Monday, October 29, 2012
  That's better!


This week is already better than last week. This afternoon is a brief period of sun and wind and warmth between cold rains.


Just got the documentation from Group Health approving my application for individual coverage. Judging from the complete internal relief and release, I suspect this tension and doubt was the main problem last week, not the dismal weather or the tooth or the mouse. I hate bureaucratic mystery.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012
  Looking at it backwards

The media still haven't got the hang of early voting and mail voting. They still think of those methods as special personal exceptions to the "universal and natural" one-day vote.

Simply not true. Voting by mail is standard in Calif, Ore, Wash. Long intervals for early voting are common in many other states.

Media is worried that the hurricane may disrupt early voting. That could only happen under the bizarre assumption that people vote by appointment; that each early voter has a specific day when he's required to vote, and his opportunity vanishes if his special day goes wrong.

Correct assumption: The hurricane proves the superiority of flexible voting methods versus the idiotic single-Tuesday system.

In states that have exactly one day for voting, a disaster can cancel the whole election. With mail or early voting, no unforeseen event can cancel or move the election. People who know the storm is coming can vote before it; those who get caught off guard can vote after it.

Mail voting has all the advantages. Best part: It takes the wind out of racist windbag fuckheads like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and Eric Holder. When there's no polling place and no specific day, Jesse and Al and Eric can't claim someone is "intimidating" voters into not showing up at the one polling place on one specific day. More generally: You can take your time when marking the ballot. You can look closely at the referenda and candidates, read other information, and mark carefully without the hurry-up feeling that others are watching and waiting.

If anyone in DC had any intelligence at all, Superstorm Snooki would be the final straw, requiring mail voting to be universal by the next election. Since nobody in DC has any intelligence, racist windbags Jackson, Sharpton and Holder will continue to spew their evil crap.

  Art buzz

Bees are excellent art critics.

Not that way, of course... When trained in a Skinner-box setup with several samples of Picasso and Monet, bees continue to choose the 'sweet' painter when they see other paintings by Picasso and Monet.

This gives the lie to the art scholars who love to spew the nonsense that I put in the bee's mouth. Scholars claim that analyzing art is a high-level professional undertaking, requiring vast IQ and decades of training.

Nope. All it takes is an animal with eyes and a brain.

The first part of Reinhard's study is completely unsurprising. Bees are unquestionably good at spotting and remembering patterns. When working clover, they can instantly find and hit the upward-pointing florets. (Upward means full, because the clover lowers the empty florets.) The same bee can recognize and hit the sweet spot on a rose or daffodil. Plenty of varied patterns there, not to mention their famous navigation abilities.

What's surprising is the generalization from an initially learned distinction based on a pattern that has nothing to do with flowers. This eliminates reductionist ideas that the bees are just smelling the sugar or recognizing the color or matching instinctive templates. Clearly high-level pattern recognition is part of the available genetic blueprint for all critters.

= = = = =

Aside from the fascinating subject, the Reinhard article is an outstanding example of scientific method and writing, and sets the absolute gold standard for scientific availability.

The researchers tried everything you could possibly imagine to insure that only the style was influencing the bees. Processed the paintings for equal overall luminosity, switched to black&white to eliminate color preference, checked the 2d Fourier transform for basic frequency information.

The full article is blessedly available online FREE. Includes excellent illustrations of the training box and the paintings. (Usually the full article is behind a paywall, and usually the full article contains nothing that wasn't in the press release.)

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Friday, October 26, 2012
  Weird week.

This week has been a cluster of small miseries.

1. Weather is dismal but not dangerous... foggy, showery, dark.

2. Last week's windstorm didn't hurt my own fence, but the neighbor's fence on the other side is leaning into my yard. Brings back the old phobia about trees and fences and wind, even though it's not really my problem. When it falls it won't hit anything but shrubs.

3. At least one mouse in the house. No visible turds or trails yet, but unmistakable sounds of sharp little teeth gnawing on something. I've set out traps, waiting for the inevitable bloody snap. This happens about every 3rd winter, so I know the drill by now. [Incidentally, the web has a lot of bad advice and a lot of good advice about killing mice. The good advice: think of traps as speed bumps, not enticements. Forget about bait and smell. Put the traps in places where the mouse is likely to bump into them when running from Point A to Point B.]

4. I'm applying for individual medical policy with Group Health, since Wash state subsidized coverage decided (quite properly!) that my income has risen above their threshold. Wading through the bureaucracy is frustrating because I've already been using Group Health for many years, so they should know all these things already. But for some reason they need to re-receive the records of the medical care they've already been providing. Must be some HIIPA nonsense about patient privacy. The patient who was being partly subsidized by the state isn't the same patient who's applying to pay for himself... so the information about these "two" patients can't be combined.

5. And to crown it all, I popped a crown from a back tooth this morning. That corner of the jaw had been feeling strange for a while, so it's probably good to open it up for a few days, let it drain or whatever, until the dentist can get to it.

Oh well. This will pass. Morning walks are still a perfect pleasure even when it's raining.

= = = = =

Later: Just realized that the last time I mentioned Group Health was also a bureaucratic tangle, and I also wrote it among a collection of 'weird' happenings. Maybe this is a signal ... maybe it would be best if they reject my application. But their actual doctors are excellent, and switching to an entirely different outfit would create even more bureaucracy and frustration. I certainly won't force the issue.


  Kicking and screaming

Heard on the Tech feature in some overnight news-talk program. Discussing Microsoft's intro of Win 8:

"People are going to make the change but they're going to make it kicking and screaming."

Perfect summary of the total final absolute failure of share-based capitalism.

What's the original point of business? To give people products and services that they LIKE OR NEED.

No longer. Now business is about forcing people to accept products and services that they HATE. You have no choice. You must accept the new product.

Only the shareholders are happy.


Thursday, October 25, 2012
  So I sez Ho Kay.

NPR says Vulture is illogical:
In other written comments, Romney has since said humans play some role, but he hasn't embraced the sweeping scientific consensus — backed by thousands of studies and accepted by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and its counterparts around the world — that humans are largely responsible.

You could look at this simply as a political position to appeal to Republicans skeptical about climate change. But to a philosopher, this is also an example of faulty logic.

"The flaw in that argument is that contrary to what he says, there is a consensus among climate scientists about the extent of human-induced warming and the degree of risk to the planet," says Gary Gutting, a science philosopher at the University of Notre Dame.

So I sez Ho Kay. Let's do it your way, Philosopher Gutting. If you disagree with a consensus of experts you are illogical.

(1) Who are the experts on the existence of God? Theologians, priests, rabbis, imams, and so on. What is their consensus? Overwhelmingly they agree that God exists and God is judging our actions. They disagree on details, but they uniformly believe that God is real and active.

Therefore: You journalist fuckheads are being illogical when you disbelieve in God.

(2) Biologists agree uniformly that human life begins at conception or immediately thereafter. Some say that life starts when the zygote begins dividing, which is still long before it's visible to the naked eye.

Therefore: You journalist fuckheads, and all your elite Life Partners, are utterly illogical when you characterize abortion as "women's health." The absolute consensus of experts on life says that abortion is killing a live human being.

This doesn't automatically make it murder. When an adult is killed, we've always distinguished between self-defense, accident, and murder. Plain logic says we should do the same with a very young human. When continued pregnancy would kill the mother, the baby can be killed in self-defense. A miscarriage is obviously an accidental killing. These moral and legal rules are already in place. Use them, dammit.

= = = = =

Next morning: Another opportunity to apply the Ho Kay rule. Obama says "I don't think any male politician should make decisions on women's health." Of course when he says "women's health" he means "killing babies", but we'll let that slide. Let's just apply his own rule to his own actions.

Obama has repeatedly and firmly stated an opinion about "women's health", namely that abortion must be universal, available on every street corner, and maximally profitable to Planned Parenthood.

Hmm. Isn't that a decision on "women's health" being made by a male politician? Or is Obama a hermaphrodite, thus uniquely qualified to make decisions for all genders?

Nice feature in today's UK Telegraph, with one powerful sentence that pretty much explodes ALL the usual stories about NEARLY ALL subjects.

It's an interview with Betsy Andreu, wife of a cyclist who was one of Lance Armstrong's teammates.
It was the end of an ordeal that had begun in 1996, when she had been in a hospital room with Armstrong as he told doctors that he had taken an array of performance-enhancing drugs including EPO, testosterone, growth hormone and cortisone.

Armstrong made the confession because he had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was about to undergo surgery. Andreu had been present because her fiancé (now husband) Frankie was a professional cyclist and one of Armstrong’s most valued team-mates.

But when Andreu, who was so fiercely opposed to drug-taking that she had told Frankie she would not marry him if she found he had doped, helped to make the story public, she was subjected to sustained abuse and bullying by Armstrong and those around him, who sustained the myth of his heroism until it was so dramatically exposed over the past few weeks.

“It boggles my mind he has been able to get away with this huge con job.

It was common sense to me that drugs cause cancers.

But Frankie said to me, 'I will prove to you I am not doing all that stuff’. He tried to reassure me but I was hesitant to believe everything. It was a very big fight.”
Think about this. We've been hoodwinked and bullied into believing that Armstrong's cancer was just a random tragedy. We've been bullied into believing that his juiced-up career was a noble response to his tragedy; his way of funding cancer research.

False, false, false. He's just a junkie. We should treat him with the same limited sympathy as a lung cancer "victim" who smoked for 40 years, or a liver cancer "victim" who drank for 40 years.

But he's more than just a junkie. He's a drug salesman and a mobster who enforces omertà on his gang buddies.

What makes him different from the ordinary Italian or Mexican gangster? He's cool. He was able to leverage the "moral high ground" to silence all media criticism. His "tragedy", which was a direct result of his crimes, immunized him from exposure of his crimes. Chutzpah.

Just like Jimmy Savile. Just like Jesse Jackson. Just like Al Sharpton. Just like Michael Mann. Just like the Wall Street Jews.

All of these gangsters found a way to use their race or religion or sexual "orientation" or "charitable giving" or "tragedy" or "disorder" to create an instant HOW DARE YOU card, ready to be slapped down whenever the slightest whisper of criticism came out of the woodwork.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
  Minor party debate

Tried listening to the C-Span 'debate' of four minor parties. Got annoyed immediately at the unprofessional atmosphere. Audience was allowed to hoot and holler, and the candidates didn't know how to use a microphone without popping P's. Still, I suffered through the first question about introducing a Top Two primary system. Three of the candidates were against it; Gary Johnson said that it was okay for states but shouldn't be forced at the national level.

All wrong. Uninformed. I suspect there are options that might be even better, but the Top Two is a distinct improvement over traditional primaries. I looked at it closely back in '08 when it was first introduced here in Wash:


Consider: the usual general election ballot looks like this.....

O Morgan J. Richboy [Republican]
O Stan Szwarczkowski [Democrat]
O Rainbowchild Riverwind [Green]
O Mary Jane Blunt [Libertarian]

The average voter is accustomed to looking at the first two and skipping the rest.

But now the general ballot in some districts will look like this:

O Morgan J. Richboy [Republican]
O Mary Jane Blunt [Libertarian]

The minor party will be one of the two available choices. Thus, if your only motivation is to vote against the R, you'll have to vote for the L.

Must admit I didn't realize this possibility in advance, and it appears that the Libertarian party didn't anticipate it either, since they had joined the big parties in trying to overturn the new format. It will certainly help them!

= = = = = END REPRINT

One of these debaters said "And the Top Two can end up giving you a choice between two Republicans or two Democrats. That's no choice at all!"

Exactly not. The real variety happens within each party. The two parties agree on all important points. They differ only on verbiage. (For instance, "act of terror" versus "terrorist act".) If you want an actual choice on one of the important points like free trade or immigration or environment, you're going to find it between two Rs or between two Ds.

In a state or district with only one serious party, the standard system places the meaningful choice in the primary. Members of the serious party make the real decision. The 'ordinary voter' gets to see only one meaningful candidate. (The non-serious party will generally run an unknown hack who doesn't even bother to campaign.) Under Top Two the real choice ends up on the general ballot when most people are voting. Thus the 'ordinary' voter gets to see a real choice between two candidates who are seriously competing.
  More! More! More! 2

More fallout from the wonderful court decision in Italy:
On Tuesday, some of Italy's top scientists resigned from the government's disaster agency to protest the manslaughter conviction of seven geological experts for failing to predict the devastating earthquake in L'Aquila in 2009. As we noted yesterday, scientists across the world were appalled at the idea of holding scientists criminally responsible for failing to accurately predict the severity of future earthquakes, something that is notoriously difficult to do. Now the Italian government will have fewer scientists to call on to handle disasters.
Good. Since the "scientists" have been WRONG, you're better off without them. Better no advice than bad advice. Sooner or later, real scientists, functioning outside the corrupt government-favored institutions, will pop up to take their place.
The biggest name to clock out is one of Italy's top phyicists, Luciano Maiami. A former head of the particle physics laboratory CERN in Geneva, Maiami is currently the head of Italy's top disaster body,... of which the seven convicted scientists were members. ... "These are professionals who spoke in good faith and were by no means motivated by personal interests,....
Personal interests weren't the problem. Nobody was saying that the "scientists" took bribes to make their bad decision. The problem is that they operate inside a corrupt and arrogant mindset. They believe in numbers and simulations instead of reality.
"It is impossible to produce serious, professional and disinterested advice under this mad judicial and media pressure. This sort of thing doesn't happen anywhere else in the world."
Happens all the time in HONEST branches of science, you grotesque peabrained Quantumite dickhead. Engineers and doctors always operate under judicial pressure, and it makes them careful. Perhaps too careful sometimes, as in ordering too many tests; but in a major situation like this, too careful is good. Again, these particular scientists were not doing blue-sky research; they were PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT to give ADVICE ABOUT EARTHQUAKE DANGER. They gave WRONG ADVICE, which was NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE ACTUAL FUCKING EVIDENCE THEY WERE LOOKING AT.
In no uncertain terms, he said, "This is the end of scientists giving consultations to the state."
Good, by fucking God. This would be the best news of the century if it really happened, but it won't really happen. The incestuous relationship is too lucrative on both sides.
Monday, October 22, 2012
  More! More! More!

Why have engineering and medicine been safe from the wild-eyed lunacy that has gripped so many other parts of science? Because engineers and doctors can be sued when their work is deadly.

Though I hate litigation almost as much as I hate pseudoscience, sometimes a lawyer is the only way to make idiots straighten up.

Now another branch of science has come under the evil eye of lawyers, which may result in another fairly clean branch of science....
Six Italian scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison over the 2009 deadly earthquake in L'Aquila. A regional court found them guilty of multiple manslaughter.

Prosecutors said the defendants gave a falsely reassuring statement before the quake, while the defence maintained there was no way to predict major quakes.

The court wasn't requiring the geologists to pull a prediction out of thin air. These particular geologists actually had a set of measurements in advance of the quake, implying that a quake was more likely than usual. They had a chance to give some type of carefully modulated warning based on these actual measurements, but chose instead to sound neutral. It's like a weatherman watching radar, seeing a hook echo approaching town, and then going on the air to say "Sunny and fair today! Break out the barbecues!"
Sunday, October 21, 2012
  A nonentity dies

Occurs to me that both Nixon and McGovern wildly overestimated McGovern.

(1) Nixon went to all the trouble of Watergate to insure that McG wouldn't be elected. Turned out that the trouble was completely unnecessary, since nobody wanted McG anyway. (At that time I was a hippieshit commie who agreed with McG about most things, but I couldn't bring myself to vote for McG. He seemed ineffectual, lacked leadership skills.)

(2) The obits are playing a fairly recent clip of McG saying that he should have been president, that he would have been a much better president, etc. Wildly overestimating himself.

What was McG's actual crowning achievement? Setting up a world school lunch program under the auspices of the UN, Alger Hiss's crowning achievement. Hmm. Let's examine its wonderful success.

This NPR feature a few months ago gives us an idea of how well McG's crowning achievement worked in India:
At a government-run public middle school in Bangalore, the blackboard's cracking, the textbooks are tattered and most of the students are barefoot. But with all those challenges, the biggest obstacle that teachers face in keeping kids in school is hunger. Many students show up at school having had nothing to eat for breakfast. On mornings one student comes to school hungry, the thought of school makes her break down, she says. "When I had to get on the bus, I would start crying," says K. Suchitra, 13.

Suchitra is an unusually talented student, says her teacher, Sheelavati Shakti. She shows a strong aptitude for music and dance, and is strong academically. But when she joined this school a year ago, Suchitra looked unhealthy, Shakti says. Her skin was discolored, but she didn't have an infection; she was just malnourished.

Suchitra's life has recently been turned around, however. An ambitious school lunch program now supplies kids at her middle school with a nutritious, freshly cooked meal. On days she comes to school hungry, she knows she can eat at school.

The lunch program that provides meals to Suchitra's school currently feeds 1.3 million children across India, making it one of the largest school lunch programs in the world.
Well, at least that's good. McGovern's efforts are feeding kids who weren't fed before.
It was initially begun more than a decade ago as part of the religious outreach of a Hindu group known as ISKCON, better known in the West as the Hare Krishna movement.
Whoops! Hold it! That's not the UN! That's a religious movement, which is the exact opposite of everything Alger Hiss's crowning achievement stands for! No! No! Exactly not! This cannot be! We must [carbon-neutrally] dispose of this awful food tainted by religion! Better to be malnourished and weak than to be religious!

Okay, so McG's crowning achievement obviously didn't happen.

He did have a beautifully high opinion of himself, though. I guess that counts for something.
  Tech note

Looks like the website where I keep graphic stuff ( has screwed up again and let my domain expire. This has happened twice before around the same date. Once it was purely their fault, the other time there was an identity theft on my debit card resulting in a missed payment. Not sure what's happening this time. Could just be a momentary glitch, but the date makes a domain problem likely. We shall see. I've been rigorously keeping a 'mirror' of the content on my own computer, so the content won't be lost in any case.

Bit later: No, it must be a glitch. According to whois, the next expiration date is Oct 26, 2015. So today isn't an expiration point at all.

Two bits later: It's back. Seems to run faster than before. So maybe they were just doing server maintenance or something.
  Sleeping through cyberwar

Lately I've been listening at bedtime to episodes of 'Behind the Headlines' from the late '40s. This was a series of thoughtful essays by César Saerchinger, who had been a foreign correspondent and author. Like most intellectuals of that time, he was obsessed with the need for nuclear disarmament. This intellectual impulse later served to motivate the Soviet penetration and destruction of America, but nevertheless it was a rational conclusion before Moscow grabbed it.

Rough transcript of Saerchinger, April 1947:
We are today the most powerful nation. ... All but the Soviet satellites look to us in a world where security is still a dream. ... Within 10 years the Russians might be in possession of an atomic bomb or something equally terrible. After that the Russians will be on an equal footing with us. In the meantime the issue is lack of trust. They don't entirely trust us and we don't trust them. ... But no single factor has poisoned the atmosphere more than our monopoly of the atomic bom, the fact that we have actually demonstrated its monstrous destructive power, that we are continuing to stockpile more bombs while the whole world has agreed that the bomb must be outlawed if civilization is to survive.

The abortive attempts at disarmament in the 20s and 30s were followed by an armament race, followed by a devastating war. There is one crucial difference between the current race and the previous one. In the previous race, the industrially stronger powers won out in the long run. But in a nuclear war there will be no long run.
Note the dire comparison between previous and current weapons, motivating urgent disarmament of America so Russia can have all the power.

= = = = =

Now we have another transition of weapons, marked this week by Panetta:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued what he said is a “clarion call” Thursday for Americans to wake up to the growing threat posed by cyber war.

“The whole point of this is that we simply don’t just sit back and wait for a goddamn crisis to happen,” Panetta told Time. “In this country we tend to do that, and that’s a concern.”

Panetta came to the nation’s financial hub – New York City – to issue his battle cry. The city is the brightest bulls-eye on the American target for foes wishing to cripple the U.S. economy with computerized “worms” and “malware” that can infect computer networks via the Internet or insider sabotage.

“It is the kind of capability that can basically take down a power grid, take down a water system, take down a transportation system, take down a financial system,” he told Time editors. “We are now in a world in which countries are developing the capability to engage in the kind of attacks that can virtually paralyze a country.”

“Everybody knows what their iPhone can do, everybody knows what their computer can do, but I think there are too few people out there who understand the potential for the kind of attack that could cripple this country,” Panetta said. “The American people just have to be made aware of that.”
I appreciate Panetta's straight talk. No bureaucratic buzzwords, no shit about 'exceptionalism'. But he's manipulating the same old trick about a new and unfamiliar threat.

This new threat is simply nonsense.

There is no way the average citizen can be safe from an atomic bomb, but it's GODDAMN EASY to be safe from a cyberthreat. All you have to do is DECENTRALIZE. Keep all web-connected stuff totally separate from important stuff like factories and utilities. Important stuff was already running perfectly well before the web came along. Important stuff was already thoroughly automated and computerized before the web came along. There is simply NO REASON to tie these things to the web by cable or radio.

So we have to ask why Panetta is pushing this threat as dire and apocalyptic when it's NOT. Easy answer. He doesn't WANT us to decentralize. As a good bureaucrat, his sole purpose in life is to maximize the power and budget of his agency. When nuclear war fades from the scene, the Pentagon's genuine need for central power also fades.

Not only fades but fails. Remember what DIDN'T happen on 9/11. All of our centralized defense and intelligence apparatus (NORAD, NSA, SAC, CIA) completely failed to anticipate those 19 Saudi boys, and completely failed to respond. The only response came from brave men on one of the airliners.

Decentralized war requires decentralized defense. In the cyber realm, decentralized defense WORKS EVERY TIME IT'S USED. The only problem is that industries and governments are TOO FUCKING STUPID TO USE IT. They value the need for centralized command, the need to make factories respond every millisecond to the corporation's electronically-traded share value. Corporate leaders are Chinese agents. They consciously and intentionally move production to China, with the primary purpose of smashing the American economy and the secondary purpose of installing Chinese spyware in everything we use. Traitors.

Now Panetta is trying to centralize the defense against cyberthreats. He wants the Pentagon to be in charge of all cyberwar actions. We know where that will lead. It will lead to a new NORAD, and the new NORAD will fail just like the old one. Individual cyberdefense will end up being prohibited or intentionally diluted to serve our Wall Street and Chinese masters.

Friday, October 19, 2012
  Good old Soviet sci-fi

Some allegedly famous elderly astronomer is putting out the usual old 1950's sci-fi line. Klaatu and all that. Aliens are way way way beyond us, and they're inevitably peaceful and utopian, because they're so technically advanced. We need contact with aliens to teach us how to get rid of our evil Western weapons and peacefully submit to the USSR.
Moore added: 'We have found other planets. The next stage is to detect the atmosphere. You can [then] work out if it has oxygen. We would know that supports life so we can look for it.’

But he complained that a lack of funding could prevent British discoveries, warning that the amount the Government had spent on the war in Afghanistan - an estimated £20 billion - could have funded a comprehensive UK space programme.
Think. We only have one example of the development of life, which has given us experimental data for the connections between war/peace and technical development. In this experiment it's clear that war and competition are the drivers of development. Organisms or humans who find a cushy well-protected niche don't develop mentally or physically. We only see advancement in the species or the individual when things get somewhat difficult. From this experiment we can deduce that life on other planets would develop the same way. If technology ever led them to a condition of generalized peace and prosperity, their technology would rapidly dissipate, just as ours has done lately.

Moore's comparison of the Afghan war with space exploration leads to an interesting conclusion.

The war in Afghanistan, unlike most previous wars, has not led to any new developments in science or technology. Why?

Partly because it's a luxury war, not motivated by any need for national survival. We won't gain anything by winning because there's no possible way for us to win, and there's no definition of winning. It's just a wildly expensive and deadly sport.

And partly because the war is happening at a time when real science and real technology have gone stagnant. Lavish government funding of many branches of science has led those branches to pursue mindless fads and fancies, which serve only to add more power and money to the bureaucrats who supervise the fads and fancies. When science occupies a cushy well-protected niche, it doesn't advance.

This elderly astronomer wants us to replace one useless luxury sport (Afghanistan) with another useless luxury sport (Planetary exploration). I can understand the desire to have government support for your own favorite luxury, but it's a poison apple. Government support would eliminate the fun, stop the advancement.

Now that spaceflight is increasingly funded by rich patrons, it finally has a chance to get somewhere, and it won't cost the rest of us anything. Good deal all around. Don't fuck it up, you old monocle-wearing Soviet agent!
  More stats idiocy

Perfect example of how abstraction leads to looniness:
Professor Tobias Preis has led a study of the second oldest US market index and discovered that a portfolio of shares, far from being diverse and spreading risk during a time of stock market slump, start behaving the same. ... Professor Preis believes this pattern can be used to anticipate 'diversification breakdown' in share portfolios and allow investors to steer away from a major crash by spreading their investments elsewhere or 'hedge' their money.
Duh. When everything goes down, everything goes down. That doesn't tell you anything.

If you could use numbers to anticipate a crash, thousands of numbers-based investors and index funds would have done it already. In fact the only people who "get out early" are insiders who know why the market is about to crash. It's about to crash because those very same insiders created the crash to maximize their profits.
It could help traders avoid the major crashes that hit stock markets in 2008. Between September and December four of the five biggest daily falls in the Dow Jones hit the US stock exchange. It was part of one of the biggest stock market crashes and led to the economic recession most of the world is still suffering.
Incorrect, asshole. What led to the recession was the existence of stock markets, not this particular crash of the markets. We are in a recession because the money men have stopped investing in productive activity and put all their money into abstract bets on numerical equations. Just like what you're doing, asshole.

Crashes do not cause recessions; crashes are just one symptom of the underlying failure of the whole system. Even economists sometimes seem to understand this fact.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I'm extra careful in crossing streets these days, after getting whomped by an SUV in 2008. This morning I was crossing Wellesley; looked both ways twice, made extra sure no car was within whomping distance. Stepped off the curb and heard ---CRACK!--- Stepped back, looked around... Nope, no car, no gun.

It was a crow. He had dropped a walnut on the exact center of the street from a height of 30 feet, then flapped down to pick up the pieces. Carried both halves to the opposite curb where he could safely eat the good part.

There's a bumper crop of walnuts this year. Several trees are dropping hundreds of those strange spiky green balls, and squirrels have been burying them all over the place.

I'd never seen a crow using the street as a tool; don't know if it's common or a rare invention. In any case, it's an impressive display of smarts.

= = = = =

Another impressive display is this article explaining derivatives. Author Matt Levine starts from the start with beautiful clarity: "There is a world. That world will have a future, and that future is uncertain. There are different possible states of the world, and different things will happen to you in those different states. If it's cold this winter, you will be sad, or perhaps happy if that's what you're into. If it rains tomorrow, you will get wet. ... If you are a company or an investment fund, the outcomes that you care about can pretty much be reduced to money: if it's cold this winter, individual workers and managers might be happy or sad, but the company has no feelings. The company just has money. If it's cold this winter, the company might have more money, if it's an oil company, because people will buy more oil to heat their homes. Or it might have less money, if it's in the agriculture business, because its crops will freeze. ..."

From there he proceeds to explain why hedging is an attractive technique, and the basics of how hedging works. Very helpful. Even though I've been trying since 2008 to learn this crap, it doesn't stick in my mind. Gambling is just totally alien.

But the author leaves out one basic step along the way. There's a much simpler way to "smooth out" your gains and losses. It's the way squirrels and ants and beavers discovered millions of years ago, and humans rediscovered thousands of years ago.

Save. Hoard. Store. Bury walnuts. Dam up streams. Preserve milk as cheese. Preserve fruits as jam. Preserve grain as beer. Preserve culture as architecture. Preserve thoughts as books. Preserve labor as money. Preserve money as land.

Perhaps he was just focusing on one question, but since he 'started from the start' you'd think he would have mentioned the older and vastly more successful smoothing technique before detailing the newer and vastly more dangerous one.
  Thanks for rain

Polistra and Happystar are thanking Agatha, patron of fire prevention. After an unusually dry summer and autumn, yesterday's windstorm could have burned everything down, as happened in 1991. This year the weather gods gave us a good soaking rain first. It's all in the rhythm.

Thanks, Agatha.

Vulture in last night's TV show: "Well of course they add up. I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years, and balanced the budget."

No, Vulture. No. No. No. No. Exactly not.** Precisely not. Diametrically not. Your way of running a business into the ground was the exact opposite of "balancing the budget". You ran Bain by borrowing and betting, not by balancing. Leverage and debt were your tools, your dynamite, your wrecking ball.

Admittedly your background is perfect preparation for running post-1989 America. It puts you directly in line with the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama way of doing things.


= = = = =

** Footnote: 'Exactly not' is undoubtedly a strange phrase, but it's been stuck in my head since college. German 101 was taught by Fräulein Dey, who came from Germany and had a typical rigid Kraut temperament. Whenever a hapless American mispronounced a word or misused a Weak Adjectival Declension, Fräulein Dey would shout: "No! No! No! Exssoctly not! Chust not!" I suspect she was internally translating "Nein! Nein! Nein! Ganz nicht! Gar nicht!"

Last month I wrote a tribute to C.R. Anthony's, a good department store that supplied most of my household needs when I was starting adult life in 1971. I discovered why Anthony's was such a good store: It was founded and operated on closed-loop principles. All of the stock was owned by store managers, who thus had a personal interest in the success of their own stores and the chain. It was the direct opposite of modern New-York-based capitalism. When I was writing that piece, I couldn't find a definite indication of why Anthony's died; I just assumed that a middle-class store couldn't survive in today's Gilded Age class setup.

Now an article by David Stockman fills in the details. Anthony's was failing for those basic reasons, but it was KILLED BY VULTURE ROMNEY. Turns out that Anthony's was Vulture Romney's first blood. His novice kill. His practice shot.
In the spring of 1997, when Chairman Greenspan decided that “irrational exuberance” was not such a worrisome thing, Bain Capital decided to indulge, too. It caused Stage Stores Inc.—which was already publicly traded—to raise $300 million of new junk bonds and used the proceeds to buy a faltering 250-store chain of family clothing stores called C.R. Anthony.

Within five months of this ostensibly “transformative” deal and long before the results of the ritual “synergies” and “rebranding” could be determined, the company’s stock price had doubled. Bain Capital and its partner, Goldman Sachs, quickly unloaded their shares at the aforementioned 18X gain.

... As a matter of plain fact, the “transformative” C.R. Anthony deal was a bull-market scam. Almost immediately, results headed south. After growing 4 percent during the year of Bain’s quick 1997 exit, same-store sales turned to a negative 3 percent in 1998 and negative 7 percent in 1999, and were still falling when Stage Stores Inc. filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter. The company hemorrhaged $150 million of negative cash flow during 1998-99 — that is, during the two years after Bain and Goldman got out of Dodge City.
I already have plenty of indirect and impersonal reasons to hate Vulture Romney. He profanes the name of capitalism, claiming to be the champion of a system that he has helped to destroy. He represents the Numbers Man, the Turnaround Man, the Butcher. Romney-type Numbers Men ruined several businesses where I worked. They stole the natural culture of the business, stole the soul, to make a quick profit.

Now it's personal. C.R. Anthony's was the only store I ever liked. It was a business with a soul. Vulture Romney killed it.


We need to STOP and ask one basic question:

Vulture's answer to that question is simple. "We have an economy so that I can destroy thousands of lives to gain billions and billions and billions of dollars in my Cayman Island bank account." Obama's answer to that question is slightly more complicated: "We have an economy so that people like Mitt Romney can destroy thousands of lives to gain billions and billions and billions of dollars in their Cayman Island bank accounts."

There is a better answer, and there was a time when even economists understood the better answer!

Better answer: We have an economy to provide decent stuff that ordinary people can use, and to provide decent jobs that ordinary people can do. Anthony's was a shining example of that answer, and Vulture killed it.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012
  Consummation devoutly

Brief feature on about a lawsuit against California's satanic KKKarbon laws. The caption under the podcast doesn't say exactly what they meant to say.....

Wouldn't it be beautiful if "climate litigation" was actually the major product of the genocidal Gaian religion? If the Gaians had to spend most of their time in court, they'd have less time to starve the poor and enrich the rich. They'd still be enriching lawyers, but that's considerably less destructive than mass slaughter of farmers and pensioners and industrial workers.

Some outstanding examples of chutzpah this morning.

(1) In the '90s, Satan dba "ACLU" sued banks to force them to make more loans to blacks. Now Satan dba "ACLU" is suing banks for obeying ACLU's previous orders and making loans to blacks.

(2) A French sportscaster made a joke about Japan's soccer goalkeeper who apparently does a good job of whatever goalkeepers are supposed to do. He showed a cartoon of the goalkeeper with four arms, calling it the "Fukushima effect." Now the Japs are angry, demanding an apology for the sportscaster's "insensitivity".

Tell you what, fucking Japs. After you apologize to the millions of Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, Siamese, Burmese, Malayan, Indonesian, Filipino, Korean, Russian and American people that you enslaved, raped and murdered from 1905 through 1945, THEN you can demand apologies for stupid little jokes that hurt your precious little feeeeeeeeeeeeeelings.

(3) Headline in Guardian:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other defendants say attending court proceedings will bring back memories of torture

Take the old joke about chutzpah and add names, and you've got this one.
Monday, October 15, 2012
  Okay, but how about.....

Lots of attention to the deaths from fungus-infected steroid shots. This is appropriate. CDC is doing a good job in getting the word out to prevent more deaths.

I'm glad to see one form of iatrogenic infection getting media attention. Now how about the others?

Steroid fungus: 15 deaths so far.

MRSA: 18,000 deaths last year.

C. difficile: 14,000 deaths last year.

Total deaths from medical errors and hospital-borne infections: somewhere around 200,000 each year. Way more than car accidents, more than any individual type of cancer.

Nice to have publicity for 15 deaths, but how about 200,000 deaths? Apparently the 200,000 are Okay because they're committed by Big Hospitals, while the 15 are Horrible because they're committed by a Small Compounding Pharmacy.
  Nature speaks

Interesting conjunction of two news stories.

(1) Britain remembers the 25th anniversary of a terrible windstorm. In the aftermath, stupid fuckheads decided to REPLANT EVEN MORE TREES THAN THE STORM BLEW DOWN.

(2) Here in Spokane, similar stupid fuckheads pulled a "reforestation" program one year ago, idiotically planting 10,000 new pines. They're checking on the trees now, and nearly all of the new trees have died.

Nature is trying to tell you something, fuckheads. Trees and humans shouldn't be sharing close quarters. We shouldn't invade forests with subdivisions and we shouldn't plant big trees in town. Small non-deadly ones for ornamentation, okay.

City and forest are separate systems. They should remain separate.
  Got two again! Waiting for #3......

Yesterday, 10/14/2012, was a fine day for Earth and a fine day for Hell.

Sihanouk and Specter dumped in one day. Two slimy slippery sleazy slithering sibilant snakes. Two scaly serpents who made a career of opening the gates to unspeakable evil while posing as the Rational Moderate Negotiator.

Good fucking riddance. Good fucking riddance.

Still waiting for the correct #3.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
  Average temperature again

Polistra has logically debunked the notion that you can have an "average temperature" for the globe. Partial reprint:

= = = = =

Averaging temperatures at two locations to make a single temperature is a really basic statistical error that I learned about in junior high science class.

Remember this? The teacher turns on a cold faucet and a hot faucet; puts her right hand under the cold faucet and her left hand under the hot. Says "My right hand is at 40 degrees and my left hand is at 110 degrees. Therefore my average hand is at 75 degrees, which is Just Right!"

The more alert students get the point immediately and laugh.

= = = = =END REPRINT

You can use math to form 'predictors' (averages, models, extrapolations) only when the measurements are part of a continuum. Averaging two water temps could make sense if the waters were actually being mixed, which creates a continuum.

Here I measured the temperature of water drawn from my cold faucet and hot faucet separately, then filled the glass with half cold and half hot. Valid use of the mean, because the water molecules of two different energies are interspersed, subject to the same influences, which allows you to figure a net energy for the mixture.

Mean(95,62)=78.5, and actual mix is about 78. Pretty close.

[Artistic note: I wasn't trying to create a red atmosphere for the warm temps; the digital camera did that on its own. Clearly I don't know how to use it yet!!!!]

= = = = =

The mean of two locations can be valid when the two places are nearby and definitely subject to all the same influences at the same time. In that case you know there's a continuous range between them, so that interpolation is meaningful.

In this scenario, Happystar is nicely ensconced in the warm interior of the house, say 70 degrees. Garbanzo is outside in 50 degrees. Polistra (aka Goldilocks) is on the screened back porch, slightly sheltered from outside, with some radiant input from the house. Probably somewhere around 57 degrees. If she walked through the door into the house, she would experience a gradual increase from 57 to 70. Smooth interpolation, so a weighted mean or calibration curve would be useful for prediction.

By contrast, here's a real-world situation where interpolation fails completely. I captured the Wunderground interactive map of the Spokane area this morning, then circled 5 places where interpolation fails.

In each case the real in-between temperature is either less than both of the extremes or greater than both of the extremes.

[1] Mean(54,49)=51.5 but actual is less than 49.

[2] Mean(57,49)=53.0 but actual is greater than 57.

[3] Mean(53,52)=52.5 but actual is less than 52.

[4] Mean(54,52)=53.0 but actual is greater than 54.

[5] Mean(56,55)=55.5 but actual is less than 55.

Any attempt to form a spatial average across these non-continuous values will be utterly meaningless and futile. These temps are independent just like the two faucets in the first example. There is no linear function relating them, so you can't try to find the midpoint of that (nonexistent) linear function.

Averaging already fails in these 30-mile circles, so it's even worse when you try to mix the separate atmospheric systems of the northern and southern hemispheres to make a "global" average.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012
  Rain at last!

Finally some rain after an unusually dry fall. The difference between 'unusually dry' and 'typically dry' is minor, since Jul/Aug/Sept are typically almost rainless. But the timing is crucial. Back in 1991 we had a similar long dry fall, which was broken first by a windstorm. Result: Huge deadly fires. This time we're getting some rain first, with some wind possibly to come later. (Also, for some reason this rain smells good. Usually rain after dry is stinky.)

Thanks, weather gods! Sequence makes all the difference.

= = = = =

Artistic note: Yes, I know Mr Sun is below the clouds. Deal with it. He also seems to be unshaven, which is an artifact of using a low-quality GIF to save some bytes.


Friday, October 12, 2012
  Reassuring, I guess...

The Nobel Tyranny Prize has gone to the regime of the EU itself! Back to hardline Stalinist normal, after a couple years of off-base Prizes. Since the Fourth Reich is the absolute black heart of modern Commie evil and mass-murdering genocide, it deserves the Tyranny Prize more than anyone since the Third Reich.

I'm pretty sure the Nobel was never awarded to Hitler, but that was in the Old Benighted Unprogressive Time when the Prize was only given, for some strange Unthinkable reason, to people who actually advanced the cause of peace. We all smart now. We all Tripleplusgood Newthinkers. We all hoodie now. We all fucked now.

= = = = =

Bit later, after looking around the web and seeing the uniformly negative reaction, I'm truly and non-sardonically reassured. Absolutely everyone, except the EU regime itself, sees this as an unalloyed travesty.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
  Veterinary research cures Alzheimer?

This is exciting. No other word for it.
[Several profs at Washington State, headed by Joe Harding in vet med] have been working on their compound since 1992, when they started looking at the impact of the peptide angiotensin IV on the hippocampus, a brain region involved in spatial learning and short-term memory. Typically, angiotensins have been linked to blood pressure regulation, but Harding and Wright noticed that angiotensin IV, or early drug candidates based on it, were capable of reversing learning deficits seen in many models of dementia.

The practical utility of these early drug candidates, however, was severely limited because they were very quickly broken down by the body and couldn’t get across the blood-brain barrier, a cellular barrier that prevents drugs and other molecules from entering the brain. The only way the drug could be delivered was by direct brain application.

Says Harding: “We said, ‘That’s useless. I mean, who wants to drill holes in people’s heads? It’s not going to work. It’s certainly not going to work for the big population.’”

Five years ago, Harding designed a smaller version of the molecule that he and Wright called Dihexa. Not only is it stable but it can cross the blood-brain barrier. An added bonus is it can move from the gut into the blood, so it can be taken in pill form.

The researchers tested the drug on several dozen rats treated with scopolamine, a chemical that interferes with a neurotransmitter critical to learning and memory. Typically, a rat treated with scopolamine will never learn the location of a submerged platform in a water tank, orienting with cues outside the tank. After receiving the WSU drug, however, all of the rats did, whether they received the drug directly in the brain, orally, or through an injection.

“Same result, every time,” says Harding.

Harding and Wright also reported similar but less dramatic results in a smaller group of old rats. In this study the old rats, which often have difficulty with the task, performed like young rats. .... In bench assays using living nerve cells to monitor new neuronal connections, Harding, Wright, and their colleagues found Dihexa to be seven orders of magnitude more powerful than BDNF, which has yet to be effectively developed for therapeutic use. In other words, it would take 10 million times as much BDNF to get as much new synapse formation as Dihexa.

“We quickly found out that this molecule was absolutely, insanely active,” says Harding.
New synapse formation means that it's fixing damage in the brain, not just slowing down damage.

Especially nice because the research is at one of those much-maligned 'Cow Colleges', not a hoity-toity Johns Hopkins or Hars Vards.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
  Kool Kommies, frivolous facts

A pair of Kool Kommie Kids have filed a frivolous lawsuit aimed at requiring Oregon to commit suicide even faster than it's already doing.
The Oregon Court of Appeals has agreed to hear a climate change lawsuit brought by two teens from Eugene.

One of the two plaintiffs, 16-year old Kelsey Juliana, is featured in a recent short film--

Kelsey Juliana: "Climate change is affecting Oregon because we're seeing droughts, we're seeing warmer temperatures and also we're seeing more fires."

Juliana and another Eugene teen, 12-year old Olivia Chernaik, are suing the state of Oregon. Portland attorney Tanya Sanerib is representing the two teens. The suit alleges the state is violating the public trust doctrine. Sanerib says it obligates government to protect natural resources. If the 3-judge panel finds in favor of the plaintiffs, she says, Oregon will need to develop a climate recovery plan.

Here's the key: "We're seeing droughts, we're seeing warmer temperatures and also we're seeing more fires."

Okay, Kommie Kids, I'll give you the fires. But forest officials agree that these big fires are caused by bad maintenance plus suburban invasion. Smokey the Bear meant complete suppression of necessary fires, and idiot rich dickheads have been building houses in the middle of forests. Those are specifically human-created problems, unrelated to "climate change". (Of course nothing is truly related to "climate change" except criminal speculators making huge profits by starving everyone else, but we'll leave that aside for the moment.) Forest officials are trying hard to solve the Smokey Bear problem by doing more controlled burns. We can only hope that the invasive rich dickheads will get burned out figuratively or literally.

But I won't give you the "warmer temperatures and droughts", because those are absolutely false claims.

Say kids, what time is it? Especially you in the peanut gallery, sing along:

It's NCDC time,
It's NCDC time,
It's NCDC time,
It's NCDC time!

Yessirree, boys and girls, even you Kool Kommie Kids, the government has been busy gathering actual information about temperature and precipitation, even in Kool Kommie Oregon!

Do we see any droughts? Nope. We see the expectable 66-year curve. It went through a relatively dry point in the '90s, but nowhere near the '30s. Now it's returning to average on its way toward the next relatively wet point.

Do we see "getting warmer"? Nope. Got unusually warm in the '90s, but now it's getting cooler, returning to average.

A closer look at the plots using the 10 'divisions' shows pretty much the same pattern in each division, with one exception: division 5 (south-central, east flank of Cascades) is clearly dry lately. Div 5 is dry to begin with and sparsely forested. (See this map, based on this source).

Pay attention, idiot Kommies.

This is what Nature does.



Tuesday, October 09, 2012
  Peculiar postwar phenomena

Polistra has mentioned the little Crosley before. It was built from 1939 through 1952, and became popular during the peculiar postwar period when Detroit couldn't keep up with demand. Crosley was a primitive and tiny car, but it was made by an appliance company and didn't depend on the usual channels of supply. In that era of rationing, reconversion and inflation, Crosley had one big advantage: it was available and affordable.

Every time I see a picture of a Crosley, I taste popsicles.

Here's the connection: In the summer of 1954 my father was working on a degree at OU, and as a veteran he was entitled to rent a cottage in another peculiar postwar phenomenon called Sooner City. This was a jam-packed development of primitive and tiny houses called Homettes, prefabbed in Texas and shipped to various government housing projects. The basic Homette was 16 x 16 feet, with a kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom. Most of the units in Sooner City were actually 'doubles', as you can see here...

Nearly all the veteran couples had small kids, so an ice cream man found it profitable to circulate constantly in Sooner City. He had a '52 Crosley station wagon with a little propeller on the front and a refrigerated box in the rear. He'd pull a Popsicle or Dreamsicle from the box, and I'd pay him a nickel and enjoy the rest of the day.

...Those were powerful nickels, weren't they? Created enough joy to last a lifetime.

= = = = =

Sooner City was demolished in 1966, and later another peculiar phenomenon was built in its place: a conference center called OCCE.

This Googlestreet is roughly the same position as the 1946 view above, looking into OCCE.

In the late '70s I worked nights at OCCE, which was basically a sort of deluxe motel for people attending various conferences at OU. A good cushy job with some bookkeeping and some checkouts and checkins, but mainly time for studying. Unfortunately, though it was in the exact same location as Sooner City, there were no Crosleys and no Dreamsicles.

= = = = =

Later artistic note for Poser types: I've refined and released the Homette, with an interior and some furnishings. ShareCG here. Much later, I finally released the Crosley though I'm not happy with the way it turned out.
  Super-random thought

Was reading something about a notable family that went in for numbering its sons and grandsons.

Realized something: you often see F. Preston Southwick II and F. Preston Southwick III, and occasionally an F. Preston Southwick IV. But you almost never see a reference to an active and living F. Preston Southwick I.

Why? Fairly obvious when you think about it. F. Preston Southwick [default] doesn't know he's a First when he's young. When he has a son and burdens the son with a repeated name, the son becomes Jr and [default] becomes Sr. But Sr doesn't actually become the First until Jr proceeds to burden his own son with a repeated name.

It's a little like 'quantum entanglement'. These changes in [default]'s name happen without any effort on his part, at the exact same moment when a descendant is named. The change from Sr to I may even happen without his knowledge. By that time he's fairly old, so his activities aren't likely to make as much news, for as many years, as the activities of II and III. Thus [default] has a three-part life: born as [default], then turns to Sr, then turns to I. His son has a two-part life: born as Jr, then turns to II. But his grandson gets to be III from birth to death.
Monday, October 08, 2012
  Countermotions yet again

Another opposing pair of motions, one toward civilization and the other violently away from civilization.

In Britain, a long-needed move toward civilization:
Mr Grayling said that he wanted to “finally lay the issue to rest once and for all” following a series of high-profile cases where home owners who have confronted criminals have been arrested. In the future, only those using clearly excessive force, such as stabbing a burglar who was already unconscious, should face the prospect of criminal action, he said.

= = = = =

Meanwhile, literally back at the ranch:

The director of Washington's Fish and Wildlife Department Friday said he hopes never again to have to order the killing of an entire wolf pack, as happened last month. In Olympia Friday, cattlemen and wolf lovers offered the agency radically different ideas for how to avoid a repeat.

Rancher Bill McIrvin thanked state officials for eliminating the wolf pack that was preying on his family's cattle. He says it's time to remove wolves from the state endangered list so they can be selectively hunted.

McIrvin: "What we would like to see is regional de-listing so that they could be managed more like bear and cougar, which are still there in significant numbers."

McIrvin was preceded to the podium by more than a dozen speakers who expressed sadness and anger at the situation. David Hornoff of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition says more needs to be asked of cattlemen.

Hornoff: "We expect the state to hold livestock owners to the agreements that they have made to work with wildlife officials in applying non-lethal practices to prevent conflict with wildlife."

Well, at least we know which side the fucking genocidal psychopathic mass-murdering director is on. Same side as Idi Amin, Pol Pot and James Hansen. Kill all humans as fast as possible. Leave the Planet[pbuh] to the tender mercies of those wonderful holy delicate angelic elegant wolves and grizzlies.
  Moro vs Mush

News, via VOA:
The Philippine government says it has reached a preliminary peace deal with the nation's largest Muslim rebel group in the country's south, intended to end a decades-long separatist insurgency that has killed more than 120,000 people.

President Benigno Aquino said in a nationally-televised announcement Sunday that the deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – or MILF – creates a new Muslim semi-autonomous region called “Bangsamoro” to replace an existing one he called a “failed experiment.”
Aside from the wonderful pun material (Wanna bang more MILFs? Travel to Bangsamoro!) this could set an important precedent.

Increased sovereignty for distinct cultures is the solution to many problems. Mushing everyone together is one of Stalin's favorite subjugation gambits.

= = = = =

Stalin's favorite mush recipe, translated into Western versions by Comrade Saul Alinsky, Comrade Betty Friedan, Comrade M L King, Comrade Earl Warren, et al:

1. Define one group as Victim and another group as Oppressor.

2. Tenderize both groups first with years of propaganda enforcing these definitions.

3. Find a situation where the Victims will be guaranteed to fail, and mix them in with the Oppressors. Stir enthusiastically. Season with frequent reminders that everyone is equal, therefore the failure is caused by the evil Oppressors, not the inadequate Victims.

4. Seal the pan and cook with laws forbidding expression of the truth.

5. Stand back while the mixture rises, bubbles and explodes.

6. Rescue the Victims with perpetual governmental privileges. This will give you a private army, ready to riot on your command. It will also enrage the Oppressors, but because the Oppressors were chosen for their law-abiding tendencies they will not revolt en masse. Instead, their rage will give you an obvious reason to "protect" the Victims even more.

= = = = =

This Philippine agreement is the first OFFICIAL attempt to unplug the blender since the breakup of Yugoslavia. Gives hope to other hopelessly mushed countries.
Sunday, October 07, 2012
  Null prophets

Found an interesting snippet from a speech by George Romney in 1959, showing that his prophetic vision was larger than just the auto industry:
As a country we may be in for some tough sledding, based on my survey of the domestic situation. We have to recognize that since World War II, the enemy has been licking the pants off us.

Started thinking. Prophets can make profits in business, but prophets are NOT WANTED in politics. When he got into politics, he correctly predicted that the Vietnam war was not worth fighting. That was a 'gaffe', and eliminated him from the race.

Started thinking again. No, it's not that prophets are unwanted; it's more specific.

Here's the real distinction:

We understand prophets who warn us of things that will happen, telling us to take big steps to prepare. We may or may not listen and act quickly enough, but we tend to respect them afterward.

We can't understand prophets who warn us that nothing special is happening, and nothing special needs to be done. When everyone is stocking up on food against the 2K Millenium Bug, we can't listen to a prophet who says it's no big deal. When everyone is getting scanned and scoped and tested for all sorts of cancer every hour on the hour, we can't listen to a medical authority who says the testing and scanning is worse than the cancer. When everyone is panicking about Bird Flu, we can't listen to plain logic that tells us Bird Flu won't happen.

We have to DO SOMETHING even if the DOING is deadly. We can't hear common sense when it tells us to look at history, observe facts, trust Nature, trust our own bodies, ignore bullies, let fools be fools.

It's directly parallel to the problem in science. We respect a result that seems to show something new, or disprove the null hypothesis. We pay for those results and give tenure to people who work toward those results. But we completely ignore a result that shows nothing unusual is happening, or proves the null hypothesis.

In science as in life, those null results are usually more important than the 'positive' results. The brake pedal matters more than the gas pedal.

Knowing that the Carbon Cult is leading us to disaster is crucially important, but we didn't listen to Art Robinson and Willie Soon when they tried to tell us that Weather isn't worth doing anything special. We only listened to the Cool Crowd who said we NEEDED TO ACT URGENTLY AND TOTALLY!

Knowing that the Neocon Cult is leading us to disaster is crucially important, but we didn't listen to George Romney when he tried to tell us that Vietnam wasn't worth doing anything special. Later we didn't listen to Pat Buchanan when he tried to tell us the same thing about Iraq and Afghanistan. We only listened to the Cool Crowd who said we NEEDED TO ACT URGENTLY AND TOTALLY!

= = = = =

Footnote for clarity: I'm emphatically not trying to praise George's son by extension. I've frequently noted the son's total reversal of George's talents. Mitt is just another part of the Cool Crowd, incapable of thinking for himself.

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Continuing from this item, I was thinking about the somewhat unusual layout of Avenues in Manhattan. Most midwestern towns have Streets going north-south and Avenues going east-west. (Less often vice-versa; but when you know the city's system, you can always tell which way you're going by the name.) The original townsite of Manhattan has Avenues (both ways) for wide section-line arterials, and Streets (both ways) for narrower, um, carriageways. (Can't think of a good generic term for all kinds of, um, paths-usable-by-pedestrians-and-vehicles.)

Is there an official standard for street names and addresses? Turns out there is, and it does answer the generic-name question: Thoroughfare.

The document is the Street Address Data Standard. PDF here. It's written in the same style as computer language references, even including a meta-syntax for symbolic references to elements of the language!

Here's one part of the language reference:

The document answers another question I'd wondered about. For a century, Spokane had used a unique 'Complex Address Structure' with no real justification. Instead of 123 W. Main, Spokane used W 123 Main. This was confusing to outsiders, which was pretty much the whole point. About 10 years ago the Post Office strongly encouraged the city to adopt the more common method. Was this just a typical exercise of power for power's sake? No, it was forced by the 'Street Address Data Standard'. There's no provision in the 'Complete Address Number Element' for a 'Street Name Pre Directional' that precedes an 'Address Number'.

= = = = =

A later musing on street addresses here.
Saturday, October 06, 2012
  Paint, dice, random

Lately I've been taking care of a few house chores, basically a chain-reaction from last year's renovation of the back yard and fence. (Pride has a way of spreading!) Clearing out the storage room, planing sticky doors, vinegaring the refrigerator, screwing down a bent piece of siding, replacing latches on kitchen cabinets. This week I finally redid a 'temporary' jury-rig that had been in place since 1991. To insure privacy and darkness in the bedroom, I had ductaped cardboard over the window glass, then ductaped a windowshade over the cardboard. Over the years the ductape had slipped and the cardboard had gathered dust and moisture, so it looked awful even behind venetian blinds.

Since I've switched to Old People's Time I no longer need to block the sun in the morning. In every season I'm up at least two hours before sunrise. So I decided to remove the cardboard and paint the glass. The result turned out nicely; bedroom is still private but now it's normally illuminated instead of cave-like. Feels better that way, probably saves a few pennies on electricity.

But I underestimated the power of the paint vapor; even with full ventilation it made me feel dull and weird for a couple days. Now it's cleared out, with no lingering ill effects. (The underestimation is another young-old change. Back in high school I spent a summer working on a paint crew, breathing the stuff every day, and it didn't affect me at all. Stupidly assumed that 62 would be the same as 18. It's not.)

= = = = =

A local newspaper columnist runs a nice daily column on words. Today's word was conjecture, which led me to write a comment that pulled my brain out of the paint-induced dullness.

The comment was pretty much a blog entry, so might as well put it in the blog.

= = = = =

The idea of throwing bird bones, or throwing dice or yarrow stalks, or flipping a coin... It’s the oldest form of randomization. When the object leaves your hand, it becomes subject to all sorts of influences.

If you’re purely secular, you can think about air currents, slight imperfections in the surface, magnetic and electrostatic pulls, and the vector components of the spin imparted by your fingers. There’s no way to know all of these, so there’s no way to predict their effect.

If you’re not purely secular, you can see the brief time between hand and ground as a time when the gods can influence the coin, an interval when you’re loosening the hold of reality to ask the gods a question.

Either way, the coin or bone has left the zone of total control for a while and passed through a zone of mystery before it gets observed.
Thursday, October 04, 2012
  Primary sources

UK Telegraph has a feature on the Citroen DS, calling it the world's most beautiful car. Tastes are subjective, of course ... but if you're going to consider that basic shape as most beautiful, you need to take the original of that shape. Namely the '53 Studebaker.

I've always been puzzled by the tendency to describe Bob Bourke's perfect design as 'European'. It's reverse causation. Nothing in Europe looked remotely like those lovely Studes at the time when they were designed. Euro cars in 1951 were still mainly prewar designs, because Euro factories were just barely recovering from total devastation. The only major exceptions were the Morris Minor and some Austin models, but they weren't radical or 'style leaders' by any means; they were just keeping up with American postwar designs.

To my eyes exactly one American car was an echo of already existing Euro designs, namely the '34 Hupmobile. Also done by Loewy Studios.
  Competent Turkey

Count on Turkey to behave sanely. They've been sheltering massive numbers of refugees from the Syrian conflict and helping the rebel forces. Yesterday a stray shell from Syrian gov't forces killed 5 Turkish civilians. Turkey responded almost instantly with a counter-barrage, and is now preparing for a more serious pushback.

Compare this with the post-1989 American response to cross-border invasions. Direct parallel: Mexico's internal conflicts have spilled over our border constantly, including actual soldiers; no response at all. Bigger example: When Saudi (dba Sheikh Osama) invaded us in a big way, we did nothing at all. Later we invaded and occupied two vaguely related countries. Still haven't done anything to Saudi.

Want a model for correct national behavior in all possible areas? Turkey is it.


Wednesday, October 03, 2012
  Missing a chance

Everyone knows how the Repooflicans pick their candidates. They don't use primaries and caucuses. Instead they have an Apostolic Succession. After each election, everyone knows who's Next In Line.

Why not turn this into an advantage? Don't insult our intelligence by going through the motions of "competition" and "campaigning" and fake "primaries" and fake "caucuses." Just declare officially on November 7, 2012 that Ryan is The Next Man In Line .... and then USE the fact by forming a Shadow Cabinet. Find the best people for each post, pay them to spend four years in training, and begin offering well-formed alternatives to everything Obama does in his second term.

This would be meaningful and attractive to voters, and would also help to shape Obama's actions by a counterbalancing effect.

What we really need, of course, is a complete return to a parliamentary system, much like the Articles of Confederation. Undo 1787 or even undo 1776.

Reprint from April of this year:

= = = = = = = = =START REPRINT

The neighbor to the north seems to love wind as much as I hate it. Every window and door on her house has two or three hanging wind-chimes. (13 separate chimes on the side facing me!) Whenever the wind reaches 20 MPH, a discordant set of pings and dings fills the area.

Last week she installed a purely ornamental windmill, about 10 feet high and made of metal and plastic. My first thought was "That ain't gonna last."

Sure enough. This morning a sudden gustfront came through:

and in the middle of it, above the chimes, I heard a big CREAK! CLANK!

The silly decoration is down. Doesn't appear to have hit anything.... I was sort of hoping it would pull down a few of the chimes when it dropped.

= = = = =

Next morning: She put it back up, but several of its fan blades are bent. It'll be interesting to watch the dumb thing deteriorate one fall at a time. (A symbolic echo of big-time wind "power" disintegrating!)

= = = = = = = = =END APRIL REPRINT

October: Yup. The dumb thing has fallen three or four times since then, bending the blades more each time. Yesterday's windstorm made it almost unturnable, but the neighbor doesn't seem to notice the sound. Here's a minute of the blades hitting the tower, as heard from my back door in a breeze that probably ranged from 10 to 20 during the recording.


[Tech note: the constant super-high 'tinnitus' on this recording is not coming from anything outside; it's just an artifact of the old laptop I used as a recorder.]


  We're not in reality any more

Heard just now in a radio ad for some kind of live performance by some kind of dance troupe:

"They're so good at what they do, you'll almost think it's animation."

I believe we've gone round the Mobius loop to the other side.
  There goes Texas.

Rick Perry pretended to be a strong governor, willing to push back against the lunatic mass-murdering all-destroying Federal Occupation Government to defend his own people.

Nope. He just pussed out forever, and all of Texas pussed out with him.
A $15 million San Antonio highway underpass project under construction since spring will have to be scrapped and completely redesigned after a rare spider was found on the construction site. The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver was found about a month ago at the Texas 151-Loop 1604 intersection in northwestern San Antonio. The spider is listed on the federal endangered species list and was found after rain exposed a 6-feet-deep natural hole on a median.
Solution is easy. Accidentally fill the hole with cement. Whoops! No more Brokeback Spider, no more Satanist power.

Nobody had the guts to provide the solution, and Fairy Perry didn't have the fucking guts to order the solution officially and non-accidentally.

Mincing-ass prancing-ass pussy-ass sissy-ass bitch-ass fag-ass enviro-ass fairy-ass Repooflicans.

We're fucked up the rectum.


Monday, October 01, 2012
  Market squares

When Manhattan was first laid out in the 1860's, its founders were typically utopian, and wanted to make the city an Ideal Commercial Emporium. They included one feature that has always fascinated me. Since I'm all into decentralizing and localizing lately, maybe it's time to look closely at this feature.

I've annotated a 1940 map (from the 1940 Census website) that shows the original townsite plat clearly.

First note the Avenues, in green. They are 1/2 mile apart and they bound 6 by 6 sections containing plain old Streets. The north-south Avenues should be 1st, 7th and 13th, but they're named Wyandotte, Juliette and Manhattan Avenues. I'm guessing this was partly a sop to superstition, avoiding the numerals 7 and 13.

Real geography messed up the theoretical grid almost immediately. Wyandotte turned out to be in the river part of the time, so it never got used as a street; and ditto for Pottawatomie. The original grid extended westward to 19th (Delaware) but just barely; the bluff and the college stopped most of the grid well before that point, and curvy subdivisions continued northward and westward later.

= = = = =

I'm focusing here on the Market Squares. I've blobbed them in red on the above map. Each section was meant to have a Market Square near its center, so people could reach it easily. You'd never be more than 4 blocks from the nearest Square, which is easy walking even by modern standards. [Irrelevant sidenote: the Avenues and Market Squares form a scaled-down replica of the Jefferson township-range system that dominated Kansas. Each township enclosed 6x6 sections, and each township had a School Section near its center. Fractal!]

Closeup of one Market Square block, with surrounding normal blocks for context. Note the short lots around the square for business buildings facing inward; a central public agora or souk, and a pathway around the souk. You can feel the hustle and bustle, can't you? Vendors parking their carts or tables in the souk and hawking their wares; customers walking around the perimeter, looking, smelling, pinching, buying.

Unfortunately the Squares were never implemented. Residential development took over from the utopian vision, and those blocks were 'normalized', first by vacation and easements, later by redrawing the plat.



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