Saturday, July 22, 2017

McCain gets honest, so will die soon

Apparently John McCain came out of surgery with a diagnosis of aggressive brain cancer and almost immediately put the blast on Trump.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Russia hawk and occasional Donald Trump critic, blasted a report on the administration's new Syria posture just hours after revealing he had a cancerous brain tumor.

McCain's statement faulted the administration for reportedly ending a covert program begun during the Obama administration to provide arms to Syrian rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad.

'If these reports are true, the administration is playing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin,' the Armed Services Committee chairman said in a statement...

Making any concession to Russia, absent a broader strategy for Syria, is irresponsible and short-sighted,' he said.

This is how we can conclude that McCain is not long for this world. Republicans have a decades-long tradition of getting honest, ripping off the ideological veneer, often apologizing for their entire political careers, after they are out of power and no longer have any effect on the institutions.

So based on this, it is clear that McCain knows he'll never run for re-election again. It's likely that he'll be dead by the end of the year -- and within the realm of possibility that he'll never cast another vote in the U.S. Senate. If he starts issuing political apologies, then we'll know that the end is days away.

Daily Mail

Friday, July 21, 2017

Religious people primed to support Trump

The truth is that Donald Trump is simply out of his mind crazy. Infantile, stupid, narcissistic, illiterate, sociopathic. Likely some kind of brain degeneration. Rarely acts like he has object permanence.

But there is still a fairly large cohort of people who "Try to decipher what he means", thinking he's some kind of Machiavellian master manipulator, pulling strings and sending coded "3D chess" messages. Of course that's nonsense. He can't even string an English sentence together, can't put together the discipline to stop sending nonsensical rants out on Twitter at midnight.

His supporters are largely religious people. And the thing is, these people have been indoctrinated  all their lives specifically to look for secret coded meanings from random happenings in the world. "God works in mysterious ways." I've heard these people explicitly argue that the most trivial of happenings, like any given leaf falling off a tree, has some critical effect in God's ultimate plan for the universe.

This indoctrination of many of our fellow citizens that the chaos in the world secretly communicates ineffable truths is what will feed into this destructive cycle on an ongoing basis. Religious training is what has predisposed people to be firmly anti-fact, anti-evidence in the first place. The more bullshit that Trump spins out, the more aggressively our religious peoples will adhere to secret plans and meanings in the chaos.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

White House releases personal information of voters worried about their personal information

The White House on Thursday made public a trove of emails it received from voters offering comment on its Election Integrity Commission. The commission drew widespread criticism when it emerged into public view by asking for personal information, including addresses, partial social security numbers and party affiliation, on every voter in the country...

Unfortunately for these voters and others who wrote in, the Trump administration did not redact any of their personal information from the emails before releasing them to the public. In some cases, the emails contain not only names, but email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and places of employment of people worried about such information being made available to the public.

Washington Post

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Proof by Google searches that America is full of racists

As a barometer of our national consciousness, Google is as accurate (and predictive) as it gets. In 2016, when the Republican primaries were just beginning, most pundits and pollsters did not believe Trump could win. After all, he had insulted veterans, women, minorities, and countless other constituencies.

But Stephens-Davidowitz saw clues in his Google research that suggested Trump was far more serious than many supposed. Searches containing racist epithets and jokes were spiking across the country during Trump’s primary run, and not merely in the South but in upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, rural Illinois, West Virginia, and industrial Michigan.

Stephens-Davidowitz saw in the Google Trends data a racially polarized electorate, and one primed to respond to the ethno-nationalist rhetoric of Trump. 

There were earlier signs, too. On Obama’s 2008 election night, Stephens-Davidowitz found that “one in every hundred Google searches that included the word ‘Obama’ also included ‘KKK’” or the n-word. Searches for racist websites like Stormfront also spiked. 

“There was a darkness and hatred that was hidden from traditional sources,” Stephens-Davidowitz says. “Those searches are hard to reconcile with a society in which racism is a small factor.”


Monday, July 17, 2017

Facebook built an AI system that learned to lie to get what it wants

From the human conversations (gathered via Amazon Mechanical Turk), and testing its skills against itself, the AI system didn’t only learn how to state its demands, but negotiation tactics as well—specifically, lying. Instead of outright saying what it wanted, sometimes the AI would feign interest in a worthless object, only to later concede it for something that it really wanted. Facebook isn’t sure whether it learned from the human hagglers or whether it stumbled upon the trick accidentally, but either way when the tactic worked, it was rewarded.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Singapore court rules parents deserve kids with their genes

After screwing up an in vitro fertilization procedure, a medical center in Singapore has been ordered by a court to pay 30% child support, in perpetuity, because the child does not have proper "genetic affinity" with the parents. Note that this is different from a penalty for screwing up the procedure itself, or lack of consent from the parents. This opens the door to multiple sticky problems in the future:
It remains to be seen whether other jurisdictions will recognize the value of genetic affinity. But the judgment occurs at an interesting juncture in human history. We are gaining unprecedented ability to tinker with our genetic code, and this raises interesting ethical issues.

Do women with mitochondrial disorders have a right to engage in “three-parent IVF” to ensure genetic affinity with a healthy child, for instance?

If we use CRISPR-cas9 gene-editing technology to alter the genes of embryos, does it constitute a loss of genetic affinity with parents? And is it possible to use such editing to shift genetic affinity, by making a child’s traits more in line with one parent rather than the other?

These questions will only become more pressing as science advances, and the concept of genetic affinity may provide a coherent lens through which to consider them.
Asia Times

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The information is real and we're losing it

UW professor Kate Starbird:
“After every mass shooting, dozens of them, there would be these strange clusters of activity,” Starbird says. “It was so fringe we kind of laughed at it.

“That was a terrible mistake. We should have been studying it.”

Starbird is in the field of “crisis informatics,” or how information flows after a disaster. She got into it to see how social media might be used for the public good, such as to aid emergency responders.
Instead she’s gone down a dark rabbit hole, one that wends through the back warrens of the web and all the way up to the White House.

Starbird argues in a new paper, set to be presented at a computational social-science conference in May, that these “strange clusters” of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach.

Seattle Times

Friday, July 14, 2017

Trolling will get worse online

Experts predict that trolling will only get worse online in the future:

"Harassment, trolls, and an overall tone of griping, distrust, and disgust" will stay the norm on the internet over the next decade, experts told the Pew Research Center in a new report...

The Pew Research Center and the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University surveyed about 1,500 technology experts, scholars, corporate practitioners and government leaders in July and August 2016 for the study, and the results are pretty demoralizing.

Forty-two percent of respondents thought the internet would stay the same sometimes less-than-pleasant place over the next 10 years, while another 39 percent said they thought the internet would become a more negative environment. Just under 20 percent of experts thought the internet had any chance of getting better over the next decade when it comes to harassment and trolling.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Trump at work to destroy the press

A handful of Republican operatives close to the White House are scrambling to Trump Jr.’s defense and have begun what could be an extensive campaign to try to discredit some of the journalists who have been reporting on the matter.

Their plan, as one member of the team described it, is to research the reporters’ previous work, in some cases going back years, and to exploit any mistakes or perceived biases. They intend to demand corrections, trumpet errors on social media and feed them to conservative outlets, such as Fox News.

Washington Post

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bernie Sanders working to sabotage more Democrats

"Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plans to introduce a single-payer bill soon that will be similar to the one he ran on during his 2016 presidential campaign, and Republicans have already challenged vulnerable Democrats to say whether they’ll stand with him."
Washington Post

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Most Republicans are now negative on colleges

Virtually every day Fox News, Breitbart and other conservative outlets run critical articles about free speech disputes on college campuses, typically with coverage focused on the perceived liberal orthodoxy and political correctness in higher education.... the share of Republicans under 50 who have a positive view of higher education has fallen by a whopping 21 percentage points since 2015... Based on income levels, Republicans are less positive about higher education the more money they make...


Friday, April 28, 2017

Socrates says no man wants Viagra

A Socratic argument that no man wants Viagra.

If a man's desire is aroused, then he has no need for Viagra.

If a man's desire is not aroused, then he has no desire for Viagra.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Democracy encourages more children, which is not what we need

One problem with the standard majority-voting system is this: It encourages factional populations to have more children, so as to win the vote in some number of future generations. Overall, it incites competitive population growth -- which is the very last thing we need, and potentially deadly to our society and the biosphere as a whole.

For example:  Demographics in Northern Ireland.

On the other hand, if we "lock in" voting power to certain existing-today sub-populations, then in a few generations as the numbers change (for whatever reason) we will have populations effectively imprisoned in fixed low-voting power blocs. Much like in the U.S. today we are hopelessly trapped by the Electoral College system, instituted to maintain leverage by slave-owning states, and is driving the popular vote more out-of-synch with our Presidential results over time.

I have no answer to this dilemma.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Geography and mapping now a crime in Israel

65-year-old Palestinian geographer Beit Hanina arrested in Jerusalem for making maps.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Netflix CEO sees "serious debate over humans"

“Over twenty to fifty years, you get into some serious debate over humans,” mused Hastings. “I don’t know if you can really talk about entertaining at that point. I’m not sure if in twenty to fifty years we are going to be entertaining you, or entertaining A.I.s.”


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

UN issues list of 12 most worrying bacteria

The World Health Organization has issued a list of the top dozen bacteria most dangerous to humans, warning that doctors are fast running out of treatment options.

WHO's Marie-Paule Kieny said that if such priorities were left to market forces alone, "the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time." She estimated that it would take up to a decade for new medications.

WHO said the most-needed drugs are for germs that threaten hospitals, nursing homes and among patients who need ventilators or catheters. The agency said the dozen listed resistant bacteria are increasingly untreatable and can cause fatal infections; most typically strike people with weakened immune systems.


Monday, February 27, 2017

And thus finish the earth

I was near Fermi at the time of the explosion, but I do not remember what we said, if anything. I believe that for a moment I thought the explosion might set fire to the atmosphere and thus finish the earth, even though I knew that this was not possible.

— Emilio Segrè (1970)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Teaching how to judge righteously

One of the bigger mistakes of our time, I suppose, was preaching the demonization of all judgment without teaching how to judge righteously. We now live in an age where, apart from the inability to bear even good judgment when it so passes by, still everyone, inevitably, has a viral opinion (judgment) about everything and everyone, but little skill in good judgment as its verification or harness.
— Criss Jami, Healology (2016)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

One cannot have superior science and inferior morals

As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying.

— Arthur C. Clarke (1967)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Imagine if we pick one alt-right troll per day and dox them.

A modest proposal: Any time the alt-right brigade turns on its spigot of million-fold anonymous misspelled death rates against anyone who criticizes President Shithead, we pick one of them -- just one per day -- and track down who they are and treat them to the same experience. Publicize it. Follow it later with a classic sit-down "bleeding heart" interview about how it made them feel (something the alt-right racists would never, never do).

Call it deterrence.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Journalists are generally too stupid to understand multiplication; and they admit it with pride.

By late morning, the Facebook event had gone from a few dozen interested people to several thousand — Ben offered a hard-to-follow mathematical explanation for how interest had grown via various multipliers...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Genetic engineering to exterminate mammal species in New Zealand

In order to make the mice daughterless, Threadgill’s team introduced an additional modification. They attached to the t-complex an extra copy of Sry, a gene that is normally found on the Y chromosome and which determines whether a mammal turns out to be male. If the drive operates as intended—something that should be clear inside of a few weeks—more than nine in 10 mouse pups could inherit Sry and have male sex organs. Released in large enough numbers on an island, the daughterless rodents could, over the course of several months to a few years, result in a mouse population that is, so to speak, all Mickey and no Minnie. Then the mice would die out.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trump: "Let it be an arms race"

Let's be clear: Trump is a lunatic who has shown a cavalier, even eager, attitude towards  nuclear weapons. I think this is the greatest threat: that in his belligerent insanity, he could dust us in a series of mushroom clouds.
“Let it be an arms race,” he told a television interviewer in December. During a debate three months earlier he contradicted himself, saying that “I would certainly not do first strike,” then adding, “I can’t take anything off the table.” What’s worrisome about all this is that it is the opposite of what Republican and Democratic presidents have long sought, which is to ensure that these weapons are not used precipitously if at all.
Scientists have move the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight, based mostly on this.

NY Times

Conservative Jewish reporter tries to defend Trump, gets Trump tongue-lashing anyway

One of my favorite/saddest parts from the trainwreck news conference on Thursday: Trump demands a question from a "friendly" media person. A reporter from a new conservative Orthodox Jewish newspaper in Brooklyn -- who supported Trump in the election -- gets up and gives a preface (addressing other reporters) in which he says no one from his community has ever called Trump an anti-semite. Then he asks what Trump will do to protect Jewish centers from recent threats and bombings. At which point Trump cuts him off, tells him to sit down, "quiet, quiet, quiet" and accuses him of being rude, complicated, and deceitful. Beauty.

Later the editor of the paper said they still support Trump.

NY Times

Will Trump's daily fuckups kill off the erroneous presumption that CEOs of big companies must be smart?

Probably not. People are stupid. Yet still we dream.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The ultimate lesson of 2016 is that GOP voters have no actual ethical standards.

The ultimate lesson of 2016 is that GOP voters have no actual ethical standards. They will vote for anyone, no matter how unethical, immoral, irreligious, dishonest, braggadocian, rapacious, or pornographic. As long as they can put a boot down on minorities, women, and people who are generally literate.

I never want to hear any GOP voter complaining about anyone’s morality for as long as I live, after they’ve gone and elected President Pussygrabber. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Trump says "the greatest thing I could do" is attack Russian military

There's a line from Trump apologists that goes like, "We're safer under Trump because he wants to be friendly with Russia; we'd be more dangerous under Clinton because she opposes Russia and could lead to war."

But that vastly overlooks the fact that Trump is a straight-up batshit lunatic, and lunatics are volatile in ways that get ugly. You know: Like when Hitler was all buddy-buddy with Russia up until one day he did a 180 and invaded them. Belligerent bewildered asshole unhinged incoherent bullies do that kind of thing; spaz out over some nothing event and order a war. It's just that this time it's likely to be nuclear.

Anyway, for the safer-with-Trump crowd here's the money quote from his conference yesterday: "The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that's 30 miles offshore right out of the water." In regards to this Russian vessel.

Took him three weeks to get to that point. Shithead brigade will probably claim it's a joke, but shitheads be like that.

Facebook promises friendship; reduced loneliness. But the reality is one-upsmanship and nasty politics.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trump thinks air traffic control is too safe

President Shithead gripes that U.S. air traffic control being too expensive and wants to cut it. Admits that all of his knowledge on the subject comes from an offhand remark from his private pilot.


The first 25 days of Trump have been a zoetrope of galloping despair.

By Lindy West at the Guardian.

Federal arrest of battered immigrant as she gets restraining order in family court

Thursday 2/15: A transgendered immigrant woman gets a protection order at family court in Austin against her abusive partner. Federal ICE follows her through the courthouse and arrests her when she steps aside; presumably to be held and deported.

This is the kind of bullshit, abuse of power against the weakest in our society (immigrant, abused, transgendered) that just causes the powerless to create a culture of hiding and not talking to police or government officials. It sews chaos and a criminal underground in the long term. Fucking stupid!


Michigan GOP official calls for 'another Kent State' for campus protesters

Read Dan Adamini's heinous tweets at HuffPo.

AI is putting human investment advisors out of business

Nearly one in three investors says these machines are superior at picking stocks and lessen their risk, and almost as many say the machines are better at selecting investments for retirement than human brokers, according to a new study of US investors by market research and consulting firm Spectrem Group.
New York Post

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

AI beats humans at Poker

Two weeks back an AI poker player overwhelming beat a quartet of top professional pokers after 120,000 hands of heads-up Texas Hold 'Em. Now a game of incomplete information, betting, and bluffing -- formerly thought impossible to automate -- is now effectively unapproachable for computers vs. AI. IEEE Spectrum

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

AI beats humans at Go

It's been about a year since Google's AI program beat grandmaster Lee Se-dol at the game of Go. For many years, this game had been held out as exponentially more difficult for computer learning than chess (a game for which the human grandmaster Garry Kasparov was beaten in 1997).But recent advances in machine learning have started to make many of these insurmountable challenges crumble.

Interestingly, the tournaments of both Kasparov and Se-dol share an interesting trait: The human player was strong until a particular move in Game 2 was inexplicable to the human grandmaster. After this their morale was shattered and they were totally overwhelmed in the rest of the tournament. BBC

Monday, February 13, 2017

Don’t worry; humans will still be useful for work for at least 10-15 more years

MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson on AI:
... he pushes back a little on high-profile tech executives such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk, who in recent years have voiced concerns about the potential negative consequences of advances in A.I.

“I disagree with Elon and Bill bringing it up too aggressively,” he said. “It can be counterproductive to overestimate what machines can do right now. There’s no shortage of work that can be done [only by humans] in the next 10 to 15 years.”...

But it will require massive changes in how society operates. For one, Brynjolfsson thinks it could be essential for governments to institute universal basic income or related programs so that people can sustain themselves.

This is a common thread among technologists today. It's becoming rather blatantly obvious that rapidly accelerating progress in AI and automation will be making people in general unemployable in one or two generations. The solution is for everyone to get a "creative" job (laughable) -- and, obviously, we'll need to institute a basic universal income.

DO THESE PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S HAPPENING POLITICALLY TODAY? There is no chance of instituting basic universal income in the U.S. Possibly by the end of next week there'll be no health insurance, no Medicaire, no Medicaid, no EPA, no CDC, etc.

In the case of Brynjolfsson, the supposedly comforting thought is that it will "only" take 30 or 50 years before humans are entirely unemployable (first paragraph of article). Xconomy

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Donald Trump is Skynet

Observed by Cathy O'Neil:
We have the equivalent of a dynamic neural network running our government. It’s ethics free and fed by biased alt-right ideology. And, like most opaque AI, it’s largely unaccountable and creates feedback loops and horrendous externalities. The only way to intervene would be to disrupt the training data itself, which seems unlikely, or hope that his strategy is simply ineffective. If neither of those works, someone will have to build a time machine.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Jill Stein blames Democrats for Betsy Devos nomination -- even though every one voted against her.

Idiocratress Jill Stein on Twitter today wrote regarding the Devos nomination, "Why would we have a tie on such an egregious nominee? Because Democrats serve corporate interests." Which is about the dumbest thing you can say when every single one of the Senate Democrats voted against her. 

I've written before that leftists can only vote for 3rd-party candidates when they are too stupid to recognize the difference between 0 and 1. Here's a perfect example: Jill Stein seriously cannot tell the difference between 0 and any positive number, apparently. With her corrosive, self-aggrandizing  empty claims of corruption, her anti-science anti-vaxxer stances, and her persuasion of weak-minded people to vote against Democratic candidates, she's actively sabotaging our democracy.

Average IQ in developed countries has been trending downward

Research that while IQ's have generally gone up since WWII due to better nutrition and education (the Flynn effect), the genetic limit on IQ has started going down in recent decades. HuffPo (includes links to academic papers)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

FBI ends email FOIA requests on Mar-1.

On March-1, the FBI will no longer accept Freedom of Information Requests by email (as they have done in hundreds of thousands of cases for years). Instead, users must revert to fax, postal mail, or an unreliable and privacy-unsettling web portal.
The FBI has repeatedly been charged with, and sued for, deliberately hindering the release of FOIA records in violation of the law. Ryan Shapiro, a PhD candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has accused the FBI in court of deliberately utilizing antiquated technology for the purpose of impeding records requests. The agency is notorious for relying on outdated methods to search for records, despite having access more thorough and modern methods...

“The FBI does nearly everything within its power to avoid compliance with the Freedom of Information Act,” continued Shapiro, whose most recent FOIA project—“Operation 45”—is seeking records related to President Donald Trump. The result, as Shapiro describes it, is an “outrageous state of affairs in which the leading federal law enforcement agency in the country is in routine and often flagrant violation of federal law.” 
Daily Dot

The Executive Order for Japanese-American internment was not rescinded for 34 years

Executive Order 9066, which authorized internment camps for Japanese-Americans was not rescinded until 34 years later. Such actions are not momentary blips; they can last for a generation or more.

Much like today's lunatic ban on travel from Muslim countries, no Japanese national in the U.S. was ever found guilty of terrorism or sabotage. Wikipedia

Monday, February 6, 2017

This is not a blog about Trump

This blog was not intended to be about President Donald Trump. Of course, his election has exponentially accelerated our headlong rush towards global annihilation; and so by necessity many of our posts will be in regards to the current administration and government of the U.S.

Plans for this outlet were made many months in advance of his election. At best, we could only hope for a staunch, but likely doomed, limitation of future damage. Instead we have the worst on all counts.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


An argument: Homo sapiens is uniquely designed for, and taken remarkable steps towards, ending all life on Earth.

Which is to say: The meaning of life (human life) is to end all life.