Patterico's Pontifications



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:29 am


GMTA, Philosophy Edition: Patterico Vindicated on Zeno’s Paradox?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 am

On July 3, 2016, I proposed what I thought was a completely original solution for Zeno’s paradox: a “minimum distance” in the real universe that cannot be subdivided:

You have probably heard of Zeno’s paradoxes, one of which is that to get anywhere, you first must travel half the distance, and then half the remaining distance, and then half the remaining distance, and so on. According to this theory, you never get there.

I have seen various solutions to this, but I am not sure anyone has proposed mine. Perhaps they have, but here it is anyway:

My proposed solution is that there is a minimum distance in the universe, which cannot be subdivided into smaller distances.

Imagine my amazement to learn that, at about the same time, a professional philosopher was bouncing the same theory off of a mathematics professor, who agreed with him!

Embedded for your listening pleasure is a discussion between philosopher Steve Patterson and Dr. Gary McGuire, the head of Mathematics and Statistics at the University College Dublin.

A little background: Patterson proposes a different description of Zeno’s paradox, in which you put together a pie by first creating half, then adding a fourth, then an eighth, and so on. Does the pie ever get completed? This is what they are referring to when they talk about the pie.

The most relevant part is at 40:27:

PATTERSON: If that’s true, then does that not mean that Zeno’s paradoxes are not solved by calculus? Because the claim is not that the runner will get ever so close to the final point, but that the runner will actually complete the race. That ultimately, the pie will ultimately be completed. Doesn’t that mean that Zeno, Zeno had a — was making a good point there?

DR. McGUIRE: Uh, yes. Yeah. Yeah. No, a really good point, I mean, I’m agreeing with you. I’m not disagreeing with you. So.

PATTERSON: So what do you think of this, this potential resolution: that the reason calculus does work in the real world is because reality is finite. It’s not infinitely divisible and therefore at some point the calculations terminate, and then, you know, you can complete the whole pie, and you would complete the race.

DR. McGUIRE: Well in the real world, as we were saying earlier, we don’t get into the infinite. So we have to approximate everything by a finite number. And so, in the real world, we would get, we wouldn’t be able to, if we were adding smaller and smaller and smaller pieces of the pie, we’d eventually have to stop somewhere. We can’t, we can’t get ever smaller and smaller and smaller pieces; we just can’t do that. So we have to stop at some smallest possible piece and then we add that in and then we finish the pie.

PATTERSON: But what about with something like distance? So could we say the same thing — that ultimately — this is what I think the resolution is to Zeno’s paradox, is that there is like a base, a base distance unit in the universe that you can’t actually divide in half. Because otherwise it seems like motion would be impossible. But if we’re — if there’s like a base unit of distance, then everything seems to resolve itself. Just like a base unit of pi.

DR. McGUIRE: I, yeah, I kind of agree — I agree with you. I think, in the real world, in practice, there is a base unit of distance, yeah.

I heard this in my car and almost involuntarily slammed on the brakes in surprise when I heard the bolded language — which, you’ll note, is the same as my own solution to Zeno’s paradox above: that “there is a minimum distance in the universe, which cannot be subdivided into smaller distances.”

Note that many commenters laughed at me in comments to the previous post — and yet this mathematics professor agrees with Patterson!

I am going to write Patterson about this rather bizarre confluence of thinking. I may have a hard time convincing him that I didn’t take my cue from him, since his podcast preceded my post by a little more than a month. But I never even heard of the guy before a couple of weeks ago.

Great minds think alike — and sometimes, so does mine!

P.S. If you listen to the whole interview, you’ll notice Patterson’s notion that numbers do not exist outside our conception, which I see as a kind of corollary to my hypothesis that — even abstractly and not purely as a “real-world” phenomenon — there is a smallest number (and a largest!) . . . but it’s beyond the limitations of humans to conceive of, or express. If that notion is right, it has real implications for the very concept of infinity.


Tulsa Police Officer Charged with First-Degree Manslaughter

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:51 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Officer Betty Shelby, who shot and killed stalled motorist Terence Crutcher last Friday, was charged by the Tulsa District Attorney earlier today. If convicted, she faces a minimum of four years of imprisonment.

Crutcher’s car had stalled in the middle of a city street on the afternoon of September 16 when Shelby’s patrol car passed by on the way to responding to a domestic violence call. Shelby failed to activate the dashcam in her patrol car, so it was left to a police helicopter to provide footage of what transpired. The footage appears to show Crutcher standing alongside the driver’s side of the vehicle with his hands up. At some point his hands seem to lower towards the window (the helicopter at this point has moved to the passenger’s side of the vehicle, so the view is partially obstructed) and Shelby shoots him with her service weapon. Shelby maintained that Crutcher was reaching inside of the vehicle, perhaps to retrieve a weapon, but there is pretty compelling evidence to suggest that the window was in fact rolled up, and no weapon was recovered from the vehicle.

The public outcry was immediate though protests in Tulsa appear to have steered clear of the ugly violence that has marred the protests in Charlotte. Credit is due to the citizens of Tulsa who allowed the district attorney’s office to do its job by conducting a thorough investigation and bringing charges according to what they learned.


Obama Administration Takes Steps To Restore Peace In Charlotte

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:50 am

[guest post by Dana]

After Tuesday’s police shooting of a black man, Keith Lamont Scott, Charlotte N.C. has become a war-zone of violent rioting. According to reports, 44 people have been arrested for not dispersing, breaking and entering, and assault. As a result, Gov. Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard.

President Obama has not publicly condemned the protesters rioters or made any demand plea for them to stop. Instead, the Dept. of Justice is sending “conflict resolution experts” to Charlotte to presumably talk to rioters about how they feel, and one assumes, encourage them to use their words in an effort to understand what makes them try and throw an unconscious person into a burning trash can, assault a news reporter, commit the predictable burn, break and loot of locally owned businesses, injure at least a dozen police officers trying to control the mayhem, and terrorize innocent bystanders caught up in the melee.

The Obama administration’s Justice Department will send conflict resolution experts to Charlotte, N.C., to try to quell the violent unrest over the death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who was shot by police Tuesday afternoon

The department’s Community Relations Service provides conflict resolution specialists across the nation “to promote peaceful resolution of conflicts and tensions,” according to the DOJ’s website.

“The Community Relations Service is the department’s ‘peacemaker’ for community conflicts arising from differences of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and disability,” the website says.

“CRS is not an investigatory or prosecutorial agency, and it does not have any law enforcement authority,” it notes.

This is what you do when you’ve got nothing else to offer.

Hug it out. That’ll fix everything.

Here is Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s statement regarding the upheaval in Charlotte:

Now, most of the demonstrators gathered last night were exercising their constitutional and protected right to peaceful protest in order to raise issues and create change…


“Run Them Down”: Instapundit Suspended from Twitter; UPDATE: Suspended from USA Today for One Month

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:16 am

Knoxville News Sentinel:

Twitter has suspended the account of Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and a contributing columnist for USA TODAY and the News Sentinel, after a tweet that urged motorists to run over demonstrators blocking traffic in Charlotte, N.C.

In response to a tweet from a TV news station in Charlotte that showed protesters on Interstate 277, the @Instapundit account wrote, “Run them down.”

Reynolds, the creator of the Instapundit blog, tweets from the handle @Instapundit.

“Ah. I saw it was suspended and didn’t know why,” Reynolds said in an email Thursday morning to the News Sentinel.

He acknowledged tweeting the comment.

“Yes, that was my post,” he wrote in the email. “It was brief, since it was Twitter, but blocking highways is dangerous and I don’t think people should stop for a mob, especially when it’s been violent.”

You don’t say. Glenn Reynolds is old enough to remember Reginald Denny. (Look it up, kids.) If you don’t remember him, here’s a reminder:

And if that’s too long ago, how about this:

Glenn elaborates on his blog:

Sorry, blocking the interstate is dangerous, and trapping people in their cars and surrounding them is a threat. Driving on is self-preservation, especially when we’ve had mobs destroying property and injuring and killing people. But if Twitter doesn’t like me, I’m happy to stop providing them with free content.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Was just on Hugh Hewitt talking about this. Since Twitter won’t let me respond to — or even see — my critics, let me expand here.

I’ve always been a supporter of free speech and peaceful protest. I fully support people protesting police actions, and I’ve been writing in support of greater accountability for police for years.

But riots aren’t peaceful protest. And blocking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.

He acknowledges Erik Wemple’s suggestion that “Keep driving” would have expressed the idea better, and more succinctly. But “I’ve had over 580,000 tweets, and they can’t all be perfect.”

Meanwhile, here are some Twitter users who aren’t suspended:

Those took me about three minutes to find. If Twitter Support cared about finding and suspending accounts like that, they could easily do so.

UPDATE: And now that I have pressed the Publish button, I see he’s back:

He says on his blog: “Still planning on quitting Twitter, though, after making a few points.”

I’m not sure how I feel about conservatives abandoning a popular platform when they are discriminated against. I understand the arguments for quitting — and I can’t say they’re wrong, but my gut tells me not to. It feels too much like letting them win.

Since he was forced to take down the tweet, by the way, it’s only right that we spread it as far and wide as possible — and so, I reproduce it below.


Seeing what he was responding to makes it even clearer that his comment was talking about self-defense.

UPDATE x2: Reynolds has been suspended for one month from his USA Today column and has apologized. As often happens when the SJWs come after you, his speech was not perfect. I don’t subscribe to the whole “never ever apologize for anything” ethic of the Vox Days of the world. If Prof. Reynolds thinks his words ought to be the subject of an apology, more power to him. But really, I thought his sentiment, while perhaps imperfectly expressed, was perfectly reasonable when read charitably. But of course, in today’s world, we cannot read anything charitably any more. Every head must go on a chopping block.


Ted Cruz Considering Endorsing Donald Trump?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:05 pm

I wasn’t that worried when I saw stories saying Jeff Roe thought Cruz might endorse Trump. Roe has wanted Cruz to endorse for a while. I wasn’t that worried by a tweet from Cruz thanking Trump for supporting his Internet initiative. I wasn’t that worried by Politico story claiming Cruz was “warming to” Trump.

But right now, Steve Deace seems almost despondent on Twitter, and seems to think it’s a foregone conclusion. And Deace was always very tight with Cruz. So now I’m worried.

I’m going to adapt the hyperbolic phraseology of Donald Trump to declare: nobody supported Ted Cruz more than Patterico. I gave him money. I promoted him here on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I talked him up to friends. I bought and read his book. I defended him — even when he cozied up to Donald Trump.

Also, in general, I do not criticize people for choosing to support Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. I think Donald Trump is a congenital liar, a quintessential narcissist, and a man who represents everything that is wrong with this country. That said, Hillary Clinton represents the certainty of increasing big government, debt, federal encroachment on freedom, and judicial tyranny, while many believe Trump represents at least a chance of avoiding some of that.

But Ted Cruz is not in the same position as your average Republican. Donald Trump insulted Cruz’s wife and dad.

I think Cruz would dishonor his family if he were to endorse Trump before Trump delivered the sort of sincere and impassioned apology of which, let’s face it, Donald Trump is incapable.

I know that many will say Cruz would be elevating love of country over petty personal insults. That’s not how I see it. My family comes before my country.

Plus, you know that if Cruz endorses Trump, Trump will find some rhetorical way to lift his leg and piss on Cruz, just to show who the real alpha male is.

So: I hate to say it, because I’m worried that it’s likely, but: if Ted Cruz endorses Donald Trump, then Ted Cruz is not the man I thought he was.

There. I said it.

Carlos Danger On His Relationship With 15-Year Old Girl: I Have No One To Blame But Myself

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:09 am

[guest post by Dana]

Here is Anthony Weiner’s (D) statement upon it being revealed that he has been involved in an online relationship with a 15-year old girl. He did not deny exchanging ‘flirtatious’ messages with the teen…:

‘I have repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgement about the people I have communicated with online and the things I have sent.

‘I am filled with regret and heartbroken for those I have hurt.

‘While I have provided the Daily Mail with information showing that I have likely been the subject of a hoax, I have no one to blame but me for putting myself in this position.

‘I am sorry.’

You can read their texting/sexting messages at the link, if you are so inclined.


Grabby Corey Lewandowski Still Consulting for Trump While Also a CNN Commentator

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:53 am

ABC News:

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign paid former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s company $20,000 in consulting fees in August, campaign filings show.

Lewandowski was fired as Trump’s campaign manager on June 20 after a series of missteps that included a physical confrontation with a reporter and being charged with battery over an altercation with protesters at a rally. The battery charges were later dropped.

Days after the firing, CNN hired Lewandowski as an on-air political commentator, a position he holds currently.

Trump’s campaign finance filing shows a $20,000 payment made to Lewandowski’s company, Green Monster Consulting, LLC, on August 11 for the purpose of “strategy consulting.”

ABC News had previously reported the rapprochement between the fired employee and the presidential candidate.

CNN pays Grabby Corey to be a commentator.

They should be embarrassed.

I doubt that they are.


Idiot: “Nazi Who Originated Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittles Analogy Was Hanged at Nuremberg”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:56 pm

I hate this person (Naomi LaChance at the Intercept) for forcing me to defend a Trump.

DONALD TRUMP JR.’S tweet comparing Syrian refugees to Skittles has deep roots. The concept dates back at least to 1938 and a children’s book called Der Giftpilz, or The Toadstool, in which a mother explains to her son that it only takes one Jew to destroy an entire people.

The book’s author, Julius Streicher, also published a newspaper that Adolf Hitler loved to read, Der Stürmer. The newspaper published anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-communist, and anti-capitalist propaganda. In 1933, soon after Hitler took power, Streicher used his newspaper to call for the extermination of the Jews.

German Propaganda Archive Hitler said: “One must never forget the services rendered by the Stürmer … Now that Jews are known for what they are, nobody any longer thinks that Streicher libelled them.”

Streicher was hanged at Nuremburg in 1946 for crimes against humanity.

Oh Good Lord. Naomi LaChance, grow up.

This was Donny Jr’s tweet:

Whether you agree with his point or not (I do), nobody can possibly deny that this is a reasonable analogy. With polls showing 13% of Syrian refugees are ISIS sympathizers, a policy of letting in thousands of Syrian refugees is very likely to let in some terrorists.

Claiming that anyone who makes the point “a small minority can be dangerous” is JUST FOLLOWING THE NAZI PLAYBOOK ABOUT JEWS!!!!11!!!!!!1! is typical leftist idiocy.

It is, in fact, the type of idiocy that helps Trump get elected. So be proud, Naomi LaChance. You’re doing your part.

Trump Paid Private Debts with Charity Money from His Foundation

Filed under: General,Stark Choice — Patterico @ 6:20 pm

It sounds criminal, not to mention utterly dishonest and slimy:

Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.

Those cases, which together used $258,000 from Trump’s charity, were among four newly documented expenditures in which Trump may have violated laws against “self-dealing” — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.

In one case, from 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club faced $120,000 in unpaid fines from the town of Palm Beach, Fla., resulting from a dispute over the height of a flagpole.

In a settlement, Palm Beach agreed to waive those fines — if Trump’s club made a $100,000 donation to a specific charity for veterans. Instead, Trump sent a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity funded almost entirely by other people’s money, according to tax records.

We Americans don’t have to vote for someone who uses a supposed charity for their own personal gain. We always have the choice instead to vote for . . . oh, right. Never mind.

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