The Dragon Award Websites Has Changed!

In an exciting development, the ‘News’ section has now gone back in time and apparently expunged the August announcement of the actual awards presentation. The most recent news is now from April.

Page as of the date of this post:

Previous version October 23:

Don’t worry though, this is not some Orwellian re-writing of history: the recipient page and the front page still list the winners.

Alt-Pi: Voxopedia replies (again)

I’m inadvertently becoming a feature on Voxopedia’s talk pages:

Idris (talk) 23:15, 25 October 2016 (UTC)

Excellent. Vox Day’s First Law manifest. Camestros Felapton, go look at the experiment on Youtube. Two ball bearings, two plastic tubes. It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3… Galileo.

Vox Day’s first law is that any sufficiently advanced intelligence is indistinguishable from insanity. In other words, sometimes the alt-right are just SO smart that what they say appears utter nonsense. This leads to Camestros Felapton’s corollary:

In general things indistinguishable from nonsense are actually nonsense.

Anyway, the video in question appears to be this one:

It rambles on a bit but the gist of it is this. The guy rolls ball-bearings down two plastic tubes. They both start with the same slope, then they go straight for a bit, then one tube goes off in a roughly circular horizontal loop and the other one carries on straight.

The ball that goes through the loop decelerates because physics. The ball that goes straight decelerates less because again, physics. Consequently the ball on the straight path travels further in the same time than the one in the curved path. Aha! Says the guy, the ball on the straight path has traveled four diameters of the circle in the time it has taken the other path to travel the circumference, so pi equals 4 for motion!

No, it doesn’t. The balls are traveling at different speeds, so they don’t cover the same distance in the same time. The ball in the loop has to travel slower because of Newton’s first law of motion: traveling a loop requires a force to act on it (to change direction) and the forces in play have to decelerate the ball, hence it has to slow down MORE than the ball on the straight path. Making the second ball travel in a circle by a different method (e.g. deflecting its path with a magnet) would lead to a different answer.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Voxopedia more women have gone missing. [Thanks to Mark for spotting this]

Kitty Joyner is the lead picture for ‘engineer’ on the Wikipedia page

Look, she has a slide rule and everything! Sadly her presence was just too confusing for the poor folks at Voxopedia. Maybe that big circular gizmo in the background didn’t look pi=4 enough. So, to prevent fainting and to protect sensitive dispositions, Joyner has been replaced by Oliver Heaviside


Meanwhile, Vox has given us all permission to laugh

Weird Internet Ideas: The Platonic Ideal of Fringe Ideas with a side serve of Voxopedia

I must confess to a vice: I have a ghoulish fascination for dysfunctional ideas. Sad to say some, like global warming denialism or racism can feel depressingly ubiquitous. Others are a tad more rarefied – like the occasional defenders of geocentrism. Yet the finest, most exotic of the misapplications of intelligence must be mathematical-crackpottery.

To push truly odd mathematical ideas takes real skill and perseverance. First of all it is hard to find the space which encompasses enough people to know enough about the area of maths you are disputing to understand what you are disputing, yet not so much about the topic to see why you are talking nonsense.

One of the longest running blogs cataloguing and debunking examples of bad maths is Mark Chu-Carroll’s Good Maths – Bad Maths blogs:

It has been around for some time, originally on Science Blogs, then at Scientopia and now self-hosting. He has been debunking in good humour some very, very odd ideas.

Here is an extract from a 2010 post which amused me:

Someone recently sent me a link to a really terrific crank. This guy really takes the cake. Seriously, no joke, this guy is the most grandiose crank that I’ve ever seen, and I doubt that it’s possible to top him. He claims, among other things, to have:

  1. Demonstrated that every mathematician since (and including) Euclid was wrong;
  2. Corrected the problems with relativity;
  3. Turned relativity into a unification theory by proving that magnetism is part of the relativistic gravitational field;
  4. Shown that all of gravitational/orbital dynamics is completely, utterly wrong; and, last but not least:
  5. proved that the one true correct value of pi is exactly 4.

I’m going to focus on the last one – because it’s the simplest illustration of both his own comical insanity, of of the fundamental error underlying all of his rubbish.

Ah, Miles Mathis, the pi equals 4 guy. To be fair, Mathis was trying to be provocative and his claim was more specifically about pi equaling 4 when circular motion was involved. Yet it is still nonsense and as Mark Chu-Carroll says, very grandiose nonsense.

The guy in question really does need to be read to be believed, and I’m willing to entertain the idea that it is a very clever spoof or very complex humour. Take this piece on his various enemies:

This post will be an ongoing reply to selected critiques of my new book, The Un-unified Field. The first negative review of the book has just been posted at Amazon UK, so I take this as the beginning of my science counter-critiques. I have been looking forward to this moment, as many can imagine. I am already well-known—some might say notorious—for my counter-critiques on my art site. For almost a decade I have been making the current art critics look very bad. Using Whistler as my model, I have responded directly to the various writings of the status quo, taking on all the big names, including Greenberg, Saltz, Schjeldahl, Hughes, Danto, Carey, and Hickey. But until now my science site has been a different sort of beast. I have attacked physics and physicists, not science critics. I have written and published science papers, not polemics. Yes, my science papers contain a bit of polemics, but I could never have included them in a folder titled “counter-criticism.” I have not only been criticizing science, I have been doing science. I have not just analyzed, I have corrected and predicted. Now, however, I able to use my polemical skills, sharpened by a decade of art fights, in the field of physics. If these science critics had bothered to read any of my art or science papers, beyond “a passing glance here and there,” they might not have stuck their necks out. But they have stuck their necks out and will continue to, of course, and this will provide me (and perhaps you) with decades of new fun.

I can’t help feel like I’m reading a mish-mash of both John C Wright and Vox Day but with an extra dose of grandiloquence.

Speaking of Vox Day…


…over at my new favourite encyclopedia…

There are various edits going on at Voxopedia. A lot of it is alt-right PC renaming of things, removing CE from dates and putting AD back in, swapping out “pro-choice” for “abortion legalization”. There seems to be lots of minor edits on topics related to Croatia but…aside from Castalia House related things not much in the way of new pages.

However, one of the more prolific editors “Rectified” has been working on some new content – content that wouldn’t make it into Wikipedia.

Ladies and gentlemen: The Miles Mathis page!

I have seen the future of the big fork!

As El Sandifer has pointed out, the encylopedia lacks a decent user base. Of the user it has picked up only a small proportion are editing. Because most topics already have entries (from Wikipedia) all the ‘fun’ work has been done. What is left is the drudgery of keeping the thing up to date.

But then what? Well, the Mathis page shows the way. The alt-right hangers on (or perhaps the alt-right internet constituency) is not just frustrated by leftwing gatekeepers but any and all gatekeepers. Wikipedia is hated not just because of some progressive choices when it comes to naming things or deleting topics but because it constrains behaviour. Specifically it constrains the behaviour of privileged brats and that kind of constraint (not just from Wikipedia but in general) is targeted by alt-right angst.

So Voxopedia has notability guidelines but thos guidelines will be used (at some point in the future…) to rank pages. Hence, a Miles Mathis biography  page can be a thing. Not only that but there doesn’t seem to be any rules against editing/creating a page on yourself.*

So here is a future for “Infogalactic” if it last – a vanity encyclopedia not just for Vox but for Vox’s followers.

The Right’s War on Statistics

‘Zero Hedge’ is in a flap about poll ‘oversampling’ here


It even includes a hack email from John Podesta which discusses ways of ensuring that the Democrats own polling over samples minority groups. Again, gasp!

Except. Well over sampling a smaller demographic group is the right thing to do. When I say ‘right’, I don’t mean for opinion polls but for collecting statistics on a population in general.

Say you have a representative sample of a population consisting of a thousand people. Now, of that thousand people you are particularly interested in a sub group that represents 1% of the population. If your sample is exactly proportionate, then it should have 10 people belonging to that sub group. Unfortunately 10 is a shitty sample, if you are unlucky to get 2 odd people with unusual views they then form 20% of your sub-sample.

Sample size is a dark art but the easiest issue to understand is it that magnitude matters. A good sample size is less about the proportion of the whole population in your sample and more about the raw number of people. More is better, but ‘more’ is subject to diminishing returns.

Over sampling means you can get a better picture of the sub group. However, because you end up with more of group X than you should have, their response are then weighted proportionally when looked at the statistics overall.

Are polls manipulated! Well, if by ‘manipulated’ you mean ‘use statistics’ then yes.

Review: John Wick – Fridge the beagle

A movie choice made due to a lack of consensus on what to watch.

Keanu Reeves is a former elite assassin who has got of the game because of true love. Dragged brutally back into the world of the professional hitman, he goes on a killing spree.

So the obvious, looming cliche waiting, before you even hit play, is that his wife will die. To their credit, the writers saw this cliche coming and for this one example actually made an effort to avoid it. John Wick’s wife dies still but, aha!, dies of natural causes. He is consumed by grief but what with him being an affectless assassin and also Keanu Reeves, this emotion looks the same as all the others we will see.

But John Wick is still stuck in a cliched plot that depends on him going over the edge and embarking on campaign of violent revenge.

Enter the beagle puppy.

Wick’s terminally ill wife arranged for a beagle puppy to be delivered to him (with a note) for after she died. I have to say, the notion of a posthumous beagle delivery service remains my favourite concept from the film. Not entirely sure how it would work and also forcing a beagle on to somebody without their prior consent seems more like a practical joke than a loving gesture – and quite a dark joke as the puppy (inevitably) is Wick’s last emotional connection to his dead wife. She would have had to arrange the delivery prior to her death and presumably at a point when she was well enough to write but also sick enough to have a reasonable estimate of when she would die. Maybe that is all built into the service? Perhaps the doctors at the hospital trigger the delivery with an email? As we learn nothing about the character of the wife, I’d like to imagine she actually runs a whole puppy delivery business (it also explains the end of the movie).

I’d imagine that when he met her for the first time the conversation went like this:

John Wick: Hi. I may appear emotionless but I have the coolest job in the world.
Love Interest: No you don’t. *I* have the coolest job in the world.
John Wick: I am the world’s most feared assassin. I belong to an elite assassin club, with its own assassin hotel and assassin night club and at the assassin hotel they give you a free car if somebody trashes your room.
Love Interest: I run a beagle puppy delivery service.
John Wick: OK, you win.

I assume everybody has made this joke already.

Enter the obnoxious son of a Russian gangster. This character is unique in the whole movie. EVERYBODY else, (beyond various Russian gangster redshirts) knows exactly who John Wick is. Even the local police officer knows that John Wick is a bad-ass assassin.

Obnoxious gangster boy encounters Wick at a petrol station and tries to buy his car. Rebuffed by Wick (who appears emotionless because a. grief and b. Keanu Reeves), gangster finds where Wick lives – still failing to discover that Wick is the most deadly killer of gangsters ever to the extent that he is known as the ‘boogeyman’ which they also say in Russian (and which sounds like Baba Yaga – and now I want Keanu Reeves to have a house with chicken feet).

The young gangster and his goons break into Wick’s house, beat him up and KILL THE PUPPY. Film then continues exactly as you might imagine it does.

DO not watch this film if you like puppies, characters with an emotional range, plausible plots, films in which Willem Dafoe is well utilized as an actor. Aside from that, nicely shot, occasional dead pan humour suggests that at least somebody gets that the film is ridiculous.


Voxopedia: an aside with graphs

No, I’m not obsessing 🙂

A separate conversation about numbers, which fed into questions about numbers of rabid puppy voters etc etc, made me look at data from the voxopedia website on numbers of users. And then I drew a graph. The graph isn’t intended to draw a moral or point out anything remarkable other than – look, a graph!

Marked dates: BF – VD advertised a brainstorm session on ‘Project Big Fork’ for his subscribers. VP – is the official announcement on his website. In that announcement he thanked the ‘172 original galaxians’, so I’ve marked that position also.