Zeno’s Paradox is easy to solve

Zeno’s paradox(es) say that nothing can get anywhere (such as a person walking across the room and through the door, or Acheles passing the tortoise) because every time it gets half-way there, it still has half-way left, but then there is another half-way from that point, and again ad infinitum.

People have tried various explanations of why we are indeed able to get places despite the paradox, but they usually tend to be over-complicated. For example, resorting to discussion of Planck lengths, 0.9̅ =1, infinite/converging series, calculus, etc.

A much simpler explanation is that for the paradox to work, you must take smaller and smaller steps, each stride has to be half the length of the previous one, so it’s Acheles’ own fault.

To resolve the paradox, simply take steps that are the same length and eventually you’ll get to a point where the remaining distance is less than the length of a stride. (The same applies to other forms of locomotion, wheels still spin at the same speed and have the same radius, wing are still the same size and flap the same, rocket engines still burn the same amount of fuel, etc.)

Medicine is immoral

What is the morality of taking antibiotics to kill bacteria? 🤔

The obvious response is that the bacteria are causing you harm, so you are just defending yourself, but this is as specious as it can be for multiple reasons.

  • Intent

    When you get sick, the bacteria in your system are just going about their lives, oblivious to your existence, they don’t even know you are a thing. Therefore, any harm they may do to you is unintentional, it’s not out of malice or evil. Conversely, when you take antibiotics, you are making the conscious decision to murder billions, even trillions of bacteria.

  • Worth

    Taking the antibiotics means you’re valuing your own life over the bacteria, but that means you think your own single, individual life has more value than that of billions of bacteria’s lives. It’s one thing to think like that if it’s your own life, but what if it’s someone else’s life? What if you’re a doctor who vows to protect life but you kill billions of bacteria to save a single human? What’s the morality in that? Where do you get off making that kind of judgement?

  • Hypocrisy

    If the argument for taking antibiotics (or even just having an immune-system) is that it’s self-defense against a harmful life-form, then by that logic, everything in the world should be specifically and actively killing humans who are harmful to the whole planet. 😒

So again, what is the morality here? What are the ethics? Let he who is without sin… 🤔

Donald Trump isn’t actually the president

Non-binary

That’s right, Donald Trump isn’t actually the president, or more accurately, he is more not the president than he is president (but then, that’s true of almost everybody). Despite logic and common sense, the state of being or not being the president isn’t a binary situation, a person either is or isn’t, it’s actually subjective. Whether or not a person is a president depends on what you count as being the president.

Metrics

There are at least four metrics by which someone could be considered the president or not:

  • Popular vote
  • Electoral College vote
  • Qualifications
  • Attitude
  • Popular vote 🚫

    Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, there’s no doubting that, it’s a simple matter of this number is bigger than that number, and despite what Trump might think about the size of his “huuuge” crowd, numbers are simple and static and indisputable (well, Trump will certainly try to dispute them anyway; he’s already laying the groundwork for disputing the numbers of the 2020 election 😒).

  • Qualifications 🚫

    Trump is definitely not qualified to be a president. Clinton was infinitely more qualified both from a professional and educational viewpoint, but also from an experiential viewpoint; as first-lady, she already had knowledge of the White House and procedures and already made all kinds of connections with world leaders and others. By contrast, Donald Trump had a mediocre “reality” TV show and multiple failing business that he started with a “small” loan of $60,000,000 from his father (not to mention all of his father’s connections and favors and debts they owed his father 🙄).

  • Attitude 🚫

    Donald is also clearly not a president in terms of attitude. He does not behave like a president. Once upon a time, the president was a role model for the whole country, a person that citizens aspired to imitate and people told their children to look up to. There is absolutely nothing about Trump that is worthy of being a role-mode. He is an angry, selfish, greedy, aggressive, hateful, slovenly, deceitful, dishonest person. The people who voted for him because they thought that voting for a rich person would make them rich are idiots because they didn’t realize the obvious fact that he didn’t get rich by sharing, he got it by stomping on everybody else to take everything for himself. 🤦

  • Electoral college vote ✔️

    Trump did win the electoral college vote, but that’s not just a technicality, it’s an obsolete and outdated one that is not long for the world. The American people have already been bitten twice by the electoral college in less than 20 years. They’re already angry about it and now that they’re getting used to protesting (and rioting), it’s very likely that if the people’s will gets overridden again by the electoral college, they won’t just roll over and take it like the last two times and will rise up and DEMAND THE ABOLISHMENT OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE!

25% of one, 100% of another

Therefore, Trump Angry Orange is only the president in one out of four metrics. He’s only 25% president, and he certainly acts like a 25% president. ¬_¬

By those metrics, Hillary is at least 50-75% president, but unfortunately, the constitution still only counts that one, single, outdated, obsolete, insulting, offensive technicality of a metric to decide who gets to make the decisions. 🤦

A legal and sociological analysis of “Two Knights and Maidens”

I recently listened to the Crash Test Dummies album God Shuffled His Feet again and since then, the song “Two Knights and Maidens” has been stuck in my head. It’s a strange song because it’s one of those songs where you don’t realize what it’s about until you actually pay attention to the lyrics, and then when you do, you are left gobsmacked. This song is about ostensible rape and murder. 😕

Story

The song talks of two knights and maidens who go for walks together in the garden. The knights keep bugging the maidens to “love them together” in the garden so that they can watch each other. This clearly means that they’re trying to pressure them into having group-sex (not necessarily a foursome, just sex together).

The maidens however don’t want to engage in group-sex with the knights, so they drug them. The knights drink the “potions” and hallucinate. The maidens keep drugging them, so when they somehow come into contact with tigers from outside the garden, they think they’re just more hallucinations and end up getting eaten (while the maidens watch).

Those maidens are super guilty of premeditated murder.

Legal implications

First of all, they cannot argue self-defense because they were not in imminent danger, especially since they continued to go for walks with the knights. The song doesn’t give any indication that the maidens actually succumbed to the knights’ pressure, so clearly they were able to reject their advances, yet kept going for walks with them, so it could be argued that they weren’t being forced or threatened. Therefore, their response was not commensurate and much more than required.

The most damning part however is the premeditation. There are two verses in which the maidens drug the knights. This means they drugged the knights at least twice, in order to get the knights accustomed to hallucinating so that when they are exposed to the tigers, they don’t freak out and instead, just laugh it off as another hallucination. This demonstrates premeditation which would get them a first-degree murder charge.

Societal connections

For the sake of balance, let’s try to view the case from the opposing side and try to form a defense for the maidens. The song is ostensibly not about actual medieval knights and maidens, they’re just metaphors. The song is about bad relationships and domestic rape and abuse. The “knights” are just bad partners who control their women and pressure them to do things they don’t like. There are plenty of cases of women staying with abusive partners, so this could explain why they didn’t just leave. And of course, if they were actually medieval knights and maidens, then it’s all the worse because many knights were very bad and did whatever they wanted, including raping lots of women and girls.

Deliberation

That said, the domestic abuse explanation doesn’t counter the fact that they don’t seem to have actually been forced to do anything and indeed were able to to rebuff their advances on multiple occasions. If a guy kept asking a girl out, then she turned around and shot him in the face, she wouldn’t likely get off on self-defense. And of course, the premeditation definitely can’t be waived off by claiming they were domestic abuse victims since self-defense laws require imminent danger. On top of all that, the tigers were outside the garden, so the maidens had to actually let them in, which is an active action rather than a passive one like getting the knights drunk then standing by while they go swimming and drown.

Final verdict

The maidens are guilty. They’re sentenced to being eaten by dragons. 🐉


“Two Knights and Maidens” lyrics:
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Beginner’s Luck + Anchoring = Massive Frustration

In psychology, there is a phenomenon called “anchoring” in which an initial piece of information acts like an anchor for and affects that context in the future. Essentially, it is the same thing a the concept of a first impression. It is problematic because it sets up what may be unrealistic, or even false, expectations. For example, if the first time you met someone was while they were having a really bad day, you might think of them as being a grouchy person from that point on and avoid them, even if they are actually very nice and you would have liked them otherwise.

Beginner’s luck is the phenomenon in which someone who tries their hand at something for the first time gets lucky and does well. The classic example is of someone playing a game like poker or other game of chance and happening to win a few times.

When these two phenomena get combined, it can lead to extreme frustration.

An example, I have experienced multiple times (which is actually what lead me to notice this effect in the first place), is with video-games. There have been numerous games which I played and did well in at the start, but then ended up having a lot of difficulty with (and it wasn’t due to levels increasing in difficulty). It may have been easy the first time, but I kept doing the same things over and over again without success. Sure, I may have been getting better and better with each try, due to practice, but it wasn’t as easy as it was the first time where I just sailed right through. The only conclusion is that I just happened to get lucky that first time, which then set my mind up to think this game is easy, which in turn caused a lot of grief later when I had trouble and could progress as easily and fast as I was expecting.

What’s more is that the opposite holds true as well, but is usually less noticeable. If one experience beginner’s bad luck the first time with something, then you get the notion that it is hard or unpleasant or some other negative experience, which often causes the person to abandon it altogether, so like with the grouchy person example, they will not even know what it was actually like and miss out on an opportunity. However, it can also lead to frustration in the same way as with beginner’s luck. For example, if you tried something that was very difficult the first time and you enjoyed the challenge, but subsequent exposure turned out to be too easy and boring, you may get frustrated with it and feel betrayed.

As the old saying goes, first impressions are important. The reason is due to anchoring.

More ice surface-area means faster cooling

There exist some ice-trays that instead of having slots for 10-12 large standard-sized ice-cubes, has slots for dozens or even over a hundred tiny ice-cubes. It might seem absurd, but they’re actually a good idea. Having a lot of small ice-cubes means the ice has a lot more surface-area, so more ice touches the liquid, and thus chills it faster. This is why some drinks use crushed-ice. Of course, “There is No Free Lunch™”, and the cost for this faster cooling is that the ice melts faster.

Photo of ice-tray for tiny ice-cubes
Tiny ice-cubes chill drinks faster
Hands holding ice-tray with tiny ice-cube slots
Ice-tray has tiny slots, that’s not a giant hand

Schrödinger’s Actual Cat, Simplified

tl;dr

Most laymen tend to completely misunderstand “Schrödinger’s Cat”, believing it to mean the opposite of what he intended. 🤦

The most common misinterpretation of Schrödinger’s Cat is that until you look in the box to see whether the cat is alive or not, it is both alive and dead, and sometimes also that things don’t exist unless observed. Obviously that’s absurd, and that absurdity is the whole point.

Erwin Schrödinger was a physicist at a turning point, just at the cusp of quantum physics. At the time, the Copenhagen interpretation was making waves (pun intended) in the physics community with various new ideas that were hard to come to terms with for physicists that were used to classical Newtonian physics.

Schrödinger thought the concept of quantum superposition, in which a particle/photon can exist in multiple states at the same time until it is observed or measured, was absurd. (In this context, observed and measured simply means to interact with it, such as to bounce light off of it to see it, or to use magnetic fields to measure it.) To demonstrate the absurdity, he contrived his cat thought-experiment.

In the thought-experiment, you place a piece of radioactive material in a box along with a detector, a vial of poison, and a cat. The radioactive material emits particles randomly, so at any given moment, there is a chance of it emitting a particle or not. If it does emit a particle, the detector will trigger a hammer to break the vial, which in turn, will kill the cat.

His argument is that because the radioactive material may or may not have emitted a particle, the cat may or may not be alive; it is in a superposition of states, which you cannot know until you open the box to look.

Obviously the cat is either alive or dead regardless of whether you look. There are countless examples of events happening with or without being observed, even events that don’t include any sort of life-form.

This was exactly Schrödinger’s point. He was using reductio-ad-absurdum to demonstrate that because the end-result is absurd, its starting point (the presupposition of superposition) must also be incorrect. Einstein agreed (in fact, Einstein also thought quantum entanglement was crazy and made no sense as well; quantum physics was quite the thorn in his side).

tl;dr:

In short, Schrödinger’s cat is not saying that the cat is alive and dead until it’s looked at, it’s saying that quantum superposition doesn’t make sense because it’s absurd for the cat to be alive and dead at the same time.

Next time the concept can come up, you can say the correct interpretation and impress your friends (or annoy them if they’re ignorant and lame).

Stores have to scan items of the same price separately

If you go to a grocery or bulk-foods store and get several similar items that have the same price such as different flavors of the same brand of chips, different styles of the same brand of canned-soup, etc. you may have wondered why the cashier has to scan each one separately instead of just scanning one and multiplying by the number, or for bulk-foods, keying in one item and weighing them all together. There are actually a couple of good reasons for this.

  • Inventory
    By scanning each item with a unique barcode separately, they can keep track of inventory without having to manually check the shelves. This makes it easier for them, which means less work, which means lower prices (or at least in theory). If they scan one UPC for multiple different items, then their inventory will be incorrect and they will order too much of something they already have and not enough of something they need.
  • Accuracy
    Just because items are similar doesn’t mean they’re identical. It’s entirely possible for one flavor of soda to be more expensive than the others or one kind of socks to be on sale, and so on. If they scan one item multiple times for all of them together, then they could end up over- or under-charging you.

It’s necessary for cashiers to scan each item separately, but it’s only necessary for each unique item; if you get more than one of the same item (e.g., same item-code/UPC), then they can scan one multiple times.