Saturday, March 23, 2019
It's the largest forested wilderness in the lower 48, larger even than some states. Outside of Alaska, only Death Valley Wilderness is larger. So how did the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness become law?
I remember the Idaho Primitive Area.
Centrism, properly understood, is not wimpy or unexciting. In fact, the vigorous debate that it encourages should be exhilarating. If its insistence on humility is something of a downer, its enthusiasm for and willingness to contemplate ideas from all sides is recompense. Civilization is a brilliant achievement, and the centrist wishes to celebrate it. But such a celebration doesn’t require ignoring its flaws or discouraging innovations. Moral progress is undeniable, and future citizens will almost certainly find us as flawed as we find our ancestors. That thought should chasten us and cause us to be as tolerant of the failings of our fellow citizens as we wish our descendants to be of us. Perhaps this is what centrism really is: a tolerant smile at the recognition that we are human, all too human.
Kinda wimpy and unexciting, but OK.
Morris never forgave Kuhn, who was, in Morris’s eyes, a bad person and bad philosopher. In his book The Ashtray (Or the Man Who Denied Reality), Morris attacks the cult—my term, but I suspect Morris would approve, since it describes a group bound by irrational allegiance to a domineering leader--of Kuhn. “Many may see this book as a vendetta,” Morris writes. “Indeed it is.”
Morris blames Kuhn for undermining the notion that there is a real world out there, which we can, with some effort, come to know. Morris wants to rebut this skeptical assertion, which he believes has insidious effects. The denial of objective truth enables totalitarianism and genocide and “ultimately, perhaps irrevocably, undermines civilization.”
Pretty much everything you learned in college is wrong. But now, it's even wronger.
The Mueller report is complete and Attorney General Barr has it in his possession. Trump supporters are rightly having a bit of a celebration because of Mueller’s statement that there are no more indictments coming out of the Special Counsel’s investigation. Democrats and their base, the mainstream media, reacted immediately. After 675 days of investigation, there is no joy on the left. It’s election night 2016 all over again.
The only thing surprising about this is that anybody is surprised. It's been obvious for quite a while that there was precious little to investigate. Kudos to Mueller for what looks like a thorough job and a product that is no more politically biased (which is pretty biased) than one would expect, based on early reports.
Friday, March 22, 2019
In May 2017, BQO’s Tony Mills sat down with Fr. Thomas Joseph White, a Dominican priest, theologian, and leading scholar of St. Thomas Aquinas at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. Their discussion touches on the origin of the religious impulse, the nature of religious commitment, and the role of religion in the public sphere.
A new Pew Research Center survey focused on what Americans think the United States will be like in 2050 finds that majorities of Americans foresee a country with a burgeoning national debt, a wider gap between the rich and the poor and a workforce threatened by automation.
New research from psychologist and search engine expert Dr. Robert Epstein shows that biased Google searches had a measurable impact on the 2018 midterm elections, pushing tens of thousands of votes towards the Democrat candidates in three key congressional races, and potentially millions more in races across the country.
In recent weeks, there has been growing support for court-packing on the left. A number of prominent liberal Democrats, including several presidential candidates, have either endorsed the idea of expanding the size of the Supreme Court to reverse the current 5-4 conservative majority among the justices, or at least indicated they are open to it. Those expressing such views include presidential candidates Pete Buttgieg, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand. Former Obama administration attorney General Eric Holder also argues that the idea should be "seriously" considered. Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke has suggested a plan to increase the size of the court to fifteen justices: five Democrats, five Republicans, and five more justices selected by the other ten.
Loose talk about breaking up the United States has become increasingly common. While quixotic secession campaigns for California or Texas are more amusing than threatening, there seems to be something different about the right-wing movement for a “peaceful separation” or “national divorce.” If you look closely, there’s an undercurrent carrying the threat of political violence. Or even full-scale civil war.
In the decade or so before I’d arrived, the center’s reputation as a beacon of justice had taken some hits from reporters who’d peered behind the façade. In 1995, the Montgomery Advertiser had been a Pulitzer finalist for a series that documented, among other things, staffers’ allegations of racial discrimination within the organization. In Harper’s, Ken Silverstein had revealed that the center had accumulated an endowment topping a hundred and twenty million dollars while paying lavish salaries to its highest-ranking staffers and spending far less than most nonprofit groups on the work that it claimed to do. The great Southern journalist John Egerton, writing for The Progressive, had painted a damning portrait of Dees, the center’s longtime mastermind, as a “super-salesman and master fundraiser” who viewed civil-rights work mainly as a marketing tool for bilking gullible Northern liberals. “We just run our business like a business,” Dees told Egerton. “Whether you’re selling cakes or causes, it’s all the same.”
In 1988 I travelled from Sydney to San Diego, California, to start a PhD in philosophy. That trip looks like a short hop now, but back then it seemed a long way. I had just finished an undergraduate philosophy degree at the University of Sydney. After I arrived, part of my training for the PhD was to work as a teaching assistant (or tutor) for a course in moral philosophy. The course syllabus, I was surprised to find, was full of Australians: Peter Singer, John Mackie, Jack Smart.
At Sydney I had worked especially in the philosophy of mind, and learned early on that there was a family of views called ‘Australian materialism’. This suggested that Australia meant something in philosophy. I had also seen at Sydney a series of visitors from very good American universities, who had all said that the philosophical scene in Australia was unusually strong. But it was natural to wonder whether they were being gracious as guests. I knew also that I was joining a stream of Australian students who had gone to graduate school overseas. But I was still surprised to find, in an area of philosophy far from mine, all those Australians on the syllabus.
Q&A: Crypto-guru Bruce Schneier on teaching tech to lawmakers, plus privacy failures – and a call to techies to act • The Register
Q. Your RSAC keynote highlighted the growing mismatch between public policy and technological development. Why are lawmakers having such problems with the technology sector?
A. Tech is new. Tech is specialized and hard to understand. Tech moves fast, and is constantly changing. All of that serves to make the tech sector difficult to legislate. And legislators don’t have the expertise on staff to counter industry statements or positions. On top of that, tech is incredibly valuable.
Lawmakers are reluctant to disrupt the enormous wealth creation machine that technology has turned out to be. They’re more likely to acquiesce to the industry’s demands to leave them alone and unregulated, to innovate as they see fit.
Sounds like a good idea to me.
The biggest lesson that can be read from 70 years of AI research is that general methods that leverage computation are ultimately the most effective, and by a large margin. The ultimate reason for this is Moore's law, or rather its generalization of continued exponentially falling cost per unit of computation. Most AI research has been conducted as if the computation available to the agent were constant (in which case leveraging human knowledge would be one of the only ways to improve performance) but, over a slightly longer time than a typical research project, massively more computation inevitably becomes available. Seeking an improvement that makes a difference in the shorter term, researchers seek to leverage their human knowledge of the domain, but the only thing that matters in the long run is the leveraging of computation. These two need not run counter to each other, but in practice they tend to. Time spent on one is time not spent on the other. There are psychological commitments to investment in one approach or the other. And the human-knowledge approach tends to complicate methods in ways that make them less suited to taking advantage of general methods leveraging computation. There were many examples of AI researchers' belated learning of this bitter lesson, and it is instructive to review some of the most prominent.
Shut up and build faster computers I guess.
Thursday, March 21, 2019
A growing number of states, counties, cities, and towns are declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” and are refusing to enforce gun-control laws that infringe on the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
While adopting ordinances and resolutions to defy gun laws isn’t a new tactic, momentum is rapidly building – likely in response to increasing calls for more gun control at state and federal levels.
WASHINGTON — For the second time in a week, the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer has taken a shot at Google, warning that the tech company’s investments in China are doing long-term damage to America’s security.
But Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he also plans to meet with the tech giant to "debate” about its roles and responsibilities as a commercial enterprise versus how much the firm owes to America as its home nation.
“In my judgment, us assisting the Chinese military in advancing technologically is not in U.S. national interests, so it’s a debate we have to have,” Dunford said at a Thursday event hosted by the Atlantic Council.
It's eerily like the run-up to WW2 in the Pacific. I'll guess we'll know it has begun when we can't get on Netflix.
An evening with Mrs. Merkel, Mrs. May, or President Macron would, I suspect, be about as entertaining as dentistry without anaesthetic; but it would be like an evening with Oscar Wilde by comparison with an evening with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Opposition in Britain, who is possibly, though not certainly, the country’s next Prime Minister.
In normal circumstances, no one would dream of writing a biography of so dreary a man as Jeremy Corbyn; but political correctness has so eviscerated the exercise of wit that dreariness is no obstacle to political advancement and may even be of advantage to it. The dreary, alas, are inheriting the earth.
Democrats struggle to address rising border apprehensions as they seek to counter Trump on immigration - The Washington Post
SAN DIEGO -- The University of San Diego confirmed Wednesday that former head men's basketball coach Lamont Smith and two others connected to the school were implicated in what authorities have described as the largest-ever college admissions cheating scandal.
USD in the news!
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Scientists around the globe have spent the past seven years honing this new tool, using it to study the underlying genetics of disease, speed up drug development, and boost the performance of industrial bacteria and cells. Now they’re poised to bring it out of the lab and into the real world. Some of their early applications are already showing promise. Two summers ago, for instance, ExxonMobil announced that it had used Crispr to double the amount of biofuel generated by the marine algae Nannochloropsis gaditana. German researchers recently found a way to create Crispr’d pigs that are resistant to African swine fever, a disease that’s been ruinous for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.
Can the boffins come up with something that makes us immune to communism?
Monday, March 18, 2019
In colonial times, Americans would typically keep their individual supply of gunpowder in the regional British magazine for safety reasons due to the volatile nature of black powder. As a result, in the lead up to the Revolutionary War, the British would attempt to seize the Colonial gunpowder, and a number of times they did so successfully. While the story Paul Revere’s Ride on April 18, 1775 is famous for warning that the “Redcoats are coming,” the popular account of this never expresses what the British were coming to do.
Harsanyi reminds his readers of an important point: The Redcoats were coming to confiscate Colonial gunpowder and muskets. Revere had ridden to Portsmouth, New Hampshire months earlier with a similar warning when the British planned to appropriate the gunpowder and munitions at Fort William and Mary. Thus, the Battle of Lexington and Concord (April 19), the first clash of the American Revolutionary War, was immediately precipitated by the British attempting to confiscate firearms and gunpowder. Of course, Colonial Americans had a number of grievances against the British, but the Crown’s repeated attempts to confiscate firearms or gun powder were certainly among them. The most significant one was this direct infringement on the right to keep and bear arms. Revere was not an outlier in his concern for keeping Colonial ammunition away from the Crown, but rather an exemplar.
Essential Politics: It's not legality but legitimacy that's being debated over Newsom's halt to death penalty - Los Angeles Times
There’s been little serious dispute that Article V, Section 8 of the California Constitution says the governor — under any conditions he “deems proper” — may grant a reprieve from a prisoner’s sentence, even if that sentence is death.
But it’s the properness of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to block the executions of 737 condemned men that remains a hot topic across the state, not the legality. Newsom’s sudden action caught some by surprise, and he’s now spent almost an entire week trying to explain his thinking.
Dutch police have named a suspect in the 'terrorist-motivated' shooting on a tram in Utrecht, which resulted in the death of three people and left nine others injured.
Police tweeted a photograph of Turkish-born Gökmen Tanis, 37, believed to have been captured on the tram's CCTV just four minutes before the incident at 10.45am this morning, and urged the public to 'look out for him but do not approach.'
The gunman, who may not have been acting alone, fled the scene, reportedly in a stolen red Renault Clio, which has since been found abandoned in Utrecht, Holland's fourth largest city with a population of around 340,000.
Taking a low-dose aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack or stroke is no longer recommended for most older adults, according to guidelines released Sunday.
After doctors said for decades that a daily 75 to 100 milligrams of aspirin could prevent cardiovascular problems, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association just reversed that idea.
This change comes after a large clinical trial found a daily low-dose aspirin had no effect on prolonging life in healthy, elderly people, and actually suggested the pills could be linked to major hemorrhages.
I forgot to do this anyway.
The blast was the second largest of its kind in 30 years, and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia six years ago.
But it went largely unnoticed until now because it blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.
The space rock exploded with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
I don’t mean I like Duke to do well in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament—though I like them there, too. I mean I like Duke, as in I enjoy watching Duke play, and I want Duke to succeed.
Zion is amazing, Duke is a great team, but Duke still sucks.
As Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives becomes ever more flagrant and overt, the old arguments about protecting the sanctity of the modern public square are now invalid. Our right to freely engage in public discourse through speech is under sustained attack, necessitating a vigorous defense against the major social media and internet platforms.
From “shadowbans” on Facebook and Twitter, to demonetization of YouTube videos, to pulled ads for Republican candidates at the critical junctures of election campaigns, the list of violations against the online practices and speech of conservatives is long.
Our faith in a cadre of well-trained media professionals, able to set aside their biases to report on and analyze the big stories of our age, hasn’t just eroded. We no longer have any confidence that such impartiality is possible. Into this breach have stepped the YouTubers and podcasters who clearly and openly state their biases, who do not pretend to be impartial but rather acknowledge their ideological starting points and then seek to have good-faith discussions with people from across the spectrum.
More damagingly still, just as the people have lost our faith in the media, the media has also lost faith in us. The average duration of a TV soundbite has shrunk from minutes in the 1960s to a handful of seconds today. The big feet of the media increasingly believe that we are too busy, stupid or, at best, uninterested to pay attention and they have addressed this by feeding us a nauseating diet of informational cocktail sausages when what we really crave is a side of beef. The success of long-form publications like Quillette and YouTube shows like the Joe Rogan Experience and the Rubin Report is a testament to our desire to move away from the political talking heads, screaming over each other like children in a playground. We want grown-up conversations and we will reward the people that bring them to our screens.
And it's not even Joe Rogan anymore.
Sunday, March 17, 2019
So why isn’t there more of a line of serious GOP contenders forming up and preparing to remove the problem before it gets to the general election stage next year? A possible explanation (and some tough medicine for the left to swallow) might be found in a recent, massive poll conducted by Morning Consult. This jumbo survey, collecting opinions from more than 50,000 registered Republicans around the nation, reveals that primarying the President isn’t on much of anyone’s mind at the moment. In fact, the vast majority of them are okay with the job he’s doing and would like to see him have a second term. (Washington Times)
I had lunch yesterday with a friend from London who brought grim tidings from Albion. Like me, he is an advocate of national sovereignty. He thinks the people of the United Kingdom ought to be allowed to govern themselves. So he, again like me, is an advocate for Brexit. He had no idea what was going to happen with Brexit.
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Since the 2007 publication of Philip Jenkin’s “God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam and Europe’s Religious Crisis,” observers of religious trends in European culture have been keeping a close eye on developments that might validate his sanguine view that Europe could see a revival in Christian belief. Richard J. Neuhaus, in his review of it in First Things at the time, thought the view was “too roseate.”
That was then. In the ten years since Neuhaus taking his final leave of the stage of this world, there have been increasing signs of a real and sustained Christian revival in Europe, hardly reported and barely noticed in press across the pond.
From 2018 but presumably still true.
Russia’s most likely target in the near future is either Finland or Sweden; although both are members of the EU, they are not members of NATO. By attacking a non-NATO country, Putin does not risk a proportional response in accordance with Article 5. But by targeting a European country, he can expect to reap the rewards of public approval at home from voters who are desperate for a victory. This is a simple cost-benefit analysis that Putin has conducted, openly, many times before. Each investment of Russian force has paid dividends. Finland and Sweden meet both requirements.
Through a process of cultural evolution, societies that adopted this particular social system — which involves far more than simple male domination — maximized their population and therefore their power, whereas those that didn’t were either overrun or absorbed. This cycle in human history may be obnoxious to the enlightened, but it is set to make a comeback.
Oldy but goody.
Friday, March 15, 2019
His manifesto emerges, dripping, from the memes-and-shitposts world of 8chan, 4chan, and similar sites. Parts of the document are obvious put-ons, even as the blood in Christchurch reminds us that the killer wasn't kidding about his lethal intentions.
Most of the manifesto is earnest. I see no reason to doubt the writer's racism, his fear of "white genocide," or his contempt for immigration. And no, the shooter's interest in environmentalism and his attacks on global markets aren't big twists; those aren't unusual sentiments in the white-nationalist world. He calls himself a fascist, and I believe him. It isn't remotely surprising that a man who set out to murder Muslims would have beliefs like this.
Former Secretary of Education Dr. Bill Bennett says buying a child’s admission into college means the system can be rigged.
University of San Diego! In the news! I actually think this makes us look good. People are willing to pay bribes to get their kids in here. Look at the other schools were associated with -- pretty classy, n'est pas? Administrators are telling us no one did anything wrong, and I presume that's correct. Even better! That's us, BTW, in the lower right corner, to the right of, uhm, Yale, which you may have heard of. The wealth of our undergraduates has not bothered me since we got our own parking spots, which cost a ridiculous amount. Before then we had to compete with the, uh, advantaged young persons driving Porsches and BMWs. Now, I am philosophical about it. But this is funny and really happened. I was walking across the parking lot one day when a large Rolls Royce slowed down and its window scrolled down. "It is I, Rashish Ratadasian, Professor!" the driver said to me. It was one of my students. I didn't know he rocked a Rolls.
Colleges should adopt a transparent, purely merit-based admissions system based on quantified tests of academic preparedness. Such a system would guarantee that entering freshmen were all equally prepared to compete academically, and would have the additional benefit of putting most college admissions officers out of a job. These self-important bureaucrats view themselves as artistes, using their exquisite insights into character to curate a utopian community of “diverse” individuals. The Harvard racial-preferences trial put such airs on nauseating display. In fact, admissions officers are simply allocating a scarce resource based on their own prejudices and inclinations.
This is absolutely true. The federal government should make adopting such an admissions policy a condition of getting any federal money. It's a blunt instrument but it would result in much more real diversity, among other advantages, than the present policy.
A majority of the British legislature is, and always was, opposed to Brexit. Those legislators who agitated most vociferously for it declined, when the time came, to carry out the policy, leaving it to a woman, already well known for her political maladroitness. Her appearance of negotiating with the EU was merely elaborate shadow-play. She never intended to produce the complete break that just over half the electorate—but not the political class—wanted.
The present impasse will probably lead to Britain never leaving the union. Except for a hard core of about a fifth of Parliament, all the other legislators are adamantly opposed to Britain leaving the EU without a deal; and the Union, knowing this, has no reason to negotiate further. But the legislators will not agree to the deal as negotiated, as they have now demonstrated. They want a second referendum, in the hope that the result of the first will be reversed. (And if it is, there will never be a third.) An extension to Britain’s departure will be granted only if Britain has a concrete proposal to offer—and the only such offer it can make is to hold the second referendum.
This is, in essence, the European approach to democracy: if the voters get the answer wrong, either ignore the verdict or make them vote again until they get the answer right. Whether the population will take it lying down remains to be seen, but after three years of deliberately created political chaos, it is likely that Britons will simply shrug and get on with their lives.
Thus does democracy advance, whether the people like it not.
The first version of the due process clause in the Constitution of India had read: ‘Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty and property without due process of law.’ Soon, the word ‘property’ was deleted. Moreover, to prevent the broad interpretation of ‘liberty’ that the US Supreme Court had shown in Lochner v New York, when it had struck down minimum-wage legislation, ‘liberty’ was qualified as ‘personal liberty’ – not corporate. Lastly, to minimise the expressive impact of ‘due process of law’, that phrase was replaced by ‘procedure established by law’. Finally, Article 21 of the Constitution of India read: ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.’ India’s land reforms went through – partially – helping a newly independent democracy, the world’s largest, move beyond feudalism.
The US can learn something from this little history lesson. Every constitution offers a particular set of solutions to a social, economic and cultural context. India did not copy the US Constitution; it took what worked for it and no more. Moreover, if constitutions are tools for governance, then they simply must change over time, through trial and error. Constitutions should be changed as often as their subjects want to change them, to bring about the results they want for their political community. One of the drafters of the US Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, suggested that every generation of Americans should draft its own version to meet the particularities of its time. Jefferson calculated, using actuarial tables, how often this should be: 19 years. Americans pride themselves on their pragmatic and innovative nature; that self-image should suggest that the all-American thing to do is to desacralise the US Constitution, remove it from the pulpit, and put it in its place, a toolbox of governance, there to be used and modified to – as the US framers of the constitution put it – ‘make a more perfect union’.
Gee, thanks Felix. Making the world safe for socialism.
It would seem, therefore, that there is little reason not to take seriously the Jewish and Christian claim that charity is a divine commandment, and that the poor have to be regarded as God’s protégés. The religious motivation of charity, the strong association of love for God with aid for the needy, is so omnipresent in all the Jewish and Christian evidence that it would be unwise to belittle or ignore it. To give an example, in the Jewish book of Tobit, the protagonist states right from the start that his care for the poor is the most obvious mark of his Jewishness, and that almsgiving is an excellent offering to the Most High. Nowhere is that religious principle stated more forcefully than in the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, when he says to those who fed the hungry and clothed the naked: ‘You did it to me’.
Those darn Judeo-Christians.
‘Every society is judgmental about its core issues of value,’ said Carol Worthman, a biological anthropologist at Emory University in Atlanta. But when it comes to sleep, the need for safety – versus value judgment – seems to have prevailed in cultures beyond our own. Indeed, in Worthman’s research around the world, sleep has emerged as both more flexible and more social than one would think from the perspective of the West. ‘Human sleep evolved in risky settings that fostered complex sleep architecture and regulation of vigilance in sleep to suit local circumstances,’ she writes in Frontiers Reviews; and those circumstances varied from place to place.
Not sure about this article, but I like sleep.
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — At least 49 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshippers attending Friday prayers on what the prime minister called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
One man was arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned racist attack. Police also defused explosive devices in a car.
A gunman walked into a mosque on Deans Avenue, Christchurch, around lunchtime on Friday and opened fire on worshippers with a semi-automatic weapon. He livestreamed the attack. A second shooting attack was carried out at a mosque in Linwood