I’m Confused


After ending a prayer with the word awomen [autocorrupt really fights me when I try to type that word], the Democrats imposed a new rule on the House of Representatives that eliminates the use of such “gendered” words as mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, or uncle.

So are they for celebrating the biological differences between the sexes, or are they insisting that we’re all the same and the differences are socially constructed?

Or will they also end prayers with words like atrannie?

2020 has turned 21 and is now drinking openly.

Don’t Know Much Biology


The New England Journal of Medicine has published a paper titled Failed Assignments — Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates which claims that designating a child’s sex on a birth certificate can be harmful. Here’s the paper’s abstract.

Sex designations on birth certificates offer no clinical utility, and they can be harmful for intersex and transgender people. Moving such designations below the line of demarcation wouldn’t compromise the birth certificate’s public health function but could avoid harm.

Boys and girls grow and develop at different rates and in different ways. I am not a physician, but it seems to me that knowledge of a child’s normally expected development should have real clinical utility and that ignoring it could be a form of malpractice.

BTW, neither of the two physicians among the paper’s authors is a pediatrician. The third author is a lawyer.

Titania McGrath was unavailable for comment.

The Party of Science


I believe in Science, but I don’t believe in the “science” that the Party of Science is peddling. I’ve previously described the Science in which I believe in a post that can be found under the Science and the Bible tab on this site’s menu. Here’s that explanation—

* * * * *

Figure 3. The Scientific Method.

Science shows us thing that we can’t see with our own eyes—germs, atoms, electrons, x-rays, solar fusion, and genes. All of these unseen things were made known through scientific inference.

The flow chart at right outlines the scientific method. Because new observations and testing occur continually, the four steps are practiced concurrently. New observations, even unpredicted ones, may provide data that will cause a hypothesis to be refined. However, Science is much more that just naive observation and measurement. What distinguishes Science from other disciplines is that the observations are interpreted, tested, and used.

* * * * *

Coming back to the present, …

Of course, Science isn’t the only form of knowledge that should inform our actions. The Scientific Method may lead us to knowledge, but our Morals should inform our application of that knowledge. Let me offer an example.

Suppose I make an observation of the world and notice  the there is a significant range of economic disparity among members of various societies. I’ll offer the hypothesis that the lives of the members of that society would be generally improved if they rearranged their polity in a socialist manner. Assume that I have the power to make that prediction testable, and I create the Soviet Union. The history of the Soviet Union in the Real World suggests that the prediction is false, but that may be experimental error. Further, rerunning the experiment in China and Cambodia give similar results.

Those observations allow me to form a second hypothesis that the previous forms of socialism tested weren’t real socialism, suggesting that international socialism is not the real thing but that national socialism should be a society’s organizing principle. I rerun the modified experiment, but Berlin and Auschwitz c. 1945 falsify that hypothesis.

Fortunately, no one had the power to actually run the 20th Century as a science experiment. Unfortunately, the 20th Century happened anyway. Clearly, causing over a 100 million deaths to test the viability of socialism would have been an immoral experiment. Yet, the Party of Science wants to force all sorts of experiments of similar questionable hypothesis on American society—and it wants to ban discussions of competing hypotheses and the actual results of their experiments.

No thanks. I’ll stick with the real thing.

Fake Remake of a Fake


I was scrolling through the Twitterz this morning and found that someone had sent me a link to a story that ran last year in our online paper of recordNASA Announces All-Female Remake Of Staged Moon Landings.

There’s an interesting story about why the first “videos from the Moon” were black and white when all the later “landings” were shown in color. Color cameras were available, but there was a dust control problem. The sound stage had been built in a very remote location to prevent it from being discovered, but the filters initially used in the HVAC system weren’t adequate, so monochrome cameras were used to keep viewers from noticing the red Martian dust.

Don’t Know Much Biology


There’s a post over at HillFaith that asks the question, “Is Being Gay Genetic?” The post contains a link to a video from the Colson Center that argues the evidence for a gay gene simply doesn’t exit. The post ends with these words—

That doesn’t mean such a gene will never be found, but it ought to encourage advocates on all sides of these issues to avoid definitive declarations about what the science does or does not prove[.]

Yes, the lack of evidence should lead both sides to be careful in their scientific claims. However, I suspect that if there is a gay gene or gay mutation, it should be recessive because it would tend to limit reproduction and be less likely to be passed to succeeding generations.

There are self-destructive or immoral behaviors which may be affected by genetics. Alcoholism probably is in some individuals. While our individual genetics may make some parts of our lives easier and other parts more challenging, our genes shouldn’t control our moral destiny.

Humans are clearly complementary sexual beings. We come together as male/female partners to create and raise the next generation. Living a life that denies that fact places one at odds with the truth not unlike an unfortunate character in a novel by Dostoevsky. Life is filled with difficult choices, but choosing truth always works best in the end.

Science tells us how. Religion tells us why. They complement each other, and we should pay attention to both.

Misgendering


In a message to another FBI lawyer about whether he planned to remain at the DoJ after Donald Trump took office, Kevin Clinesmith, who is copping a plea in the Russian Collusion Hoax case, replied, “Viva le resistance.”

Of course, the French noun la resistance is feminine, so using the masculine article le misgenders it.

Qui se croit sage est un grand fou.

—French Proverb

Cultural Appropriation


I’d like to suggest that people who find my culture offensive should stop appropriating the things we have created.

I’m an engineer. In my culture we rely on certain facts of nature (as we understand them) being actually true. For example, engineers believe, based on the evidence, that 2+2=4, and we rely on the mathematical principles behind that fact in order to design and build things that people can use.

It’s come to my attention that there’s a bunch of wokies trying to sell the idea that 2+2=4 is not a universal truth but some sort of tool used to oppress minorities. (Note: Engineers are a very tiny minority group within humanity.) While I believe that the wokies are foolishly wrong in their worldview, they have the right to be wrong. However, I also believe that, given their worldview, they are acting immorally (if Morality is connected to Truth) when they appropriate my culture’s concepts and artifacts for their own purposes.

For example, if 2+2 can equal 5, then 12 percent can equal 22 percent. I picked those numbers because, to the extent that most of wokies pay income taxes, they are probably in the under $40k bracket. If they were withheld at the next higher marginal rate of 22 percent instead of the lower rate, they would have no grounds for complaint by their own logic. But most would surely complain.

Also, most, if not all, of the wokies I’ve encountered, seem to have cell phones, and cell phones use microprocessors which rely on the mathematical logic behind the truth of 2+2=4 in order to operate. Is it moral for them to be appropriating that artifact from my culture?

Well, that depends on how “moral” is defined. Morality is a body of standards or principles derived a particular definition of what is Good. If the definition of Good is connected with Truth, then what is moral may be quite different the if the definition is connected with Power. The wokies’ worldview is marxist and rooted in Power. For them, life is as O’Brien explained to Winston Smith: “The object of power is power.” Truth can be arbitrary for them.

IIRC, O’Brien was also a proponent of 2+2 being 5 or 3 or whatever it needed to be.

I don’t think that I would like to live in a world in which most of the power was in the hands of the wokies. Therefore, I propose this strategy—Don’t let the wokie win.

I Guess We Were Statistical Outliers


The New York Post reports that a study carried out by Colorado State University suggests that single men with cats may have more trouble attracting women than other men. OTOH, dogs, don’t seem to negatively impact a man’s attractiveness to women.

Maybe times have changed, or maybe the fact that we were both cat owners made it possible for the future Mrs. Hoge to find me attractive back in the late ’70s. Whatever the case, I’m thankful for my good fortune.

Don’t Know Much Biology


Yesterday, the Supreme Court held in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that  federal employment law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “sex” protects gay and transgender employees.

Are the Majority of the Supreme Court science deniers? Or do words no longer have meaning?

Humpty Dumpty was unavailable for comment.

I’m So Old …


… I remember seeing autoclaves in my doctor’s and dentist’s examination rooms. For you young people, an autoclave is a device used to heat medical and other types of equipment to high temperature for sterilization. Before disposable syringes, hypodermic needles, and other medical instruments were available, physicians and dentist had to clean and sterilize equipment between use on different patients.

We wash cooking equipment between use for the same reason. If a cutting board has been used with raw meat, it should be washed properly to remove any bacteria or other potentially harmful contamination.

The same thing is true of non-recyclable shopping bags that have been used carry uncooked food. Of course, that may require more water and energy resources than producing another plastic bag, but using the non-recyclable bags does allow for virtue signaling.

If you’re stuck someplace that requires you to use non-recyclable bags, be sure to wash them after each use. It may not be the best long-term strategy for protecting the environment, but it will be good for your health.

Time Constants, Half-Lives, and Modeling


My podcasting partner Stacy McCain has a post up, MSNBC’s Doomsday Crisis Theme, that looks at the actual rate of increase in Wuhan virus infections and deaths in North Carolina and notes that they are increasing more slowly than the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model predicted.

Well, as someone who uses modeling as one of his principal professional tools, I’m not surprised. Mathematical models work well when they accurately describe the Real World system under study and they’re fed with data that represents the Real World system’s actual parameters. They’re like sewer pipes in that if you put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out.

Radioactive decay is a statistical process which is well described for every isotope of every element. Physicists speak of the half-life of an isotope meaning the time it takes for half of the atoms in a given sample of an isotope to undergo radioactive decay. Half-life doesn’t vary between two samples of the dame isotope.

Now, consider the discharge of an electrical capacitor. The voltage across a discharging capacitor will drop at an exponential rate, and the value of that exponent is determined by the reciprocal of the product of the capacitance in farads and resistance in ohms. Because farad X ohm = second, engineers refer to that exponent as the circuit’s time constant. If I’m analyzing an electrical network that might have widely varying values of capacitance and resistance, my model will give me a broad range of possible time constants. Knowing the possible range of part tolerances (and how they might vary over time, temperature, phase of the moon, or whatever) is important in predicting how a circuit will perform.

While the models used to predict the spread of viral disease are relatively straightforward and perform reasonably well when driven with good data, the Covid-19 pandemic is too new for sufficiently good data to have been acquired.

Here’s what we do know—1.) The disease is spread by person-to-person contact. 2.) Taking little or no protective measures produced disastrous results in China, Iran, Italy, and Spain. 3.) Thus far, it appears that several protective schemes work well. See, e.g., Taiwan and South Korea. 4.) In the U. S., densely populated areas with more opportunities for person-to-person contact have seen the majority of cases.

So, here’s what I’m doing—I have complicating factors (age and coronary artery disease) that make me high risk. I live in a state (Maryland) that’s under a mandatory stay-at-home order, but I’ve been telecommuting since it became an option. My son does my shopping for me, and if I do go out, it’s at odd hours when I’m likely to see fewer people.

Do I think the lockdown is necessary? I don’t know. There isn’t enough data yet.

Several people have spoken of the response to the Wuhan virus pandemic as if it were a war. It isn’t, but there is one bit of wartime ethics which may be applicable. When we are at war, we know that some people will suffer and some will die in order to save other lives. At some point, shutting down the economy will cause ongoing problems that will weaken our ability to maintain and improve our agricultural, transportation, medical, and other business and infrastructural systems. That impoverishment, in turn, may sentence more people to misery and possible death (in the long term) than might be saved by continuing economic disruption. That will be a difficult choice if it comes.

I hope and pray that the pandemic will not be so severe that we have to face that sort of ethical dilemma. It appears that drugs are being found for treatment, and a vaccine is possible.

Meanwhile, I’m being careful.

Warming: Local versus Global


So many unfortunate events are attributed to global warming (or climate change) these days! However, there are times when any real connection simply falls apart in the face of The Facts. My podcasting partner Stacy McCain has a post looking at the facts behind the origins of the current wildfires in Australia. In many cases, the local warming in Australia is the result of arson.

Various leftists have declared that it is a “conspiracy theory” — a “coordinated misinformation campaign” spread by “climate denial traitors” using Twitter “bots” — to call attention to the role played by arsonists in the Australian brush fires. The facts are still the facts, however, and indisputable facts are never “misinformation.”

Well, yes, but The Facts often conspire with Reality against the Left.

Quote of the Day


But however mysterious is nature, however ignorant the doctor, however imperfect the present state of physical science, the patronage and the success of quacks and quackeries are infinitely more wonderful than those of honest and laborious men of science and their careful experiments.

—P. T. Barnum