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I thought feminists were crazy, but …

by Greg Krehbiel on 4 September 2014

… this is pretty amazing.

Read the quotes at the top of this page — Whose Agenda Is the Feminist Agenda?

Not all feminists are this crazy, but enough of them are, which is part of why so many young women don’t self-identify as feminists.

-- 9 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-04  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Dave suggested research like this

by Greg Krehbiel on 3 September 2014

Scientists create renewable fossil fuel alternative using bacteria

Using E. coli as a host organism, the scientists interrupted the biological process that turns fatty acids into cell membranes. By stopping this process at an early stage they could remove butyric acid, a nasty smelling compound that is an essential precursor for propane production.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-03  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Sorry, Google, computers don’t think like humans and likely never will

by Greg Krehbiel on 3 September 2014

Google is working on a super-fast computer chip “as part a vision to one day have machines think like humans.”

There was a famous chess contest a little while ago between Big Blue and Garry Kasparov. When Big Blue won, some people took it to mean that computers are becoming more like humans.

But they’re not. Not even close.

When Big Blue sees a chess board, it examines a database of millions of chess games and finds the games where the pieces are arrayed the same way, then projects which next move (based on the millions of games it evaluates) is most likely to result in a win.

That is nothing like the way a human experiences chess. Not even close. The output might be the same, but the process to get there is completely different.

This is part of why I think it’s folly to talk about sentient (or self-aware) computers. Whatever process is going on in our own brains is radically different from the process that goes on in a computer. A computer may or may not be sentient one of these days, but you can’t evaluate the question entirely on the outputs. Just because the computer can mimic human behavior does not mean it is experiencing something analogous to human thought, or self-awareness.

Computers don’t think like humans because (at least in part) computer programs don’t work the way human brains do.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-03  ::  Greg Krehbiel

One step closer to cultural annihilation

by Greg Krehbiel on 2 September 2014

Humanoid robots are on the way.

I really don’t see how our economy or our culture will survive the advent of humanoid robots.

There is already a “marriage strike” because (at least in part) of the stupid things we’ve done to make sex broadly available with no strings attached. Once the sexbot is available it will be far worse.

And we’re already losing jobs to automation. Once the robot worker can replace the few remaining store clerks, taxi drivers, etc., the job situation will get even worse.

For most of my life I’ve been generally optimistic about the future, but not so much any more.

If you want a more hopeful view on the effect of robots on employment, try this. The Data Are Clear: Robots Do Not Create Unemployment.

I’m not convinced. I think that at a certain point the advance in computing power will change the equation fundamentally. (I hope I’m wrong.)

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-02  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Does anyone check numbers any more?

by Greg Krehbiel on 2 September 2014


Before declaring that there’s a ‘rape epidemic’ in the US, has anybody bothered to check the actual data? Apparently not

I don’t want to accept this guy’s statistics without question either, so I did a little searching to see if there’s evidence the other way. It seems (please correct me if I’m wrong) that the people who are promoting the “campus rape epidemic” story are relying on a 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study which has been widely criticized for its methodology and assumptions.

(Here’s another article fact-checking some silly statistics: 5 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die. HT Dr. Helen.)

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-02  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Heeding Cardinal Wuerl

by Greg Krehbiel on 1 September 2014

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-01  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Ocean Acidification, or “Panic! We’re destroying the biosphere (part 2,105)”

by Greg Krehbiel on 1 September 2014

CO2 in the atmosphere is causing the globe to warm according to this nince little chart in our report, and all the relevant scientists have signed on to it and agree.

Oh, that’s not actually happening. Never mind, look over here at these cute polar bears who are all dying because of CO2.

Darn, that’s no happening either, so forget about polar bears and look at the Arctic sea ice, which is retreating to dangerous levels.

Daggone it, that’s not happening either. So … uh, wait, there’s this. Ocean Acidification. All of life is doomed! Again.

If the modern environmentalist movement doesn’t remind you of Chicken Little, you’re not paying attention. In fact, I suspect that environmentalists are going to push for removing Chicken Little from grade school reading lists.

This is not to say that I’m in favor of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, or that there aren’t (or won’t be) consequences for doing that. Of course there are and will be consequences, and if it were a simple question of “dump CO2 into the atmosphere, yes or no?” I’d pick no — all other things being equal.

But “all other things” are never equal, and the question is not a simple one. A modern lifestyle does amazing, extraordinary things for human health and thriving, and a modern lifestyle requires energy. We have to get it from somewhere, and right now that means fossil fuels. Whatever gains we might get from curbing CO2 would be offset in spades by the harm it would cause — which is why China and India are pushing ahead with fossil fuels. The net gain to their societies is worth the risk.

There aren’t other options right now, and despite what liberals like to say, there is no magic energy to replace fossil fuels on the scale we need.

Every choice has consequences, and in my experience the problem with environmentalists is that they don’t see that. They don’t tend towards the practical, engineering side of science. They tend towards the dogmatic, big theory side, mixed with a heavy dose of anti-human bias, distrust and suspicion of the people who actually do things, and a penchant for catastrophe stories.

I don’t pretend that my experience is a perfect picture of the environmentalist movement or of its besetting sins, but it’s what I have to go on and it’s the lens through which I see these issues. And here’s what I’ve seen.

I worked with environmentalists for years, back when I covered energy and environmental issues for a publishing company. I’ve been to conferences where I’ve heard the environmentalists square off with regulators and industry representatives. I’ve read their comments on regulatory proposals. I’ve read their white papers and listened to their positions.

They are, generally speaking, self-righteous jerks who care about their agenda more than they care about facts or people.

My favorite example of this (sorry if you’re heard this before) was a session at a conference on regulating smokestack emissions where the environmentalists wanted 24-7 monitoring with no more than a 10 minute break in data. They said they expected the utilities to cheat, and a strict, “no exceptions” data regime was necessary.

I covered utility issues for years. I spoke with utility workers on the phone on a regular basis. I met them at conferences. I visited them in their offices. I worked with them on data collection and writing articles about energy issues. They were, as far as I could tell, decent, hard-working family people who considered their job a public service and wanted to do the right thing.

When the self-righteous jerk said that he wanted 24-7 / 10 minute monitoring, the utility guy explained what that would mean in the real world. It meant he’d have to send somebody up a slippery ladder in the freezing rain to fix the box so the EPA could have its precious data, and he wasn’t going to do that.

The environmentalist didn’t care about the risk to that guy and wasn’t prepared to make an exception even in such cases.

That was a key moment for me. All I’d heard and read and experienced for years came together into a clear picture of self-righteous, arrogant, anti-human jerks who always think the world is falling apart unless people do exactly as they say, in their infinite wisdom. That is my general impression of environmentalists. They’re necessary, I suppose, you just can’t take them too seriously.

So when I read the latest scare about ocean acidification, I read it with that as the background.

The besetting sin of the environmentalists, ISTM, is their failure to get the larger context. Coal is evil, so shut down the plants. Never mind what it will do to the families that live in coal country. The U.S. has to cut CO2 emissions drastically, never mind what it will do to the economy or whether the cuts will have any practical effect in any event. Temperatures are rising (in this tiny sliver of reliable data that we have), never mind how that fits with a broader look at the climate of the planet.

It’s a very short-sighted attitude spun to create panic and a sense of urgency and, most importantly, to get everybody else to give them the reins. Because they know best. They say so.

So, my conclusion is this. By all means let’s get off coal and oil, but let’s do it in a practical way that doesn’t do more harm than good. Let’s investigate other sources of energy, including wind and solar (in the narrow spaces where they make sense), but we should spend most of our time and money on safe nuclear options.

I absolutely don’t trust the environmentalists to think that way, or to think practically at all.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-09-01  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Those Puritanical Lefties

by Greg Krehbiel on 29 August 2014

Expecting two people to be married before they have sex is so backwards, Puritanical and (yuck!) religious. Not to mention patriarchal and oppressive of women, who should be able to do whatever they want with their own bodies with no stigma or consequences of any kind.

Instead we should require people to give affirmative consent to every escalation of intimacy. (HT, AG.)

Of course practically speaking this means that the man needs to obtain affirmative consent in a way that the woman can’t change her mind about the next day. It’s completely stupid and unworkable.

If we keep going in this direction then pretty soon the law will require us to film every sexual encounter and submit it to a review board to ensure that everything passed legal muster.

There’s nothing surprising about all this stupidity. When you take a moral / social system that was worked out over hundreds of years to generally deal with these sorts of problems and then turn it all on its head and try to change all the rules at once, you’re going to get this kind of confusion.

(Before Root asks, I’m pinning this on the lefties because the bill is from California.)

-- 13 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-08-29  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Who could possibly have predicted that same-sex marriage will lead to bigamy?

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 August 2014

Federal judge effectively decriminalizes polygamy in Utah

I am more and more convinced that the idea of a pluralistic, secular society is an intellectually bankrupt concept.

-- 44 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-08-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The Evils of Facebook

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 August 2014

Yet another of the evils of Facebook — I’m becoming more and more certain that Facebook encourages the “but none of my friends voted for Nixon” view of the world.

Part of it is the feeling (not always true) that you are only talking to your friends (who have to be reasonable and agree with you on things), part of it is normal confirmation bias (only paying attention to things that you like), and all that is reinforced by the Facebook algorithm that only shows you things you have liked in the past.

I have noticed that people are far more ready to post outrageous, partisan, highly opinionated things to Facebook that they would never say in actual company. (Or maybe I’m giving them more kudos for people civilized people in real life than they deserve.)

It seems to me that Facebook is contributing to the polarization of society.

-- 7 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-08-28  ::  Greg Krehbiel

2014-08-22 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Richard Dawkins, moral fool
2014-08-22 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
What is Hagel preparing us for?
2014-08-22 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Obama and the Antideficiency Act
+ 1 comment
2014-08-21 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
What does “cowardly” mean?
2014-08-20 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Romney is the favorite
+ 1 comment
2014-08-20 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Having a child is an arrogant thing to do
2014-08-19 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Another reason I support traffic cameras
2014-08-18 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Title change?
2014-08-17 :: Greg Krehbiel // General
Conversations about race