Author Archives: Tim

Solving America’s gun problem: a modest proposal

Another week; another school shooting. The problem is the availability of guns in America. We have roughly as many guns as people. No other country comes close to this ignoble statistic. Our mental health problems and rates of violent crime don’t stand out compared to the rest of the world. It’s the gun violence that stands out, with school shooting just the tip of a blood-laden iceberg.

Anyone but a gun-crazed, NRA-nut is tired of the empty platitudes coming from our so-called political leaders. Our “thoughts and prayers” or calls for better mental health programs are delay tactics used by the cowards we put in office. We need real solutions. And I have a good start at one.

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Argument by scriptural authority and the fight over abortion rights

Consider the classic children’s song that goes something like this:

Jesus loves me this I know
For the bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong

This is an example of an “argument by scriptural authority.” These arguments are less concerned with persuasion than with justification; i.e. you won’t change someone’s mind with such an argument, but it does lay out why a person holds a particular point of view.

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Parallel Programming Environments: Less is More

The single most important paper for programming language designers to read came out in 2000. It wasn’t written by a computer scientist, mathematician, or physical scientist.  It was written by a couple of professors studying psychology and marketing:  “When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire too Much of a Good Thing?” Iyengar, S. S., & Lepper, M. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 995-1006. (2000).

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