Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Wish List Paradox

A little known aspect of quantum electrodynamics is the Wish List paradox. It goes way deeper than Schrodinger's cat, which suggests that reality isn't real until it is observed, and states that once a quantity is assigned to a variable, it immediately assumes any value other than the named value. For example, under the Wish List Paradox, as soon as I assign the value "5" to variable x by saying "x=5," the actual value of x will be the set of all real numbers other than 5. It could be 6, or 3, or 8.1437.

Anything but 5.

I discovered this paradox by observing the results of my Christmas lists over the last 4 decades. I noticed early on that the things on my list never showed up as Christmas gifts, particularly where my former wife was concerned. At the time, I thought it was just further evidence of her future future status as former, and wrote it off, but I now know that she was constrained by the principles of the Wish List Paradox.

While the implications of the paradox are mind bogglingly complex, the way it works is actually quite simple.

1) When asked, I create a list of things I'd like to get for Christmas.
2) In the time between the generation of the list and Christmas, I am not allowed to purchase any of the items on the list, because she might want to buy it for me.
3) However, she won't buy anything on the list because then I wouldn't be surprised.

If I create a list of things I want for Christmas, I am guaranteed not to get the things on that list, thus fulfilling the Wish List Paradox.

Unfortunately, this process is not reciprocal. In other words, if I list things I don't want, like a life time supply of broccoli or a chartreuse turtleneck sweater made from yak, the Universal Law of Male Gift Suckage, the one that fathers everywhere know as the "Tie for Father's Day," trumps the Wish List Paradox, and I'll be clothed in yellow green yak fur and enveloped in a cloud of broccoli farts.

You don't want to mess with the laws of nature my friends.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

As I write this at 1AM, I can smell fresh bread baking, along with some kind of confection called a Coca-Cola cake.

The mashed potatoes are ready to bake tomorrow; the turkey is bathing in brine; the ham is ready for glazing. I've made and frozen three flavors of ice cream, double chocolate truffle, pumpkin hazelnut, and vanilla. Tomorrow after the turkey comes out, I'll put a pecan pie in the oven.

We'll get up early and head over to my mothers house, toting all of the food with us. We'll get there about 10AM or so and put the turkey in the oven and finish up all the sides and trimmings while watching the parades and football.

Around three, we'll sit down with our family, mine and Lissa's as we celebrate our first real holiday together. And it is fitting that the holiday is Thanksgiving because I have so much to be thankful for.

Thank you for all of the blessings you've given me in my life. There are more than I can easily count, and I'm sorry that at times, I lose sight of them, and grow angry because things aren't going the way I want them too, or I want something I don't have, or in any of a thousand other ways, I lose sight of all that you have done for me.

I have six wonderful children, all healthy, reasonably happy, and growing up strong. I have two more members of my family, Lissa's kids, who will become a part of my family, in whatever way they want. And I have Lissa, whom you brought into my life at a time when I thought that part of my life was finished. I have two grandsons, both healthy and happy and wide eyed and curious as only children can be. I look at them and sometimes I can almost remember how it felt to see the world as a new thing, filled with constant surprises. I have my mother, brother, and sister, and their families. I have aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces. I am blessed with a large family filled with individuals who value their independence, but are there to lend a helping hand whenever they are needed.

As long as they know help is needed. Sorry about that Sean.

I am part of an even larger family. My boss, who is also my closest friend, is also the leader of my Bible Study group and You worked through him so that I could hear and answer Your call.

Lord, You gave me many talents, and I know I've let them slide for a long time, but I thank you that I'm now finally discovering the reason you gave them to me, and what I am to do with them. I ask You for the strength and the direction I need to make sure that my words do not fall on the ground.

Father, we live in a time when we tend to be thankful for the wrong things. We are thankful for wealth, or success, or health, or a car, or a job. All of these things in themselves are of the flesh, not you. Instead of being thankful for being financially secure, we should be thankful that You hold our security in Your hands. Instead of being thankful for the health of our bodies, we should be thankful that Your Son died for the health of our souls. Instead of being thankful for our freedoms, we should be thankful that You chose us to enter into Your service. Everything that we mistakenly hold dear can be snatched away in a short moment. Our wealth, our health, our freedom, all of these things can be taken from us, and that means that they never were really ours in the first place.

There is only one thing that cannot be taken from us, one thing that is truly ours forever. That one thing is You. We are bound to You through Your Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross almost 2000 years ago so that we could be freed from the penalty of our sins. That sacrifice is all I need to be thankful for the rest of my life.

When the hard times come, I ask that You help me to remember the real blessings that I have, and that I remain just as thankful as I am today.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Profiting from Misery: It’s a Liberal Thing; I Wouldn’t Understand.

Rahm Emanuel:

[This crisis is] an opportunity to do things you could not do before.

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.

Yeah, people are losing their houses and their retirements and their savings and can't shop for Christmas, but hey, if we can expand government, then it's all good, right?

Posted by Rich
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A Safety Reward

The company I work for offers a safety bonus at the end of each year I go without getting a paper cut, Carpal Tunnel, or laryngitis. The value of the bonus is $400, but it must be in merchandise, not cash.

I'm using it to purchase a new SA XDm .40 for myself.

Because I want to stay safe.

Lissa will be purchasing an XDm 9mm for herself.

Posted by Rich
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I May Not Be Holier Than Thou, But I Am Most Certainly Geekier Than Thou.

Who else do you know who would win not one but two eBay auctions for vintage slide rules?

I'll post pics of my new toys when they arrive...

Don't tell Lissa, but I'm going for a trifecta Friday!

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Answer

Ladies and Gentlemen, Cledus Maggard and the Citizens Band

Posted by Rich
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Culture with a Side Order of Grits

Frank Murphy posts that the KSO, that's the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra to you heathens out there, is once again offering 50 pairs of tickets to bloggers who agree to attend and blog about a concert (I love the Third Brandenburg Concerto) without falling asleep, or failing that, without snoring.

Even if you think you don't like classical music, you should give this a try. There's an energy to a live performance that no recording can capture, and it's even more intense when you have dozens of musicians all working together to create one sound. While last year's program focused on American music, and contained some modern pieces, this year we get some old favorites including the Brandenburg Concerto #3, which is one of my favorites.

Come out and listen to something different.

BY the way, the first person who correctly identifies the artist and song from whence the post title came gets a prize.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Bill Clinton Gets Third Term!

He might as well have, looking at the Obama administration.

Posted by Rich
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Pre-Inauguration Criticism:  The Left Says “How Dare You!”

Some of the folks on the left side of America are upset that I and others are critiquing Obama's performance as President Elect. We're called racists because we aren't standing by silently while he prepares his administration. We're told that we need to give Obama a chance before we criticize because that's the "fair" thing to do.

In order for that to be true, we would have to assume that his actions today have no bearing on his future actions after he takes over as President and that is obviously untrue. Obama is not only picking the people who will represent him to the nation, but the people who will help him shape and carry out his policies. In fact, if current reports are accurate, he is pushing Congress to pass legislation that he can sign within days of taking office. Additionally, his transition team has indicated that he is considering issuing multiple executive orders during his first days in office that will have a significant impact on our nation.

To sit back and not comment, not critique, not show dissent, would be an abdication of our responsibility. When members of the professional media like Chris Matthews openly admit that they will be working for the President and his administration, instead of reporting on it, then it falls to us in the unpaid media to do the job.

Right now Obama presents an easy target because of the nature of the campaign he ran. He said he would be an agent of change, and that he would bring a new look to Washington. So far, the only new thing he's brought has been the color of his skin, and no, that's not a racist remark. For the last several weeks, every news anchor, talk show host, political pundit and newspaper columnist has said nothing but how wonderful it is that the United States has elected a black man as President. I have no problem with a black man or a black woman being President, and it doesn't make me a racist to say, like Whoopi Goldberg said about Clarence Thomas, "Not this one, baby."

Obama's inexperience has forced him to pull experienced Washington players into his cabinet and his administration, leading to the delicious irony of Obama selecting Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, even though he portrayed as showing a dangerous lack of judgment in foreign policy matters during the primaries. Even more ironic is the possibility that Obama will keep Robert Gates on as his Secretary of Defense, even though Gates presided over the surge and does not back an immediate draw down of the troops as Obama campaigned on.

Obama ran as a fiscal conservative, planning to reign in government spending, promising a cut for every increase, yet now his plan is to skip the tax hike on the wealthy, cut taxes for the middle class, and deliver an economic stimulus package over 4 times bigger than the one he campaigned on.

He promised to bring new blood to Washington, to get rid of the lobbyists and the entrenched interests, yet his selections are coming right out of the Clinton address book, and nearly every one is a lobbyist or connected with a failed financial institution, or Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. Obama's pick for Attorney General, Mark Holder, was the point man driving the Marc Rich pardon during the last days of Bill Clinton's presidency.

The final irony is that even though all of these are valid points of criticism, the voices who just a few months ago told us that dissent is the highest form of patriotism are now telling us to sit down and shut up.

Posted by Rich
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My Blog Type

Typealizer analyzes your blog and tells you what kind of a thinker you are.

Maybe. You be the judge. here's what it says about Shots.

INTP - The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Posted by Rich
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The Headline; You’re Doing it Wrong


I had a hard time deciding which category to use for this one. News? Humor? Entertainment?

"Homocide leaves an East Knoxville man dead."

Well, it usually does.

Police are calling it a homocide.

I shudder to think what the cause of death might have been.

Family members and neighbors wait in the road for some answers.
The victim's relatives say 27-year-old Antoine Watkins is dead

I'm guessing that wasn't the answer they were looking for.

Watkins aunt, Dorothy Moore says, "I just hope whoever did this is brought to justice."
She says he was staying in this house with his father.

Well then whoever did it should be easy to find then.

Come on people, you're getting paid for this! I used better grammar in the sixth grade! Just because you work in video doesn't mean you don't need to use basic English skills like proper spelling and avoiding ambiguous references.

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Change We Can Believe Is Change

Obama claimed he believed in the 2nd Amendment then selects an AG, Eric Holder, who never met a gun control bill he didn't like.

Obama claimed Hillary lacked the judgment for foreign policy because she supported the war in Iraq, and now he wants to make her his Secretary of State, placing her in charge of foreign policy.

Obama claimed he was a post partisan candidate who would bridge the divide in America and then selected a guy known for murdering innocent dining room tables because he thought they tilted a bit to the right.

Obama claimed that the Bush Administration made too many mistakes in the War in Iraq and the War on Terror, but he wants to retain Bush's Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Obama claimed that you couldn't bring change to Washington using the same old names but every name he's put forth came from the Clinton Administration.

So, do you still believe in the Obama change?

Posted by Rich
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Now Why Does He Want to Know This?

In order to go to work for Obama, you have to fill out a long detailed questionnaire about your history, past associations, and this rather interesting question:

Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.

Seems to me that this question might give Biden some problems, wouldn't it?

And isn't it ironic that Obama is screening candidates using a questionnaire that would rule him out if he had to fill it out?

Posted by Rich
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Minnesota Recount

For all you fans of paper ballots, check this out. There is no system in the world that is smart enough to withstand the stupidity of the public.

It kind of makes me long for the days of the pregnant chads.

Posted by Rich
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Civics Quiz: Why Obama Won

I took this quiz.

I scored a 32 out of 33. No biggie, I'm a smart guy.

71% of the people who took it failed it, scoring an average of 49%.


I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the majority of educators are liberal. And it's just another coincidence that the majority of reporters and editors are liberal as well.

Then again, how informed do you have to be to chant "Obama! Obama!"

Incidentally, our elected officials scored worse than the general public. Talk about the blind leading the blind...

Posted by Rich
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