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The Infuriating Fiction of NATO "Nuclear-Free" Nations

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US nuclear weapons stored at a Dutch Air Force base. These bombs are intended to be delivered by the Netherlands Air Force in the event of a nuclear war. Photo: US Air Force., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons I encounter these people on the internet boasting that their country's military and foreign policy are morally superior to the United States and other nuclear powers because they have no nuclear arsenal. The usual offender is German, but are sometimes from other NATO countries. This is a convenient fiction. German Air Force B├╝chel Air Base, where the United States keeps an estimated 20 B61 nuclear bombs for delivery by German bombers in the event of nuclear war. Source: Stahlkocher, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons While it is true that Germany, for instance, does not possess nuclear weapons, as a member of NATO and a participant in the nuclear sharing agreement between countries, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), is capable of delivering nuclear weapons in the event of

Book Review: Fall or, Dodge in Hell, by Neal Stephenson

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Kitty liked it. So did I, except for it making me a little queasy. Sorry for the water spots. I've read Neal Stephenson since the 1990s and try never to miss a single book or article. From his earliest works in the 1980s up to present, the quality and scope of topics he covers in his work expanded ad ridiculum [Yes, I italicize fake Latin], and has reached proportions exceeded by no other author I can think of. He writes everything from alternate history, to alternate future, from cyberpunk to swords and sorcery, all in books of increasing length. His recent work, Fall or, Dodge in Hell , is one of the most thought-provoking novels I've ever read. It spans his usual speculative, near-future science fiction, and develops into a tale of fantasy. The story is about an event predicted by futurists of a time soon-to-come when artificial general intelligence will become sufficiently advanced that it will be possible to simulate a human brain in computer software. This point is referr

Demolition Man

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Source: Wikimedia Foundation. I claim Fair Use for the academic comparison of themes from the movie to contemporary American society. Posting here is not intended to generate any revenue for the author. Are we living in the world of the 1993 science fiction movie Demolition Man? It is a world of tyrannical kindness, political correctness run amok, where even mildly offensive language can result in an automated citation from ubiquitous surveillance devices. The world of Demolition Man is one of peace achieved at the cost of personal freedom. Freedom of choice, speech, and conscience are severely curtailed in that vision of future Los Angeles. We are not quite in the world of Demolition Man yet, but our society seems headed into a condition where even the slightest hint of impoliteness or offense is considered a crime. Offending people is considered the same as an act of violence. This stifles freedom. I'm with the late George Carlin on the topic of political correctness. It seems to

Free Will

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If you are old enough, or you took college statistics, you probably remember this game show involving contestants making choices. Surprisingly, merely making a choice between different options circumstantially changes the likelihood of the different options. So the act of choosing seems to actually affect the nature of reality. This is called the Monty Hall Problem, after the host of the show.  Source: cbs.com. I claim Fair Use for the educational discussion of philosophy and science in the post below. I am not using this to generate any income. Free will is said by many to not exist (e.g. Sam Harris, Sabine Hossenfelder). The idea is that nature, the entire universe, is governed by deterministic laws that have been discovered by scientists. Every action is the result of something that came before, and your decisions are no exception. All of the particles that make up all the atoms of your brain were subject to these physical laws in a chain of causality going back to the Big Bang, so

Election Signs

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Image shamelessly stolen from the official Joe Biden website. (Not an endorsement) What are people thinking when they place election campaign signs on their property? Political signs usually contain only names, not arguments or policy positions (except referenda, I guess). Do they think people will be influenced to change their vote through peer pressure? Are they trying to indicate moral or ethical superiority? Are they signaling their tribal identity? What are people who steal election signs thinking? Do they think they are influencing the election by removing peer pressure or suppressing their opponent's name? Are they trying to intimidate others into not signaling their political allegiance? Is it an act of animosity or do they think it is an act of virtue? I think the placing of signs is an exhibition of excessive pride more than any practical consideration. Political signs actually cost money. The theft of signs shows a lack of respect, both for the property owner and for dem

Van Halen vs. Van Hagar

Everybody else has an opinion on this. Why shouldn't I? Who was the better and more authentic singer for Van Halen, David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar? I first heard Van Halen in the early '80s when I was a pre-teen. At the time, I was heavily involved in the Christian religion, so I wasn't particularly enamored. At some point, I saw this notorious performance video of David Lee Roth on stage in pants that had no seat in them. I thought it was trashy and sinful. Even then though, I could feel the pull of pop hooks, and all the other boys at school were listening to them. After I grew up more, I started to appreciate the musicality and very high level of instrumental expertise of Van Halen. I was vaguely aware of David Lee Roth having left Van Halen because it was the talk of my peers and my older sister. I thought I wouldn't miss him, but of course he engaged in his usual show boating in a solo career. "Van Hagar" then formed when the band recruited Sammy Hagar

Plagiarism?

Singing in the shower the other day I noticed it was possible to make a mashup of Van Halen's Panama and Glen Frey's The Heat is On. Sing it in your head: Panama (guitar riff) The heat is o-on (saxophone riff) Panama (guitar riff) Oh it's on the street etc. Full Songs: The Heat is On Panama Both songs were composed and released in 1984. Van Halen has the advantage of about 5 months. Panama came first. The Heat is On was not written by Frey, so he's off the hook. Instead it was written by a couple of record producers/songwriters for the Eddie Murphy movie Beverly Hills Cop. Frey just agreed to record the song and sang the lead and played guitar on the popular recording. The verses diverge somewhat but the main chorus and chord patterns match perfectly. Does this mean it was copyright infringement? That is a technical term from the legal profession, and I'll leave it to the lawyers. On the other hand, it is an established technique among music producers t