Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Accepting robot orders

Today's Argyle Sweater.

Dilbert was also funny.

I do now think that most of our population will welcome our new robot overlords. I have seen people happily take medical orders, even when the evidence, diagnosis, and reasoning was dubious. I think that they would gladly take pills if they were assured that they were recommended by an objective algorithm running on some fancy computers.

Roissy goes MGTOW

The blog that was previous run by a mysterious man under the name Roissy, and later with even more mysterious authors under the names Citizen Renegade and Chateau Heartiste, has now endorsed MGTOW:
Disengaging from Facebook is a specific instance of a wider disengagement from America, which every truth-loving dissident should be doing now. Disengage from your country which has abandoned you, except to do those things that are necessary to maintain poolside time and then only with the barest minimum of interaction required by the system. I suggest everyone do this, because America is lost and she ain’t ever gonna be found again. Not in the incarnation of her glorious past. Say your final goodbyes to America as she was, and NEXT her. You’ll discover that this break-up is very liberating. You’ll have the freedom to game a new America who truly loves you and pledges her loyalty to you.
MGTOW means men going their own way. The blog endorsed Donald Trump several months ago.

The blog is probably the best of the red pill blogs. It has a coherent view of the world that is strikingly different from what you find in respectable sources. I do not know who is behind it, and it is so politically incorrect that the authors probably have to stay anonymous. Whoever they are, it has brilliant insights. The material could fill a couple of books, and be better than any similar book on the market.

There are lots of more offensive blogs. For example, I recently discovered Daily Stormer, and it has a lot of offensive political content. Chateau Heartiste is not like that at all. CH is more about explaining male-female differences, and how it is human nature to prefer beauty over ugliness. And it is all from a man's point of view. I think that the NY Times is more offensive, myself.

Update: See the video The Case for Patriarchy for a partial explanation of why more and more men are disengaging from society.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Economic arguments for nepotism

The latest Freakonomics book, Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain , starts by saying:
Is it a good idea to pass along a family business to the next generation?

Sure, if your goal is to kill off the business -- for the data show it's general better to bring in an outside manager.
The book does not explain, but apparently that is based on the authors podcast and transcript:
So why, instead of tapping that big talent pool, do you want to draw from your tiny little gene pool instead? The economists who study family firms say that you destroy value when you hand off the business to your blood relative.
But the podcast explains that the American data shows that the firms do fine unless the rich kid is so dumb that he only got admitted to a third-rate college.

Furthermore, it seems to me that there is a huge gap in the economic analysis. They ask whether the son outperforms when the business is handed to him from his father. A better question is whether the father outperfoms when he anticipates handing the business to his son.

The Freaks are arguing that it is bad policy for businesses to be handed father to son. Maybe so, but it seems to me that to prove that, you need to show that neither the father nor the son outperform.

My guess is that it is the fathers who would outperform, if they believe that they are building businesses for their sons to take over. I cannot understand why the economists would ignore this point.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Martian is for space buffs

I enjoyed the movie about Apollo 13, but was disappointed that many scientific and technological matters were complete unexplained, such as the cause of the failure that is the whole basis of the movie.

Then I read reviews complaining that the movie did not spend more time dwelling on the feelings of the astronauts' wives back home.

There are millions of wives who have waited while their husbands went to war or other dangerous activities. We do not need rockets to tell that story.

The new movie The Martian is partially inspired by the parts of Apollo 13 that show solving provlems. It skips the shots of anguished family back home. This is a movie about astronauts being astronauts, mission control engineers being engineers, and NASA being NASA. Sure, it is fiction, and has some over-dramatized events and sentimentality. But this is a movie for people who dream of a NASA trip to Mars.

I haven't seen any reviews yet, and I am guessing that some will complain it lacking character development, or other complaints about the plot being more about space travel than human relationships. I bet that the movie does well. There are plenty of other movies about human relationships.

Friday, October 02, 2015

A patriarchy can value women

The book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is impressive in its scope. It makes many sweeping statements like:
At least since the Agricultural Revolution, most human societies have been patriarchal societies that valued men more highly than women.
Patriarchal, yes. Devalue women, no.

A patriarchy means a society structured around men, but implies nothing about how women are valued. For example, a patriarchy will use men to fight and die in its war, but maybe they are sheltering the women because they are valued more highly.

It is sometimes argued that women are valued less in India and China, but Christian countries value women as much as men.

Here is a rebuttal to a similar claim in another popular book:
Harvard professor Steven Pinker is a superstar scholar and a champion of science and truth-seeking. His book, The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined, is an international best-seller. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, who each are probably more influential world-wide than any politician, lauded Pinker’s book.[1] Pinker’s book explains that prior to the eighteenth century, or perhaps prior to the past few decades, women had no rights, men held women as property, and men could rape and beat women with impunity. But much more work remains for men to do to protect women:
At the top, a consensus has formed within the international {elite} community that violence against women is the most pressing human rights problem remaining in the world. ...

it was also during that era, the age of Enlightenment {18th century}, that women’s rights began to be acknowledged, pretty much for the first time in history.
... High-quality data freely available online makes clear that, in the U.S., four times more men than women die from violence. Much higher levels of violence in medieval Europe were even more disproportionately directed against men. Loss of men’s lives through suicides, workplace fatalities, and battlefield casualties vastly outnumber the corresponding loss of women’s lives. These gender inequalities in lives lost attract remarkably little public attention even in our time of intense concern about gender equality. Evolutionary psychologists might explain that, because of sex differences in reproductive potential, men’s lives are socially less valued than women’s lives. But Steven Pinker and most elite thinkers declare that women’s lives have been socially devalued throughout most of history. To ordinary persons not thoroughly indoctrinated, that elite view is obviously, egregiously false.
Pinker is way off base here. See for example Women in ancient Rome, where it is explained that women had all sorts of right, such as owning land and businesses. And no, husbands could not beat their wives with impunity. See also Women in Ancient Egypt, where women were also highly valued and had many rights.

The Israeli Sapiens author goes on to present gender role theories based on men being stronger, more aggressive, and more competitive. [p.152-159] But he rejects all these, and says that maybe men have "superior social skills and a greater tendency to cooperate." A combination of all of these is the obvious conclusion.

If you think that it is odd to say that men have better social skills, just look at Bill and Hillary Clinton. Bill knows 100s of people that he can make deals with, if not 1000s. But it is hard to imagine Hillary cooperating with a large number of people.

The Sapiens book is filled with opinions about how no one is better than anyone else, no religion is better, history is a bunch of chance events, cultures are just lucky and not better, and even the invention of agriculture was not really progress. I guess he has to say stuff like that to get a broad audience. From a book review:
Nine Key Takeaways are discussed in this summary. Here are a couple to whet your appetite:

#3 - "Laws, corporations, money and religion are collective myths, or inter-subjective beliefs that collapse unless believed but enable strangers to cooperate and live in peace. The same forces that created the economy and social safety nets also support racism, class division and sexism."

#9 - "Humans are rapidly approaching an era in where they can significantly augment themselves with technology, apply intelligent design to their environment, create inorganic life forms, and possibly achieve a-mortality."
The back cover brags that you will be amazed at his logical leaps.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rights, emojis, drugs, dating market

Leftist-atheist-evolutionist (and now retired professor) Jerry Coyne writes in one of his anti-religion diatribes:
In general I don’t like discussions of “rights,” as their assertion is often a way to shut down discussion. Let’s instead talk of consequences: the consequences for society’s well being ...
This sums up a strand of leftist SJW thinking. Sacrifice rights for supposedly better social consequences.

Apple phone now force this:
Apple investigated by Russia for 'homosexual propaganda' over its emojis featuring same-sex couples
Here are the gay emojis. Heteros just get the middle finger.

I posted a defense of logicism against attacks from anti-truth leftist philosophers.

Here is the latest psychiatric drug:
By the time Feifel began hearing about ketamine, he had become frustrated with existing depression drugs. Too often, he says, they just weren't helping his patients.

A major study on antidepressant medication published in 2008 seemed to confirm his suspicions. It found that current antidepressants really aren't much better than a placebo.
Funny how each new drug comes with and admission that all the others don't work.

I looked for Media Matters to comment on the revelation that it was founded and funded by Bill and Hillary Clinton, but instead I found it babbling about Martian climate change. It is funny how the
Martian water announcement was timed to promote a Hollywood movie. This was planned two months ago, but too late to work Martian water into the plot. The whole purpose is to convince people that climate change wiped out life on Mars, so we better not let it happen on Earth. And to increase funding for NASA.

A new book says:
There simply aren't enough college-educated men to go around. For every four college-educated women in my generation, there are three college-educated men. The result? What Birger calls a "musical chairs" of the heart: As the men pair off with partners, unpartnered straight women are left with fewer and fewer options—and millions of them are eventually left with no options at all.
The book is Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game, by Jon Birger, and his blog has reviews.

I do not doubt his facts, or even his advice, but I am sure he is only telling part of the story.

For one thing, while more girls attend and finish college than boys, they are not more educated. The girls concentrate in worthless subjects that give them warped views of the world.

For another, there has been a long list of legal and social changes that have combined to kill the nuclear family, as documented in this book. Many of this changes serve leftist and feminist goals, and make is very much more difficult for a woman to have a traditional family.

It is not true that there is an excess of available women anywhere. The online dating sites all have more men than women. The book says that some areas are better than others for women, but they can advertise in those better areas, if they want. Very few do.

The first comment after one review says:
How about "you wrecked marriage by making it too dangerous for men to marry?"
Roosh V
One of the reasons that Poland is on the decline is because young Polish women are buying into Western pro-sterility ideas, choosing to spend the bulk of their good years searching for stable office work and reality show excitement instead of trying to secure a good man to start a family with. This fact is confirmed by the increased percentage of girls I’m meeting who are on birth control even though they are not in a serious relationship. The current social justice Pope has so far not objected to their newfound lifestyle.
Birger gives this example:
She was in her late 30s, he was in his mid 40s. She really wants to have kids, get married, the whole [thing]. And she's amazing in every way."
That may all be true, but it is unlikely that family was a priority for her when she was in her 20s or even early 30s. She may be amazing, but a large portion of such women have serious negatives, such as obesity, mental illness, or attitudes unsuited for marriage.

As a recent example of legal anti-male family law nuttiness, the Kansas courts have denied parental rights to a sperm donor who wanted to be a dad. But when one did not want to be a dad, he was ordered to pay child support.

Wonder why the Germans are accepting so many Moslem migrants? The people have been intimidated:
Germans who make racist anti-migrant posts could have their children snatched by the state and be fired from their jobs, according to the German Lawyers’ Association.

In an article entitled Racism and parenting: Threatening loss of custody?, lawyer Eva Becker, Chair of the Working Group on Family Law in the German Bar Association, outlines the conditions under which “xenophobic” Facebook posts could lead to parents being targeted.
The NY Times blames Austrian resistance on insufficient ne-Nazifiction:
The Freedom Party’s strident anti-Islam message seems to have struck a chord in a city whose palaces speak of the bygone glory of a multiethnic European empire, and whose public spaces now attest to increasing diversity and a Muslim population of some 12 percent.

“We don’t want an Islamization of Europe,” the party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, told Austria’s public broadcaster as he began his campaign to be Vienna’s mayor. “We don’t want our Christian-Western culture to perish.”

In Germany, such sentiments exist on the fringe of politics. In Austria, which never underwent denazification programs after 1945, the Freedom Party has morphed from its roots in groups of former Nazis to a xenophobic message that it blends with concern for the little guy.
There are some similarities between the current migrant influx into Europe and the barbarian invasions that helped bring down the Roman Empire.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Basketball player blames the wrong people

Basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lou Alcindor) writes in Time mag:
Yet there seems to be a growing belief among college students, and some fearful parents, that being exposed to anything that challenges the comfort zone of beliefs might infringe on their rights. Teachers are free to explain facts, like how the intestinal tract works, but not to offer ideas that might be unpopular, provocative or disturbing. ...

That means this is a war on reason. And the generals leading the attack are mostly conservative politicians and pundits
No, our universities are dominated by leftists and calls for censorship come almost entirely from the Left, not conservatives.

It is the Left that is always talking about microaggressions, safe spaces, trigger warnings, racial sensitivity, Islamophobia, sexist or cis-gendered language, etc. University leftists prequently advocate censorship in the name of showing intolerance for intolerance.
Were he alive today, would Buckley say that after reading a 2014 poll by Alex Theodoridis of the University of California, Merced, in which 54% of Republicans polled think President Obama is a Muslim “deep down” (10% of Democrats and 25% of Independents agreed)? Yet Obama has always been publicly affiliated with Christianity and there is not one fact to suggest he’s Muslim.
He would probably say that Obama has done a lousy job of communicating his beliefs.

There are dozens of facts that suggest Obama is Muslim. Many are listed here. As far as I know, he has never publicly rejected the Islam of his upbringing. I normally accept what someone says about his religious beliefs, but it is not hard to see why many people find his story unconvincing.

Some of the clues are small, such as Obama praising an African Moslem boy (from an immigrant family) who brought a hoax bomb to his Texas school. Now the kid is meeting the Prime Minister of Turkey. It is hard to see why Obama would do this, unless he was trying to make a pro-black-Moslem and anti-white-Christian statement.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nuclear hysteria kills people

I have posted how the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster was a worst-case scenario, and yet it did not kill anyone. Now George Johnson reports in the NY Times:
No one has been killed or sickened by the radiation — a point confirmed last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even among Fukushima workers, the number of additional cancer cases in coming years is expected to be so low as to be undetectable, a blip impossible to discern against the statistical background noise.

But about 1,600 people died from the stress of the evacuation — one that some scientists believe was not justified by the relatively moderate radiation levels at the Japanese nuclear plant. ...

“The government basically panicked,” said Dr. Mohan Doss, a medical physicist who spoke at the Tokyo meeting, when I called him at his office at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “When you evacuate a hospital intensive care unit, you cannot take patients to a high school and expect them to survive.”

Among other victims were residents of nursing homes. And there were the suicides. “It was the fear of radiation that ended up killing people,” he said.
In the USA, one of the main accomplishment of the leftist environmental movement has been for us to rely on coal power plants instead of nuclear, thereby causing thousands of excess deaths.

Update: By comparison, the NY Times estimates that the excess pollution from Volkswagen diesel cars in the last 7 years may cause 40 to 100 deaths.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Advocating a Muslim in charge

Charles Krauthammer writes:
... spectacular attempts to alienate major parts of the citizenry.

The latest example is Ben Carson, the mild-mannered, highly personable neurosurgeon and one of two highest-polling GOP candidates. He said on Sunday that a Muslim should not be president of the United States.

His reason is that Islam is incompatible with the Constitution.
David Brooks writes:
Ben Carson says he couldn’t advocate putting “a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

During George W. Bush’s first term there wasn’t much difference between how Democrats and Republicans viewed the overall immigration levels. Republicans were about eight percentage points more likely to be dissatisfied with the contemporary immigration flows. But now the gap is an astounding 40 percentage points. Eighty-four percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats are dissatisfied with the current immigration level, according to Gallup surveys.
I wonder what these guys think about putting a Muslim as Prime Minister of Israel?

Of course they would be against it. They are Jews who are strongly in favor of Israel being a Jewish state. But for America, they disagree with the 84% of Republicans who are anti-immigration, and they side with those who have an interest in destroying American Christian culture. And most Democrat Jews disagree even more. (Bernie Sanders is a notable exception; part of his popularity is based on being anti-immigration.)

Brooks endorses the idea of expecting "great things from our race":
Herman Melville summarized this version of American exceptionalism in his novel “White Jacket”: “The future is endowed with such a life that it lives to us even in anticipation. … The future [is] the Bible of the free. … God has predestined, mankind expects, great things from our race; and great things we feel in our souls.”
I do not think that Melville was writing about Muslim migrants.

Update: A Rasmussen poll says 28% of the public would be willing to vote for a Muslim president.

Update: A Wash. Post article by a rabbi argues:
Jews in America struggled for decades to become white. Now we must give up whiteness to fight racism.
Let's teach our children that we are, in fact, not white, but simply Jewish.
Most Jews would be considered white, but many white-looking Jews do not identify as white. While you might think that a term like white Judeo-Christian American culture would include Jews, many American Jews seek to undermine white culture by falsely calling them all racists. The first paragraph falsely blames white people for injustices in Ferguson Mo.

Update: The Wash. Post comments are overwhelmingly negative, from different views:
I suppose it doesn't even occur to this rabbi that characterizing "white" and "whiteness" in a racial sense as something inherently bad, corrupt, oppressive, racist, and shameful - as something to be eschewed - is itself extremely racist.

This is really nothing but an attempt on the rabbi's part to promote the "whites are bad" narrative while calling for Jews to deny their whiteness. It just goes to show, the most vile hate filled racism can be printed by one of the country's most prominent papers provided it has a leftist spin and the target of its hate are white people.
Yes, I do think that the views of Brooks, Krauthammer, and this rabbi are as racist as you will see in a major newspaper. Another comment says:
Ethnic cohesion for us Jews. Multicultural suicide for you whites.
The point is that Jews promote multiculturalism out of a racist attempt to attack white Christian culture and to promote their own racial identity, which they see as non-white.

Again, it is not my opinion that Jews are non-white. Most of them look white to me. I am just pointing out that many Jews identify as non-whites and have anti-white political views. They are pro-immigration of non-whites for the USA, and anti-immigration of non-Jews for Israel.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Islamic stampede

CNN reports:
A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season -- the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca -- has killed more than 700 people and injured 800 others in Saudi Arabia.

The stampede occurred Thursday morning during the ritual known as "stoning the devil" in the tent city of Mina, about 2 miles from Mecca, Islam's holiest city. ...

Hundreds have been killed in past years during the same ceremony, and it comes only 13 days after a crane collapse killed more than 100 people at another major Islamic holy site, the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

The incident is the deadliest disaster at Mina since 1990, when 1,426 people died.
The Moslems will be stampeding into Europe, when they get the chance, and the EU lacks the will to stop them.

The biggest leftist news story of the last week was Ahmed Mohamed bringing a hoax bomb to school, and then getting arrested when he created a commotion and refused to explain himself. See this video for why the story was a sham. No one thought that he had a real bomb, but they did wonder why he was trying to scare people with a fake bomb. Is there some reason Pres. Obama and others want an African Moslem teenager to run around Texas with a fake bomb?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Nearly all kids are vaccinated

The official childhood vaccination schedule includes dozens of required vaccines, and various do-gooders commonly complain that many kids do not get them all. However a new CDC study found:
Just 0.7 percent of all children received no vaccines at all.
Keep this in mind when you hear about efforts to use more govt force to mandate vaccines. Yes, there are some people who refuse to get any vaccines, and yes, sometimes that refusal is based on some questionable beliefs. But it is a tiny and insignificant percentage of the population.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Falsely expecting population decline

Jonathan V. Last wrote a population book called What to Expect that says:
For years, we have been warned about the looming danger of overpopulation: people jostling for space on a planet that’s busting at the seams and running out of oil and food and land and everything else.

It’s all bunk. The “population bomb” never exploded. Instead, statistics from around the world make clear that since the 1970s, we’ve been facing exactly the opposite problem: people are having too few babies. Population growth has been slowing for two generations. The world’s population will peak, and then begin shrinking, within the next fifty years.
This is only part of the story, as what he says is only true about Europe. Current United Nations population projections show Third World population increasing for at least a century.

These arguments are currently being used to say that Germany should be repopulated with Moslems. Last denies (in this recent podcast) that is his intention, but he seems oblivious to how the 2015 migrant crisis is caused by overpopulation.

While we have not run out of oil or food, we are seeing other consequences of overpopulation. It is hard to see how Europe will survive, unless it uses military force to protect its southern borders from migrant invasions. Hungary is building a border fence because it says that 35 million migrants are currently trying to get into Europe. A Gallup poll says that about a billion people in the Third World want to move to the First World.

Last has some other odd views. I checked his last column at The Weekly Standard:
Say what you will about the Romney 2012 campaign, but Stuart Stevens is bright, perceptive, and candid—always worth listening to. So I was struck by his observation about Donald Trump during the course of an interview with New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman: “For Donald Trump to win, everything we know about politics has to be wrong.”

This strikes me as exactly true. In order for Trump — or Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina — to win the GOP nomination, everything we know about American politics would have to be wrong. Think about it: In order for the same electorate which nominated Mitt Romney four years ago to switch to Donald Trump, the voters would have to undergo some sort of paradigm shift in preferences.
This is a very strange opinion, as it seems to me that Donald Trump is the candidate most like Mitt Romney.

Both are super-rich, and can claim to be not owned by wealthy donors. Both are primarily businessmen, and not politicians. Both could thus appeal to those who are disgusted with Washington politics, and to those who believe that the Presidency is like a CEO job where business skills are crucial.

Both made a strong effort to appeal to conservative Republicans, even tho both have a track record of contrary positions, and both were accused of not being true Republicans.

The appeal of Trump is that he believes in America first, he is anti-immigration, and he has a backbone. Romney had a similar appeal.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

How Apple is not truly offering privacy

The NY Times reports that Apple and others have thwarted government spying by offering end-user encryption:
In an investigation involving guns and drugs, the Justice Department obtained a court order this summer demanding that Apple turn over, in real time, text messages between suspects using iPhones.

Apple’s response: Its iMessage system was encrypted and the company could not comply.

Government officials had warned for months that this type of standoff was inevitable as technology companies like Apple and Google embraced tougher encryption.
This has caused civil libertarians and others to praise Apple for offering privacy to make eavesdropping impossible.

But as Matthew Green explains, this is not really true. Apple has engineered the system so that it can spy on messages any time it wants to. Apple can comply with the DoJ requests by just turning on its own spy capabilities.
Apple declined to comment on the case for this article. But company officials have argued publicly that the access the government wants could be exploited by hackers and endanger privacy.

“There’s another attack on our civil liberties that we see heating up every day — it’s the battle over encryption,” Timothy D. Cook, the company’s chief executive, told a conference on electronic privacy this year. “We think this is incredibly dangerous.”

Echoing the arguments of industry experts, he added, “If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it, too.” If criminals or countries “know there’s a key hidden somewhere, they won’t stop until they find it,” he concluded.

I believe that users have a right to end-to-end encryption, the govt should not be able to force weakened encryption. But that is not the situation here. People are willingly using an Apple system that allows Apple spying. The DoJ is just asking, with a court order against criminal suspects, for the access that Apple has already engineered in.

I think that Apple should either offer true privacy or comply with the DoJ.

Update: Here is another proposal:
The news comes from a draft memo from the president's encryption working group, which was tasked with finding solutions that would be acceptable to tech companies and law enforcement alike. ...

The most controversial proposal was one that targeted the automatic software update system. "Virtually all consumer devices include the capability to remotely download and install updates," the paper observes. It then proposes to "use lawful process to compel providers to use their remote update capability to insert law enforcement software into a targeted device."
Apple and others do use these updates to suit their own purposes.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Trump behaving like a President

Hillary Clinton is urging Donald Trump to "should start behaving like a president." No, Trump is not going to apologize for someone else's opinion, just to suit her. Negging is more likely. We need a President with a backbone, and Trump knows it.

Polls show that most people do not know what Pres. Obama's religion is. It gets confusing, when he invites the Pope to the White House like this:
Pope Francis's first visit to the White House next week is shaping up to be a doozy, as President Obama has arranged for several opponents of traditional Catholic teaching to be among those greeting the pontiff. ...

The list of guests at a reception for the pontiff include a pro-choice nun, a transgender woman and an openly gay Episcopal bishop -- plus multiple gay activists who identify as Catholics,
Obama does appear to have some anti-Christian views, and to seek disrespect for the world's most prominent Christian leader.

The news media does keep distorting Trump. The top story in the NY Times today is another attempt to argue that Republicans have a war on women.
She [Carly Fiorina] said she knew how disgusted women everywhere must have felt when Mr. Trump said — and then later denied saying — that she was too ugly to be president. “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” she responded.
No, Trump never said that Fiorina was too ugly. If women heard it clearly, they would know that.

I am wary any time some woman claims to know what all other women are hearing and feeling. She apparently thinks that all women are too stupid and emotional to understand what Trump said. She is projecting.

Meanwhile, some women are upset about sex robots:
A campaign has been launched to try and ban the development of ultra-realistic sex robots.

Using sophisticated robotics to develop realistic human dolls capable of performing sex acts is "very disturbing indeed," said campaign leader Dr Kathleen Richardson.

Sex dolls are increasingly becoming more and more realistic, with many manufacturers now striving to build artificial intelligence into the products.

But Dr Richardson – a robot ethicist at De Montfort University, in Leicester – is hoping to raise awareness of the issue and persuade those working on the advanced sex 'bots to rethink their technology.
See also here. The articles give the impression that this is a technology exclusively for men. In fact the sex robot market is primarily directed at women, such as this product.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

University is intolerant of intolerance

I sometime hear:
If there's one thing I cannot tolerate, it's intolerance.
Usually it is a joke, but it may soon be official policy:
The University of California is committed to protecting its bedrock values of respect, inclusion, and academic freedom. Free expression and the open exchange of ideas — principles enshrined in our national and state Constitutions — are part of the University’s fiber. So, too, is tolerance, and University of California students, faculty, and staff must respect the dignity of each person within the UC community.

Intolerance has no place at the University of California. We define intolerance as unwelcome conduct motivated by discrimination against, or hatred toward, other individuals or groups. ...

Everyone in the University community has the right to study, teach, conduct research, and work free from acts and expressions of intolerance. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of intolerant behavior ...
So if a Christian explains his beliefs by describing how they are superior to Islam, he is likely to be accused of Islamophobia, hatred, and intolerance.

Another example is Mozilla's discriminatory anti-discrimination crusade. The CEO announced that an employee would be fired if he badmouthed feminists in an anonymous Reddit account. The previous CEO was fired for being against same-sex marriage 6 years earlier.

The NY Times is also a big advocate of being intolerant of intolerance, as in this editorial in favor of cutting off money to religious colleges who do not go along with the gay agenda. It says:
This past June, in the heat of their outrage over gay rights, congressional Republicans revived a nasty bit of business they call the First Amendment Defense Act. ...

In reality, the act would bar the federal government from taking “any discriminatory action” — including the denial of tax benefits, grants, contracts or licenses — against those who oppose same-sex marriage for religious or moral reasons. ...

For example, a religiously affiliated college that receives federal grants could fire a professor simply for being gay and still receive those grants. ...

This bizarre fixation on what grown-ups do in their bedrooms — which has long since been rejected by the Supreme Court and the vast majority of Americans — is bad enough.
The Republicans are not the ones with a "fixation on what grown-ups do in their bedrooms". I do not think that I have heard a Republican politician even mention that in years. I do hear people arguing on an almost daily basis that everyone must be forced to accept homosexuality, but those people are almost entirely Democrats.

Germany is not going to tolerate any dissent over its plan to import a flood of Syrians:
Berlin (AFP) - Facebook pledged Monday to combat racist hate speech on its German-language network amid a spike in xenophobic comments online as Germany faces an unprecedented influx of refugees.

The US social media network said it would encourage "counter speech" and step up monitoring of anti-foreigner commentary, as company representatives met German Justice Minister Heiko Maas.

With Germany facing a record influx of refugees and a backlash ...

Facebook has urged its users to report offensive postings ...
Again, this intolerance is being done in the name of fighting intolerance.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mathematician's logic puzzle

There is a story about a math dept of 20 professors who all seem to know about the infidelities of other wives, but if any one discovered that his own wife was unfaithful, he would shoot her the next morning.

One day a visiting professor happens to mention to everyone that one (or more) of the wives was unfaithful. This might seem inconsequential, because they all already knew that. Or it seems that way. But these were mathematicians, and 20 days later, they all shot their wives.

You can find the explanation at The blue-eyed islanders puzzle, Common knowledge (logic), or Muddy Children Puzzle.

A mathematician is apt to find the argument convincing, but no one else.

I am reminded of this as I read puzzle about 10 pirates dividing 100 coins. A solution is given, and proved correct, except that you cannot imagine any pirates using it. Most of them would die, if they tried.

According to the proof, the first pirate will take 96 coins for himself. The pirate can vote to reject this offer, throw the first pirate overboard, and let the second pirate divide the coins among the remaining 9 pirates. But a clever induction argument claims to prove that the pirates will vote to accept the division of coins!

In the comments at the above link, I argue that the induction argument is flawed, and that pirates will vote to reject such lousy deals. Everyone else disagreed with me. Read for yourself, and form your own opinion.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Everything is wrong with the climate debt concept

The whole subject of climate change seems directed at fueling Third World population growth.

Here is the latest analysis:
In a just world the United States would pay back the $4 trillion dollars it owes, according to new research, for trashing the climate.

Global warming wasn’t created equal. Rich, industrialized nations have contributed the lion’s share of the carbon pollution to our currently-unfolding catastrophe — the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the hotter it gets, of course — while smaller, poorer, and more agrarian countries are little to blame. The subsequent warming from our carbon-stuffed skies will, naturally, impact everyone, often hitting the poorer countries harder. So, since the rich fueled the crisis that’s about to soak the poor, they might help chip in to soften the blow.

That, in super-basic terms, is the concept of climate debt, which guides current emissions negotiations and efforts to distribute funds for adaptation to nations most affected by climate change.
There are many things wrong with this. First, carbon emissions appear to be a net economic benefit to the planet, so far. Those poor agrarian countries are getting greater productivity from their farms because, in part, of increased atmospheric carbon.

Second, even if the carbon is bad, it has been essential to the industrialization of the West, and that has been an enormous economic benefit to other countries. They are getting cheap food, phones, medicines, and everything else.

Third, the calculation makes a virtue out of overpopulation. That is, a country is to be paid for its excess population if they are not participating in modern industrialization, so India gets paid the most.

This is all backwards. Any serious calculation of the effects of industrialization would conclude that India has been freeloading off the West. 100s of millions of them would have starved, without Western industrialization. And they are a much bigger threat to the climate in the future. It would make more sense to kill everyone in India, if global warming is such a threat.

Just to be clear, I am not advocating killing people in India. But I am saying that the USA has been a huge economic benefit to the world, and India has not. India's population is a burden, not a benefit.

(A few people argue that industrialization has not be so beneficial, and that people were happier before. I am not addressing that, and just looking at economic benefit.)

Friday, September 11, 2015

This will not reform Islam

The famous British historian Niall Ferguson is married to the atheist Somali Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is famous for her anti-Islam views, and says that we are in a war with Islam and that it must be defeated.

She writes Why the United States Should Back Islam’s Reformation, in a academic journal:
The decision not to call violence committed in the name of Islam by its true name — jihad — is a strange one. It would be as if Western leaders during the Cold War had gone around calling communism an ideology of peace or condemning the Baader Meinhof Gang, a West German militant group, for not being true Marxists. It is time to drop the euphemisms and verbal contortions. ...
Okay, Islam is a religion that teaches violence. But is it going to change its doctrines to please some atheists and Americans?
although some American officials defined Islam as inherently peaceful, others argued that, like Christianity, it had to go through a reformation. ...

Like Christians and Jews centuries ago, Muslims today must critically evaluate their sacred texts in order to reform their religion. That is not an unreasonable request, as history shows. Of course, history also shows that the path to religious reform can be bloody. By the mid-seventeenth century, Europe had been ravaged by a century of warfare between Roman Catholics and Protestants. But the result was to create the room for the genuine freedom of thought that ultimately made the Enlightenment possible.

One of the most important of these freethinkers was Baruch Spinoza, a brilliant Jewish Dutch philosopher. For Spinoza, the Bible was a collection of loosely assembled moral teachings, not God’s literal word.
No, this is crackpot stuff. The Catholics had been critically evaluating their sacred texts from the earliest days. The Protestant Reformation was based largely on a rejection of that theology, and a return to a more literal interpretation of the Bible.

Europe has been ravaged by wars for millennia, not just a century.

If Islam is similarly reformed, then splinter groups will adopt more literal interpretations of the Koran. Like ISIS, which uses such interpretations to justify its beheadings, rapes, and destruction.

Spinoza had no significance influence on European culture. He is considered a hero to some Jewish atheists, but nobody cared about his silly ideas about the Bible.

I guess Ali is admired because so few people have the guts to criticize Islam, and she gets a free pass becaues people assume that she is some sort of poor African refugee. Ferguson is much overrated also.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Refugees with smartphones

This Bizarro cartoon is a joke, but the guy does look like those poor refugees flooding into Europe, according to the NY Times:
BELGRADE, Serbia — The tens of thousands of migrants who have flooded into the Balkans in recent weeks need food, water and shelter, just like the millions displaced by war the world over. But there is also one other thing they swear they cannot live without: a smartphone charging station.

“Every time I go to a new country, I buy a SIM card and activate the Internet and download the map to locate myself,” Osama Aljasem, a 32-year-old music teacher from Deir al-Zour, Syria, explained as he sat on a broken park bench in Belgrade, staring at his smartphone and plotting his next move into northern Europe.

“I would never have been able to arrive at my destination without my smartphone,” he added. “I get stressed out when the battery even starts to get low.”

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Seattle Greens oppose carbon tax

The political Left is always saying that we should do something about climate change, but they resist any serious attempt to do anything about it. If we really wanted to cut carbon emissions, we would build nuclear power plants, stop immigration, and discourage Third World development.

Now here is another example:
The Seattle Times: “ ‘Green’ Alliance Opposes Petition to Tax Carbon.”
The proposed tax is supposed to be revenue neutral. Apparently the Greens will only support a carbon tax if it coupled with a socialistic expansion of govt control of the economy.

Monday, September 07, 2015

The empathy disease

Did you get taken by the picture of Alan Kurdi, the dead boy on the beach?

Here is a NY Times account:

Why this boy?

It feels like an obscene question to ask of the photographs of Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian Kurdish child whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey yesterday morning, images that have since appeared on the front pages of the major American and European newspapers and flooded Twitter ...

For me, it was the shoes. Aylan appeared in my Twitter feed early yesterday afternoon, and I spent the rest of the day wrecked by his image. More than once I found myself staring out the window, thinking about the boy on the beach.
As I understand it, the family was Syrian but had been living and working in Turkey for 3 years, and had relatives in Canada. The dad was sneaking into Europe for free dental work, and abandoned his 2 kids to drown when his boat capsized.

That is not the dad in the second picture. It is a police officer carrying away the abandoned body. The dad is probably getting his teeth fixed somewhere.

Apparently human beings are susceptible to being manipulated in this way. People look at this picture, see that the kid had a nice pair of shoes, and suddenly some empathy neurons get triggered that cause a desire to send aid to Syria or to take refugees.

If this emotional response were less common, then I would say that it is a mental illness. A more rational response might be for Canada to evict its Syrians or for Europe to stop giving free or cheap dental services to illegal aliens.

Update: For more evidence against empathy:
"Empathy," writes Paul Bloom in The New Yorker this week, "is parochial, narrow-minded, and innumerate. We're often at our best when we're smart enough not to rely on it." We'd be better off were we to supplant our flawed empathetic sensibilities with reason ...

His central argument is a utilitarian one: empathy is an often irrational emotional response that plays favorites, he says. It is thus a poor mechanism for solving real problems and making tough choices -- whether distributing international aid or making sacrifices today so that we don't warm our planet to oblivion tomorrow.
Bloom responds to critics and gives a recent interview. Pres. Barack Obama considers empathy a great virtue, altho his fans are often disappointed at how little of it he shows.

Update: Bloom complains that empathy leads people to prefer to help their own kids, over someone else's kids. I have to disagree, as I do not think that empathy is the main motivator for that.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Europe is being invaded

It is exciting to see European countries being invaded again. AP reports:
More than 1,000 people from the Middle East and Asia, exhausted after breaking away from police and marching for hours toward Western Europe, boarded scores of buses provided by Hungary's government and arrived before dawn Saturday on the border with Austria. The breakthrough became possible when Austria announced that it and Germany would take the migrants on humanitarian grounds and to aid their EU neighbor. ...

More than 1,000 people from the Middle East and Asia, exhausted after breaking away from police and marching for hours toward Western Europe, boarded scores of buses provided by Hungary's government and arrived before dawn Saturday on the border with Austria. The breakthrough became possible when Austria announced that it and Germany would take the migrants on humanitarian grounds and to aid their EU neighbor. ...

Mohammed, a 35-year-old Syrian man who was packing his belongings in the sunken plaza of Keleti train terminal and informing other migrants about the buses, said he was happy to be leaving Hungary.

"The situation is so ugly here and I want to send (a) message to all Syrian people and all refugee people: Do not come to Hungary," he said.
I guess Hungary is resisting the invasion, while Germany and Sweden welcome their new occupiers. The migrants apparently know where they can get the best deals. Israel and Saudi Arabia are deporting their illegals.

Historians may eventually label this as a great war, like World War I and the Cold War. Or the American Civil War. Many war names were only adopted long after the war was started, or even after the war. What will this be called? Is this like the Barbarians overrunning the Roman Empire?

On another matter, here is a great wildlife video: Common Cuckoo chick ejects eggs of Reed Warbler out of the nest. The cuckoo bird has put its egg in the next of an unrelated warbler bird, and tricks that bird into hatching the egg and feeding the chick. Furthermore, the video shows the baby cuckoo chick destroying the warbler bird eggs in the nest, so cuckoo gets all the food for himself. The dumb warbler bird gives all its resources to the unrelated cuckoo.

There is where we get the word cuckold, meaning a man with an unfaithful wife. The suggestion is that he might be raising someone else's kids. It is funny how wild animals can behave.

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.