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September 29, 2005

If smoke, then fire.

Following a week of LSAT practice tests, this is the only entry that my mushy mind is capable of rendering:

Assuming the title is true, which of the following would logically follow?

a) Smoke is always present for there to be a fire.
b) If there is smoke, then there is most likely a fire that caused it.
c) If there is no fire, then there does not have to be smoke.
d) Smoke is necessary for there to be fire.
e) Smoke is sufficient for there to be fire.

Posted by rxu at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2005

REAL myn eat REAL tacos

I can't say much for their television shows, but the tacos in Mexico are... saborosos...

Posted by rxu at 02:35 AM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2005

My hair's stagflation

I wrote the following on Sunday:

By the time we’re in high school, we have probably all seen inflation firsthand. Prices for almost all goods and services go up over time. When I was in middle school, Supercuts charged $10 for a haircut. By the end of high school, it had gone up to $12. Today, I was charged $14*.

The official definition of inflation is a sustained increase in the price level, which lasts for at least two consecutive quarters (six months). In order to measure inflation, we have to observe and measure any movement in the price level. From one quarter to the next, the price level may shift upward or downward. A shift upward for two consecutive quarters constitutes inflation.

Footnote *: Luckily I had a $2 coupon. Luckily, I also rarely go to Supercuts, though it is the closest salon to my parent's house. The Uzbek barber near my apartment in Manhattan was $8 and he did a much better job. In fact, much better than my first haircut in Manhattan, which set me back $50. How does economic theory explain this? Clearly a case of imperfect information and excessive market power. Perhaps some government intervention in the marketplace will...

Daniel, Stephanie Miller and my god-awful Supercuts haircut at a Democratic fundraiser in Wood Ranch.

Art Torres and Mary Pallant.

Posted by rxu at 04:49 AM | Comments (0)

Ranting and raving to the Star

Apparantly it's not very hard to get your letter published in a newspaper:


It's just hard getting it published in its entirety:

Teach what controversy?
by Randy Xu and Daniel Berdichevsky

The fact that intelligent design has gained such traction speaks highly of its saavy PR campaign. Unfortunately, it also speaks lowly of our nation's level of education, both in scientific specifics and in philosophical fundamentals. While the state of the former (especially in comparison to other countries) is a perennial subject of newspapers articles and studies, few seem to wonder about the latter: whether Americans know the difference between ontology and telology, or spend time pondering free will and the limits of human knowledge. Such metaphysical questions may seem remote from everyday life, but they help us to understand understanding itself--and to put movements such as intelligent design in their proper perspective.

In this case, the distinction between normative and positive propositions is crucial to understanding why scientists reject intelligent design. By definition, a normative statement cannot be disproved. It is an opinion, belief or value-judgement: "Social Security ought to be privatized." In contrast, a positive statement is falsifiable, meaning it has the potential to be disproved: "The Social Security trust fund will run out by 2007." 

Academics work in the world of positive statements, those that can be verified through new discoveries or through the application of existing rules. Ironically, in this system creationism and intelligent design are rejected because they are too flawless.  Their individual attacks against evolution (and they can only attack) can be debunked but their basic premise can never be tested nor disproved.  An omnipotent or advanced being could not only create everything, but might even nullify all the science we have labored so assiduously to divine.

Compared with faith, science is very limited in its scope and methods.  Science can never provide satisfying answers to normative questions such as "What is our purpose in life?" but faith can.  Science can only tackle positive questions, with help from pre-existing knowledge.  But faith alone can answer many more questions.

A higher power does not belong in science, but not because science trumps religion.  Rather it is because science is too small a realm, limited to what can be known by man.  Imagine a person who needs tools cured from science to know God.  Science fills our need for positive knowledge and can never disprove God's existence whereas religion can give us a normative foundation but can never (and need never) prove God's existence. Since they occupy such different spheres, it is baffling why there is any controversy at all.

Randy Xu (Simi Valley) graduated from Harvard College in 2004 with a B.A. in Science, Technology and Public Policy. A software engineer by training, Randy is undergoing his midlife crisis right now and looking for an excuse to travel through to the Middle East again. He currently is active trying his hardest not to end up in law school, while freelancing as the managing editor for DemiDec Resources, publishing rants and raves on economic theory.

Daniel Berdichevsky (Encino) graduated from Stanford University in 2002 with a B.A. in Science, Technology and Society and an M.A. in History. He earned his Masters in Public Policy in June 2005 from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Daniel founded DemiDec and is also looking for an excuse to travel to the Middle East, though he knows where to look.

Posted by rxu at 04:19 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2005

doing the Che thing...

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Posted by rxu at 02:41 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2005

Del tejado.

Posted by rxu at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2005

Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Come visit. Voy a buscarte del aeropuerto. Entonces, podemos ir comemos el tacos. Real tacos.

Randy Xu
Av. Ramon Corona
No. 24
Col. Centro
Guadalajara, Jalisco 44100
Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Posted by rxu at 06:34 AM | Comments (0)