The Crowhill Weblog - Content

Thoughts on life — News, culture, politics, beer, art, science, education, religion and ethics

Sites endorsed by Crowhill:
Crowhill Publishing
The Krehbiel Report on Publishing

Has Google given up on search?

by Crowhill on 25 July 2016

When Google first started, it was about making the best search engine on the planet. I don’t know if they’d already adopted their current mission statement about organizing the world’s information, but they were definitely zeroed in on search.

It doesn’t seem that way any more. All the innovations I’ve seen in Google search have more to do with ads and commerce than with search.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for information about a problem with your car. It would be nice to distinguish between stuff from amateurs and stuff from actual auto mechanics. But Google doesn’t seem to make that sort of distinction.

One possible barrier to this sort of filtering is that while there are some subjects where you can distinguish an expert from an amateur, there are others where you can’t, and it might be tough to justify applying the rules to some things and not others.

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-25  ::  Crowhill

What if a candidate split the difference on abortion?

by Crowhill on 25 July 2016

There is an ideological road block on abortion. The Democrats are radically pro choice and the Republicans are radically pro life.

I agree with the Republicans as a matter of principle, but I also know that politics is the world of the possible.

By overwhelming numbers, Americans want abortion to be legal, but they want restrictions. A national law restricting abortion to the first trimester would be very popular.

In our current environment, it would never pass. The Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) would kill it, and even if it did pass, the robed Democrats would strike it down based on imaginary stuff in the constitution.

However, it’s possible this very position could be a means to launch a third party and break the monopoly of the two-party system.

9 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-25  ::  Crowhill

Isn’t there a path between putting women in burkas and encouraging them to be loose?

by Crowhill on 25 July 2016

It seems that the ideological conflict between Islam and the West re: “women’s rights” has become a matter of extremes. Islam wants them in burkas, with no vote, no right to drive, unable to go out in public, etc., while the west wants them to be “sexually liberated” with the right to abort their babies as long as the head isn’t out yet.

I don’t want either of those options. I want men and women to live chaste, decent lives, to raise families and to respect life.

Am I supposed to choose sides between these ridiculous extremes? It’s like Trump v. Clinton. Is that the age we’re in now? The Age of Exaggerated, Absurd Choices?

1 comment  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-25  ::  Crowhill

Wow. NPR hates progressives

by Crowhill on 23 July 2016

Just looked at 4 Reasons Why Progressives Aren’t Thrilled With Clinton’s Pick Of Kaine.

Here are the four reasons.

He’s too nice. So progressives want mean people.

He’s too white. So progressives judge people by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. Or by their policies.

He’s too moderate. So progressives want people who are going to continue the divisiveness that most people deplore.

He’s too “safe.” So progressives want dangerous people.

This is an amazing indictment of progressives, IMO.

4 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-23  ::  Crowhill

Musings on the words “racist” and “sexist”

by Crowhill on 22 July 2016

I’m going to say things in this post that some people might find offensive. If you can reason through it and keep your emotions at bay for a minute, please read on. If you’re not able to do that, I recommend you go watch this video instead.

Okay, if you’re still with me, please try to read this as objectively as possible and realize that nothing here is meant to be taken as a factual claim unless explicitly stated as such. I’m mostly saying things as illustrations or examples.

To lower the temperature a little, I’m going to pretend that Vulcan is a race of human.

So then … If someone were to say that Vulcans in America are disproportionately poor, few people would consider that a racist comment. It’s just a statistic, and it doesn’t address cause. Vulcans could be disproportionately poor for many different reasons, including oppression by a racist society.

However, if someone were to say that Vulcans are disproportionately poor because they’re lazy, most people would consider that a racist comment, although IMO it would be smart to dig a little to be sure. Saying all Vulcans are lazy would clearly be racist, because it’s assigning a negative quality as a characteristic of a race. (Unless the person simply believed that everyone was lazy.)

Would it be racist to say that Vulcans are disproportionately lazy? It would depend on the reasoning behind the statement. If someone said that Vulcans are disproportionately lazy as a social legacy of the way they’ve been treated, for example, that is not necessarily racist because it isn’t something that stems from the fact that they’re Vulcan, but from another cause. It’s externally imposed on them. They learn it, and could just as well learn differently.

You should be able to tell by now that I’m using “racist” to designate an opinion that a race is better or worse than other races because that’s the nature of that race. Saying that a race is better or worse than other races for some other reason is not necessarily racist, in my opinion. It’s like a nature / nurture distinction.

If Vulcans are disproportionately better at math than other races, then (conceptually) that could be because it’s in their nature to do better at math, or it could be because it’s more emphasized at home.

So now let’s make it a little more real.

Blacks commit a disproportionate amount of many crimes. That’s simply what the data says. And — as I have defined it — that’s not a racist statement because it says nothing about why. (Sargon of Akkad has a thought-provoking video on the subject.)

Someone could try to use those stats to support a racist conclusion — that blacks commit more crimes because that’s just the way black people are. (Nature.) Or someone could conclude that there’s another cause — nurture.

I believe it’s nurture. (Not simply how they’re raised, but their circumstances and such.)

There clearly are some distinctions among human populations. For example, I’ve read that people of Northern European ancestry are usually better able to process both lactose and alcohol than people of Asian ancestry. And if you watch the Olympics, it’s quite clear that people from different areas of the world do better in different sports. A lot of that may be nurture, but IMO there’s no good reason to deny the possibility that some of it is nature.

But that’s not the sort of stuff we worry about with “racism.” If Europeans are better marksmen and Africans are better distance runners, no sensible person is going to get all worried and offended about that.

What bothers us about “racism” is when somebody attributes a socially negative characteristic to a race. But we’re not very precise or careful about it. We don’t usually make the sorts of distinctions I’m making here — over the cause of the alleged characteristic, and whether it’s universal or just a matter of statistics.

If I could convince the world to be more careful when they speak of racism, I would want them to make those distinctions.

But … then it all falls on its face when you switch over to sexism.

If I say “blacks commit disproportionately more of some crimes than other races,” some people will be offended and say that’s a racist comment — whether it’s true or not. And … it could be a racist comment, depending on what the underlying cause is thought to be.

But if I say “men commit disproportionately more violent crimes than women,” that is not considered sexist, even if I say that it’s not a matter of nurture but flows from the nature of men and women. It’s not “sexist” simply because we’re okay with it.

In other words, there’s no consistency. There’s no logic to this. There are no rules.

When you get down to it, all that “racism” and “sexism” mean, practically speaking, is that a position is outside the range of what we’re comfortable with saying.

 ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-22  ::  Crowhill

Who do you trust with the nuke codes?

by Crowhill on 21 July 2016

Aside from all the other frightening things about the next president, either Donald or Hillary is going to be able to launch nuclear weapons.

In public, Hillary certain seems to be the more stable of the two. But in private, there are stories of lamps being thrown, temper tantrums and vindictive nastiness.

I wonder if we should change the rules and let the Vice President control the launch codes.

12 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-21  ::  Crowhill

Have we reached peak anti-Trump whining yet?

by Crowhill on 20 July 2016

I, for one, am sick of it.

There are a lot of things about Trump that rub me the wrong way, and I wish we had a better candidate, but … IMO, it’s gone too far.

Complaint: Trump is not careful with his words. He brags and boasts and exaggerates. Analysis: True. So do most politicians, they just do it in a style we’re more used to. Trump’s offense on this point, ISTM, is not that he’s loose with the truth, but that he doesn’t sound like a politician while doing it. (Remember “if you like your health insurance ….”)

Complaint: Trump endorses (and seems to believe) crazy conspiracy theories, which makes us wonder how sensible he is. Analysis: True. But Obama, Clinton and their fellow travelers on the left are continually endorsing crazy conspiracy theories, and they get a pass. (E.g., the nonsense about women’s wages, conspiracy theories about racism, etc.)

Complaint: Trump doesn’t seem to have any fixed moral or political positions. Analysis: True. But weren’t Obama and Hillary against gay marriage until they were for it? Wasn’t Bill Clinton against gays in the military until he was for it? Didn’t Obama campaign against the Bush tax cuts, then extend them?

Complaint: Trump is a racist because he says some Mexicans are murderers and rapists. Analysis: False. This is standard fare for the left — to misrepresent what someone says and try to blow it into a big race issue. It’s quite clear that Trump said some illegal immigrants are murderers and rapists, which is true. The left’s demagoguery and deceit on this is disgusting.

Complaint: Trump pretends to be all “family values” but is on his third wife. Analysis: Mixed. I haven’t heard Trump use the term “family values” or pretend that he is some sort of righteous, moral dude, so to some extent this is a guilt by association thing. It’s true that he’s on his third wife, and that is a little disturbing, but it’s also true that he’s raised some pretty incredible kids. So I think the “family values” scorecard is not clear cut.

Trump is not my guy, but when I sit back and try to evaluate the criticisms, my reaction is …. Yeah, so what?

3 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-20  ::  Crowhill

In today’s news, Trump fires Melania’s speech writer

by Crowhill on 19 July 2016

I heard a clip highlighting the similarities between Melania’s speech last night and Michelle Obama’s speech at a previous convention. They’re way too close for coincidence.

But … let’s be real … Melania probably didn’t write it.

10 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-19  ::  Crowhill

Why don’t Catholics like Trump?

by Crowhill on 18 July 2016

This is interesting: Donald Trump’s Catholic Problem

Trump is trailing Hillary Clinton by a whopping 19 points among weekly Mass attendees.

I suspect it’s mostly due to his positions and comments on immigration.

5 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-18  ::  Crowhill

“He doesn’t even look like change”

by Crowhill on 18 July 2016

While driving around on Sunday I heard a replay of the panel on ABC’s “This Week.” They were talking about the GOP convention, and Trump.

One of them was a Trump supporter and said Trump represents change, while Hillary represents the status quo.

Donna Brazile replied, “He doesn’t even look like change.”

Now why didn’t the conservative accuse her of racism for that comment?

6 comments  ::  Add your comment  ::  2016-07-18  ::  Crowhill

2016-07-08 :: Crowhill // General
Interesting comments on creationists