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Friday, December 2, 2016

It has always been that way

I remember back about twenty years ago, I didn't have a car and so I needed rides to and from work. My grandfather was kind enough to taxi me around. He always turned off the expressway, took a back street and then got back on the expressway a few miles down the road. One day I asked him why he did that. He told me it was because that was how you got there. "But why not stay on the expressway?" "Because you can't get there from here. It's always been this way. The expressway doesn't go anywhere. They haven't finished it yet. Maybe one day they finally will." (They'd finished the expressway a decade earlier.) I stopped questioning the route after that. If somebody has a way of doing things that you think isn't right, you have to first know a better way, and second a way that the person will understand and agree to.

We sometimes question the efficacy of a given procedure. We ask others, family, friends, God, anybody, why. Why? Why does it have to be done like this? Often if they have an answer it's simply that it is done this way because it has always been done this way. Allow me, please, to paint you a portrait of this concept in action. Consider this simple thought experiment:

The monkey cage and the firehose

Imagine that once upon a time there was a zoo. In this zoo was a cage filled with twenty or so chimpanzees. Also in the zoo was a zoo keeper who hated those happy chimps. Who knows why? Maybe he was hit too many times in the face with hunks of chimp poo. Maybe he was bitten. It doesn't matter. Leave it be. Simply believe that he hated those chimps with a single-minded passion that would brook no entreaty with logical concepts such as reason. In addition to this burgeoning obsession, he was also bent ... bent as in twisted emotionally ... perhaps even completely tipped over—as one might say—into stark-raving lunacy. And so, after much thought, hundreds of crumpled pages of doodles—not to mention a never-ending stream of high-pitched teary-eyed giggles—he eventually conceived of his diabolical plan to revenge himself upon these furry demons. He would succeed in torturing these chimps he so hated, from that day and onward into ...forever!

The zoo-keeper brought a hacksaw, rope, a large bunch of bananas to the chimpanzee enclosure. He carefully and with much fussing about cut a hole through the roof of the enclosure so that from the outside, he could lower the bananas down on a rope. The chimps jumped as high as they could, but they weren't even close to reaching those delicious looking bananas. They hooted and hollered for a while, signaling their displeasure at the so close but not close enough temptation. This made the zookeeper smile. Now then, you might think that this, what the zookeeper had done was a small and mean thing to do, but you see, in actuality he had only just begun!

The next day having tortured the hungry chimps with the sight and aroma of fresh bananas for a full day and a night, he attached the zoo's fire hose to a hydrant near the chimpanzee enclosure. Next he took in an A-frame ladder, one tall enough so that a chimpanzee climbing to the top could just reach the bananas. Then he left the enclosure, picked up the nozzle end of the hose and waited.

As sure as night follows day, eventually an enterprising young chimp became interested in the ladder. He grabbed a hold of it and began climbing. Soon enough he reached the top, looked up, and reached out with a hairy hand to grab a fistful of bananas.

"DENIED!" screamed the zoo-keeper as he let that chimp have it with a powerful blast from the fire-hose. "DENIED!" he screamed as he spent ten more minutes torturing every chimp in the enclosure. He rolled them ass over elbow, giggling his teary-eyed high-pitched giggle, as the chimps screamed and hooted and ran pell-mell about, climbing over each other, whimpering, crying a sad chimp cry. Yes the image painted here leaves little doubt that the zoo-keeper truly hated these chimps.

This went on for days. Eventually the chimps stopped climbing the ladder. They'd had enough. The bananas were as far out of reach as the moon in the sky. More out of reach it must be said, because after all you could grab fruitlessly at the moon and not end up being rolled ass over elbow by a maniac with a fire-hose.

So we pause here and consider the situation: cage, chimps, bananas, ladder, hose, and maniac. They were trained these chimps. You seriously DO NOT climb the ladder. Now we get to the truly diabolical part.

The zoo-keeper traded out a chimp. One trained chimp gone. One untrained chimp brought in. What do you suppose happened next? Yes! The new chimp went for the ladder! DENIED! He-He-He-He-He! Angry chimps beat the crap out of the new chimp. The new chimp figured out the deal in record time. Next the zoo-keeper did another trade. DENIED!!! Another chimp brought in. This time as soon as the new chimp set foot on the ladder, the whole troop beat him down without mercy. Trained without a drop of water. If chimps could talk I bet they would be screaming "DENIED!" Another trade. And another. And another. a couple of years later and there wasn't a single chimp left in the cage that had ever been soaked by the crazy zoo-keeper and his fire-hose. But still week after week, as brown bananas were pulled out and fresh bananas lowered down, not one chimp dared climb that ladder. None of them knew why they all still beat the living crap out of any upstart chimp who dared to climb too high. It had always just been that way.

The zoo-keeper allowed the chimps themselves—that he so hated—to exact vicious retribution in perpetuity for whatever crime it was which the original chimp had committed upon the person of the zoo-keeper.

I wrote this because I was trying to illustrate the stupidity inherent in our foreign relations with China and other countries. The news is full of how stupid Donald Trump is for daring to speak to the President of Taiwan. We don't want to make the Chinese angry! They might tariff our goods at rates of fifty to one-hundred percent or even higher! They might rattle sabers, build more nukes, threaten our friends, make deals with our enemies, hack our computers... oh wait!
President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone Friday with Tsai Ying-wen, the president of Taiwan. The call was the first in more than 30 years between an American president-elect and a leader of the semi-autonomous island.

According to a readout of the call from the Trump transition team, Tsai congratulated Trump on his victory, and the two discussed “the close economic, political, and security ties exists between Taiwan and the United States.”

But the Trump team’s description of the call belies the fact that the conversation has the potential to upset three decades of relations between the United States and its most important global trading partner.

China, the United States and most of the international community consider Taiwan to be a Chinese territory. But Taiwan, with its own elected government, constitution and military, considers itself an independent nation.

In recognition of China’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, the U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979. Trump’s call will likely enrage Beijing, and stands to damage U.S. relations with Chine before Trump even takes office.

“The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action, of historic proportions,” Evan Medeiros, a former Asia director at the White House national security council, told the Financial Times, which first reported the call Friday afternoon.
Do the people complaining about the "provocative action" even know why we were so obsequious for so long? Has servile suck-uppery ever gotten anyone anything in the long run? Isn't it finally time to take those bananas?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Consensus Who Cried Wolf

Once upon a time there wasn't any oxygen. It was all CO2 and other oxides. So what about this "runaway greenhouse effect?" Why aren't we in the same boat as Venus? Simple. Somehow plants evolved which could convert that prehistorically massive volume of CO2 into Oxygen. [At this point somebody invariably spouts off with the factoid that plants don't directly convert CO2 into oxygen. That it's more complicated, involving H2O, and sunlight, creating carbohydrates, etc.] If you wade into the morass of chemical transmutations that occur, what you eventually discover is that plants take the carbon out of CO2 as a part of of their food creation and respiration. Like I said, plants convert CO2 into oxygen.

Global Warming, Climate Change, Armageddon, these are just a few end of the world scenarios that could conceivably come to pass in the near or distant future. A consensus of environmental scientists—i.e. most environmental scientists—claim they believe that rising CO2 levels threaten life on earth with catastrophic possibilities, from massive flooding to increasingly violent weather patterns to extinction level events around the globe. It could be true. Nevertheless, in spite of increasingly strident claims to the contrary, the science is not in fact settled, at all. The clarion call from the ecological hoi palloi may simply be nothing more than the bored little shepherd tricking the gullible villagers with yet another wolf cry.
Donald Trump will be about the only head of state who does not believe in climate science or the responsibility of his government to act,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, which signed up more members in the week after Trump won the election than during the rest of 2016 combined. “This makes the Bush-Cheney administration look like it came from an environmental training camp.”

But Trump may be picking a tougher fight than he knows. The last time the White House made the kind of retreat Trump envisions – when President Bush walked away from the Kyoto protocol in 2001 – the policy landscape of climate change was drastically different.

Much of the action on climate change in this country no longer plays out in federal agencies but at local commissions enforcing laws in 29 states that push public utilities to go green. Their mandates are to encourage investment in cleaner plants and technology development.

Major U.S. trading partners that signed on to the nearly 200-nation accord reached in Paris last year are already signaling that they will retaliate if the United States backs out, possibly by slapping environmental trade tariffs onto some American products.

To put it simply, because plants grow more swiftly in the presence of more CO2, the total surface area of photosynthetic effect increases at a nearly geometric rate as more CO2 becomes available, thereby rapidly metabolizing the excess CO2. Life on Earth is not in fragile balance. We don't walk a tightrope. It's more like a Golden Gate Bridge. Sunlight—heat—is used as an energy source to create food and Oxygen. We know for a fact that long before there was enough Oxygen on Earth for animals to exist, plants of various kinds were busy doing exactly that. As life on Earth began, consider how much CO2 was floating around. Then plants started doing their thing. The amount of CO2 before life began was vastly more than 0.04%, the level that scientists are busy shitting themselves over today.
Global greening is the name given to a gradual, but large, increase in green vegetation on the planet over the past three decades. The climate change lobby is keen to ensure that if you hear about it at all, you hear that it is a minor thing, dwarfed by the dangers of global warming. Actually, it could be the other way round: greening is a bigger effect than warming.

It is a story in which I have been both vilified and vindicated. Four years ago, I came across an online video of a lecture given by Ranga Myneni of Boston University in which he presented an ingenious analysis of data from satellites. This proved that much of the vegetated area of the planet was getting greener, and only a little bit was getting browner. In fact, overall in 30 years, the green vegetation on planet Earth had increased by a rather extraordinary 14 per cent. He said this was occurring in all vegetation types — from tropical rainforests to arctic tundra.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Predictive methods may accurately predict yet still be incorrect

You're probably aware of the troubling behavior exhibited by insensitive police officers of profiling potential law-breakers by taking into account such unrelated factors, as race, sex, age, and demeanor. After all, what's really more important, treating everyone equally no matter their ethnicity sex and age, or preventing crime? (That was an obvious rhetorical question which you should have answered by shouting "treating everyone equally," of course.)

All the science, the statistics, examining trends, behaviors, attitudes, patriotism, educational backgrounds, marital status, economic achievement, etc., is irrelevant, when they make us lose sight of the bigger picture. That "bigger" picture is everyone of all races, walking hand-in-hand into a brighter future. Would you rather be proud of your open-minded inclusiveness, or safe? (Another obvious rhetorical question ... who needs safety when you can have sanctimony?)

Forget for a moment that in certain areas of town you are much more likely to be beaten, raped, murdered, mugged, or maybe just randomly shot in a drive-by. Pay no attention to the overwhelming likelihood that the criminals who harm you will probably be males age thirteen to twenty-five. The natural inclination to view the overwhelmingly predominant racial make-up of more dangerous neighborhoods, the criminality exhibited by the various age groups, the criminality displayed by the respective genders, etc., is called profiling, and while it may be accurately predictive, it's still wrong!

Perusing the various new-feeds, the following headline jumped out. "TROUBLING STUDY SAYS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE CAN PREDICT WHO WILL BE CRIMINALS BASED ON FACIAL FEATURES." The article goes on to thoroughly debunk the "study." How—you might well ask—did the journalist writing for—Sam Biddle—debunk the quoted "TROUBLING STUDY"? Well, let's find out, shall we?
THE FIELDS OF artificial intelligence and machine learning are moving so quickly that any notion of ethics is lagging decades behind, or left to works of science fiction. This might explain a new study out of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which says computers can tell whether you will be a criminal based on nothing more than your facial features.

The bankrupt attempt to infer moral qualities from physiology was a popular pursuit for millennia, particularly among those who wanted to justify the supremacy of one racial group over another. But phrenology, which involved studying the cranium to determine someone’s character and intelligence, was debunked around the time of the Industrial Revolution, and few outside of the pseudo-scientific fringe would still claim that the shape of your mouth or size of your eyelids might predict whether you’ll become a rapist or thief.

Not so in the modern age of Artificial Intelligence, apparently: In a paper titled “Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images,” two Shanghai Jiao Tong University researchers say they fed “facial images of 1,856 real persons” into computers and found “some discriminating structural features for predicting criminality, such as lip curvature, eye inner corner distance, and the so-called nose-mouth angle.” They conclude that “all four classifiers perform consistently well and produce evidence for the validity of automated face-induced inference on criminality, despite the historical controversy surrounding the topic.”

The study contains virtually no discussion of why there is a “historical controversy” over this kind of analysis — namely, that it was debunked hundreds of years ago. Rather, the Authors trot out another discredited argument to support their main claims:, that computers can’t be racist, because they’re computers: Absent, too, is any discussion of the incredible potential for abuse of this software by law enforcement.

Kate Crawford, an AI researcher with Microsoft Research New York, MIT, and NYU, told The Intercept, “I‘d call this paper literal phrenology, it’s just using modern tools of supervised machine learning instead of calipers. It’s dangerous pseudoscience.”

Crawford cautioned that “as we move further into an era of police body cameras and predictive policing, it’s important to critically assess the problematic and unethical uses of machine learning to make spurious correlations,” adding that it’s clear the authors “know it’s ethically and scientifically problematic, but their ‘curiosity’ was more important.”
Well, there you have it. This study was debunked because a quasi-related field—"phrenology"—was debunked more than a century ago. Case closed. Nothing to see here. Did they succeed? you might ask. Did the authors of the study accurately predict whether the subjects in the study exhibited criminality? You're missing the point. It doesn't matter whether the science works, what matters is how we feel about the fairness of that science.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

It's time for war! It's time for a draft!

I'll start by saying that it'll never happen. Instead our country will continue to die the death of a thousand stupid decisions made for every good one. Our rulers will continue throwing good money after bad, and telling us who we aren't.

The truth is, that whether the President of the USA is Trump or Hillary, at this point, doesn't matter. Does it really matter at this point which way somebody decides to rearrange the deck chairs? Does it make a difference whether it is this turd or that one which disappears down the bowl first?

President Trump could turn things around, but he wont. He wont or he wont be able to. In order to save America, Trump would have to move both houses of Congress to make a decision that would almost certainly cause all of them to lose their seats in the next election. He would also have to convince a shrill and selfish population that their own desires, wishes, and personal situations would necessarily have to be supplanted by the vastly more important needs of our descendants. To every American, Trump's response to those who are hungry today because they have no food, would have to be this: I'm not going to let you selfishly trade your children's freedom tomorrow, for a full belly today.

Gluttonous couch-potatoes wouldn't hear Trump's actual words, they'd only hear the diabolical echo of a mad queen from the past: Qu'ils mangent de la brioche ... "Let them eat cake."

I'll lay it our for you in plain terms which you wont like, wont agree with, and certainly wouldn't accept if it actually happened—which it wont.

We have to raise taxes. Taxes on everyone. On the rich, the middle-class, and the poor. For the rich this would happen by eliminating a host of write-offs and raising capital gains taxes. For the poor it means a national sales tax. For the middleclass ... it means a higher social-security contribution.

We have to cut expenses. We can't afford forty-seven million people living on food stamps. (EBT cards) We can't afford to spend half-a-trillion dollars a year for the war on poverty. We can't afford to let able bodied Americans retire at 65. We can't afford to be the world's police ... unless the world is going to pay us for being their police. We can't afford millions and millions of non-working college graduates, non-working high-school graduates, and non-working high-school drop-outs to live in their parents' houses and contribute nothing at all.

Let me stop there, because it doesn't matter. Even if some genius could figure out some way to gainfully employ 92 million people who could work but choose not to, and another 15 million who are unemployed but looking for work, how would we get all these losers off their couches? How would we ever be able to pry those x-box controllers out of their selfish useless hands? How could we ever manage to make dyed-in-the-wool-worthless human beings suddenly become worth something?

It's hard to imagine, but there's 107 million able-bodied adults in America simply existing without a job. Of course a certain percentage of these are housewives, but that percentage is historically small, only 14 percent. That still leaves America with ninety million useless adult consumers of limited resources. These millions pay not a dime in taxes, yet still consume a basket of resources from a host of public and private sources.

Imagine it ... ninety million useless adults who have the freedom to do nothing at all. Ah, but these non-producers actually do certain things, don't they? These loud parasites feasting on the blood of our nation aren't sitting quietly in some corner. No! They complain; they apply for handouts; they protest; they camp out on Wall Street; they spread sexually transmitted diseases; they fornicate; they get abortions; they fornicate some more; they wear rainbow themed attire; they get high on drugs; they beg their parents for money; they beg random passers by on the street for money ... and oh they're so busy doing nothing at all that it would make your head spin to contemplate it! The list of useless things the useless do only for themselves is long and varied, but in the end, only selfish.

We've had lots of silly wars. Lyndon Baines Johnson began a "War on Poverty." If we could get back all the money spent on that sisyphean boondoggle, who knows, America would probably own the rest of the world by now. Whether it's a war on drugs, a war on terror, a war on crime, a war on this or a war on that. From time immemorial, we've gotten rid of our excess useless population by sending them to war against other useless populations. Then we discovered nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. We can't afford any more real wars. So what do we do with all these useless people?

I'm calling for a draft! A draft to fight a war. This will be the war to end all wars. It's a war against uselessness. It begins at the community level. Seasoned census workers combined with an army of failed pollsters, will hit the streets, knocking on doors. "Who lives here? Who has a job? How old are the ones who don't? What skills do they have? What jobs have they had?" Crosscheck the data from the Selective Service System. All this information is put into super-computers, and crunched. A new army is born. Call it whatever, something catchy and focus-group approved. Have them paint, clean, sweep, pull weeds, mow, carry this and that here and there. Make them security guards, dog-catchers, fireman helpers, train them, bid them out.

In fact a model already exists which at first blush seems ideal. If it was simply expanded on a massive scale ... who knows what they could accomplish! Americorps.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

MSM Full Court Press!

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city country is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!
  1. Trump Groping Women
  2. Trump Clueless
  3. Trump is dangerous
  4. Trump is unfit for Presidency
  5. Republicans Flee from Trump-tanic
  6. Trump Campaign Imploding
In a one sentence concept, it is apparent upon reading the news, that Donald Trump is not supposed to be the President.

In another one sentence concept, it is apparent that no conservative will ever again be President.

When the media that inundates our every moment, spends every single one of those moments telling us who not to vote for, I don't see any path forward for a person who wants to make America Great competitive again.

America has a malignant cancer. It has metastasized into every working organ of our body politic. The name of this cancer is: "Main Stream Media." It will kill America, and that quite soon. I give America—as it was conceived, a constitutional republic—about five more years give or take a year. After that our creditors will come knocking. In the short term I foresee bread lines, mass starvation, mass rioting, looting, mass killings, and finally a mass economic emigration of every private manufacturer, deliverer, and provider of goods and services to anywhere else but the the USA.

When the dust has settled and our once upon a time free republic has been parceled out to the circling vultures, there will come a day when students will study the USA the way our own students have studied the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. They will write papers galore. People will get PhD's. I wonder if any of them will realize that it was the cast off wing of a failed socialist nation no longer listed on any map, that killed us. We won the cold battle, but we have lost the war.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Questions for mom

The Mote in God's Eye is a great book. You should read it. Not only that, but the plot illustrates something interesting that few people think about. To make a long story short, aliens send a spaceship to Earth. The science is legit. They use a laser and a giant solar sail to send a spaceship lightyears away from their own world. The journey takes hundreds of years. Generations live and die on this ship.


Generations live and die on this ship! Can you imagine such a thing? You learn to talk and finally ask mama, "So you had sex with dad, got pregnant, and gave birth to me? Knowing I'd live and finally die in this giant tin can. You decided before I was born that your child would exist only as a breeder for some future generation that might one day exist on another planet. I'm here to do some shitty job, impregnate some other selfish creature that exists only to stuff steadily declining resources into her greedy maw so that in her own time she can crap forth another hungry resource devourer? And all this on the faint hope that someday some distant progeny might colonize another shitty world? Did you ever stop and ask yourself whether you had that right?

The funny thing is don't have to be on a spaceship going to another solar system to ask the same questions to your mother.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

And now for something completely different...Seawheat

The future of the human race—if there will be a future—is out in space. Assuming we can capture and harvest comets containing the requisite elements, i.e. carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen—CHON—we can create food away from the Eden-like paradise we call Earth. Earthlings require air, food and water. Plants provide two out of three. Comets provide the last. If you want real space exploration, it all starts with lassoing a CHON comet. I'll leave the mechanics of that to NASA, but many people believe it can be done. Once we have a CHON asteroid or comet in Earth orbit, the space race will at long last, truly be underway.

Danger number one is the Sun. It regularly bombards the solar system with thick blankets of radiation. What this means, is that without protection, humans in space will die faster than a gerbil in a microwave. Interestingly enough, something as simple and as common as H2O can protect humans from this regularly emitted cloud of Sun wrath.

Once you have your habitat ready—I envision a spinning hamster-wheel-like vessel filled with water, harvested from your tame Earth orbiting comet—you need a food source. It must be energy rich. It must grow in water. It must convert CO2 into oxygen. If I'm a geneticist, I'm thinking kelp and wheat. Seawheat. Feed the Earth. End world hunger. Feed the astronauts up in Waterworld. Win win win win win!