through the path of least resistance.  In the case of a temporal paradox, causality will use the easiest effect to prevent a cause.  Cause and effect are reversed in the situation of a paradox framework.

When I say "easiest," I am not referring to Occam's Razor.  The actual effect that prevents the cause may appear to us as the least obvious effect.  So directing the effect is very difficult.

I think the best way would be to use encryption.  Each airplane that we would like to protect will carry several encryption keys all over the plane.  They will be made of very fragile material.  Under normal circumstances, if they plane remains intact, they keys will be retrievable.  If the keys are retrievable, they can be returned to the facility that will decide to then not attempt to produce the Higgs boson particle.

The keys are encrypted in order to prevent counterfeit keys from entering the equation.

That's the setup.  To summarize: Got all the keys?  Yes, we do?  Ok, then we will make no attempt to produce the particle today.  We'll try again tomorrow with new keys.

The tricky thing to remember is that the Higgs boson particle will only be produced if and only if a key is missing.  The idea is to build a system that will mean the easiest way to break down key retrieval is to destroy an airplane.  Since that is the easiest thing to do, causality will require terrorism to become harder.

Got all the keys?  No?  Uh oh, one or more is missing?  Ok, we shall now attempt to produce the particle that "doesn't want" to be produced (which then prevents the terrorist attack in the past).

It is important to ensure that the Higgs boson particle will be created in earnest if even one key is missing.  If the key is missing because a plane was destroyed, it is imperative that they attempt to proceed.  Doing so will then produce the effect to prevent the cause.

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog


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Bob the Builder Lives in a Socialist Society

Filed under Political
Can I over-analyze everything?  Yes I Can!  Just remember that when you read this article.
So Bob the Builder is a children's TV show, depicting Bob as a building "contractor."  I use scare quotes because he doesn't ever formally contract with anyone. The show is broadcast in many countries, but originates from the UK.

One of the things I noticed is completely omitted from the show is the concept of money and economics.  Now, you might say that's fine because it's a children's show, so why complicate it with such ideas?

And you would be correct, except that I'm not talking about the lack of focus on these concepts.  I'm talking about the active and conscious omission of these topics.  Money in specific and economics in general are purposefully removed from the show.

Sure, maybe I'm over-analyzing.  Maybe I see things in a distorted way because of my views.  Not only that, but how does one prove a negative like this?  You can't.  So with that in mind, bare with me.

In "Snowed Under: The Bobblesberg Winter Games," there is a perfect opportunity to depict money or even just a credit card.  Bob checks into a hotel; Spud orders room service and even gets a job.  Yet there's no mention of cost or pay.

In "New To The Crew," the town's folk build all kinds of things out of an old willow tree.  "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!"  There is no association made between how much time it takes to do all these things and what the town's people could have been doing instead.  In economics, this is known as the "marginal alternative use" of resources.
The labor from the rest of the town is being hindered by the disposal of the old willow tree.  That is the marginal alternative use of this labor. Therefore, it is of utmost importance in this sector to be acquainted with the relevant investors and to manage the transaction process ideally.  That process is completely missing.  But it's not just ignored, it's actively omitted.

There are times when lack of labor is depicted.  But usually it is a result of poor character on the part of Bob's workforce (the machines do not represent automation, they represent labor only).  They are usually messing around and have a lesson to learn in the end.  Labor being misallocated never results in a labor shortage.  If there's a chance of labor shortage, Bob just brings in more machines with no explanation as to how they are acquired.

Bob and his team always evaluate the ability to accomplish the task by Bob asking, "Can we fix it?"  His team always enthusiastically responds with "Yes we can!"  But they never ask "Should we fix it?"  A socialist society would never be able to answer a question "Should we fix it?"
Is it better to have a bonfire with the wood from an old tree or have the whole town build random stuff with it?  Is it time to tear down a stricture or repair it?  They don't ever know the answers for sure.  This is because a socialistic society is blind without prices.

You might say that depicting intricate economic concepts like this is beyond children.  Most children's shows skip money.  On the other hand, Bob talks about intricate environmental and ecological concerns all the time.  They depict civics and regulations.  They even depict endless paperwork.  Wait, what?  So why not at least touch on economic concerns then?  Why this and not that?

Instead, economic ideas are purposefully removed.  The desire to simplify can lead to economic illiteracy, which we have plenty of already.  Granted, the show is meant for a world-wide audience.  To depict prices means showing currency, which might tie the show to a specific geographical locale.  But that's a lousy reason to omit something.

Posted via email from Anthony Martin's Weblog


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That Bin Laden Killing

Filed under Diary
I have some vague sense that many people are opposed to capital punishment, and for good reason, and especially when there is no trial and conviction, and yet we are expected uncritically to celebrate the death of Bin Laden at the hands of the U.S. state. The government needs glory and we are supposed to provide it, regardless of the cost (which, as Anthony Gregory points out, has been American liberty itself, in addition to possibly millions of lives). Lew Rockwell points out that there is a reason for the timing of this announcement. Regardless, so intense is the pressure not to question any aspect of this that the Cato Institute took the trouble to issue a note of congratulations and inform us all of what a “huge debt” we all owe to the government for its magnificence. The killing also permits simple minded people to imagine that all U.S. foreign policy struggles with Islam are due to one bearded guy with a grudge and have nothing to do with, for example, the American penchant for invading other people’s countries and stationing troops in the lands that Islam considers holy.

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Toy Story Birthday

Filed under Diary

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Pie Index (final)

Filed under Economic

Well, looks like this is my last entry for Pie Index. I haven't been updating this section of my blog because the price hasn't really changed for quite a while. Then this happened:

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Filed under Diary

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Question Digested!

Filed under Humor
Question Digested: 1470

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.  Your question was:

Oh great and powerful Oracle ...

I like your Old Spice commercials.  Keep up the good work.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Hello supplicant.  Look at your query, now look at me, now back at your query, now back to me.

Sadly, it isn't a query.  But if your query stopped using a ladies scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, it could ask me a real

Look down, back up, where are you?  You are asking a question that is truly a question and not merely suck up to the Oracle.

What's in your hand?  Back at me, I have it.  Its an oyster with two tickets to that thing that you love.  Look again, the tickets are now
diamonds.  Anything is possible when your query smells like a man and not a lady, and actually poses a question for the Oracle.

You owe the Oracle some lavender scented bubble bath.

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Anatomy of a Straw Man | The Threshing Floor

Filed under Theology

Practice dummies used for military training are supposed to represent the enemy, but are much easier to attack and defeat.  When it comes to arguing a theological position, Strawman argumentation is far too common place.  When arguing against a particular position, you should be able to state the opposing position in such a way that someone who holds to it would say in response to your summation of it “Yes, that is what I believe.”  However, far too often the one engaging in apologetics will rather confuse his own assessment of an opposing position for that position itself.

What do I mean?

Let’s take Calvinism as an example.  The stock objections to Calvinism (that it makes all men out to be puppets or robots, that it contradicts the love of God for every sinner, etc.) have been answered ad infinitum in many forums.  Yet, when the assessment comes from the opponent of Calvinism, it is based on a faulty understanding of the doctrines of grace.   Usually the critic’s arrows are aimed at Hypercalvinism and not Calvinism properly so called.  Be that as it may, the objections are continually re-asserted and usually without the benefit of addressing the proponent’s specific defense of what he holds to be revealed in Scripture.

So, here’s a little exercise for you.  When an opponent’s assertion is made, ask someone (if possible) who holds that position “Do you believe {fill in the blank}?  I think you’ll find the answers interesting.

What’s the anatomy of the Straw Man?  Let’s consider:

Bob holds position X.

Larry disregards certain key points of X and instead presents the superficially similar position Y.  Therefore Y is a distorted view of X and can be set up in several ways, including:

1.  Presenting a misrepresentation of the opponent’s position and then refuting it, thus giving the appearance that the opponent’s actual position has been refuted.

2.  Quoting an opponent’s words out of context–i.e. choosing quotations that misrepresent the opponent’s actual intentions

3.  Presenting someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, then refuting that person’s arguments–thus giving the appearance that every upholder of that position (and thus the position itself) has been defeated.

4.  Inventing a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs which are then criticized, implying that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.

5.  Oversimplifying an opponent’s argument, then attacking this oversimplified version.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious, because attacking a distorted version of a position fails to constitute an attack on the actual position.

That’s why when I read apologetics, one of the first questions I ask before I dig too far into the argumentation is, “Does this person really understand the position he or she is attempting to refute?”  Look for the  summation statement of what the author is attempting to attack.  The answer will be very telling.  It will also save you a lot of time, as you would best be served by reading the critics who actually understand the “enemy”.

[reference Wikipedia under "Straw Man]

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Bitcoin Mining Cartels: A Total Non-Threat

Filed under Bitcoin, History
The short SHORT version of the problem: Cartels are bad.

My short SHORT version of the solution: Fix bugs.  Focus on p2p.  Stay the course.  Ignore the cartels and they'll go away.

There is an interesting discussion on the Bitcoin forum about mining cartels. Some of the forum members are worried that a group of individuals might mount an attack on the Bitcoin network using a cartel style attack.

How is a cartel style attack potentially more of a problem than a non-cartel style attack?

Any cartel entity coordinates itself to represent a threat to the non-cartel entities.  It is comprised of people who want to subvert their target by allying themselves together to share resources and maintain "out of band" communication to that end.

In this case, the worry is that mining cartels will form to target the Bitcoin network.
How can this approach succeed against the Bitcoin network?  A cartel could generate blocks ahead of the network, holding out on announcing these new blocks until they get an advantage by manipulating these withheld blocks.  In other words, they can try to hoard new blocks while they monkey with them by creating cartelized blocks.

A cartelized block contains cartel approved transactions.  If you are being rewarded by the cartel, your transaction will be included in the block.  If you are being punished by the cartel, your transaction will be delayed or dropped completely.

I left out a lot of details in my explanation above.  If you want to know more, take a look at the original thread.

The reason I am skeptical that a mining cartel would ever represent a threat to the Bitcoin network is that in order for the cartel to succeed, it would have to run a very tight ship.

The folk in the thread I mentioned shows that there are all kinds of technical roadblocks to prevent this attack.  The most likely roadblocks typically implement more p2p solutions, not less.

In other words, add more p2p oriented features to Bitcoin so the cartel must cope with things like keeping timestamps in the proper sequence.

And I'm totally in favor of a greater p2p focus, beyond what is already implemented.  The more, the better.

Beyond that and fixing bugs, nothing formal should be done to deal with mining cartels.

Why?  Because they'll do what every other cartel has done in history.  They will self destruct on their own.  It may take some time, but down the line, I can tell, that every cartel in history either self destructs or gets violent.

An example cartel in history may have started off as a friendly pact among good business associates.  But once someone inside the cartel betrays his buddies, something has to give.

And the more p2p focus there is, the less likely violence will be possible in any meaningful way, so the mining cartel can only self destruct.  Maybe it can try to start over with a smaller, more trusted circle.  That's the only option for it: cartel fragmentation.  Fragmentation reduces the chance of a successful attack.

In historical examples, cartels get overtly violent or they join up with government so that the violence becomes legitimized by law.  Cartels benefit from the "captured regulator" effect when they join up with government so they can regulate away competition.  That's just not an option for a well focused p2p implementation.

So what if the cartel is able to maintain control of its members to keep them from breaking ranks?  Well, that's the ultimate boogie-man, isn't it?  It only takes one member to take it down.  But ok, let's say it happens.  Then what?

I'm not suggesting this would be a quick fix, but if the cartel has really done damage to the integrity of the network, then set up a new p2p currency and abandon Bitcoin, if it really is that bad off.  Call it Bytecoin or something.  Or Twobitcoin.  I liked the name Hashcash, but the name doesn't matter.  The cartels can have their own private currency all to themselves.  Either they keep spending CPU time on the old abandoned network they just took over or they start completely over with a brand new network.  Competition makes everything better.

And as Fred Brooks said, "Make one to throw away, you will anyway."

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Did You Give Up On Bitcoin?

Filed under Bitcoin, Economic
One of the more compelling ideas of Bitcoin is that everyone has a chance to be the Ben Bernanke.  Meaning, everyone has a chance to "print money out of thin air."  The specification of Bitcoin is such that its money supply is "generated" by individuals who run the client on the network in "generate mode."  If you run it long enough, at least for now, you have a chance to produce 50 BTC (BTC is the currency code that stands for Bitcoin).

But if you were attracted to this idea, lately you may have noticed that it has been harder and harder to generate.  The simple fact is, the more people trying to produce, the less of a chance you'll have yourself.  On top of that, there are more people who resort to using their GPUs (graphics card) these days than ever before.  In a matter of months, the opportunity to generate Bitcoins seems to have dried up.

The good news is that there are new opportunities.  If you want to generate, I would like to recommend the Bluish Coder:

This is the group that picked the Bitcoin Remote Pooled Mining application to collect lower powered machines together so they can have a chance to generate.  If you have Windows or Linux (Mac OS X has limited support if you really dig), you can contribute your own CPU time to the mix and get a cut.  It's not 50 BTC, but it's something.

The amount you generate depends on the speed of your system, how long you participate, and how many other users are in the pool.  Yes, the amount is much smaller, but it's much better than nothing.

Of course, just like the carrot of 50 BTC, there's a chance your efforts will not pay off.  But you never know unless you try.  Since the time this pool was established, it generated 2 blocks, which means it distributed 100 BTC, so far, among all those who participated.  But the more people who participate, the smaller the winnings.

The advantage of pooling in this way is that none of the participants work against each other.  If you have two systems churning away on the official client, they are working against each one another by definition.  But in an alternative system like this, none of the systems in the pool do redundant work.

It is even possible to set up your own private pool with this kind of software, if that's what you want.  That way, if you have multiple computers, they would no longer work against each other.  But if you have only two computers to devote to Bitcoin generating, you may not see any results.

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