Friday, September 04, 2015

Cartoonist irritates Hillary Clinton fans

The Santa Cruz California Sentinel had this cartoon on Aug. 31, and got these letters on Sept. 3:
DeCinzo has no clue

I look forward to witty and satirical humor in the editorial section of my newspapers. Unfortunately, I have found neither wit nor satire in DeCinzo’s editorial cartoons. I am a news junkie, but I usually avoid his cartoons completely. I did happen to look at his cartoon, “Recent Health & Lifestyle Expo for Women,” and was quite surprised to find my newspaper printing such obvious misogyny. I know of no informed or educated woman thinking that a woman who achieved a Senate position and who was one of the most powerful people in the world as Secretary of State of this great nation as termagant. Maybe DeCinzo should educate himself on how many women are left without child support, have supported husbands in their education and work, and are better drivers than the average men. Either DeCinzo wants all women to remain barefoot, ignorant, and pregnant, or he is the bitter end of a divorce by a woman who couldn’t stand his chauvinism. Either way, this is one cartoonist that I will continue to skip — no humor, no depth, no clue.

— Julie A. Hanks, Watsonville

DeCinzo haters are simply proving his point

I think those who have sent letters to the Sentinel objecting to DeCinzo’s “Lifestyle Expo for Women” cartoon are merely proving his point.

— Gary Nolan, Aptos

Thursday, September 03, 2015

USA defines Anti-Semitism

I have noticed that the word anti-semitic is usually used for non-Jews who could be saying almost anything about Jews, whether positive or negative. Examples might be saying that Jews usually vote Democrat and support Israel. But I did not know that the US State Dept defines Anti-Semitism to include things like opposition to Israel, and that the Univ. of California was considering adopting such a definition.

The definition seems to also include mentioning Jewish stereotypes and canards.

From The Atlantic in 2011:
It's become clear to me that the Fox commentator Glenn Beck has something of a Jewish problem. Actually, he has something of a modernity problem, and people with modernity problems tend to have problems with Jews, who more or less invented modernity (Einstein, Marx, Freud, Franz Boas, etc.)

This is not, by the way, a post about Beck's singular obsession with George Soros (read Michelle Goldberg -- not a relative, except in an all-Jews-are-conspiring-against-Glenn-Beck sort of way -- on this subject). This is a post about Beck's recent naming of nine people -- eight of them Jews -- as enemies of America and humanity. He calls these people prime contributors to the -- wait for it -- "era of the big lie." The eight Jews are Sigmund Freud; ...
It would be considered anti-semitic to say that Jews invented modernity, whatever that is, except that the author is Jewish defending Jews.

Speaking of Freud, I just learned that he plagiarized an analogy to Copernicus and Darwin:
The notion that heliocentrism was a blow to humanity’s narcissism is commonly attributed to Freud. But after reading my column, my buddy Gabriel Finkelstein, a historian of science at the University of Colorado, Denver, informed me that Freud got the idea from the 19th-century German physiologist-polymath Emil du Bois-Reymond, about whom Gabriel wrote a terrific biography. ... As Gabriel details below, Freud was well aware of du Bois-Reymond’s work, as were other pioneers of mind-science. ...

I love how Freud narcissistically suggests that his blow to our narcissism is mightier than those delivered by Copernicus and Darwin.
The late Stephen Jay Gould used to love quoting Freud on this stupid analogy. He probably thought that the essence of modernity was knocking man off his pedestal.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

British lesbians have only 9 sperm donors

Britain's lesbians have heavy demand for sperm donors, so a national sperm bank was created. The London Guardian reports:
A year after it was established, Britain’s national sperm bank has admitted it has only nine registered donors ...

The UK’s national sperm bank, funded with a one off award of £77,000, was set up a year ago as a partnership between the National Gamete Donation Trust and Birmingham Women’s hospital, to counter a serious shortage in sperm donors in the UK.

Rules on anonymity for sperm donors in the UK were changed in 2005 to allow any child born after that time the right to trace their biological father when they turned 18. ...

Demand has shot up from same-sex couples and older women wanting children. ...

In some clinics, particularly in London, one-third of the patients are now same-sex couples, Witjens said. ...

In the 2013 research, the HFEA found imported sperm has steadily increased year-on-year to meet the rise in demand and formed almost a third of new registrations, mostly from the USA, followed by Denmark. ...

Donors receive just £35 per session but Witjens said better advertising was key, not giving donors more money: “We might get more donors if we paid £50 or £100 per donation. But money corrupts. If you feel you can make £200 a week for four months, you might hide things about your health.”
Do the American and Danish sperm donors know what British law can break anonymity?

Obviously men do not want to give nearly free sperm to lesbians to have a screwed up fatherless kid who will come back to haunt them 18 years later.

Reasons for the Industrial Revolution

The leftist hate site SPLC complains about an anthropologist studying human biodiversity and evolution:
Henry Harpending: “The reason the Industrial Revolution happened in 1800, rather than the year one thousand, or zero, which it could have, the Romans certainly could have done it, is that a new kind of human evolved in northern Europe, and probably northern Asia. And that this led to the Industrial Revolution — this new kind of human was less violent, had an affinity for work. When you view your parents or grandparents, and you know that they’re retired, they could relax. But afterwards they can’t just sit on the couch and relax, they’ve got to go and get a shop and work on a cradle for their grandchildren… I’ve never seen anything like that in an African. I’ve never seen anyone with a hobby in Africa. They’re different.”
— “Preserving Western Civilization” conference, 2009

I must admit, it does seem outrageous to claim that Africans do not have hobbies or work for their grandkids. But is there some refutation of what he says? No, they just use name-calling to try to intimidate him into silence.

Sometimes I think these leftist sites exist for the purpose of creating racial animosity. The anthropologist is just trying to describe the world as it is. The leftists have no interest in the facts, and just try to inflame people.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Laws that immunized Silicon Valley tech

Two internet laws of the 1990s, Communications Decency Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act, were passed over the overwhelming objections from Silicon Valley and cyber rights activists.

And yet these laws have been overwhelmingly favorable to Si Valley companies.

David Post writes:
It has caused me to reflect a bit (again) on a rather remarkable provision of the U.S. Code, Secction 230 of the Communications Decency Act (which was part of the massive Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996):
“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
No other sentence in the U.S. Code, I would assert, has been responsible for the creation of more value than that one; if you have other candidates for that honor you think more worthy, please do share them.

It immunizes all online “content intermediaries” from a vast range of legal liability that could have been imposed upon them, under pre-1996 law, for unlawful or tortious content provided by their users — liability for libel, defamation, infliction of emotional distress, commercial disparagement, distribution of sexually explicit material, threats or any other causes of action that impose liability on those who, though not the source themselves of the offending content, act to “publish” or “distribute” it. ...

Yet it is impossible to imagine what the Internet ecosystem would look like today without it. Virtually every successful online venture that emerged after 1996 — including all the usual suspects, viz. Google, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, Craigslist, YouTube, Instagram, eBay, Amazon — relies in large part (or entirely) on content provided by their users, who number in the hundreds of millions, or billions.
And the DMCA is what allows Google to cache web pages and post pirate videos contrary to copyrights, as long as it follows take-down procedures after a complaint.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Most Psychology research not replicated

I have posted how much of the published research in medical and social sciences may be wrong. Now the NY Times reports:
The past several years have been bruising ones for the credibility of the social sciences. A star social psychologist was caught fabricating data, leading to more than 50 retracted papers. A top journal published a study supporting the existence of ESP that was widely criticized. The journal Science pulled a political science paper on the effect of gay canvassers on voters’ behavior because of concerns about faked data.

Now, a painstaking yearslong effort to reproduce 100 studies published in three leading psychology journals has found that more than half of the findings did not hold up when retested. The analysis was done by research psychologists, many of whom volunteered their time to double-check what they considered important work. Their conclusions, reported Thursday in the journal Science, have confirmed the worst fears of scientists who have long worried that the field needed a strong correction.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The race war continues

From Shoebat, a site I had never heard of:
The alleged shooter, African American Vester Lee Flanagan II — who went by Bryce Williams on air — shot himself shortly appearing to rant about the victims on Twitter and uploaded a horrifying video he filmed of the shooting. In the video, he appears to approach his three victims, lurk next to them for nearly a minute and then fire more than a dozen times. He whispers “Bitch” after pointing the gun at Parker. He later tweeted “I filmed the shooting see Facebook.”

Update: His grudge against her detailed:
Innocuous phrases Alison Parker used every day to describe her job may have led to her death, simply because Vester Lee Flanagan thought they were racist.

The 24-year-old TV reporter who was shot and killed by the disgruntled ex-employee on Wednesday somehow angered him by using terms like 'swinging' by an address or going out into the 'field' while she was an intern at WDBJ. ...

'We would say stuff like, "The reporter's out in the field." And he would look at us and say, "What are you saying, cotton fields? That's racist".'

'We'd be like, "What?' We all know what that means, but he took it as cotton fields, and therefore we're all racists.'
Update: A leftist propaganda site MediaMatters says that it is race-baiting or ever white supremacist to point out that a black man killed white people out of racial hatred.

Lists of ethnic and other slurs

Wikipedia has a List of ethnic slurs by ethnicity and a List of religious slurs.

Not listed are terms like racist, sexist, xenophobic, antisemitic, homophobic. 90% of the times these are just used as slurs -- ie, just name-calling for the purpose of disparaging someone. Calling a white man a racist is like calling a black man a nigger. It does not mean much, except to express some sort of disapproval.

Here are Michigan lawyers making a racial accusation:
The State Bar of Michigan issued an apology today and withdrew its honorable mention award for a story, Post-Conviction Relief, found to be embedded with racist cues and symbolism. At the same time, the State Bar announced the discontinuation of the contest that resulted in the award. State Bar officials were alerted to the issue by several members contacting the State Bar about the story’s racism.

“We cannot apologize enough,” said State Bar President Thomas C. Rombach. “The short story contest has been popular with many members. But if this result could occur even with the high caliber of the judges who conferred the award, the contest should be discontinued.”
Here is the fictional story. It does not mention the race of anyone. There is also commentary by the author, and by a racist hate site.

Monday, August 24, 2015

School achievement is heritable

It has long been known that IQ is heritable, but it has also been assumed that school achievement is mostly a function of school quality, tutoring, and hard work, once the IQ effects have been subtracted out. Maybe not.

A British Nature genetics podcast describes new research:
Kat - We often talk about things being “in the genes”, from traits such as eye or hair colour to our risk of diseases. One of the main ways that scientists figure out how much a particular characteristic is down to genetics - known as its heritability - is by comparing identical twins, who share 100 per cent of their genes, with non-identical or fraternal twins, who only have 50 per cent of their DNA in common. Thanks to a unique study tracking thousands of pairs of twins as they grow up, Professor Robert Plomin and his team at King’s College London have now discovered that genetics makes an unexpectedly large contribution to children’s GCSE grades across a wide range of subjects.

Robert - In this twin study which we call the Twin’s Early Development Study which is a study of about 7,000 pairs of twins in the UK, I was interested in focusing on an area that hasn’t been studied much and that’s school achievement. So on the one hand, we know that cognitive ability like intelligence shows substantial genetic influence. But people hadn’t really studied the business end of it in terms of school achievement. And so, we were surprised to find from the very first years of school that school achievement as measured by the national curriculum scores. It’s very highly heritable, like 60 per cent heritable. That means, of the differences in children’s performance in the national curriculum test, over half of those differences between children are due to DNA, genetic differences, between them. So, we’re not identifying the DNA, but we’re using the twin method to estimate, not only the significance, but the effect size of genetic influence on school children. It’s very high.

So, we’ve been following them all along and now that they hit 16, we wanted to use the GCSE scores - there aren’t many countries where the same national tests are administered to everybody. And so, what we’ve found is the same sort of thing that GCSE scores are highly heritable. But what's new is that all the tests – there's over 80 subjects that people can take for GCSEs - and all of them are highly heritable. That surprised me because I would’ve thought the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, math – would be more heritable for some reason maybe because it involves intelligence to a greater extent than drama and art. This is just totally exposing my biases of course as a scientist, but it wasn’t true. They are all equally heritable. It’s interesting that scores are as equally heritable despite the fact that some children are getting tutors and going to schools that have prepped them for GCSEs. Schools – we make a big deal about schools - you just say what school our kids in explain far less than 20 per cent of the variance. Explaining 50 per cent of the variance with genetic differences is extraordinary when education totally ignores genetics. In teacher training or whatever, not a word is said about genetics. And so, I'm just saying genetics is very important.

But what's really novel about this study is a little bit harder to understand and that is to say, “Okay, genetics affects all of these GCSE subjects” but is it different genes for every one? Are there genes for drama, genes for music, and genes for math? And the answer is definitely not. The same genes are affecting performance on all of these GCSE scores. The differences are probably more environmental. If you're good at drama and not good at math, that’s probably more of an environmental thing. But the genetic action has to do with what's in common in performance across all of these things.

Kat - Is it not just that they're just generally smart? They’ve got good intelligence genes?

Robert - That’s what most people would say and so, what we did is we took out intelligence. We corrected for intelligence. You can correct scores for age and sex, and you can correct scores for intelligence. So, you can take these GCSE scores and make them independent of intelligence, statistically. And then the interesting thing was that we got the same results. So, everything is equally heritable, independent of intelligence, and what's even more surprising, again, it’s the same genes that affect all of those intelligence corrected GCSE scores. So what that means is that, your hypothesis is a good one that a lot of what the genetic correlation among all these GCSE scores is about intelligence. But what's amazing is you take out intelligence and you find, yes, there's still genetic influence, but it also works in a very general way and that’s suggests it’s like an academic ability, genetically driven academic ability.
Here is a new American study that seems to get similar results.

People are spooked by studies like this, but it seems essential to understanding what schools are doing for us. Maybe schools ought to track kids according to genetics, or use other strategies that take genes into account for better results.

My guess is that people are afraid that there might be racial implications.

Most measurable human traits are heritable, so maybe this should not be surprising. But we spend maybe a trillion dollars a year on schooling. Shouldn't we have a better idea of what causes success in school?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Using empathy to combat climate change

People seem to come to conclusions about global warming based more on politics and emotion, than on hard science or practical realities. Usually advocates claim to be making scientific arguments, but this interview tries to make more emotional arguments:
What can we, as individuals, do to help with climate change?

Dr Roman Krznaric is from the London-based a cultural enterprise think tank 'School of Life' and he’s also author of Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution.

So what exactly is empathy and how can evoking empathy combat climate change?

Kat - So, can you explain a little bit about, how does the issue of empathy tie-up with climate change?

Roman - Normally, we think of climate change as something that needs technological scientific solutions, but try and think about it through the lens of empathy. I mean, 98% of us have the ability to empathise, to step into other people’s shoes, wired into our brains. And climate change can be seen as a problem of a huge empathy deficit. We’re not putting our empathy into practice in two ways. We’re failing to step into the shoes of people in developing countries who were being hit by extreme weather events related to climate change. We just heard about Anneil there in Bangladesh being hit by floods. And equally, we’re failing to step into the shoes of future generations. What's it like to be a teenager living in Dublin or Dubai in 2100 in a climate changed world? Unless we can make that empathic leap, we’re not actually going to create the kind of grassroots social movements, the kind of political action, that is required to push the politicians to come to new global agreements.
If you could really make an empathic leap to a teenager living in Dublin or Dubai in 2100, you would probably be in favor of burning more fossil fuels. The warming is helping Dublin, and Dubai has gotten rich from the oil.
Kat - How do we evoke empathy for the climate? Is the solution just, cute pictures of polar bears?

Roman - I'm sorry to say that all those cute polar bear pictures haven't actually been very good at galvanising people over the last few years on climate change because the social science research tells us that actually, what motivates us is caring about other people more than plants or animals. That’s the reality of it and there needs to be much more campaigning about trying to give a human face to the people whose lives are being affected by climate change today and in the future.
I would have thought that many people care more about cute polar bears than teenagers in Dubai. Either way, be prepared for scientifically tuned propaganda to manipulate you by triggering emotional responses in your brain.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Professors defending jury nullification

Libertarian law professor Ilya Somin writes:
Jury nullification occurs when jurors choose not to convict a defendant they believe to be guilty of the offense charged, usually because they conclude that the law in question is unjust or the punishment is excessive.
I am surprised that someone would defend jury nullification this way, but apparently the common definitions include the juror believing that the defendant is guilty of the crime.

I always thought that jury nullification included situations where the jury agrees that the defendant did the alleged acts, but maybe did not have the required criminal intent, or has some other valid legal argument for an acquittal.

Guilty is a legal determination, not just a factual determination. If the jury says that the defendant is not guilty, then he is not guilty.

The prosecutor may argue that if the defendant pulled the trigger, or possessed the drugs, then he is guilty. But legally, it is always more complicated than that. There has to be admissible evidence against him, a fair trial, mens rea, etc.

If a juror agreed with the law, but did not agree with how it was applied in the case and honestly voted for the defendant being not guilty, then I thought that a prosecutor might call it jury nullification. But by the above definition, I would say that it is probably not jury nullification, as the juror could have a legitimate argument for a not guilty verdict.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Trump is not a cuckservative

A leftist hate site complains about the word cuckservative:
Part Internet meme, part scathing social commentary from the right on its leading politicians, there’s a freshly minted term that has spread fast across the radical right. And much to the delight of those who use it, it’s found its way into the political mainstream.
It goes on to argue that it is a racist term.

The most popular usage seems to be to explain the success of Donald Trump:
You ask, "Why"? Why are his poll numbers skyrocketing? Why is he getting away with saying things a normal politician would never say?

Because we're sick of your shit.

Now, I'm not saying that a billionaire reality TV star is going to save the West. But, damn, you have to start somewhere. Real, right-wing Americans are looking for someone who isn't afraid of being called racist by people who hate him and would never have voted for them anyway.

The Cuckservatives have bowed to the left for years, recoiling in fear every single time a leftist, who, once again, will never vote for them anyway calls them "racist", "sexist", "homophobic", etc.

Cuckservatives have gone up on the presidential debate stage for years and have begged and apologized and spent half of their stage time explaining that they aren't racist and that they're sorry that they believe in neoliberal economics. What person would ever, in their right minds, be attracted to that shit? Who are you pandering to? Why do you seek the approval of those that hate you? Why do you fear their shit-slinging?

Donald Trump doesn't fear any of that shit. He's unapologetic. He's advocating for policies that will ensure that the right remains strong and relevant for years to come. He's pushing back on the Overton window in a way that has not been done in decades.

He wants to stop third world socialists from pouring into our borders and destroying everything we hold sacred.
This argument is convincing. There is something sickening about supposedly conservative politicians who are always groveling to appease people who will never vote for them anyway.

The syllable "cuck" comes from cuckold, and that comes from cuckoo birds, which put their eggs in the nests of other birds.

Fear the market

Here is a Chinese view of financial markets, following a devaluation of its currency:
Yi Gang, deputy governor of the central bank, said it stood ready to step in if volatility became "excessive" and the market started "behaving like a herd of sheep".

"Trust the market, respect the market, fear the market, and follow the market," he told a press conference.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Heading for AOL 2.0

Jacques Mattheij writes:
We're heading Straight for AOL 2.0 ...

Imagine an internet where every other protocol except for the most closely related to ‘plumbing’ ones (TCP/IP/UDP/DNS) are no longer open but closed. That may sound far-fetched but even though the number of RFCs is still growing the last RFC with an article in the wikipedia list of rfcs is the iCalendar Specification (RFC 5545) and it dates from 2009. Since then there has been a lot of movement on the web application front but none of those has resulted in an open protocol for more than one vendor (or open source projects) to implement. One explanation is that we now have all the protocols that we need, another is that more and more protocols are layered on top of HTTP in a much more proprietary manner.
I believe that Bill Gates predicted this about 20 years ago, and everyone made fun of him for supposedly not understanding the internet.

I am amazed that companies spend advertising money asking me to Like them on Facebook. No thanks. It only makes me think that they are too incompetent to make their own web site.

A lot of companies do have terrible web sites.

Meanwhile, AOL has some useful services. I never used AOL 1.0, but I use the current AOL more than Facebook.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fighting the NSA has hurt Rand Paul

Libertarians and leftists have sought to make a big deal out of the Snowden revelations, and tried to shut down NSA surveillance. One politician, Rand Paul, has made it his signature issue in his campaign for President.

And yet this issue gets very little public support. Paul's poll numbers have declined to where he is just getting support from libertarian Republicans who liked his father.

There are professors who say that this issue is important, but I have not heard any of them endorse Rand Paul. Cryptographers pretend to be shocked, but nearly all of the NSA activities were known to them.

My conclusion is the great majority of the public approves of the NSA surveillance. No one has given an example that offends people. Rand seems like a phony idealist who is not prepared to do what needs to be done to combat national adversaries.

I am not opposing privacy here. I would like to see laws strengthening our privacy rights. But those complaining about the NSA seem to be ignoring 99% of the privacy threats to us.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Intolerant people of color

Japanese American Aimee Mizuno writes an op-ed:
We must not tolerate anti-immigrant rhetoric

At the risk of giving undeserved attention to Donald Trump and the political spectacle created by his campaign, I feel compelled to respond to his racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric in the context of the history of scapegoating, disenfranchisement, and criminalization of immigrants in the United States. Trump’s recent comments characterizing Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists” that should be purged from the country fit a pattern of abuse that has been used not only against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, but against many groups of immigrants in the history of our country.
Trump did not say that they were all criminals. He wasn't even talking about immigrants, but illegal aliens.
The anti-immigrant spotlight was then cast on the Japanese as they became settled and gained more economic strength, particularly in California. Existing racial animosity climaxed with the start of World War II, when Japanese and Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were rounded up and incarcerated. This may be one of the most horrifying examples of the criminalization of an entire immigrant community.
She is the one criminalizing the Japanese, as they were not considered criminals at the time.
We, as people of color and their allies, have the responsibility ...

In times when racism rears its ugly head, let us, as individuals, organizations and community groups stand with our neighbors and brothers and sisters to promote a humane and accurate depiction of the groups under attack. Then, we can say that immigrants are workers, parents, children, teachers, friends, neighbors, students and activists who will not tolerate being depicted as “criminals.”
Here she is saying that non-white (who hate white people) should combine to express their intolerance for the truth about immigration.

She seems to think that it is okay for her to express her own racial hatreds as long as she is attacking white people and calling them racists.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Suppressing science to promote egalitarianism

Leftist pseudoscience philosopher Massimo Pigliucci
From my standpoint as a biologist it is hard to conceive of any major aspect of being human that is not the result of nature-nurture interactions (as opposed to straight influences of either nature or nurture), even though these are hopelessly complex to disentangle empirically. We know this to be the case for pretty much every other species on the planet that we have been able to properly study, so why should it be different for Homo sapiens?

The problem with the extreme naturist position, then, is twofold: on the one hand, it is based on often shaky science — consider for instance neuroscientist Cordelia Fine’s masterful debunking of what she calls neurobiological “delusions of gender” [11]. On the other hand, far too many naturists, while claiming the (alleged) objective mantle of science, reveal themselves to be sympathetic to sexist or racist, and certainly politically regressive positions (for instance Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, authors of the infamous The Bell Curve). Even when this is not the case, their research provides easy cover for the most vicious sexist and racist sub-cultures of our society.

Murray and Herrnstein always argued for traits being a combination of nature and nurture, just as the biologists say. So what is the objection?

Leftist soft-subject professors like him nearly always argue fallaciously. Here he announces disagreement with the political views of authors who make a social science argument, and then uses name-calling against those who follow the work. It is a form of guilt-by-association, except that Pigliucci is blaming the authors for who might have read the book.

It is true that nearly all human and animal traits are a combination of nature and nurture. A recent article says Ape study shows anxiety and depression are inherited . Most people are surprised at how much is inherited.

Pigliucci is one of these anti-science leftists who likes to downplay any genetic or nature human influences because it conflicts with his cultural Marxism.
Moreover, all of this, it seems to me, is entirely unnecessary: from a philosophical, and particularly an ethical, perspective, the biological bases of human behaviors are irrelevant to how we ought to treat other human beings. Whether women, or gays, or transgenders, statistically adopt certain behaviors because of culture, genes, epigenes or — again, more likely — an inextricably complex interaction among those factors, who cares?
First, most real scientists favor pursuing knowledge regardless of whether it promotes personal political views.

Second, nearly all those who promote gay rights do so based on a theory that sexual preferences are innate. Even the recent US Supreme Court marriage decision mentioned that.

Third, even if you believe that all people should be treated the same, then how would you even know if you are doing that or not, unless you are aware of underlying causes of behavior? If, say, you are trying to figure out why one group has higher unemployment than another, it may be because the groups are different or that they are treated differently. You cannot tell unless you study the group differences.

Fourth, no one really treats all people alike. That is just Marxist nonsense.

Update: A reader points out that Pigliucci's main argument for "The false dichotomy of nature-nurture" is based on a misunderstanding of the word dichotomy. The dictionary defines it as:
being twofold; a classification into two opposed parts or subclasses ("The dichotomy between eastern and western culture")

a difference between two opposite things : a division into two opposite groups M-W

a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities ; also : the process or practice of making such a division
There certainly is a dichotomy between nature (genes) and nurture (environment). Nature and nurture are opposites, and twin studies and other studies do indeed divide between nature and nurture.

The word does not in any way imply that a trait must be entirely nature or entirely nurture. Some are, such as eye color being entirely nature and spoken language (like English or Chinese) being entirely nurture. Most other traits are some combination, with maybe subtle interactions. It is really not that difficult to understand, unless it upsets your Marxist egalitarian anti-science worldview.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Immigration causes global warming

Kit Brewer writes:
Obama has recently demanded a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from our power plants. The power companies are howling and threatening to sue, but wouldn’t it be logical for them to point out that much of our carbon emissions are directly caused by out of control immigration since 1965? ...

Our population has doubled since 1965, almost all of that due to third world immigrants and their high fertility. The USA is responsible for 25 percent of the world’s energy consumption. It doesn’t take much math to figure out that if our population had remained about 160 million or so, the amount of green house gases released in our atmosphere would be about half what it is. The amount of green house gasses worldwide would be reduced 12 percent.
Yes, if the Obama administration were serious about global warming, then it would stop immigration from Third World countries.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Kahneman wants to eliminate overconfidence

The London Guardian reports:
Daniel Kahneman is ... a man whose experimental findings have shifted our understanding of thought on its axis – someone described by Steven Pinker as “the world’s most influential living psychologist”.

His 2011 book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, a primer on a career’s worth of psychological inquiry, won the US National Academy of Sciences book award, and the enthusiastic approval of his peers. It tells the story of “two systems” of thought, one automatic and intuitive, the realm of systematic biases, the other conscious and deliberative. It is a challenging work, clearly written but stuffed even so with difficult problems and counter-intuitive explanations. Despite that, it has sold millions of copies around the world. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, professor of risk engineering and author of The Black Swan, places it “in the same league as The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud”.
There is a backhanded compliment. The Smith book was a great classic. Freud's book is widely regarded as pseudoscientific nonsense.

Kahneman is most famous for arguing that stereotyping can lead to faulty estimates of probabilities, such as in this example:
When told of a student, Tom, who has a preference for neat and tidy systems and a penchant for sci-fi, most of us guess that he’s studying computer sciences and not a humanities subject. This is despite the fact that the group studying the latter is far larger.
Somehow he has convinced the world that this is a profound example of a cognitive bias. The above guess is only wrong if you make certain additional assumptions.
Not even he believes that the various flaws that bedevil decision-making can be successfully corrected. The most damaging of these is overconfidence: the kind of optimism that leads governments to believe that wars are quickly winnable and capital projects will come in on budget despite statistics predicting exactly the opposite. It is the bias he says he would most like to eliminate if he had a magic wand.
Yes, governments can over-estimate what a war can accomplish. But they might be under-estimating it just as often, for all I know.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Christians exterminated from the Mid East

The NY Times reports:
From 1910 to 2010, the number of Christians in the Middle East — in countries like Egypt, Israel, Palestine and Jordan — continued to decline; once 14 percent of the population, Christians now make up roughly 4 percent. (In Iran and Turkey, they’re all but gone.) In Lebanon, the only country in the region where Christians hold significant political power, their numbers have shrunk over the past century, to 34 percent from 78 percent of the population. Low birthrates have contributed to this decline, as well as hostile political environments and economic crisis. Fear is also a driver. The rise of extremist groups, as well as the perception that their communities are vanishing, causes people to leave.

For more than a decade, extremists have targeted Christians and other minorities, who often serve as stand-ins for the West. This was especially true in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, which caused hundreds of thousands to flee. ‘‘Since 2003, we’ve lost priests, bishops and more than 60 churches were bombed,’’ Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Erbil, said. With the fall of Saddam Hussein, Christians began to leave Iraq in large numbers, and the population shrank to less than 500,000 today from as many as 1.5 million in 2003.

The Arab Spring only made things worse. As dictators like Mubarak in Egypt and Qaddafi in Libya were toppled, their longstanding protection of minorities also ended. Now, ISIS is looking to eradicate Christians and other minorities altogether. ...

The future of Christianity in the region of its birth is now uncertain. ‘‘How much longer can we flee before we and other minorities become a story in a history book?’’ says Nuri Kino, a journalist and founder of the advocacy group Demand for Action. According to a Pew study, more Christians are now faced with religious persecution than at any time since their early history.
The USA has been fighting Mideast wars for 25 years now, and the net result has been to accelerate the extermination of Christians. We have sided with Moslems in Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and maybe other countries.


Kids today are taught that Christianity has an evil history, and proved by the Crusades. The Crusades were part of the wars that kept the Moslems from invading Europe. Our entire civilization today depends on European Christians being willing to defend themselves. How exactly was that a bad thing?

Today, we no longer have leaders who are willing to stand up for Christian culture and civilization.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Harvest Blood From the Dead

Real Clear Science reports:
Scarcely a week goes by without news of a blood shortage somewhere in the United States. Summertime in particular sees supplies on the wane. With families on vacation and schools out of session, the American Red Cross regularly witnesses a dip in donations.
No, we have not had a blood shortage in decades.
But with one simple change, blood shortages in the United States could be drastically reduced, or perhaps eliminated entirely. It's a solution seemingly out of Count Dracula's playbook: drain blood from the dead.

Unpalatable and macabre at first glance, the idea actually makes a lot of sense. Roughly 15 million pints of blood are donated each year by approximately 9.2 million individuals. Over the course of the same year, about 2.6 million Americans will -- sadly -- pass away. If hospitals were to harvest the blood from a third of those people, roughly 4.5 million liters would be added to the reservoir.

Contrary to what you might think, blood from cadavers is not only usable, but quite safe.
I suspect that the reason is that we are getting too much blood from live donors already. If we got blood from the dead, then the live donors might see their blood as unnecessary.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

When should you get pregnant?

NewScientist advises:
IT’S a question many people will ask themselves at some point in their lives: when should I start a family? If you know how many children you’d like, and whether or not you would consider, or could afford, IVF, a computer model can suggest when to start trying for your first child.

Happy with just one? The model recommends you get started by age 32 to have a 90 per cent chance of realising your dream without IVF. A brood of three would mean starting by age 23 to have the same chance of success. Wait until 35 and the odds are 50:50 (see “When to get started”).
(Archived here.) I am surprised at this. It seems to imply that women have to spend 20 years trying to get pregnant just to have 3 kids.

Before birth control, women would sometimes have 10 kids.

Mark Zuckerberg's wife is probably over 30, and she is pregnant after 3 miscarriages. So it is apparently taking her several years (at least) to have 1 child.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Lions, swarming migrants, and offensive tweets

The latest target of the internet shaming machine is a hunter who killed an African lion. Don't these people realize that if the lion lived, it would have hunted and killed other animals?

Or that tourism, including hunting trips, is a major incentive for countries like Zimbabwe to preserve lions?

Reuters reports that no one in Zimbabwe even cared about that lion. "Are you saying that all this noise is about a dead lion? Lions are killed all the time in this country."

Here in California, we have too many mountain lions as a result of anti-hunting prejudices. The more lion hunting, the better.

Also offending people was this:
A human rights group has condemned David Cameron's description of "swarms" of migrants, calling his language "irresponsible, dehumanising" and "extremely inflammatory" as desperate migrants continue to attempt the dangerous journey across the Channel to the UK.

The Prime Minister, speaking from Vietnam as part of his tour of South East Asian nations, said migrants illegally entering the UK would not be offered a "safe haven" and reassured British holiday-makers that authorities would ensure they had a “safe and secure holiday”.

But his comments were condemned by the Refugee Council, who criticised the PM's "irresponsible, dehumanising" language as "extremely inflammatory".
Cameron will reveal himself to be a cuckservative if he apologizes and allows name-calling to intimidate him into making UK a safe haven for the migrants.

There was just a TED Talk on internet shaming:
Twitter gives a voice to the voiceless, a way to speak up and hit back at perceived injustice. But sometimes, says Jon Ronson, things go too far. In a jaw-dropping story of how one un-funny tweet ruined a woman's life and career, Ronson shows how online commenters can end up behaving like a baying mob — and says it's time to rethink how we interact online.
He described IAC firing Justine Sacco, but gave only the weakest defense of her. In essence, he argued that the humiliation of her for an un-funny tweet was excessive.

No, her tweet was funny. And it was clearly meant as a joke. It included "just kidding". She should be congratulated. Twitter is intended for clever jokes like hers.

Pseudoscience philosopher Massimo Pigliucci
defends Islam and Communism:
all we need to do is to look at the relatively recent comparative history of Islam and other Abrahamic religions to be convinced that there isn’t anything especially pernicious, in the long run, with the former when compared to the latter [11]. ...

It would seem, then, that Maher & co. simply haven’t bothered to study history, and that it is a combination of social, economic and political factors that is creating a special problem for Islam in the contemporary world ...

Take, for instance, the rise of “communist” countries during the 20th century, particularly Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China. Unlike, say, nazism and fascism — which I think truly are irredeemably bad ideas — communism as developed by Marx and Engels [12] is not even close to being in the same ballpark. It may be unworkable, and even undesirable, but it isn’t intrinsically evil.
He has a lot of leftist opinions, and badmouths everyone else as being ignorant or worse. I have occasionally commented on his site, but nearly always either blocks my comment or denounces me as being ignorant or wrong. Here was my last blocked comment, and I am posting it here because because he does not allow this sort of criticism on his site:
Yes, Islam and Communism are intrinsically evil, as much as nazism and fascism. You found something that Sam Harris is right about. Just look at the history of countries dominated by those beliefs. Tell me if you would want to live in any of them.

MacDonald and Ayme explain some of the problems with Islam. None of that applies to Christianity, as Labnut explains well. Alex tries to rebut that by saying that Jesus cursed a fig tree! Just compare the Jesus and Mohammed stories and you will see that one of them was a monster.

Saying "the quotation game can easily be played" is just a way of denying the established meanings of the Bible and Koran. Just look at how those books are taught. Christians are taught to love their enemies. Moslems are taught that suicide bombers get a free ticket to heaven.
I don't know how someone can be a philosopher and be so hostile to other views.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When Algorithms Discriminate

A NY Times article says:
But can computer programs be discriminatory?

There is a widespread belief that software and algorithms that rely on data are objective.
Another says:
“Algorithms aren’t subjective,” he said. “Bias comes from people.”
Somehow Google has been the big beneficiary of such thinking. People widely believe that Google searches are objective algorithms, and therefore not subject to human second-guessing.

Of course Google employs a couple thousand engineers who hand-tune search tables so that result will align with its business purposes.

Yes, algorithms discriminate. That is their purpose. Even if they are just trying to discriminate in favor of people willing to spend more money online, that will be correlated with all sorts of other discriminators.

More and more our lives are determined by algorithms, and they can be doing good or evil.

An artificial intelligence site argues:
These four claims form the core of the argument that artificial intelligence is important: there is such a thing as general reasoning ability; if we build general reasoners, they could be far smarter than humans; if they are far smarter than humans, they could have an immense impact; and that impact will not be beneficial by default.
The Less Wrong folks have similar concerns.

Their arguments are fairly convincing. And opinions will vary about what is beneficial. But I cannot endorse this open letter against autonomous weapons, signed by many famous experts and intellectuals. These weapons are coming, just like self-driving cars, and good engineering can make them useful.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lesbian against gay men as parents

Julie Bindel writes in the (conservative) Weekly Standard:
The huge rise in the incidence of gay men becoming fathers via surrogacy is largely seen as positive by those fighting inequality. ...

But there is a dark side to surrogacy. Its accelerating use by gay couples is no victory for freedom or emancipation. ...

As a lesbian feminist, I campaigned for years for gays and lesbians to be allowed to adopt children, not only because of our human right to have families but also because of the need to give secure, loving homes to vulnerable children. Now the rise of IVF surrogate parenthood is in danger of making the acceptance of gay adoption look like a hollow success.
Her complaints are a little strange. She does not appear to have any concerns about kids being reared without a mom, or the cultural implications of gay men with their own babies. Instead she focuses on some side issues.
Baby farming has become a significant international business. There is no law against surrogacy in Britain, but it is illegal for surrogates personally to advertise their services, as they do in the United States and elsewhere. Nor are private surrogacy agreements enforceable in British courts, which means, for example, that a surrogate mother cannot be forced to hand over the baby if she changes her mind. But legal niceties pose fewer barriers in less developed countries.
This is contradictory. Yes, there are laws against surrogacy in Britain, as the above paragraph mentions a couple: the parties cannot advertise, and the contracts cannot be enforced. Those are enuf to drive parents overseas.

Most less developed countries have laws against it also.
In the United States, IVF plus surrogacy usually carries a price tag of around $100,000; in India it can cost as little as $24,000, and regulation is far lighter.
The same could be said of other medical services, or just about any other monetary expenditure. India is cheaper than the USA.
Sometimes there is criminality. In February 2011, police in Thailand disrupted a Taiwanese-run ring that forced Vietnamese women to have babies for sale. Though illegal, this baby farm, Baby 101, advertised its services. Evidence gathered by police and Thai officials showed that some of the pregnant women had been tricked or forced into service and raped.
Sometimes there is criminality is just about anything. It is almost impossible to spend money without some risk that some of it might be going to help illegally exploit someone.
Enthusiasts of surrogacy like its efficiency. “Truth is, surrogacy is usually quicker than adoption and means you avoid going through the hoops with social workers, having to persuade them that you would be suitable parents,” says one dad who used a surrogate. They also value it because, as this father said, it “enables you to be a genetic parent.” ...

Indeed, it is difficult to understand why couples would strive to create babies using such harmful, expensive, and morally dubious methods when foster and adoptive parents are desperately needed. In the United Kingdom, there is a shortage of 60,000 foster homes and at least 4,000 children are waiting for adoption; a staggering 100,000 children in the United States are eligible for adoption. Where are the parents who will choose these children and give them a chance at a decent life?
She answers her own question. Couples use Assisted reproductive technology (ART) because it is superior to foster and adoption alternatives.

First of all, there are not many kids available for adoption in the USA. When you hear of a couple adopting a kid from Russia, China, or Guatemala, it is usually because they could not find a child in the USA.

Second, adoption is much more morally dubious. Often these kids are adopted against the wishes of a good dad, such as recently authorized by a new California law, or even against the wishes of both parents. The federal government pays local Child Protective Service (CPS) agencies about $10k per child for forcibly taking him from his parents and putting him up for adoption within a year. ART is based on the voluntary informed consent of all parties.

Also, there are many more stories of criminal and unethical behavior involved kids to be adopted. And of course marriage and baby-making the old-fashioned way is also subject to stories of fraud, deception, abuse, exploitation, and other problems.

Third, the argument that creating babies is harmful is based on the notion that pregnancy is harmful. Yes, pregnancy has its risks, but it is also an essential part of humanity. Most women regard pregnancy as a good and worthwhile thing. Yes, pregnant women are told not to take dangerous drugs, but again, most women agree with such advice.

Fourth, the number of people using these technologies is small and insignificant, and not enuf to be a public concern even if it were harmful.

So why is a neo-conservative magazine hiring a lesbian feminist to make these silly arguments? My guess is that there is an unspoken agenda here. Maybe the neo-conservatives believe that ART for gay men is anti-family, and the lesbian feminists are annoyed that gay men do not need them.

The WSJ newspaper (archived here) and NPR Radio have put some ethical, economic, and legal ART issues back in the news:
How much is a human egg worth? The question is at the heart of a federal lawsuit brought by two women who provided eggs to couples struggling with infertility.

The women claim the price guidelines adopted by fertility clinics nationwide have artificially suppressed the amount they can get for their eggs, in violation of federal antitrust laws.

The industry groups behind the price guidance—which discourages payments above $10,000 per egg-donation cycle—say caps are needed to prevent coercion and exploitation in the egg-donation process.

But the plaintiffs say the guidelines amount to an illegal conspiracy to set prices in violation of antitrust laws. The conspiracy, they argue in court papers, has deprived women nationwide a free market in which to sell their eggs, and enabled fertility clinics to “reap anticompetitive profits for themselves.”

“It’s naked, illegal price-fixing,” said Michael McLellan, a lawyer for the women.

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, could go to trial next year. In February, Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero allowed the suit, first filed in 2011, to move forward on behalf of women who have donated eggs in recent years. Later this summer, Judge Spero will consider whether to broaden the case to include women who plan to donate eggs in the future and want to eliminate the caps entirely. If successful, it could upend the industry of egg donation, which has increasingly become an important option for women who have trouble conceiving because of advanced age or other problems.
This does appear to be illegal price-fixing to me, but not a significant one. There is an open market for the eggs, and the price is usually a lot less than $10k. I do not think that it is hard for a woman to charge more than $10k if she can find a buyer.

Even if the clinic advertises that it follows the price-capping guidelines, a couple can pay extra money to a donor privately.
The price caps might also guard against worries that women might pay more for eggs from mothers of certain ethnic or racial backgrounds, or with such traits as physical beauty or high intelligence. Such a market exists, largely through a small number of agencies that cater to couples willing to pay a premium.

“It’s a concern about eugenics, that women will pay more for eggs from an Ivy League grad,” said John Robertson, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Texas.
Professors of law and bioethics say the most foolish things. Any time there is a market for goods or services, some people will pay more for what is in greater demand. Yes, women usually want eggs from women similar to themselves, and hence prefer their own ethnic and racial groups. They usually do not seek Ivy League grads unless they are Ivy League grads themselves. If they do want to pay more, why is it the business of anyone else?

Meanwhile, compare this to the adoption business. It is illegal to pay anything for a baby to be adopted. Except that it is commonplace to pay around $30k. They circumvent the law by going thru lawyers who launder the money and disguise it as expenses, as it is legal to pay lawyer fees and mothering expenses.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Turing movie was propaganda

I posted complaints about the Alan Turing movie, but did not realize that there was a Jewish angle to this.

Brenton Sanderson writes:
One Jewish source notes that, despite Benedict Cumberbatch being “so gentile it’s almost shocking,” the film has “significant Jewish angles” while being about “a non-Jewish mathematical genius from Cambridge University, Alan Turing, and his efforts to crack Nazi codes in the bucolic British countryside.” It admits that, given the Jewish domination of Hollywood, “perhaps it’s not shocking that the film’s producers are Jews (the clues are there in ‘film’ and ‘producers’)” — these producers being Ido Ostrowsky, Nora Grossman, and Teddy Schwarzman (the son of billionaire Jewish financier Stephen Schwarzman) who “were drawn to Turing’s story as a tale of a brilliant outsider forced to work with others to win the war against German evil.” Ah, the venerable heroic Jew as outsider theme.
He goes on to give an explanation of Jews making a movie like this. I don't know if this really explains the many strange distortions, but I pass it along, as I have not seen a better explanation. The movie would have been much better if it told Turing's story instead of ideological propaganda.

If you link to essays like this then Jewish organizations call you anti-Semitic, such as the ADL attacking an essay by Roosh V. on The Damaging Effects Of Jewish Intellectualism And Activism On Western Culture which says “The bulk of what I crit­i­cize about West­ern cul­ture was in fact ush­ered in by intel­lec­tual Jew­ish movements.”

The ADL does not attempt to rebut anything in the essay, and just resorts to name-calling. It calls Roosh "a misog­y­nist who rails against fem­i­nism." Yes, he rails against feminism, but that does not make him a misogynist. It appears to me that he loves women. The ADL seems to be endorsing the factual accuracy of the essay when it posts this sort of complaint. It would probably be calling him a white supremacist, except that I Roosh is Armenian or Persian American.

So I guess people were afraid to criticize the Turing movie out of fear of being called anti-Semitic.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Gawker is a leftist hate site

The trashy popular gossip site Gawker got into trouble recently because it posted a story outing a gay man, and then retracting it:
David Geithner, chief financial officer at Conde Nast and brother of former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, allegedly contracted with a male escort to meet in Chicago. The plan went south when the escort/porn star—identified by the Daily Caller as Leif Derek Truitt—discovered Geithner’s pedigree and supposedly requested that the CFO use his Washington connections to help with an eviction complaint in Texas. When Geithner allegedly refused and called off the date, Truitt escalated the intensity of his requests, finally going to Gawker.
I guess Gawker decided that it was bad for business to be participating in gay blackmail. It is a leftist hate site that will post all sort of other nasty attacks. Here is another one:
The Sad Puppies are also closely associated with neoreactionary, Gamergater, and notorious white supremacist Vox Day (he says he’s not a white supremacist, but he also says “Racism is neither a sin nor is it a societal evil. Race-based self-segregation is not only the observably preferred human norm for all races throughout the entirety of recorded human history, it is inevitable,” so go ahead and draw your own conclusions) who both played a part in picking the Sad Puppies nominees and started his own Rabid Puppies slate.
No, it is not white supremacist to make an observation about human history. The phrase usually means a belief that the white race should have control over the other races.

I guess one could argue that any observation about racial behavior is racist, but then Gawker is surely a vile racist site, as it posts disgusting racist rants all the time.

Speaking of racism:
Dylann Roof, the man suspected of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., last month was indicted on Wednesday on federal hate crime and other charges, including some that carry the federal death penalty, two law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.

Mr. Roof, 21, already faces nine counts of murder in state court and could face the death penalty there. But Justice Department and F.B.I. officials have said the Charleston shooting was so horrific and racially motivated that the federal government must address it.

He was also charged with killing someone while obstructing religious freedom, which is eligible for the death penalty.
So he is only being charged because he is white and the Obama administration wants to make a black-white racial statement, right?

I am all in favor of prosecuting and executing Roof for his murders. But filing federal charges for the same crime seems like double jeopardy to me, and piling on. (Yes, I know that there are precedents for such prosecutions, but I do not agree with them either.)

Update: The head of Gawker is a gay man who says that he is married to another man, and that the notorious white hater Ta-Nehisi Coates would be his dream Gawker executive editor.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Blaming the legacy of lynching

NY Times columnist David Brooks writes:
Dear Ta-Nehisi Coates,

The last year has been an education for white people. There has been a depth, power and richness to the African-American conversation about Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston and the other killings that has been humbling and instructive.
Yes, these events were educational to me. I did not know how much black people think that it is acceptable to try to kill white cops, and how much white liberals tolerate such views.

I did not know how much liberals want to censor others, such as by banning private sales of confederate battle flags on EBay.
Your ancestors came in chains. In your book the dream of the comfortable suburban life is a “fairy tale.” For you, slavery is the original American sin, from which there is no redemption. America is Egypt without the possibility of the Exodus.
Brooks is Jewish. He married a non-Jewish wife who then converted to Judaism, and they visit Israel regularly. So I guess they are big believers in the Exodus myth. But there is no historical record of the Jews ever being slaves in Egypt, or of causing plagues on Egyptians to get their freedom.

I probably have ancestors who came to America as Indentured servants. That is about as relevant today as slavery. I have also had cops and other officials harass me as much as the blacks were in the widely publicized examples.
Your definition of “white” is complicated. But you write “‘White America’ is a syndicate arrayed to protect its exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies. Sometimes this power is direct (lynching), and sometimes it is insidious (redlining).”
I have never met any white people who want to control black bodies. Complaints about lynching and redlining are nearly always about events before I was born. Even the most racist white people just want black people to obey the law and behave like responsible citizens.
But I have to ask, Am I displaying my privilege if I disagree? Is my job just to respect your experience and accept your conclusions? Does a white person have standing to respond?

If I do have standing, I find the causation between the legacy of lynching and some guy’s decision to commit a crime inadequate to the complexity of most individual choices.
Brooks wants permission to criticize criminal behavior?

The legacy of lynching is that a century ago, vigilantes in the South might have hanged a black man for raping a white girl. Does this make blacks more likely to commit crimes today? Is that what someone is saying? Is it because the punishment is not swift enuf today?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Airline blocks ginger for being too pale

While racism has been in the news a lot, the NY Daily News reports that a ginger was kicked off an Arab airline for being too pale:
A pale, red-headed teenager was stopped from getting on a plane because staff mistook her coloring for being ill.

Grace Wain was trying to board an Etihad flight from Manchester, England, to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean on July 6, reports the Mirror.

But staff checking the 14-year-old and her family onto the flight were convinced she was sick.

They even refused to back down after a check-up by an airport paramedic.

Only after Grace produced written confirmation from her doctor back home in Scotland was she allowed to fly.

That confirmation was emailed to the airport.

Her dad, Paul, said: "I told them, 'We live in Scotland,' she is a redhead and has a pale complexion. That's just the way she is."

Grace was reduced to tears by the incident.
I wonder what would happen if a European airline kicked off an African girl for looking too black.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ignore advice and eat more fat

The NY Times has an article on govt agencies giving bad diet advice:
But nutrition, like any scientific field, has advanced quickly, and by 2000, the benefits of very-low-fat diets had come into question. Increasingly, the 30 percent cap on dietary fat appeared arbitrary and possibly harmful. Following an Institute of Medicine report, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines quietly began to reverse the government’s campaign against dietary fat, increasing the upper limit to 35 percent — and also, for the first time, recommending a lower limit of 20 percent.

Yet, this major change went largely unnoticed by federal food policy makers. The Nutrition Facts panel on all packaged foods continued to use, and still uses today, the older 30 percent limit on total fat. And the Food and Drug Administration continues to regulate health claims based on total fat, regardless of the food source. In March, the F.D.A. formally warned the manufacturer of Kind snack bars to stop marketing their products as “healthy” when they exceeded decades-old limits on total and saturated fat — even though the fats in these products mainly come from nuts and healthy vegetable sources.

The “We Can!” program, run by the National Institutes of Health, recommends that kids “eat almost anytime” fat-free salad dressing, ketchup, diet soda and trimmed beef, but only “eat sometimes or less often” all vegetables with added fat, nuts, peanut butter, tuna canned in oil and olive oil. Astoundingly, the National School Lunch Program bans whole milk, but allows sugar-sweetened skim milk. ...

Recent research has established the futility of focusing on low-fat foods. Confirming many other observations, large randomized trials in 2006 and 2013 showed that a low-fat diet had no significant benefits for heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer risks, while a high-fat, Mediterranean-style diet rich in nuts or extra-virgin olive oil — exceeding 40 percent of calories in total fat — significantly reduced cardiovascular disease, diabetes and long-term weight gain. Other studies have shown that high-fat diets are similar to, or better than, low-fat diets for short-term weight loss, and that types of foods, rather than fat content, relate to long-term weight gain.
This is right, except for "like any scientific field". I cannot think of any other science that go around telling people wrong stuff as the field of nutrition does.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

FBI wants your crypto keys

FBI Director James Comey writes:
But my job is to try to keep people safe. In universal strong encryption, I see something that is with us already and growing every day that will inexorably affect my ability to do that job. It may be that, as a people, we decide the benefits here outweigh the costs and that there is no sensible, technically feasible way to optimize privacy and safety in this particular context, or that public safety folks will be able to do their job well enough in the world of universal strong encryption. Those are decisions Americans should make, but I think part of my job is make sure the debate is informed by a reasonable understanding of the costs.
See this SciAm article for background.

Some prominent cryptologists have written an essay on The Risks of Mandating Backdoors in Encryption Products. They say that the govt plan cannot work, and and the NY Times says that a previous Clinton administration plan was shown to not work either.

I am inclined to agree that giving the Obama administration everything they want would infringe our civil liberties, but the cryptologist argument is nonsense. The Clinton administration plan was defeated politically, not by technical weaknesses.

Every other country spies on its citizens, and does it without any statutory limitation or due process. Apple, Google, credit bureaus, Obamacare, and others collect vast amounts of privacy invading data on us, and we have very few protections. The main forces against encryption are businesses who profit from selling our private data.

It would be possible to give the feds what they ask, and give citizens better protections than they have today. There are no technical barriers to this.

These cryptologists are saying something that is popular with civil libertarians, and with big data companies who would like to keep spying on us. But those big data companies are eager to give the false impression that all of your data can be trusted with them, and that the FBI is the real threat to your privacy.

Here is a bigger threat, from a Latina political appointment in the Obama administration:
Katherine Archuleta, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, resigned under pressure on Friday, one day after the government revealed that two sweeping cyberintrusions at the agency had resulted in the theft of the personal information of more than 22 million people, including those who had applied for sensitive security clearances.
I think that it is just a matter of time before massive files on everyone get put on the web, with Social Security numbers, addresses, and health info. Once that happens, people will see little point in making that info secret anymore.

Update: James Baker says that he convinced the NY Times to issue a correction about the supposed technical weaknesses of the Clinton administration plan.

While I was on the opposite side of Baker in the 1990s crypto wars, I agree with him that the press has fallen for lame arguments from cryptologists.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Truth is Out There

Wikipedia describes the TV show The X-Files:
The main story arc involves the agents' efforts to uncover a government conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrials on Earth and their sinister collaboration with those governments. Mysterious men comprising a shadow element within the U.S. government, known as "The Syndicate", are the major villains in the series; late in the series it is revealed that The Syndicate acts as the only liaison between mankind and a group of extraterrestrials that intends to destroy the human species. They are usually represented by The Smoking Man (William B. Davis), a ruthless killer and a masterful politician and negotiator and the series' principal antagonist.[
This TV show was surprisingly popular in the 1990s. It had a couple of spin-off movies, and is soon returning to TV. See also Mythology of The X-Files:
The overarching story, which spans events as early as the 1940s, is built around a government conspiracy to hide the truth about alien existence and their doomsday plan. Not all episodes advanced the mythology plot, but the ones that did were often set up by Mulder via an opening monologue.

Most mythological elements in The X-Files relate to extraterrestrial beings, referred to by the writers as "Colonists," whose primary goal is to colonize Earth. Late in the series, this was revealed to have been planned for the year 2012.
But why would such a wacky show be popular? My theory is the aliens were a metaphor.

A famous example of such a metaphor is Godzilla:
With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons.[16] As the film series expanded, some stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla as a hero while other plots still portrayed Godzilla as a destructive monster; sometimes the lesser of two threats who plays the defender by default but is still a danger to humanity.
The idea is that Japanese pride had difficulty directly addressing the concept that American nuclear technology had both conquered them and saved them. So they invented Godzilla.

What conspiracy could be so compelling and so terrible to get the attention of world leaders, but have to be kept secret? In the X-Files, the presumption is that the world leaders have sold out the human race for some short term gain. Cooperating with the space aliens is yielding some tangible benefits, but ultimately the aliens will invade Earth and have no use for humans. The conspiracy always kicks in to keep this secret, because the public would never accept such a sellout, and revolt. Occasionally some info leaks out, but the truth is too terrible to be believed.

So if this is a metaphor, what is the real conspiracy? The obvious choice is promoting illegal aliens and immigration, because of the word "alien". I think the conspiracy must run deeper than that, and be something that no one dares mention.

My theory is that there is a vast global conspiracy to exterminate those who created Western Civilization. That is, white males, Christian patriarchy, nuclear family, and republican government.

If there were such a conspiracy, what would be the effects?

Social policies would discourage births in the white populations of N. America and Europe, until the rate drops far below replacement. Aid would be given to Third World countries, so that they can have unrestrained population growth. Barriers to immigration would be removed, so that N. America and Europe can be resettled by non-whites and non-Christians.

Anyone who shows pride in white people or Christian ideals would be mocked and shamed, while the opposite is praised. All of the world's evils would be attributed to white Christian men. Tolerance would be required of evils from other groups.

White males would still be needed to create the technologies that enable basic necessities for the rest of the world. But once those are in place, they will be the slaves, and only kept in sufficient numbers to maintain the system.

If someone like Donald Trump gets invited into the conspiracy and then leaks what is really going on with immigration, he will be shunned in the harshest terms. No one will debate him on the merits of what he says. Those who are in on the conspiracy must somehow suppress the truth, because the public would not accept what our overlords are really doing.

If the conspirators infiltrated the Vatican, the Pope would issue an encyclical denouncing the major accomplishments of Western Civilization, including energy, wealth, food, and water, and say that we must all cut back in order to support Third World development, population growth, and migration into developed countries.

ISIS flags would be readily available on Ebay, while any flag symbolizing white pride would be banned.

Of course, there could never be such a conspiracy. Popes do not take orders from Marxist nihilists, as far as I know. But it is amusing to speculate about how the world might be different if there were such a conspiracy. If you can think of some disproof of such a conspiracy, please put it in the comments.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

H1N1 flu vaccine causes permanent narcolepsy

California has passed an extreme vaccination mandate, but ExtremeTech reports:
These days, it’s easy to be dismissive of anti-vaccine headlines. Long content to be headed by Jenny McCarthy and disgraced researchers, the so-called “anti-vaxxers” have produced so much nonsense in their ill-advised quest to end routine vaccination that many are quick to jump to an equally reflexive conclusion: all vaccines are inherently safe. But the reality is that vaccines are medicines like any other, foreign substances introduced into the body specifically because the body will react powerfully to them. Many vaccines are thrown out during testing because they turn out to do more harm than we can abide. Even so, the screening process isn’t perfect, and clinical trials don’t necessarily capture every single low-probability reaction. This week, a major study in Science Transitional Medicine shows how a vaccine called Pandemrix really may cause narcolepsy. This report is different from an earlier 2013 study on Pandemrix (published in the same journal) that claimed to find a link between the vaccine and narcolepsy, but was retracted a short time after publication. ...

This week’s study changes that. The seeming cause is not mercury poisoning, or any of the other thoroughly discredited “links” between childhood vaccines and autism, but rather goes back to the very mechanism of any vaccine’s useful function: immune response. Vaccines stimulate antibodies and essentially prime the immune system to deal with a later viral invasion, but clinical testing may have underestimated the intensity of Pandemrix’s cross-reaction with a totally unintended natural antibody. Pandemrix may contain a protein that is too similar to a natural brain protein. In some people, this similarity may stimulate the release of an antibody. The study argues that this antibody may be killing off certain cells in the brain’s hypothalamus that are associated with the sleep-wake cycle. ...

Narcolepsy induced in this way is a permanent malady, since the cells that produce the much-needed sleep regulation protein are now simply gone, and do not regrow.
Other vaccines have been pulled from the market because of safety problems. Do not let anyone convince you that all vaccines are safe.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Trying to censor white nationalism

The NY Times reports:
White Supremacists Extend Their Reach Through Websites ...

But the manifesto attributed to Mr. Roof included a chilling complaint about the movement’s disavowal of violence. “We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet,” the paper read. “Well, someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
So these web sites do not advocate or facilitate violence.

I had never heard of some of these sites, but on a quick glance, I do not see where any of them advocate white supremacy. They have news and opinion about racial matters, but do not seem to have any interest in one race having control over other races.

The web sites are not hotlinked, so I put them here: The Daily Stormer, National Policy Institute, Stormfront, Council of Conservative Citizens, American Renaissance, League of the South. The Occidental Quarterly.

Here is what Dylann Roof actually says in his manifesto:
The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right.
That's right, a Wikipedia article presenting facts about a news event that had been grossly misrepresented by Pres. Barack Obama and the mainstream news media.

After 6 years of crying racism, the Obama administration finally has an example of a racist crime against innocent people, and is disappointed at not being able to spread the blame beyond one lone kook:
Federal and local authorities have found that the man charged in the shooting deaths of nine black people in a South Carolina church last month had been in contact with white supremacists online, although it does not appear they encouraged him to carry out the massacre, according to law enforcement officials.

Investigators uncovered that information as they have pieced together where the gunman, Dylann Roof, 21, received his inspiration, and whether anyone else should face charges in connection with the murders. ...

So far, the authorities have determined that people around Mr. Roof were aware that he held some racist beliefs. ...

Senior officials at the Justice Department said that the shooting was such an extraordinary event that the department must bring hate crime charges to send a larger message about it.
Some day it will be a federal hate crime to be aware of a fellow citizen holding some racists beliefs, and not reporting them. No one will dare defend the Confederate Battle Flag or anything like that.

Update: It is okay to attack whites of course, such as this:
An Illinois college professor suggested on Twitter last month that because white persons owned slaves over a century ago, white persons today “are complicit in it.”

Adam Kotsko, a professor of humanities at Shimer College in Chicago, tweeted out the following on June 25: “Whether or not your individual ancestors owned slaves, you as a white person have benefited from slavery and are complicit it it. Sorry.” One person responded, “What follows from this?” to which Kotsko answered: “We should commit mass suicide.”

Sunday, July 05, 2015

NY Times complains about sites with racial views

The NY Times reports:
White Supremacists Extend Their Reach Through Websites ...

But the manifesto attributed to Mr. Roof included a chilling complaint about the movement’s disavowal of violence. “We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet,” the paper read. “Well, someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
So these web sites do not advocate or facilitate violence.

I had never heard of some of these sites, but on a quick glance, I do not see where any of them advocate white supremacy. They have news and opinion about racial matters, but do not seem to have any interest in one race having control over other races.

The web sites are not hotlinked, so I put them here: The Daily Stormer, National Policy Institute, Stormfront, Council of Conservative Citizens, American Renaissance, League of the South. The Occidental Quarterly.

Here is what Dylann Roof actually says in his manifesto:
The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right.
That's right, a Wikipedia article presenting facts about a news event that had been grossly misrepresented by Pres. Barack Obama and the mainstream news media.

Our society is of course filled with web sites, newspapers, professors, and others that blame white people for all sorts of things. Stormfront is just a bunch of public forums, and I believe it lets users express whatever views they want. I do not see how these sites are any more to blame than Wikipedia.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Geneticists do not want you to know your DNA

Here are some geneticists who do not really believe in genetics. NPR radio reports:
You can now order genetic tests off the Internet and get your child's genome sequenced for less than the cost of a new car. The question is, should you?

Almost certainly not, according to the American Society for Human Genetics, which released a position paper Thursday intended to give parents some help navigating the dizzying world of genetic tests.

"This is something that we don't think is ready for prime time for kids," says Dr. Jeffrey Botkin, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah and lead author of the paper.
Here is the abstract, and statement. The full article is behind a paywall, and the web site is full of broken links anyway.

What I get out of this is that the experts are afraid that they will lose control of the genetic testing process, if healthy people just go get whole genome sequencing by themselves.

I do not see how knowledge of your own health data can be unethical.

People get spooked by genetic info, and these geneticists are not helping. They want to create a mystique about this info being dangerous.

The DNA technology is such that there is no need to get repeated DNA tests in response to potential health questions. You can just get the sequence data at birth, and evaluate portions of it as needed. Even if Chinese hackers steal your data and post it on the web, it is unlikely that you will be damaged, unless you are a wanted rapist or something like that.