Fuzzy little things that I find interesting.

Political musings from someone who thinks the S-D curve is more important to politics than politicians.

If I have to remind you that all is welcome at my business…

… then it is entirely possible that not everyone is indeed welcome in my business.

New Segregation Signs Pop Up in Leftist Establishments

Further, such signs don’t help the reality that, indeed, through the vast majority of the country, we don’t care who you are.

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I honestly do not have words.

Bizarre misreading: Hillary Clinton thinks the lesson of Orwell’s 1984 is that you should trust experts, leaders and the press

I honestly do not have anything to say here.

Except this:

I’ve read 1984. I’ve read it several times. I re-read it periodically. I know what 1984 is about. I know what the core lesson of 1984 is. I even understand what is meant when Orwell notes that freedom is the freedom to say 2 + 2 = 4.

And when Hillary Clinton writes in her book (photograph at the link):

Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism. … This is what happens in George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eight-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers instead. The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust towards exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves.

(Emphasis mine)

I can honestly and truthfully say, without any hint of irony, thank God we elected Donald Trump as President instead of her.

Because holy fuck on a stick, this shit is really fucked up right about here.

I mean, she thinks that “authoritarianism” is “distrusting authority”?

Just… just wow, man.

Wow.

Ultimately, it’s about personal choice.

Quotation of the Day…

“All economic activity, in particular, is planning decisions about the use of resources for all the competing ends. It would, therefore, seem particularly absurd for an economist to oppose ‘planning’ in this most general sense of the word.

“But in the 1920’s and 1930’s this good word had come to be used in a narrower and more specific sense. It had become the accepted slogan for the demand, not that each of us should intelligently plan his economic activities, but that the economic activities of all should be centrally directed according to a single plan laid down by a central authority. ‘Planning’ thus meant central collectivist planning, and the discussion whether to plan or not to plan referred exclusively to this issue.”

It’s a straightforward but too-often-missed truth: the more Jones intrudes himself into Smith’s life in order to plan Smith’s affairs, the less able is Smith to plan for herself. Likewise, the more Jones and Williams jointly intrude themselves into Smith’s life in order to plan Smith’s affairs, the less able is Smith to plan for herself. This reality holds regardless of Jones’s and Williams’s individual intentions or their collective intention (if there is such a thing). And importantly, if Jones and Williams coalesce together to impose on Smith and themselves a single plan according to which all three persons – Jones, Williams, and Smith – must act, there is less, not more, planning among these three individuals. One plan displaces three plans.

In light of Chinese researchers publishing a paper suggesting they can organize and centrally plan an economy using big data: Big Data, Platform Economy and Market Competition: A Preliminary Construction of Plan-Oriented Market Economy System in the Information Era, it is important to remember what we are planning.

We’re individually planning our lives.

You think cat ears make you look cute, so you go and buy cat ears when going out to a party. Someone else starts making cat ears in response to the demand–not because they care that those cat ears make you look cute, or because the central politbureau demanded cat ears–but because they want to feed their kids, and they’ve hit upon making costume accessories like cat ears to do this.

Big data cannot cover our whims our or desires; they cannot alter the datasets when our own conception of the future changes.

Worse, Jones and Williams may decide that cat ears and skimpy clothing is a gateway to premarital sex, and so decide to stop allowing the sale of cat ears. After all, they argue, it is in the best interest of society that we regulate and monitor every aspect of that society, including babies born out of wedlock, in order to make our society “better.”

So no more cat ears. And you don’t get to look cute anymore, because some central authority decided your choices were bad.


The irony to me, the deepest irony of all political ironies out there, is the wave of young kids who want increased socialism: they want increased central planning.

Because they think they’d be the ones in charge of that planning mechanism. They think they’d be the ones in charge of Google and Apple and Facebook instead of the capitalists who run them now. They think they would be the ones who get to decide the shape of our society, and they think, as kids, such as society would be better than prior attempts (such as Venezuela) because they are more compassionate. They’re younger, they’re more energetic, cat ears for everyone!!!

But would they be the ones in power?

I mean, look at the White House, and tell me that if we gave our government more control over our personal lives and personal decisions, we’d be better off.

Wants more government

And you may say “well, but what happens if we use big data?”

You forget two truths: (1) Garbage In, Garbage Out, and (2) Someone controls the data and analyzes the results.

And forgetting a third truth, the reality of economic growth: growth comes from learning. Learning new ways to assemble things. Learning new ways to distribute things. Learning new techniques to make better things. The new iPhone X was not created through a central bureaucracy putting in an order; it was created by tinkerers and engineers practicing their art, learning new ways to make displays, to make better processors, new battery chemistries, software techniques for saving energy.

Economic expansion comes from learning.

And big data databases do not learn. They simply organize lots of data.

A minor correction to a Bloomberg Article.

Was reading The Lonely Lives of Silicon Valley Conservatives when I hit the following howler:

Politics often don’t mix easily at work, but it’s particularly fraught in tech, where free thinking is prized yet the workforce is predominantly liberal.

(Emphasis mine.)

Okay, have I experienced feelings of cultural isolationism because I identify as a conservative (really, a free market classical liberal–but that’s a bit of a mouth full)?

Sure I have. On the daily standup phone call at the company I’m consulting for, the day after the election when we knew President Trump won the election, people railed and bitched and threw a fit about how horrible the world has gotten and how unfair things are for a good half an hour. (If I had done the same thing 8 years previously, I would have been called a misogynous homophobic racist.) I felt like it would have been impossible for me to raise my voice in response, even if it was only to say “hey, things aren’t that bad; Presidents don’t have as much power as we think they do.”

But that’s old news.

Live in an area where 71% voted for Hillary Clinton (Los Angeles county) or 85% voted Clinton (San Francisco)–and trust me, wearing a read “Make America Great Again” cap is not going to go over well. Be happy if you escape Berkeley (where 90.4% voted Clinton and 3.2% voted Trump) with only a few lumps and bruises.


No, the howler is the highlighted line, that Silicon Valley is a bastion of free thinking.

Dude. Please.

Silicon Valley is a lot like Hollywood: appearances matter far more than reality.

Do you know why Google funds all sorts of weird and exciting projects?

Because Google has three business goals, all of which are satisfied by funding weird and exciting projects. First, they are trying to drain the pool of tech workers of talent, so there are few competitors. Second, they are trying to convince people how exciting it is to work for Google–when in reality, the biggest money makers (and most important projects) is Google’s advertising system, which, technologically speaking, is about as exciting as watching paint dry. And third, by convincing the world how smart Google is, we are more likely to search for stuff through Google, to advertise through Google, and to give Google more of our personal information. All that, despite the fact that Bing often gives better results, and DuckDuckGo gives similar results without trying to invade your privacy.

(And having worked on advertising systems, I strongly believe that targeted advertising systems take away a considerable amount of privacy for almost no return, and in fact, may be a detriment as we continue to see products we may have browsed and decided against buying. Remember: targeting only works as well as ad serves are deep, even if targeting worked perfectly, which it can’t. But none of this matters if we believe Google is smarter than they really are, and can get results which are impossible to get.)

Part of the attraction of places like Google or Apple or Facebook is the idea that inside of those companies you can pursue your own ideas, be a free thinker and explore concepts and ideas and put them into practice.

Which is complete and utter bullshit.

Once you draw back the curtain, once you take the red pill, once you’re hired by these free wheeling, free thinking companies where free thinkers are supposedly given free reign, you discover a few things.

Like the fact that these companies are like all big companies. They have processes, business goals, deadlines and targets. They have performance metrics and demands. They have bosses who are judgmental, they have employees who play favorites and even sometimes sabotage each other.

There is a reason why Dilbert is set at a tech company.

And when you work at these companies you discover these cool free wheeling projects which are a project of “free thinking” and “dreamers” are really being driven by the rich and wealthy 0.001%ers within those companies, who have vested shares that make them multimillionaires a hundred times over. Unless you are one of the guys occupying the big boxes at the top of the org chart at one of these multi-billion dollar companies, you’re not spearheading a new initiative at Facebook, Apple or Google.

The real “free thinkers” are simply multi-millionaires with access to money, power, and who do things like this within Apple or Google or Facebook because the alternative is for them to leave and do it on their own. (I half expect Facebook to get into the self-driving car business obliquely, because it’s fashionable, and I would expect Facebook to justify it as “working on our image recognition AI.”)

And remember: the absolute last thing any of these companies want is free market competition by their own employees. Because each of these companies were founded as an upstart on the wreckage of a prior tech company: Google was built on top of the remains of Lycos. Facebook, on Myspace. And Apple on top of a dozen other small computer companies of its era: Tandy (TRS-80), Commodore, Atari, and lesser-known Sinclair, Acorn and Compucolor.

It’s why each of these companies support Sarbanes Oxley, which effectively shut out smaller companies from the public finance markets (and from getting an Initial Stock Offering) by setting barriers to an IPO that effectively means the next competitor to Apple or Google cannot get access to billions necessary to enter the big leagues. It now means the only profitable exit for small companies is not to displace our Robber Baron leaders, but to create something one of our Robber Baron overloards may wish to buy.

It makes the entire startup community the unpaid R&D arm of Apple, Google and Facebook.


Silicon Valley, free thinkers?

Jesus, dude. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all week.

And in other news.

Bad Places to Hide: Atlantic Ocean

Surf City, North Carolina, is on the western shore of that ocean, about 20 miles northeast of Wilmington. According to the Port City Daily, police there made a traffic stop somewhere near the beach, and spotted “contraband” in the young man’s vehicle. They asked him to get out and began to interrogate him. But shortly thereafter, he decided it might be better to flee, so he turned and ran.

Into the ocean.

Fleeing like this is never a great idea for a variety of reasons, and if they’ve got your car and your license plate, etc., you probably won’t be that difficult to track down anyway. But people in these situations often aren’t thinking clearly. Which was probably the case here, or else he might have considered, let’s say, the likelihood that police officers in Surf City will be equipped with boats. But he didn’t consider that. He just started swimming.

And kept swimming.

But wait, it gets worse:

They found him pretty easily—as you can see in the short video below, he stood out clearly. They also noticed that someone else had found him. That guy’s harder to see, but focus on the bottom right.

You can just make out something that’s clearly not a wave. It is, in fact, a shark.

The rightful ruler of Great Britain has been found!

British girl finds her own ‘Excalibur’ in legendary pool

Yes, yes, I know;

Oh, but you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.

..

Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Ohmygod people are so fucking stupid.

Reading through the comments left on this story: Texas Secretary of State turns down blankets, beds and more Harvey donations, asks for prayers instead–and I now have no fucking hope for humanity. Especially liberals.

Look, right now, if local officials in Texas had to pick between a bunch of blankets, beds and other physical supplies, or useless and pointless prayers–prayers win.

Why?

Think about it. If you donate a blanket, then the blanket has to be moved to Texas, stored in a warehouse, then someone has to identify someone who needs the blanket and get it to them. Each of these steps require manpower and money and transportation logistics.

Worse, suppose they need 10,000 blankets but 30,000 have been donated. Those 20,000 extra blankets?

Landfill.

So frankly doing jack shit is better than sending someone stuff that has to be moved, stored, sorted, distributed, and ultimately thrown away.


But tell that to the people leaving comments. Like trying to teach a pig calculus. Just fucking pointless.

The only fortunate part is that most of these morons won’t donate shit to Texas–so fortunately they won’t be wasting people’s time, energy, and effort–costing them vital money and time and effort moving worthless blankets when they could be moving food or other, far more vital supplies.


Now if you really want to help–and meaningfully help, not give some token blanket which can cost far more to move, store and sort than the value of the blanket itself (and thus, resulting in a negative net effect)–then there is one thing you can donate that will go a very long way.

Cash.

Cash does not require trucks to move thousands of miles. Cash does not require warehouses to store. Cash does not get thrown away if it is the wrong sort of cash. Cash only requires accountants to track and distribute, not people and trucks and warehouses.

And, most importantly, cash can be turned into whatever you specifically need right now. Donate a blanket to a person who needs a meal–and what do they do, eat the fucking blanket? But donate cash–and you can buy that person a meal.

Or what if they don’t need a meal–but need medicine? Transportation to a hospital? Dialysis?

Cash buys all of that.

Cash can even buy blankets, if that is what you need.


If you want to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, donate to the Houston Food Bank.

But please, for the love of fucking God, don’t donate things that need to be driven across the country, to be stored in warehouses, only to rot away–like blankets.

That’s about the worst fucking thing you can do.

One reason not to post those vacation photos.

WSU professor says IRS is breaking privacy laws by mining social media

Those Facebook posts from your vacation on a white sand beach, or that purchase of a fancy new vehicle, could be attracting views from the federal government.

The IRS is mostly mum on how the agency targets taxpayers through analytics, according to Houser, who cites examples culled from outside reports, including other universities’ freedom of information requests.

Houser said the agency uses data analytics to decide which taxpayers to audit, based on “private, highly detailed profiles” of taxpayers created from sources other than tax returns or third-party reports, such as W-2 wage information. Her report says the IRS mines commercial and public data, including social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The information is added to IRS databases and algorithms are used to identify potential tax evaders, the report said.

Of course the danger here are those who post fake stuff–like the artist who posted fake vacation photos.

Some thoughts about the DNC and current events.

A comment left on a Reddit thread, talking about the media and the Democratic Party not being able to figure out how to navigate today’s events:


What strikes me as funny about the Democratic reaction:

First, Trump was elected President with the lowest public opinion percentage in recent history. That is, we elected a President who was covered in mud and who was disliked by the majority of voters. (If this is because people really dislike him personally but like what they think he’ll do–either as President or with the bully pulpit–or because of the Bradley effect and he is better liked than people are willing to public confess, I don’t know.)

So Trump is “Mr. Teflon” when it comes to being covered in mud.

For the Democrats to react to Trump the way they have is like mud wrestling a pig: you just get covered in mud and the pig likes it.

Second, by being willing to swim in the mud, many of the radical left elements of the DNC have become emboldened. From the AntiFa groups, arguably descendant from the militia group within the Communist Party of Germany in the 1930’s, to the various protesters backed by the Communist Workers World Party (who brought down the statue in Durham, NC) and International ANSWER, another socialist/communist front, we’re seeing a rising tide of violence from the Left. We’re seeing the Left, once bastions of free speech half a century ago, now shutting down speech on college campuses, assaulting reporters and terrorizing conservative groups.

This, by the way, is not playing well with middle America. We’re a country founded in part by a collection of religious radicals and cultists, and we tend to be more accepting of our “weirdos” than most. We may strongly dislike neo-Nazis and White Supremacists (and they do make very easy targets of one’s dislike), but middle America values the First Amendment even more–and the idea that as adults we should be violently enraged by someone’s ideas is seen as childish and small.

And the longer the DNC doesn’t strongly stand out as an organization against these fringe communist elements, the longer people will associate the DNC with them.

Which means the stronger these fringe groups push at Trump, the more votes Trump (and the GOP) will receive for the next 8 years–because they may not be voting for Trump and the GOP, but against the Antifa movement and the DNC.

Third, elections are won at the local level. But now at the local level, thanks to the various protesters (noted above), it’s making it increasingly harder for a moderate Democrat to step into politics and succeed. That’s because in many areas, at the local level, the liberal protesters have taken a “you are either with us, or you are against us” attitude. And unless you are an especially clever politician and can navigate the minefield your liberal voters have put into place, you run the risk of being politically blown up. I mean, if I were a Republican running for office anywhere in Minneapolis, I’d just show the video of the Antifa flag being raised in Hennepin county with some ominous music after some shots of Antifa thugs knocking heads and shutting down speech on college campuses–then ask the rhetorical question if my liberal Democrat opponent has anything to say.


Right now, from where I’m sitting, the Democratic Party is being swept along by events rather than trying to get in front of them. In some ways it may not be possible for them to get ahead of events–after all, it may require them to confront the more radical elements of their party. While the GOP can afford to jettison the more radical elements on the Right (since white nationalists in general cost you votes: every white nationalist who steps forward showing his support costs perhaps a dozen votes by your more moderate base who care more about tax reform and regulatory burdens than they do cultural issues), the Democrats may not be able to.

It’s why so many Democrat legislators in California have remained strictly silent in wake of the Antifa-driven anti-free speech protests in Berkeley.

And unless the Democrats figure out a way to come out of the weeds, they may find themselves a minority party in Congress for as long as the GOP was from the 1930’s to the 1990’s–a 62 year span that saw GOP control House of Representatives for only 4 years, and the senate for only 10 years.

Political correctness is no guarantee people aren’t shitty.

The (White) Girl’s Burden

A large part of the scandal in Rotherham, and other similar scandals in Oxford, Newcastle etc., was that many (most? all?) of the girls who ended up being groomed and abused were in the care of the local authorities and were in foster homes or institutions. When these girls attempted to report their abuse the various officials tended to ignore them or even do the victim blaming that feminists get worked up about when the alleged attacker is a white male frat boy. Needless to say, despite all the official inquiries and reports and so on, these officials and their superiors have all faced minimal punishment.

A few thoughts which are likely to piss a lot of people off.

First, I believe a certain percentage of people, regardless of race, culture or belief, are shitty assholes. And I believe that percentage is a fixed constant regardless of race, culture or belief.

Second, the more you permit a certain group to get away with shit (by allowing them to fig-leaf their shit behind race, culture or belief), the more shit that group will attempt to get away with.

(This is a basic economic principle: if something is cheap, you’ll seek more of it. And fig-leafs make it relatively cheaper for a group to get away with shit.)

Third, a lot of the left-wing victimology we see in our culture today, at its core, is about explaining away shitty behavior by shifting blame away from individuals and onto society at large. That is, it’s in part about handing out fig leafs to people. (This then incidentally causes more shitty behavior.)

And finally, fourth, part of what motivates this handing out of fig leafs is an idea that these subgroups (regardless of race, culture or belief), to some degree thanks to their circumstances, lack agency; that is, they lack the capacity to make specific moral choices based on their circumstances.

Which, when you think about it, is just a very comfortable and PC way of saying they’re less human than the rest of us, and more like animals that need to be herded and kept as pets. Remember: if some 14 year old girl gets raped, or some police officer gets ambushed and murdered–it’s not the perpetrator’s fault, it’s our fault, because we’re not taking care of our pets. (Notice the language we use to describe ‘victim’ subgroup behavior and societal responsibility is not dissimilar to the language we use to describe the failures of a bulldog owner whose dog attacks a stranger.)


It’s why, philosophically speaking, I find strains of liberalism which discusses “privilege” and “victimology”–while having elements that are interesting–is fundamentally sick. Not just flawed, but sick. Morally bankrupt. Ethically corrupt.

Because when you start talking about victim groups as if they lack agency, you start reducing people to animals. And that makes you, philosophically speaking, no better than early 19th century southern slaveholders who believed the most compassionate thing we could do for blacks was to enslave them.


As a footnote, I want to make one thing clear. I do not believe the majority of Muslims are–as a rule–child abusers. Living in North Carolina (which has a huge human trafficking problem, including trafficking in underage girls for sex slavery), it’s very clear that sexual abusers come in every race, creed and color. So I honestly believe a certain percentage of people are sick, regardless of their faith, creed or background–and that percentage is a fixed constant across humanity.