Saturday, August 31, 2013
  Two summers

This summer has been much steadier than the usual Spokane summer. Max temps are not extreme, but we haven't had the usual breaks. It's been harder to sleep because the ground and the house haven't been able to lose warmth at night. I've had to use the AC every day, and it's been noisily cycling every night.

In most summers we had a fair number of nights when I could turn AC off entirely, and I could almost always turn the temp control down to leave the compressor off at night.

A quick Excel of the Weather Bureau's record for Jul/Aug of this year versus Jul/Aug of last year verifies the feeling. Blue is daily max temp, purple is daily min.



2012 was a few degrees cooler than usual, but shows the typical pattern. What stands out clearly by comparison is the relentless 90s of this August!

= = = = =

A bit later: Jesus, what a spoiled baby I am! "Waaaaaah! I can't sleep because I've got an air conditioner that keeps me nice and cool and I can easily afford the electricity to run it but it's NOISY and I HATE IT! Waaaaahh!!!" Rich World Problem for sure.

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  We weren't always squeamish

Following on this entry.

This bit of text is from the Journal of Home Economics, 1920 volume, p.411 of the PDF. The article was mainly about the availability of new dyes for fabric. Author began by explaining why we had new dyes:



Note that the author is not whining about moral imperatives and unacceptable weapons and international law. He's just telling Americans that we were not ready for WW1, and we needed to learn from our errors. (Which was still marginally possible back then; now it's absurd to even suggest it.)

Admittedly WW1 was a war of choice for Americans; we were not attacked and we shouldn't have bothered with the whole mess, just as we shouldn't bother with the current mess.

IT. IS. NOT. OUR. FUCKING. PROBLEM.

But when we're truly forced to fight, we have to be prepared to answer bullet with bullet, fire with fire, atom with atom, gas with gas, rape with rape, torture with torture. "Moral purity" is pure suicide. The "moral high ground" is a deep grave.
 
Friday, August 30, 2013
  The only art

Graffitists are the only PURE visual artists in today's world. Commercial art, animation, movie FX, etc, are wildly active and wildly creative, but don't quite count as pure art.

The people who call themselves Artists, the sadistic brutes who get exhibited in museums and discussed in Art Classes, have been pulling cruel hoaxes since 1910, and can be utterly dismissed. Elephant shit.

If you want Realism, Impressionism, Trompe l'oeil, Mosaic, or any of the classical styles that should be called visual art, you want graffiti. Nothing else.

This piece in Detroit (photographed by 'Tooloose-LeTrek') isn't among the best in technique, but it expresses the whole universe in an elegant symbolic narrative. It's the painterly equivalent of Euler's e^i*pi+1 = 0.
 
  If Guinness...

If Guinness had a category for "Most Universally Ignored Advice", this UK Telegraph column would be the permanent winner. No competition is possible.

Headline:"Kim Jong-un's ex-lover: Men in power may be alluring to women, but are better left alone."

The column then helpfully but uselessly provides many horrible examples of women who got killed or imprisoned when their high-power high-dollar lovers got bored.

It's good advice, but I'll guaran-goddamn-tee you it will not be followed. Not once, not ever. Men use status to get sex, women use sex to get status. That's the way social mammals work.
 
Thursday, August 29, 2013
  Roosevelt's Razor

This widely reported study is highly unusual by psych and econ standards. It uses a REAL experiment and REAL people to distinguish two conditions. (Nearly all other "studies" use psych undergrads playing absurd computer games, thus deleting all possible connections with real humans.) The subjects were REAL sugarcane farmers in India, who were tested just after harvest and six months later, to create a REAL difference between monetary security and monetary worry. The result was unsurprising but nicely verified: People think more clearly when they feel secure, and have trouble solving problems when they feel insecure.

Polistra wants to expand this into a broad-ranging principle. We all know that bad employers deliberately keep poor people in debt to keep them desperate. Sixteen Tons and all that. Bad employers don't want clear-thinking workers, they want desperate and stupid workers. Bad governments and bad religions have the same preference, which might not be quite so obvious.

In short, this is a useful cutting tool to separate bad and good organizations. If they encourage and reward debt among their members, they are Satanic blackmailers and extortionists. If they encourage and reward frugality, they are doing God's work.

In employment, we could call the separator the Ford Sword. The bad side is too numerous to bother with examples. The good side was exemplified by the 'Social Economics' movement around 1901. (eg Henry Ford, E.W. Marland.) The method typically had three parts: (1) pay the workers enough that they don't need to borrow for subsistence; (2) train their wives to manage households well; (3) provide in-house recreation and clubs for cheap amusement and positive loyalty.

At the level of government, we might call the separator Roosevelt's Razor, because FDR eliminated predatory bankers and speculators, helped to get farmers and workers out of debt, and TRAINED THEM in better money management. Western governments since 1975 have zoomed back to the pre-FDR universe; since 1990 they have rocketed out of orbit, far beyond all previous bad governments, taking every possible step to force borrowing and punish saving. Cypruscation is the latest outrage, but it's going to get worse. Count on it.

In religious terms, call it Mohammed's Machete. Old Mo got serious and specific about hacking off the shackles of debt and interest. He offered timeless guidance for honest and charitable business behavior. Christ wasn't nearly as specific. Instead, he encouraged followers to get rid of all material possessions and depend on the church. Bad advice, which has led repeatedly to pre-Christian behavior by Christian denominations. Give up your possessions, go into debt, pour money into the preacher's solid-gold Cadillac, and you will be rewarded in heaven.

Education reflects and reinforces the same distinction. Until 1980, most schools had strong Home Ec and Manual Training courses, including household budgeting.


In the New Fried[m]anite America, students are not "restricted" by direct sensory and muscular connection to the real world. They are not "restricted" by job skills or domestic skills or budgeting skills. They are Free At Last, Free At Last, Mammon Almighty Free At Last, to be ignorant stupefied debt slaves, passively absorbing TV propaganda for Fried[m]anism, buying Chinese-made crap with borrowed money, creating infinite riches for the Fried[m]ans.

= = = = =

Semi-relevant sidenote: While checking the death date of Home Ec, I bumped into this remarkable account of a Home Ec course that provided complete apprenticeship. From 1928 to 1954, Iowa State used 'Home Management Houses' as full-time laboratories for all the skills of running a home.... including taking care of babies. They contracted with orphanages and juvenile courts to keep and raise real children for a year at a time!

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  Another plea

Another counterproductive conflict, though not nearly as violent, is the theological conflict between serious Christians and serious Muslims.

This goes both ways:

(1) A clandestine 'house church' movement is spreading Baptist-style Christianity in Bangladesh. The local Muslims are making trouble for the newly converted Baptists.

(2) Several majority-Baptist states in the US have passed anti-sharia laws, pointlessly guaranteeing that the state's legal system won't adopt any principles of sharia. Pointlessly because the Federal black-robed Satans slap down these laws as soon as they're passed.


Both sides are focusing on theology and forgetting about basic culture. Baptists and Muslims agree on most things in the area of culture. Both adhere to the long-lasting principles of public health and sanity established by the Old Testament. Men should be responsible and sober, women should be modest and domestic, money and property should be used frugally and carefully, crime should be punished harshly. These principles were developed through many millenia of experimentation, and they work.

So here's another plea. It doesn't matter whose prophet is bigger. Skip the theological nonsense and cooperate on the culture. You're both right and the rest of the world is wrong. If you work together, you can pull the rest of the world back toward Old Testament rules.
 
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
  Pleading with Arabs

Polistra is often annoyed by insufficient or misdirected paranoia. Leaving aside the schizophrenics who see Martians or Carbon Dioxide under every bed, most suspicious or paranoid people have a valid point. They are usually perceiving a real conspiracy, and they are usually underestimating its power.

Classic example is Nixon. He was correctly suspicious and paranoid about his Soviet-front enemies in the media and Congress, but he failed in the end because he didn't understand how deeply and lethally his enemies hated him. He assumed he could get away with copying the sneaky tricks that JFK and LBJ had used. Nope. He couldn't.

Something similar is happening in the Arab world right now. Arabs are famously suspicious and paranoid about Jews, with good reason; but they're not applying the paranoia fully and effectively. If they were effectively paranoid, they would see that Israel loves their current disorder, and the Wall Street Casino also loves their current disorder. Chaos keeps the Arab governments occupied with internal problems so they can't think about threatening anyone else. Chaos is good for arbitrage because it offers lots of opportunities to outguess and frontrun a change in price.

Thus, Polistra and friends are pleading in deeply serious and heartfelt sorrow. Arabs, please recover your paranoia and stop fighting among yourselves. You are not gaining better governments, you are only satisfying Israel.


 
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
  RETALIATE?

Kerry isn't the only expert drifter. It's disgustingly amazing to watch how fast Satan's media can turn when their bosses order them to turn.

CBS News headline tonight: "The US Secretary of Defense awaits the order to RETALIATE for the chemical attack in Syria."

RETALIATE? RETALIATE FOR WHAT?

Who attacked us? Nobody attacked us. The rebels in Syria are not US. They're not even our friends or allies. If this "war on terror" had any meaning at all, those rebels would be our enemies, since al-Qaeda is heavily involved on their side.

Just last week, the same media who now tell us that we are RETALIATING were quite accurately describing the motives of the rebels. In fact Bashar Assad was our semi-ally (never our friend) until a couple years ago. At that point Israel decided that chaos in its neighbors was preferable to stable governments, so Israel's slaves in DC and NY helped to build the chaos.

We have always been at peace with Eastasia.
 
  Anderson's manifesto

Following up on this post and innumerable others on the same general subject... Trying to disentangle the strands of education (Manual Training vs Theorize & Memorize) and politics (Sanity vs Chaos).

Some help from a history of K-State written in 1902. (From Kansas State Hist Soc, p 174 of the PDF.)

Growing up in Manhattan, and living across the street from the Goodnow House at a time when it was still occupied by a Goodnow descendant, I thought I understood the story, but I'd never read these details before. Highly illuminating.

Briefly: The anti-southern-slavery** wackos who settled Manhattan came from Mass and Conn. The Mass contingent were Methodists and Grahamites who had been recruited at Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham. Isaac Goodnow and Joseph Denison were major players in that group. Goodnow is generally credited with founding KSU, but it was actually a team IPO. Goodnow, acting as a venture capitalist, organized Bluemont College as a Methodist school with Denison as headmaster, hoping to sell the facility to the newly formed state government. When the gov't hesitated, Goodnow moved into political positions where he was able to maneuver the sale. After that, Goodnow played politics for a while then settled into real estate.

Though nominally a land-grant college and nominally devoted to agriculture and mechanics, K-State remained a Methodist liberal-arts school from its formation in 1859 until about 1873. At that point farmers, feeling their political hard red Wheaties through the Grange movement, wanted the college to fulfill its assigned mission of training farmers and performing ag research. The Grangers placed new members on the board and overthrew the old leadership. Their newly appointed president, John Anderson, laid out his project in the 1874 college handbook:


A magnificent manifesto. Pulling the last paragraph out of the image just because I want to savor its delicious prose and perfect truth:

"Whatever else may yet need to be tried, there is no use in repeating the experiment of flying a literary kite with an agricultural tail, so often made in various quarters. It is a pleasant regential and professorial amusement, and quite attractive to an immediate locality; but there is nothing in it for the industrial student, whose estate pays for the kite."

Anderson turned the school in the proper direction, though not ideally or completely. It continued to provide real education until the 1950s, when social pressure from accreditors and other colleges overwhelmed rationality, and it returned to the useless Theorize & Memorize model.

The Grange connection helps me to solve the question I asked last week: Why do conservatives love T & M, which belongs solidly and consistently to Lenin and Satan? Why do conservatives hate Manual Training, which belongs solidly and consistently to traditional morality and traditional thinking? Perhaps because Manual Training became associated with the Grange and Populists, who are (falsely) considered to be left-wing. Feels like an inadequate answer, but might be one piece of a larger connection. [Later: a more satisfactory answer.]

= = = = =

** Footnote: I emphasize anti-southern-slavery because the Kansas expedition was financed by textile factory owners who wanted to see the West adopt their profitable form of northern industrial slavery, not southern agricultural slavery. In the end Bloodthirsty Madman Lincoln gave them what they wanted (along with 600,000 completely unnecessary deaths), but it didn't work out to their benefit. They forgot, as Yankee dickheads always do, that humans are not identical. Westerners moved west specifically because they were too ornery and loose to geehaw with either form of slavery.

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Monday, August 26, 2013
  Turns on a dime!

The maneuverability and steering radius of a politician are vastly superior to any sports car!

Here's John Kerry in 2004, running for Pres against Bush The Son:
America is fighting… and must win... two wars. The war in Iraq. And the war on terror.

President Bush likes to confuse the two. He claims that Iraq is the centerpiece of the war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy: Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network.

But now that we’re fighting two wars, we must… and we will… prevail in both. In Iraq, because the President’s miscalculations have created a terrorist haven that wasn’t there before. And in the worldwide struggle against the terrorists, because they attacked us … and because they represent the greatest threat to security in our time.

In Iraq, every week brings fresh evidence that President Bush doesn’t see what’s happening – isn’t leveling with the American people about why we went to war in Iraq…how the war is going – and has no idea how to put our policy back on track.

Here’s what Americans have learned over the past two weeks:

-- The President’s top weapons inspector in Iraq released a final, exhaustive study, with this damning conclusion: Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction and no programs to produce them.

Iraq was in fact a diminishing threat. The main reason President Bush gave for rushing to war was wrong.
And here's John Kerry in 2013, preparing to duplicate the Iraq war:
Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these chemical weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets. We know that the regime has been determined to clear the opposition from those very places where the attacks took place. And with our own eyes, we have all of us become witnesses.

We have additional information about this attack, and that information is being compiled and reviewed together with our partners, and we will provide that information in the days ahead

But make no mistake: President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious, and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny.




A fine handbrake turn, worthy of Summa Cum Laude from the Bondurant Race Driving School.

The italicized phrase is an especially elegant echo of Bush The Son's oft-repeated phrase: "The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."


Which is the real Kerry? No mystery. Apply the Law of Inferred Intent. Ignore both sets of words. When he has actual power, what does he actually DO with the power? We don't know for sure yet, but his current words are uttered in a context where they are likely to agree with imminent actions. So the real Kerry will always DO what Israel wants. Again no mystery. Plain logic. For all X, if X is an American politician, X serves Israel.

Maximum chaos in the Middle East serves Israel in two ways: Maximum chaos means maximum profit on options and futures, and maximum chaos means the governments around Israel are totally preoccupied with internal problems and unable to mount an external attack. As I noted a few days ago, chemical weapons are likely to end the war in Syria quickly, so we must intervene to prevent anything from stopping the war. Stopping the war is a "moral obscenity", because eternal bloody chaos provides joy to Israel.
 
Sunday, August 25, 2013
  Slugs!

Brief heavy rain this morning, about 1/10 inch. Refreshing. Sun and nice north wind afterwards.

So: Is it slug time or not?



It's slug time!

One monster in the Safeway parking lot was 200 feet from the nearest soil, and the rain had stopped about an hour before I saw the monster. 200ft/hr sounds fast, but it's actually not.... Human walking speed is 4 miles per hour = 20,000 feet per hour. Slug speed then = 1% of human walking speed. Not so fast.

Today's weather combination helps to refine my slug behavior theory. Clearly they don't come out when it hasn't rained. They prefer to stay deep when the top layer is hot and dry. When heavy rain is followed by sunny and dry air, they come out. But when heavy rain is followed by cool wet air, they don't come out. So their tropism must be more like "I want warmth" than "I hate wetness."

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  Squeamishness leads to genocide

Let's try some cold hard Stalin-style thinking about Syria.

Everyone is "horrified" by the apparent use of chemical weapons.

I don't understand. Dead is dead. Dead by a bullet, dead by gas. Still dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. No more dead one way than the other. Just dead. Dead. Dead.

Now a series of basic questions with answers.

Basic question 1. Which side in Syria would be better for US interests? We don't know. As far as we can tell, both are equally bad.

Basic question 2. Which side would be better for the Syrian people? We don't know. As far as we can tell, both are equally bad.

Basic question 3. Given that both sides are equally bad, what is the best result? A quick end to the fighting. If the fighting continues, it will kill everyone in the country FOR NO PURPOSE.

Basic question 4. What ends a war quickly? Think of Dresden and Hiroshima. HUGE and SUDDEN civilian losses cause a determined fighter to lose his will.

THEREFORE: Instead of wringing our hands in horror, we should be ENCOURAGING the use of more chemical weapons as fast as possible, so the rebel side will give up.

= = = = =

This style of hard objectivity is Unthink and Crimethink today, but before 1950 American experts and media were fully capable of rationality. I've been listening at bedtime to a couple of radio series: America Looks Abroad from 1940, and Story Behind The Headlines from '46 to '48. Both appeared on commercial networks, both were written by foreign policy experts and academics, both were perfectly objective and well-rounded. No avoidance of uncomfortable truth, no meaningless platitudes, no false logic.
 
Saturday, August 24, 2013
  Logic and reason aren't the same

Max Keiser hits one point brilliantly, then interviews an economist who misses a point entirely.

Brilliant point: NSA is mainly engaged in frontrunning, ie insider trading. By picking up every bit of information that flows, NSA can spot trends and ideas and inventions before they go public, and can help its Chosen Customers in government or business to profit from those trends, politically or monetarily.

This fits with what I saw in the '80s when I was working in speech recognition research. Every time we came up with something that seemed new and worthwhile, we realized that NSA was already working on it. Clearly they were reading more than we could read. They saw all the emails between all the researchers and grad students, and used their vast resources to pounce on the ideas. In the case of speech research, NSA was using the stolen ideas for internal purposes, improving its ability to steal ideas from audio streams. I wasn't thinking about the external economic and political uses, but Max is smarter than I am. He can see the big picture.


Missed point: Max interviews a lefty economist who says that the purpose of globalization is to create a huge group of poor people dependent on government subsidies, who are politically powerless.

This is obviously meant to be a mirror image of the standard Repooflican line: Obama is trying to create a huge group of poor people dependent on government subsidies, who are politically powerful. (Tiresome quote: the "takers" or "moochers" can "vote themselves largesse".)

Well, which is it? Are the 47% powerless because they're on subsidies, or are they powerful because they're on subsidies? Correct answer: NEITHER. The 47% have the same power as the non-subsidized 52%, namely zero. Nobody has power based on votes, because votes are purely decorative. Only the remaining 1% have power, and they have ALL the power.

Good illustration of how logic (computer-type thinking) can lead you astray, while reasoning can find the solution. If you're thinking like a computer, you have to make binary choices. Mirror image. If the 47% are NOT powerful, they must be powerless.
 
Friday, August 23, 2013
  Universal tenderizer

Most mammals have a number of external 'action buttons'. Cats are famous for their lick-button near the first sacral vertebra, and the ears are a good pleasure spot on most of us. One button that seems to be common to humans, cats and dogs is just over the eyes. When rubbed at just the right speed and with just enough pressure, this spot leads to calm and ultimately to sleep.

Thinking in terms of the Grand Blueprint idea... The common genome contains instructions for each significant part of the animal or plant, drawn up as purpose or function instead of specific form.

I'm tempted to impute some thoughts to the Designer. "Hmm. These mammals are likely to get awful feisty, and I've given them enough brainpower to do great harm. Maybe I should provide an external Standby Switch in the same place on everyone, and see if they learn how to use it."

Cats clearly use it for a social purpose. When a cat wants to signify or reinforce friendship, he head-butts the friend using this sweet spot. The head-butt doesn't necessarily make the buttee feel better, but it does automatically make the butter feel better, reinforcing his desire to maintain a net of friendships.

Will the Designer ever decide to click all of us into Standby Mode?



Probably not. The previous century provided several ideal opportunities for such a click, but it didn't happen.

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  O'Sullivan's Law in action

Satan dba "CNN" reports on the only remaining Christian church in this fucked former country:
Elders at Ridgedale Church of Christ told Linda Cooper and two relatives that their public support for Kat Cooper, Linda Cooper's gay daughter, went against the church's teachings, local media reported. In a private meeting, reports say, Linda Cooper was given a choice: publicly atone for their transgressions or leave the church. Linda left the church.
Why is one congregation of the C of C still able to practice Christianity? Largely because C of C doesn't have a national hierarchy. It doesn't have a Washington office or a NYC office where Satan can pierce its arteries and inject his toxin.

Good example of O'Sullivan's Law. Not exactly the original form, but probably a deeper and truer form of the principle. O'Sullivan said any (social, cultural or religious) organization that doesn't hold to an explicit pro-civilization ideology will inevitably drift toward Satan. His emphasis on the ideology misses the real problem. Ideology doesn't protect you, as we've seen with the former Boy Scouts. The only protection is decentralized structure. If you don't take commands and money from a toxified location, you're comparatively safe from the toxin.

The law should read: Any (social, cultural or religious) organization with a central office will drift toward Satan.
 
  Constants and variables, as always

Today's best example of fantastically stupid misreasoning. A complete failure to distinguish between VARIABLES AND CONSTANTS.
A Canadian economist has demonstrated that it really is who you know rather than what you know that helps some sons of wealthy fathers get jobs. Wealthy people hire their children as a way of holding onto their money, the study said. Social mobility expert Miles Corak said the strategy enables money and power to stay within a family instead of being distributed to others.

Dr Corak suggested these factors will probably curb earnings mobility across generations and arguably deter less advantaged Americans coming-of-age from climbing up the corporate ladder in a polarised labour market.
Nepotism is a CONSTANT. Everyone passes their skills to relatives, because skills are innate. (I'm sure Expert Corak doesn't know that, because it's a FUCKING FACT and Experts believe nothing but BIZARRE WACKED-OUT FALSEHOODS.)

And everyone has the best chance of being hired by relatives, directly or 'connectively'. It's always been that way. Unremarkable fact of human nature.

Increasing inequality is a VARIABLE, so it's NOT EXPLAINED by the CONSTANT of nepotism.

The simplest and most obvious CAUSATIVE VARIABLE is that America and UK no longer PAY people for most of the SKILLS that are passed genetically. A few major skills have vanished entirely from the world of work; most are paid less than in previous generations. We only pay highly for entertainment and financial crime. If your skills don't run in those directions, you're not economically valuable. It doesn't matter if you get jobs from relatives or from anyone else. You're stuck at the bottom of the stack.
 
Thursday, August 22, 2013
  Not the same problem

Reading a not especially interesting article on increased business at British retail stores. Noticed something salient in the accompanying picture.... decided to test the idea.

Sure enough. You can try it yourself. Google "High street empty shops" and you'll get lots of pictures of boarded-up British shops. ALL OF THESE PICTURES CONTAIN PEOPLE. Now google "Main street empty stores" and you'll get lots of pictures of boarded-up American shops. NONE OF THESE PICTURES CONTAIN PEOPLE.

You can do a similar test with Google Street View. Pick a mid-sized town in Britain and US. Google Street will plop you into a downtown location if you don't specify an address. Slide along a couple of streets from the plop-down. You'll see lots of walkers in Britain, zero in America.

Clearly the two countries have entirely separate problems with downtown retail.

British downtowns are full of walking people who look like they have a few pounds to spend. A shop has a sporting chance, which of course doesn't guarantee success.

American downtowns are empty. Even if shops were open, they wouldn't catch the eye of a customer with money to spend, because nobody is walking.
 
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
  Listen to the bees

I've only recently become aware of the Danbo phenomenon. It's something like a 3-dimensional version of Kilroy, but with a different emotional flavor. Kilroy was complaining about specific problems, with some hope that the authorities would hear his complaints and fix the problems. Danbo is a thoroughly modern Everyman. The Danbo species cobbles up a precarious and mute existence amid the interstices of big clunky human tailings. Danbo doesn't waste effort on futile complaints. Instead Danbo finds small pleasures where possible.



Lady Danbo likes to listen to bees.

Let's rerun an animation we made for the Wheatstone five-needle telegraph:



Listen to the bees. They know something that Danbo, or perhaps some humans, might need to use.

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  False precision

Disclaimer: This is purely an impression. When you start noticing something, you tend to spot it everywhere....

With that out of the way, I've been noticing an increase in 'false precision' in radio news, both locally and nationally.

One basic principle of public speaking, whether in the classroom or the pulpit or the broadcast studio, is to round off big numbers. Everyone knows ... or used to know... that you shouldn't say $5,367,112.65 or 2.729 Percent. You should say Five Million Dollars or Three Percent. (Unless the exact number is useful to the listeners, such as today's special price on steak at Safeway.)

Another basic principle is to avoid footnotes. You don't need to specify the source in each sentence. The audience understands that you're quoting police reports, so you don't need to start every clause of every sentence with "According to Jackson County Sheriff Arthur Q. Potrzebie Junior" or "According to Police Department Second Assistant Public Relations Director Heather Hallberg".

Both principles are disappearing. Is this laziness? Orders from corporate headquarters to make the news seem more believable? Filling more time in each story to compensate for fewer stories? Or just my misfocused perception? I dunno.
 
  Who are they trying to impress?

UK authorities are striking back against Greenwald in a peculiarly symbolic way, which is guaranteed to fail. First they raided the offices of the Guardian, confiscating and smashing all the physical storage elements they could find; then they interrogated Greenwald's "wife" or "husband" or whatever you're supposed to call it, and forced him/her/it to divulge passwords for all of his/her/its social media.

Everyone knows that computerized information can be copied, and everyone who handles important computerized information keeps multiple backups. It's automatic and habitual, and in fact it's required by law for businesses. This is true of ordinary office memos, and doubly true for critical info. These assumptions and routines were true of paper a hundred years ago, long before computers were imagined, so it's not even a "futuristic" technical matter.

Also, everyone knows that NSA and GCHQ monitor everything, so why bother to pry the passwords out of this Miranda character? Greenwald and Miranda understand even more specifically than the rest of us that the authorities already have the passwords for everything interesting.

Is GCHQ so stupid that it doesn't understand the whole point of Snowden's leak? Do they believe their own lies? Do they still think the public believes their lies? Possible, but unlikely.

Latest story: UK government thinks the Guardian refused to hand over some of these meaningless pieces of plastic, and is preparing to get even more violent to recover all of its meaningless pieces of plastic. Again: the Guardian knows the plastic is meaningless. All serious computer users know the plastic is meaningless.

You're not fooling the targets, you're not fooling the informed public. You're only turning more and more people into hardened enemies. Radicalizing lots of folks who weren't really paying attention before. Is that what you want? Maybe it is.

= = = = =

A bit later: applying Polistra's Law of Inferred Intent. Ignore verbal shit emitted by authorities, look for consequences and infer that these consequences were the desired result.

We have one immediate consequence. New Zealand's parliament has narrowly passed a law 'normalizing' what NZ's own spy agency has been doing.

"The new amendment bill gives the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) – New Zealand’s version of the NSA – powers to support the New Zealand police, Defense Force and the Security Intelligence Service."

This 'normalizing' isn't necessary. GCSB will continue monitoring everything anyway, because intel agencies don't use laws.

NZ public should be looking closely at their MPs. Clearly a narrow majority of MPs noticed what happens to people and nations who don't submit to official rape, and decided to submit. 61 gutless MPs, 59 gutsy ones. Support the gutsy ones.
 
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
  How math doesn't work

It appears that 'conservatives' are mounting a campaign against the Common Core curriculum. Seems to pop up often among the columnists and second-string radio yakkers, though it's not nearly as frequent as BENGHAZI.

Unlike most political themes, this one runs deeper than labels and insults. For many decades, in both US and UK, conservatives have pushed rote memorization with a strong focus on theory. Back to the basics is their constant slogan. Currently in UK, Education Minister Gove is advocating for rote memorizing of lists in history classes.

Dammit, this is frustrating. Their ultimate purpose is good and appropriate, but their approach is backwards!

An article in the latest American Thinker shows this contradiction in math:
In my 20 years in the high school classroom (in Georgia), I've often told my students that studying mathematics is not so much (or at least not only) about mastering some specific "objective" or "standard" (as we now call them), nor is it about making some future use of every little concept that they learn. I point out that these are good things, but the study of mathematics is more. It is also about growing and developing that logical part of their brains that mathematics, in particular, serves. What's more, "mathematical training," as the math department of the University of Arizona puts it, "is training in general problem solving." Or, as Thomas Aquinas College declares, mathematics "prepares the mind to think clearly and cogently, expanding the ability to know."
Proper goal. No problem. But then:
The beauty of Elements lies in Euclid's axiomatic approach... One must, initially, establish and accept some finite set of statements (axioms) without proof. All other conclusions are logically deduced from these initially accepted axioms (or postulates).

Sadly, this approach is almost completely abandoned with the integrated mathematics curriculum adopted by the state of Georgia five years ago. Although Georgia recently gave systems the option of returning to a more traditional (Euclidean) approach to mathematics, most stayed with the integrated math.

For example, currently, most freshmen in Georgia take coordinate algebra. This course consists of six units. The first three units are algebraic. They involve things like writing and solving linear equations and inequalities, solving systems of linear equations, graphing linear and exponential functions, using function notation and language, calculating rate of change (slope), and working with arithmetic and geometric sequences...
This integrated curriculum doesn't sound 'sadly' to me. It sounds like an excellent approach and a conservative approach. Begin with something visual and concrete (graphing), then work through all the aspects of math you're likely to need in a modern job and modern life.

Seeing things in graphic form gives you the best possible tool to detect official lies. Euclid gives you nothing at all. Graphing is dynamic, Euclid is static.

Most official lies, whether in Global Warming or Die-Versity or Economics, involve a reverse causation or a false causation. The authorities want to convince us that CO2 causes warming; or that affirmative action removes racial problems; or that quantitative easing improves the economy.

If you habitually think in terms of curves on a graph, you can mentally examine phase relationships. You can see that CO2 has always followed warming; you can see that affirmative action accentuates racial strife; you can see that QE does nothing at all to the economy.


Euclid doesn't help you examine any of those things. Euclid teaches you to accept the axiomatic statements of authorities, which is PRECISELY WHAT THE FUCKING COMMIES WANT YOU TO DO.

= = = = =

Ideally (and conservatively!) we shouldn't even have subject classes in school.

What is the deepest distinction between conservative and liberal? Right-wing thinking starts with the accurate understanding that PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT. Left-wing thinking starts with the genocidal lie that PEOPLE ARE IDENTICAL.

How do we educate based on the accurate view? Job training.

You have to begin with three or four years of mainly identical rote practice in reading and writing. No way to avoid it. After that, at age 8 or 9, each person shows and knows his proper talents and tendencies. So we should take those distinct passions and use them to the max. Put each kid in a broad training program to develop his own proper skill set, which he understands and likes. Take care of all the necessary subjects within the job-oriented training, in context, at times when they can be used and appreciated.

Example: We find that your talents and passions are aimed at cooking. We give you constant practice in the essential skills of food preparation and restaurant/bakery/grocery work, adding more complexity and subtlety each year. Along the road, we take every available opportunity to discuss those other 'subjects' within the context of your passion. History: We have records and recipes from every culture and nation starting with the Babylonians, and we have riots and revolutions caused by inadequate food supplies. Math: Ratios and proportions, metrology a la Fanny Farmer, rate of change in the oven, pricing and taxes on the menu. Economics: Bread gave us the first written economic observations in 300 AD, and wheat is still part of Goldman's evil manipulations. English: There's plenty of good writing about food, and lots of opportunities to watch and produce Youtube howto videos. Chemistry: Cooking IS chemistry. Acids and bases, oxidation and combustion, alteration of proteins and vitamins. Physics: Elasticity of gluten, thermodynamics of burners, viscosity in stirring, friction in non-stick pans.

Here's how it was done at Iowa State in 1906:



Exactly right, but it needs to start at age 10, not in college.



Every major skill field has its own set of connections to each of those supposed 'basic subjects'. Presenting 'basic subjects' on their own is utterly pointless, a total waste of money, time and human capital. Kids learn things vastly better when they understand relevance and connections, when every lesson is a branch of one broad stream always flowing toward the same goal.

= = = = =

Later footnote: I've always wondered why this form of learning was completely rejected by American schools after it demonstrably succeeded 100 years ago. I've especially wondered why manual training is so fiercely hated by 'conservatives' who should be its main advocates. I suspected that experiential methods had an association with Progressivism, but didn't know how that happened. This explains it. Comrade John Dewey adopted manual training wholeheartedly and infused it with Marxist toxins, stating that the goal of manual training was a classless society. Academics have always pushed Dewey because he's a Party Hero, but they're only interested in the Marxist toxins, not the actual training.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013
  Potentially Explosive Schrödinger

Epistemology is one of the power structure's best tyranny tools. Schrödinger owns us.

Local example:
Spokane Police Department's Explosive Disposal Unit responded to a hazardous substance at a residence.... Authorities said a woman was cleaning out a home's garage when she found a container of a hazardous substance that had been in the home for years. The EDU processed the substance and sent in a robot to retrieve it. No word yet on what kind of substance it is but officials said it is "potentially explosive."

Nearby homes were evacuated for the residents safety.
Whatever the horrible stuff was ... (Isn't water "potentially explosive"? Lots of people are killed by exploding water heaters and pressure cookers) ... it was doing nothing for years. It would have continued to do nothing for many more years. The neighborhood didn't need to be evacuated during all those years when nothing happened. As soon as the authorities knew it existed, they were required to evacuate the neighborhood.

I'm not blaming the local authorities. Their actions are rational considering the power of epistemology in lawsuits and media "investigations" and federal "investigations". No executive wants to face the absolutely nonsensical but potentially explosive question "What did you know and when did you know it?"

There are two good defense weapons against tyrannical epistemology.

One is holding onto your own knowledge and memories. Don't let the principalities and powers delete history or create false facts or false numbers. This can be very hard unless you're keeping some kind of written record. Without writing, the mind is entirely too easy to flip.

The other is sharing of info. Leakers like Snowden and Manning, and the still anonymous Mr FOIA of Climategate, are the most serious enemies of tyranny. When everyone knows what the government knows, the government can't play its usual extortionate games. Blackmail only works with a secret.
 
Friday, August 16, 2013
  Grab the underworld

This is mysterious. According to UK Telegraph, many property owners have been notified that the Anglican Faghouse is attempting to 'register' the mineral rights under their properties. This didn't strike me as strange at first. After all, the new Head Hag of the Faghouse, Miss Justine Welby, is a former oil executive and has donated the former church wholeheartedly to Satan. Miss J thinks the old non-progressive ways of old Jesus are completely Neanderthal. Old non-progressive Jesus threw out the moneylenders, so Miss J has turned the Faghouse into an investment bank. With that in mind, this latest move seems logical and appropriate. Grab the underground part of the whole country and claim it for Satan.

However! As usual the Telegraph commenters do a better job than the Telegraph writers. (Another example of the Freestuff is good, paid stuff is poisonous shit syndrome.) I was assuming that mineral rights worked the same way in both countries, but that isn't true. One commenter pointed out that all mineral rights in Britain are government property. A quick google (which the Telegraph writer obviously didn't bother to do!) verified what he said. It's been that way since 1918 when the first oil well was drilled. The only exception is the first well itself, which remains the property of the Duke of Devonshire. Everything else is owned by the gov't. Simple and clear legislation.

Well then, what is Miss J trying to do? Is he/she/it asserting an "ancient right" that doesn't actually exist, hoping nobody will notice? Or does he/she/it have full confidence that the illegitimate former gov't of Britain, now equally devoted to Satan, will go along with his/her/its theft?
 
Thursday, August 15, 2013
  Mr Bullshit

I've tried to avert my eyes from Egypt since Israel's coup against Morsi. Too much tragedy, too much insanity, no point in ruining my mind and soul over something I can't affect in the slightest.

Today I have to break out of the aversion.

Old saying: Money talks, bullshit walks.

What is bullshit?

THIS is bullshit:
Washington provides $1.3 billion in military aid and about $250 million in economic aid to Egypt every year, which it has been reluctant to cut off for fear of losing leverage there and in the broader region. Stopping military exercises in Egypt was one clear way the White House could show its displeasure.
And THIS is bullshit:



Saddest part: Mr Bullshit is missing a chance to continue his own admirable policy of disengagement. Up till now, he has been pulling our money and soldiers out of places where we were only wasting money and soldiers, places where we were supporting Our SOB. This time he leaves our money in place, explicitly rewarding the most brutal SOB of the year.
 
  Stop worrying about NSA

Polistra has been hammering on two points about the NSA mess: (1) Snowden isn't giving any news. Techy types have known for 30 years that NSA monitors everything. (2) Because NSA monitors everything, they are highly unlikely to find you interesting.

Result: NSA is sort of like Calvin's Manifest Election. You may be on their list, but you won't know it until they grab you, and there's nothing you can do about it anyway. When you're grabbed, you're gone. No need to think about little trivialities like laws, because NSA doesn't use laws.

You should be worrying more about local and physical aspects of privacy.

Example. My publisher is going through some type of bankruptcy, and they're sending form letters to all their creditors at each stage of the process. Hadn't really thought of it until now, but I am one of their creditors: they're obligated by contract to send me an annual royalty check.

On the outside, of course, these letters don't say "We owe you some money that we might not be able to pay." They're just letters from a New York Law Firm. To make it worse, each letter comes twice because the publisher has two slightly different addresses on file (same street, two zip codes) and automatically sends a letter to both addresses.



How many people in this part of town are debtors and how many are creditors? I'm pretty sure this is closer to Debtor Flats than Creditor Heights. So it's a safe bet that the postman now sees me as a deadbeat.

If this notice had been sent online, NSA would store it along with everything else but wouldn't bother to read it. Even if someone did intercept and read the letter online, they would form a correct impression based on the actual text, not a biased impression based on the look of the envelope. No privacy problem there.

Maybe I'm oversensitive... Back in the '90s when I was in serious debt, scary-looking letters were truly and properly scary. Since then I've turned the situation around. But knowing that I'm now the creditor instead of the debtor doesn't erase the old humiliation.
 
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
  6 billion dollar crap

This promo pic for Musk's stupid "new" pneumatic tube was clearly built in Poser. Same program I always use to make pictures of Polistra and friends. The people in the promo are well done. They're standard figures in Poser, which is aimed exactly at this sort of commercial promo or tutorial art. It's not quite automatic, but a fairly good digital craftsman can pick up Poser, load up the people, and pose them in convincing ways, without a lot of from-scratch work.

Aside from the people, the picture is blazingly stupid. Where are the tubes? Nowhere. And if you could find the tubes, how would you put the pods into them? You'd have to roll them across the carpet with passengers inside, or maybe pick them up with a forklift and carry them to the ends of the tubes.

Irritating, dammit.

When I do a promo pic for my own pointless moneyless models, I pay attention to functionality. For instance,

this Signal House was based on a crude drawing found in an 1827 magazine. I expanded it (with a little steam-punkish imagination) into a structure that would work if you built it. The model itself does everything it should do. When you press the A key on the controls, the proper valves are pulled and the proper lamps are lit to signal the pattern for A. And so on.

Oh well. I'm not part of a 6 billion dollar project. If I were part of a 6 billion dollar project, I'd have to work hard to create hyper-loopy products that are blatantly and obviously nonfunctional and illogical. As it is, just pissing around with hobby crafts, I can get away with sloppy stuff that only works and only makes sense.

This is one tiny instance of a large and worrisome trend. In the world of software, as in journalism and science and most 'intellectual' pursuits, the paid professionals are producing crazy and murderous ratshit, while the unpaid amateurs are producing useful programs or interesting experiments or valid observations.

 
  Salute to Romania



Polistra salutes Romania. Not for any special event, but simply for being amazingly competent. I had stupidly ASSumed that Romania had fallen apart after the end of dictatorship, like so many of its neighbors.

I was dead wrong. Some news item led me to look at this Wiki summary, which is highly illuminating.

Ceausescu was the nastiest ruler in Europe, but his austerity policies left Romania with a clean financial slate. No debt. Its new rulers have taken full advantage of that clean start, resulting in a well-balanced economy (automobiles, agriculture, oil) with the lowest unemployment in Europe and an annual surplus instead of an annual deficit. They privatized the old state enterprises and made the privatization work for the people, instead of leaving industry in the same hands with slightly different names, as happened in Russia.

Compare with Greece. Night and day.

So I deeply apologize to one of the very few competent nations in the modern world. Maybe Romania needs to toot its own horn a bit more.

= = = = =

Artistic footnote: Mr Sun is not trying to be a hipster. His unshaven look is just a GIF artifact.
 
  Safer at night?

Seattle news item: A city bus driver was shot and injured by a crazy dude. Fortunately the cops were able to kill the crazy dude, sparing everyone the expense and annoyance of a nonsensical "trial", and preventing a huge subsidy to Satanic ACLU lawyers.

This caught my attention: The bus driver's wife said she was pleased when he recently changed from night shift to day. She felt that he was safer on day shift. Turned out to be wrong.

Leads to a generalization that hasn't been discussed....

Crazy dudes operate in the daytime because they want their kills to be maximally visible.

Professional criminals and gangsters operate at night because they want their kills to be hidden.

If you're in a publicly visible position, especially with lots of people around, maybe you should be more worried about crazy dudes than gangsters, and maybe you should be more worried in the daytime.

"More research is needed."

Update: More news from the same event leads to a parallel observation about the same two populations.
King County Metro Transit is checking the cameras on 550 buses, after recording systems failed to capture shootings in downtown Seattle last week. One bus driver was shot and wounded Monday morning by 31-year-old Martin Duckworth, who was then killed by police as he boarded a second bus. About 40 percent of buses in Metro’s fleet have the cameras. The cameras have not been regularly inspected...
Clearly the transit authority was using the cameras mainly for deterrence, aimed mainly at professional criminals who would be picking pockets or beating other gangsters. Deterrence works reasonably well in that context, but doesn't work with crazy dudes. Either they want to be seen, or they have a unique and unpredictable idea about the purpose of the cameras.
 
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
  Willys mystery

I was skipping through an old Greek movie on Youtube, hoping to see some hot '60s babes**. No luck, but found something almost as interesting.



The movie had two of these cars in a dumb chase scene. They're strange chimeras. Not proper Willys as seen from the side, but extremely Willys on the front. The grille and hood are shaped to resemble the Willys pickup and Station Wagon, but they're not actually the same sheet metal. (I owned a Willys pickup once, so I know the shapes.) Universal Jeeps never had this front end. The back part looks more like Jeepster than Universal Jeep, but it's closer to the length of a Jeep. Neither fish nor fowl.

Tried googling. Nothing so far. "Greek Jeep" leads to a surprising number of Jeep fans and Jeep clubs in modern Greece, but no Greek version or Greek equivalent of the old Jeep. Looked at various Soviet jeep-like cars, but no match there either. Was this a conversion kit? If so, it was never popular in US.

** Cinematic footnote: If you want to see real 60s-style women portrayed realistically in film, look at Greek, Turkish, or Egyptian movies from those years. I don't know why real women were so accurately represented in that end of the Mediterranean, but I do know why you won't find them in American or Western Euro movies. For completely non-mysterious reasons, Western moviemakers were solely interested in interactions among males. They tossed in a few nominal females who looked more like boys (eg Mia Farrow), again for completely non-mysterious reasons. On rare occasions the late lamented Karen Black was allowed to play an actual-looking woman, but her character was a hopelessly stupid imbecile, again for completely non-mysterious reasons.

= = = = =

Later: A different Greek movie shows this Willys station wagon.

Unlike the confused Jeepoid above, this car appears to be 'correct' except for the doorhandles, which are just like the Jeepster doorhandles of the chimera. Leads me to believe there must have been a Greek Willys plant, or possibly a large dealer who did his own conversions. But I don't know why you'd want to modify only the doorhandles!
 
  Tweet tweet hayyyaaaah!

During this morning's walk I was suddenly passed at high speed by a canine-powered bike. A guy was using his dog to pull his bicycle, and was giving the dog stagecoach-type commands with whistles and vocalizations. Tweet tweet hayyyaaaah! Tweet tweet hayyyaaaah!

The dog wasn't a big husky or shepherd ... looked like a border/terrier mix. Seemed to be enjoying the job, so I suspect it was mostly border. (Of course a purebred border collie wouldn't be content with mere pulling. He would rebuild the bike into a pneumatic/magnetic subway pod, then dig a 3-mile-long tunnel from here to downtown, then sell stock in the enterprise and get rich.)

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  The toggling of toggle




Professor Polistra has noted a peculiar semantic shift in an old word.

Let's look at the sequence in more detail:


(1) A toggle was originally a nautical gadget to make a rope-end into a kind of latch.

(2) The name was later applied to a nut with flaps or wings, again serving as a latch. Though the nut bears the latch, the entire fixture is usually called a toggle bolt, perhaps because you insert the bolt-and-nut assembly through a hole into an area where the nut would be unwrenchable.

(3) Toggle switches are common on appliances and electronic gadgets. A toggle switch isn't any more latch-y than other switches. Perhaps the name came more from appearance than function.

(4) Now the odd part. In programming or in a computer interface, toggle has come to mean something like Snap On / Snap Off. You push the same button repeatedly and get opposite actions, or hit the same point in the loop repeatedly and get opposite actions.

This doesn't make a lick of sense. Prof P looks at the history of household switches and finds better candidates for the metaphor.



(1) and (2) The first common switch for household circuits was the Rotary Snap Switch. Snap switches were common from 1890 to 1920, and you can still occasionally find one in an obscure location like basement or attic stairs. The snap switch always rotated clockwise, and each turn alternated the light. You didn't need to see which way it was presently set. Just turn until it snaps and you'll get what you want. (This puts the rotary switch closest to our instincts. What is our purpose in using a switch? It's always to make it the other way. On-ness and Off-ness are secondary; Other-Way-Ness is what we want.)

(3) Around 1920 the pushbutton switch took over and remained universal until 1940. Though you now had to pick one button, the picking was easy and could be done in the dark solely by finger-feel. You find the protruding button and push it to get what you want. If the light is off, the On button is protruding; if the light is on, the Off button is protruding.

(4) This metal toggle was available for household use in 1920 but didn't sell for some reason.

(5) Finally the plastic flat-handle toggle took over in 1940 and is still the default. It has no advantages. You can't just turn or push the first protrusion you find; you have to determine which way it's currently facing, and move it the other way.

See the puzzle now? The idea of Snap On / Snap Off is OPPOSITE to the way a toggle switch works. A toggle switch is the least appropriate source for the metaphor.

Sidenote 1: Separate from the ergonomic question, the actual snap and push-button switches were elegant devices made of fine materials, and they were built to be repairable. You could take them apart and clean the contacts or replace a weak spring. Post-1940 toggle switches could be repairable in theory ... there's nothing about the basic mechanism that would forbid it ... but I've never seen one that can be opened.

Sidenote 2, later: Way with Words radio program had a discussion of verbs referring to lamp controls. "Turn off" and "turn on" are still the most common verbs. Shamefully, I didn't even think about language!!!! The snap switch is the obvious source of both idioms. It was the first household switch, and the only switch for 30 years, which is plenty of time to establish a phrase. Other idioms are Cut off/on and Shut off. Shut probably comes from analogy with gas valves, which controlled lamps before electricity. Cut might come from the idea of figuratively cutting the circuit, but I'm not convinced. Doesn't feel right. Common usage is usually opposite to real circuitry: we talk about "opening a circuit" when we mean "activating the device", which is strictly "closing the circuit."

Sidenote 3, even later: Nope, that wasn't the origin. I ran into the verb turn on, referring to one of the very earliest selector switches, in an 1852 manual for operating telegraph equipment. The whole concept of a switch was brand new, only familiar to an elite group of experimenters and telegraphers. In other words, turning on a switch was born at the same time as the switch itself!

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Monday, August 12, 2013
  Uninterruptible 1916

Another 1916 item, this one mentioning Spokane:



The outer structure survived through decades of dereliction, and now serves as Steam Plant Square, a fancy eatery for rich folks.

What caught my attention was this sentence: "...the service will be safeguarded by a large storage battery plant, which will supply emergency service."

Modern utilities are struggling with the "need" to install massive storage solely to satisfy the EPA Terrorist Army's extortionate demands for ooooooooh-so-pretty windmills to kill millions of bats and birds. Bugs will then multiply uncontrollably and destroy the forests, and EPA can then blame "global warming" for the dead forests. It all makes perfect sense if you're a psychopathic wacked-out genocidal terrorist.

Back in sane times, utilities provided storage to protect their own paying human customers from outages.

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  Bravo Obama!

Obama is almost indistinguishable from Bush, McCain, Romney, et al... with one exception. Obama is quietly pulling America back from superpower status, while the others would have tried to expand our superpowerness.

Bravo!

Several news items indicate that his quiet efforts are bearing fruit.

(1) Japan has built a new aircraft carrier. For some reason they're pretending it's a Peace And Love Ship, with a large flat area on top intended to carry a Zen Garden or whatever. Why bother? Everyone recognizes an aircraft carrier. Aside from the silly subterfuge, it's wonderful that Japan is spending its own money on defense instead of relying on us. This could benefit Americans in the end, because Japan has been taking advantage of its 'free ride' on defense.

(2) India is also building a new aircraft carrier, though they're more candid about its purpose. Otherwise same comment as Japan: bearing more of the defense load means less advantage for India, better opportunity for American workers.

(3) A rather pointless speech by Bill Clinton, trying to push Obama toward resuming major activity in Africa. China has become an old-fashioned colonial power, taking mineral and agricultural resources from Africa and installing "infrastructure projects" that will accomplish nothing except bribing corrupt leaders. China is also taking rare animals, which Clinton finds OFFENSIVE AND HORRIBLE. Tough shit. Half a billion Chinese men think their dicks are too short, and they need lots of ivory and shark fins and rhino horn and tiger cocks. Clinton obviously can't understand this problem.

Clinton wants us to get back into the colonial game. Why, for fuck's sake? WE DON'T NEED IT. We have excellent agriculture, and we would have enough minerals if the EPA Terrorist Army would stop attacking miners and drillers. We have Viagra. We don't need anything Africa has to offer, and we can't afford to bribe corrupt dictators to get stuff we don't need.

Superpower status is suicidally expensive in lives and money, and brings precisely zero benefit. We've already learned the lesson. Let China have its turn.
 
  First directional signal


A 1916 article about the first electric directional signal for cars. Looked something like contemporary traffic lights, with a rotating cylinder bearing four different words and colors, and a bell adding auditory indication of each change. Internally it must have worked like the Breguet telegraph. The STOP indication wasn't the same thing as brake lights, just as the down-pointing hand signal wasn't the same as brake lights. This meant "I'm getting ready to stop", not "I'm hitting the brake now." Several variations on this theme were offered by other companies, some with a railroad-style wigwag arm, some with a flip-up semaphore arm. None became common, none were adopted as standard equipment.

I've always been puzzled by the slow acceptance of directionals in America. The first factory-installed signal was on the 1939 Buick. Like this device, it showed only to the rear. Electrical signals weren't standard equipment until 1961. Hand signals were still legally required (but not enforced) in 1966 when I got my driver's license.

Euro carmakers standardized the flip-up semaphore in the early '30s, so Detroit didn't have an excuse for its slowness. Now we see that the idea was even older than the '30s.

= = = = =

Afterthought: Strange that we maintained the preparatory meaning for turns but not for braking. Hand-out-the-window signals included all three intentions, but modern directional signals include only the two turn intentions. There is no modern signal for preparing to stop. It would be easy enough to rig up, using rate-of-change code in the speedometer software. When present speed is less than speed one second earlier, flash the slowdown light. (I've heard that Czech cars in the 1950's had a similar slowdown light using a mechanical sensor, but can't find anything about this online.)
 
Sunday, August 11, 2013
  No, it never failed

For Commies, 100% is never enough. They are insanely greedy. Latest example: A speech by newly appointed "ambassador" to the Alger Hiss Enterprise, Samantha Power.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power used her first public speech Saturday night to urge young activists to demand results and criticized the U.N. and red tape-mired bureaucracies that don't always prioritize progress. Power told the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit at UCLA that ideology and entrenched methods sometimes get in the way of the work of the U.N., but praised those who get results and focus on problem-solving.

``Bureaucracies are built. Positions become entrenched. And while the United Nations has done tremendous good in the world, there are times when the organization has lost its way, when politics and ideology get in the way of impact,'' she said.
No, the Alger Hiss Enterprise has NEVER lost its way. It has performed its assigned mission PERFECTLY. Every time it gets involved, poor people die by the thousands, rich people get massively richer, civilization dissolves, chaos and famine and pestilence and raw bloody evil reach unimagined maxima.

Perfect. Utterly perfect. Never fails to SMASH everything.

The only time the Hiss Enterprise fails is when it doesn't get involved. Infinite evil has to operate through a finite budget. When Hiss is fully occupied, countries may occasionally be allowed to handle their own problems. In such cases the situation may accidentally improve, because the unwavering bloody hand of Satan is not fully in charge.
 
Saturday, August 10, 2013
  The seven second rule

Every now and then I try the Seven Second Test. I tune across the radio dial to known stations and count seconds until the relevant Pavlov Bell.

This morning, tuned to BBC: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,GLOBAL WARMING.

Then tuned to NPR: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,GAY.

Then tuned to a local R-label talk station: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,BENGHAZI.

All's right with the world.

But I'm still puzzled by the BENGHAZI bell. This has been constant for a year now.

Until last Sept, all R-label stations were 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,TAX for at least 20 years. I can understand TAX as a Pavlov Bell. Everyone pays taxes (contrary to the 47% idiocy, which was a major sub-bell for a while) and most people are unhappy about paying taxes. Thus it makes sense for political yakkers to yak about TAX, though neither label ever does anything to reform the system.

I can't understand BENGHAZI in this context. The incident was hardly worth noticing. A skirmish in the middle of a hot civil war, killing 4 soldiers whose job is to be in harm's way. No civilians were harmed, and no American territory was involved. (Yeah, yeah, embassies are supposedly American territory in some strange abstract way. Pull the other one.)

If you want to argue against having embassies altogether, I'm with you. If you want to argue against stirring up civil wars to obey our Israeli master, I'm with you. But those aren't the proposed solutions. There isn't a proposed solution. It's just a fucking word that gets repeated every few seconds.

Even by modern partisan standards this is unusually pointless. For a while I thought the purpose was simply to replace the long-conditioned TAX bell with an unrelated word, giving the R-label leadership wiggle room to increase taxes..... but they haven't done anything along those lines, so this explanation doesn't work.
 
  Always fun

Always fun to observe the bizarre non-workings of JournoBrain, which is identical with CommieBrain. UK Guardian has been HAMMERING HAMMERING HAMMERING on two stories in the past few days:



The Godfrey Bloom story: A UKIP politician has been speaking plain truth about cultural differences, especially in India and Pakistan. He represents actual British people who are tired of pouring money into third-world countries, because the actual British people know that the money always ends up in the hands of rich dictators and often in the hands of hardass enemies. This is the explicit and sole purpose of foreign aid and free trade: to destroy our own country with maximum efficiency. National suicide.

The Forced Marriage story: Immigrants from India carry their own cultural traditions into Britain, including some that English people dislike.
She said many care professionals were "too worried about being culturally insensitive and accused of racism" to raise the alarm about forced marriage.
And who is doing the accusing? Guardian, among many others.

Remarkable compartmentalization. On one side of the front page we have the HORRIBLE OFFENSIVE practices of Indians; on the other side we have a HORRIBLE OFFENSIVE politician who is saying HORRIBLE OFFENSIVE things about those WONDERFUL ANGELIC SINLESS Indians.

Make up your fucking mind, idiots. Of course that ain't gonna happen, because Journos do not have minds.
 
Friday, August 09, 2013
  Basis vectors

I've asked many times: Why do leftists love JFK and hate Reagan and Nixon? The three men are identical ideologically. All were hard-line anti-Soviet, all were strongly pro-corporate, all were soft on 'cultural' matters. Reagan and Nixon created a cynically false pro-Christian and pro-family verbal front, but in practice both cheerfully allowed Satan to roar forward at full speed. There's no reason for each political side to distinguish among these men. Economic leftists should hate all three, corporatists and anti-communists and fairies and feminists should love all three.

New thought: Though they were identical in political terms, they were perfectly different in personality. In fact these three men constitute an orthogonal set of compass points or basis vectors for personality.

JFK: Gold-standard extrovert. Needed people around at all times; brilliant manipulator; used his fame and charisma to milk every drop of sex and power and adoration from the crowd.

Nixon: Absolute introvert. Didn't like people, didn't need people, didn't understand human strategies and social structures.

Reagan: Ideal mesovert. Didn't need people but liked them when they happened to be around; knew how to manipulate them but wasn't compulsively required to use his fame as a tool.



Artistic sidenote: I was NOT trying for the effect, but this picture turned out to be a pretty good two-way illusion. Is the origin the farthest or nearest point? Flip/flop/flip/flop....
 
  Waugh missed this

A major aspect of journalistic stupidity that Waugh didn't parody is innumeracy. Probably because Waugh was a non-mathy type himself and couldn't see the problem.

Two excellent examples in today's online news.

(1) A list of real estate averages by month in today's Spokane paper online. The list runs up to July of 2013 (last month) but only runs back to June 2012. This means you can only make two month vs month comparisons, so the list is pretty much useless. (Real estate is highly seasonal, and the only way to determine an actual increase is by comparing this Jan with last Jan, this Feb with last Feb, etc.)

(2) Apparently triggered by the synthetic-beef craze, a peculiar map in UK Guardian showing per capita meat consumption. Many countries are missing, including US and Russia. Most of the missing-data countries are shown in gray, but Russia is simply erased from the map. No excuse for the missing data: I was able to find a complete map in 10 seconds. Obviously the Guardian journalists didn't notice the absent Russia and didn't stop to ask if better maps were available. Those problems simply don't exist in JournalistBrain. A map is a sort of abstract painting with shapes and colors, but it's not signed by a Fashionable Communist Painter, so there's no way to think about it.


= = = = =

Random observation halfway circling back to Waugh.... These mental defects are consistent over many decades among UK/US journalists, but they are NOT common to all countries. African and Arab journalists and broadcasters seem to be well-rounded adults who can handle a variety of cultural, political, scientific and numerical subjects rationally and objectively. I enjoy listening to Savile's "Fifth Floor" program, which is a semi-casual discussion among broadcasters from those parts of the world. It never raises my blood pressure and I always learn something new. Casual discussion programs among US/UK journalist types, by contrast, are intensely aggravating. Brain-damaged toddlers endlessly repeating tired infantile insults. On the rare occasions when they even mention a fact, it's 100000000% backwards on top of backwards on top of backwards, too far beyond wrong to be called "not even wrong".

Wonder how it happened? Presumably third-world journos learned some aspects of the trade from Euro and American media, but they failed to pick up the accompanying idiocy. Did they consciously decide to break the mold, or are they just better people to start with?
 
Thursday, August 08, 2013
  No conversion needed



Been reading Waugh's 1936 novel 'Scoop'. It's a sloppily told story with several interesting surplus characters who play no part in the plot. Still, the main theme shows in a frightening way how the evils of 'journalism' and international politics have remained perfectly constant for 80 years.

The central character, William Boot, is an English countryman from an old dissipated family, who writes 'lyrical but accurate' nature notes for a London paper. The paper is owned by a Lord Beaverbrook type (Rupert Murdoch in modern currency). By mistake Boot is sent as Foreign Correspondent to Ishmaelia (Bongo Bongo Land in today's money). Ishmaelia is clearly Liberia: it's been run continuously by the Jackson family (no conversion needed!) ever since the country was formed by returned slaves in 1840.

Boot is supposed to cover a civil war which is nominally between Soviet proxies and Nazi proxies (= China and India). Beaverbrook/Murdoch gives Boot a lecture on the high calling of journalism: "With respect to Policy, I expect you have your own views. I never hamper my correspondents in any way. Remember that the Patriots are in the right. They are going to defeat the Traitors. This paper stands foursquare with the Patriots. But they must win quickly. The British public has no patience with a war that drags on indecisively."

Boot is hopelessly confused and asks an experienced reporter which side is the Patriots. He learns that Beaverbrook/Murdoch was simply defining an implicit function: The winning side is the Patriots. The journalist's job is to give the winning side a political flavor that will please the readers.

A bunch of stuff happens, and Boot writes the best story about the war because he has enough common sense to avoid the crowd-mind of the real journalists. In reality there's no civil war, only a squabble among factions of the Jackson family. At the end we find out that the whole mess was engineered by a mysterious financier who needed to disrupt the Jacksons and the international proxies long enough to establish a gold mine in Ishmaelia. (Again no conversion needed.)

The real journalist jackals scramble en masse to a nonexistent location where the nonexistent Revolution is supposedly going to happen, and Boot stays in the capital where the real family squabble quietly ends after serving the financier's purposes.

Underneath the parody, the book is just a classic City Mouse - Country Mouse story. Boot the countryman outwits the city idiots, refuses knighthoods and money, returns to his ancestral home where things make bloody sense. I understand completely.

I'd never read Waugh before. It's clear that Percy (who I've read intensely) followed the same format: City Mouse - Country Mouse, overlaid by hard prophetic parody, seasoned with silly surplus characters.

 
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
  Meth town

How do you know if your town's a meth town?
Whitman County Sheriff’s deputies found 90 grams of methamphetamine, $1,500 cash, three handguns, and two long guns when they searched Steven Ray Root’s home in Thornton. ... The investigation into the two men began when an Katrena Pirtle, 18, claimed that Root attacked her after she cleaned his home and did drugs with him. The woman said she met Root on Monday in Spokane. She agreed to travel with Root to Thornton to clean his house for $100.

Authorities said Root gave the woman drugs while they were at his house. She claimed that she eventually became uncomfortable and tried to leave according to investigators. The woman stated that she was assaulted when she tried to leave the home. She reported the attack Tuesday.

Officials said EMT's on the scene said Root was bragging to Pirtle that he purchased the house with a trade of $25,000 worth of meth.
Leaving aside the silly nonsense about "cleaning his house" and the tangled writing, one thing still stands out.

Think of all the legalistic crap involved in buying a house. [The kind of house that has walls and floors, not the kind of "house" you hire "an Katrena" to "clean".] Title transfer, property taxes, etc. If you can do all of that without a cashier's check moving from one bank to another, it means a lot of eyes are intentionally closed.
 
  A + B != C

Nicolas Humphrey writes a frustrating article in New Stalinist. He takes two important pieces of human nature, describes them properly and sympathetically, and then tries to jam them together. The combination doesn't work.

One important piece is the placebo effect, which has recently been legitimized by good research. It appears to be much more than symbolic; it appears to be an innate response to a transfer of a 'healing token'. Pill or tonic or prayer cloth or holy water or anointing or massage; the form doesn't matter as long as it's concretely sensed by tongue or skin.

The other important piece is our tendency to get irrationally aroused by words or visible symbols. This response shuts down thinking for a while, but after the arousal is done we tend to feel ashamed and we reassert rationality for a much longer time... until the next visual stimulus comes along. Plenty of historical evidence. See the Crusades or Beer Goggles or WW1 or Vietnam or Iraq.

These two phenomena are neither parallel nor opposite. They're just different. One is an improvement in mood and immunity when we feel a healing input, the other is a wild distortion of mood and rationality when we see and hear specific images and words.

Humphrey tries to use them together, in an uncertain direction:
Yet our species has moved on. For many people alive today, the specific dangers that humans evolved to fear are much less present. Living conditions have generally improved, interpersonal violence is on the wane, food supplies have become more reliable, disease less rampant, and so on. Of course we still do well, as the boy scouts' motto has it, to "be prepared", but the reality is that, for most of us, there has been a huge decrease in the threats to be prepared against.

In these new circumstances we should surely be much readier to let down our guard. If only our genetic tendencies could be revised so quickly! In reality, the settings of our internal governors have not had time to adapt. So we remain hostage, in mind and body, to ancient ingrained fears. Like the Japanese soldier, hiding in the forest 20 years after the second world war ended, we are stuck with obsolete superstitions and anxieties, waiting for the all-clear when there is really no longer much to fear.
Well, which is it? We should be unprepared or prepared? If you're advising us to let down our guard, it's terrible advice. Human nature doesn't change. Even in generally prosperous times, somebody is always trying to steal or kill or make war.

We do need to watch out for those counterfeit symbols, but I can't honestly give that advice. I was able to see the stupidity of the Vietnam flag-waving, and endured jail to stay out of it.... and then I fell right in line with the Iraq flag-waving in 2001. I'm ashamed now, but the shame won't prevent me from stupidly falling in line again at some point in the future.
 
  Old Bill spins faster and faster

Poor old Billy Ockham. His spirit gets no rest.

Consider this paragraph, which is typical of the "thinking" within physics:
Worse, the particles and forces in the Standard Model can account for only around 4% of the mass of the universe. The remaining 96% is dark matter and dark energy, and scientists have no idea what either of these things might be. The Standard Model has been a great success, but it can take us only so far in understanding the fabric of reality.
A real scientist would instantly and totally abandon a theory that only accounts for 4% of whatever. But these physicists are NOT scientists. Instead of abandoning, they make up entities like "dark matter" and "dark energy", and completely reify these entities.

"The remaining 96% IS dark matter and dark energy." No it IS not. You can't use the word IS. You cannot say that the universe consists almost entirely of words and names that you have made up to fill in missing parts of your equations. If these words and names corresponded to any actual observable things, we would be observing those things directly or indirectly. If these words were real things or real forces that permeate everything, you would be able to see or measure the forces. Electrostatic force is real because we can see and measure its effects in real situations. We know which things attract and repel, and we know in great detail how to control it. We recognized this force in everyday life before we named it and quantified it and controlled it. We did NOT name it first then spend trillions of dollars trying to justify the name.

As of now, these "dark" words and names supposedly exist everywhere but Earth, everywhere except the places where we might be able to measure them.

This is NOT physics. This is very poor metaphysics, a variety of metaphysics that no responsible theologian would practice. Try it: "God exists everywhere except Earth. We know he's out there because our scriptures don't make sense unless we assume he's out there; but he never actually created anything, nobody can claim to be inspired by him, and he doesn't judge anything here." Well then, you don't believe in God. That's all. Talk straight, fuckhead.
 
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
  Coburn does the right thing for once

I've spewed considerable hatred toward Coburn. His 'pork-busting' is a distraction trick, meant to focus voter outrage on small "silly" research projects so the gov't can spend trillions on pointless wars. Many of the projects he kills are agricultural research that would bring commercial benefits to Oklahoma farmers, so he's violating his own proper duties. See Parkinson.

Now, just this once, Coburn's stopped clock has accidentally struck the right hour!
NSF’s decision removes one of the main financial lifelines for political-science research. “This is somewhere between devastating and crippling,” says Henry Farrell, a political scientist at George Washington University. .... The requirements for NSF political-science spending came during eleventh-hour negotiations for the 2013 omnibus spending bill. Some of the law’s language, proposed by Senator Tom Coburn, prevents the NSF from “wasting federal resources on political science projects...
"Devastating and crippling". Good, by fucking god. Political "science" is not any sort of science; it's just sadistic murderous propaganda for fashionable Marxism. Identical to history and journalism, except history and journalism don't pretend to be "science". If rich Commie assholes want to support it with endowments or private bribes, fine. It shouldn't be helped by tax money.
 
  Odd coincidence

This week two major fires in this quarter of Spokane were caused by igniting vapors. It's a rare cause, and both were rare circumstances.

(1) A car exploded while driving, seriously injuring a man and his infant daughter. At first a gang-style bomb was suspected, but the man turned out to be a fantastically stupid dickhead. He was trying to use some kind of marijuana vaping device which involved lots of butane. The device failed, filling the car with butane gas. Dickhead still needed a smoke, so he lit a regular cigarette. BANG!

(2) A house burned quickly, defeating the efforts of firemen. Remodelers had been applying lacquer to the floors without ventilating. When the vapors reached a gas pilot light, THUMP! In this case we have (somewhat) understandable ignorance, not fantastic stupidity. Natural gas came to Spokane quite recently, so pilot lights are still unfamiliar, not part of common experience.

VENTILATE, dammit! Windows are there for a reason!

 
Monday, August 05, 2013
  I don't think you want the public to understand.

A survey on public understanding of health insurance makes some good points and some bad points.
The first survey was designed, in part, to uncover how well the insurance holders understand four basic traditional health insurance concepts — deductible, copay, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum — as well as how well they believe they understand them. Analysis of responses revealed that while insured Americans felt confident about their own understanding of these concepts, their actual understanding was much lower; only 14 percent of all respondents accurately understood all four concepts.
Well, I'm typical there. I couldn't specify the exact difference between deductible, co-pay and co-insurance. I do understand the out-of-pocket max. In practice the first three mean pretty much the same thing: you pay directly.
The first survey also found that only 11 percent of respondents presented with a traditional insurance plan incorporating all four of these elements were able to compute the cost of a four-day hospital stay when given the information that should have enabled them to do so.
Not a valid point. You can't compute the cost. Over the last 30 years I've used insurance for an ER visit 5 times. Each time I've seen that there is no mathematical connection between the initial bill and what you finally pay. Basically the hospital starts with a bill of $INFINITY.00 and the insurer uses its muscle and political power to negotiate a far more sensible amount, then decides (perhaps mathematically, perhaps not) how much of that amount you'll pay. It's all about bullying and muscle, zero about arithmetic. If nothing else, insurance is worthwhile because the insurer is a bully on your side! You can't exert that kind of force on your own.
Finally, the survey revealed that a simplified insurance plan that eliminated deductibles and copays — the two least well understood elements of insurance plan design — would appeal to consumers.
Wouldn't appeal to me for damn sure. I've got a high-deductible individual policy that suits me just fine, costs about $300 a month.

If the public doesn't understand the choices, it's mainly because of secrecy by the insurers. Until I went directly to Group Health and applied, there was no public info to indicate that an affordable plan was available. I was scared shitless. Based on stuff I'd read online, I assumed the best possible price for an individual would be $1200 a month, which I couldn't begin to afford.
 

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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