Sunday, January 25, 2009

Libertarian loser of the week.

Every now and then, another libertarian writes another stupid rebuttal to my FAQ, and the sycophants gather around and cheer because they're no smarter, and can't recognize the errors.

One such twit, "KipEsquire", wrote an addition to the latest and made all sorts of stupid errors.

I responded with corrections to his errors, and pointed out that I am a Madisonian social contract fan, as opposed to Locke or Hobbes.

Kip replied without anything more than ad hominem and berating me for not appealing to the authority of Hobbes and Locke.

I pointed that out, and explained that I didn't need to appeal to social contracts that were philosophical fantasies when Madison created an actual, practical social contract. After all, why would I appeal to flying horses and flying carpets when I could talk about airplanes?

I tried to check back, and Kip had locked me out. So I used an anonymizer, looked, and sure enough the coward had deleted my response. What a baby. I wrote another taunting him, which he'll probably delete.

It's funny how many libertarians can't defend their claims, and instead have to rely on deletion and lockouts to silence their opponents. They really are authoritarian when they feel threatened, and shut down free discussion by hiding behind their property rights.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Venn Diagram of Poker Hands: Solution

Venn Diagram of Poker Hands:

FOUR OF A KIND and FULL HOUSE are both inside THREE OF A KIND and TWO PAIRS, but do not overlap.

THREE OF A KIND and TWO PAIRS are both inside PAIR.



PAIR, STRAIGHT and FLUSH are all inside HIGH CARD.

Because any hand has a HIGH CARD and HIGH CARD includes all the others, HIGH CARD is identical to ALL HANDS.

The above diagram is topologically correct, I think, so it doesn't really matter what sizes or shapes the boundaries take.

An additional problem, for those who love easy combinatorics, would be to show the numbers and probabilities for all the regions. This requires a slightly different interpretation of the labels: for example, HIGH CARD is interpreted to mean "HIGH CARD ONLY" which excludes PAIR, FLUSH and STRAIGHT.

Biomimicry of evo-devo patterns.

The evo-devo (evolutionary developmental biology) idea is that organisms have basic developmental core processes (a toolbox) that are regulated during development by other genes. Thus basic mechanisms such as development into segments can be regulated to produce few-segmented organisms such as insects or many segmented organisms such as snakes.

There is a surprising analogy in the UNIX (and thus LINUX) operating system design philosophy: "Rule of Separation: Separate policy from mechanism; separate interfaces from engines." The short version is "mechanism, not policy".

The X windows system, written about 25 years ago, made heavy use of this design principle. X provided the mechanism for user interfaces that did all the hard work of drawing and reacting to user input in a very concise and general way. Specific user interfaces such as Motif and OpenLook (that looked very different) could then be created just by controlling the use of X mechanisms.

A more recent development (10 years) exploiting this design principle has been the addition of cascading style sheets to HTML. The underlying HTML of a web page can be displayed in radically different ways depending on the style sheets applied to it. (For explanation and some amazing variations, see Zen Garden.)

Another possible example of this biomimicry is the Constitution of the United States, as I explain in Mechanism, Not Policy: Creation Of The Second Invisible Hand. This one predates modern evo-devo ideas by quite a bit, but is my own (possibly crank) interpretation.

The evolution (in the sense of change over time by modification) is obvious in all three of these examples.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Venn Diagram of Poker Hands

A couple of years ago, I took a course on teaching Discrete Math at Tufts. While we were talking probability, we used Venn diagrams to illustrate how to compute some probabilities. And it occurred to me that it would be interesting to make a Venn diagram of all the types of poker hands. After I did it, I looked on the web to see if there was one posted any where, searching with "venn" and "poker", but couldn't find any. This is the best I found today:

It's obviously got some gross mistakes. For example, the straight circle is by itself, rather than including straight flush. And the non-straight circle is an abomination.

The challenge is to make a correct Venn diagram of the poker hands. Every kind of hand should be properly nested in all the simpler kinds of hand. I'll post my answer in a week or so. Alternatively, if you can find a better answer on the web or elsewhere, I'd like to know where.

Update 1/17/09:
Here is the solution. No peeking until you've solved the problem!