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Daniel Povey
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Hassan Rouhani:
"Don't use the bathroom for a few.. I just dropped the mother of all deuces."
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There's been a lot of talk in the news about racist organizations in the US during Trump's presidency. I predict their membership will tend to increase over time, and here's why.
It's human nature to gravitate towards belief systems that enhance our self-esteem. That's why all religions say, essentially, that members of that religion are the best and people outside the religion are bad. In religions that traditionally did not proselytize (like Judaism and Hinduism) the distinction has more of a racial flavor ("chosen people"), and in those that rely more on converts, it's couched in terms of belief.
Modern progressive thought has moved to a direction that says, essentially, that white people and particularly white males, are bad. It may not couch it in exactly that language, but here's an observation: modern progressives ban a bunch of behaviors in white males that are allowed for others. Expressing opinions about the experiences of minorities or women, for instance, or uttering certain words, is not allowed among progressives if you are a white male. You can compare this to the various restrictions that religions tend to place on out-group members or on groups that the religion considers to be inferior or tainted (like menstruating women or members of less favored sub-groups): not being allowed to prepare food for members, not being allowed to collect water from certain wells, and so on. The restrictions may not impact daily life that much, but they act as a kind of marker of lower status.
So it's not surprising if many whites, and particularly white males, would tend to gravitate away from progressive thought. Since progressive thought is so dominant in universities, and in many peoples' minds science and progressive values are conflated, this tends to lead whites, and particularly white males, to reject mainstream scientific opinions as well. Some people may not see any realistic alternatives other than falling into the arms of Fox News, Trump's Republican Party, or religious or racist organizations.
My message to progressives (and I'm sure no-one cares what I think, but here goes), is: be reasonable in your expectations. Jesus asked people to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". In my opinion that's already a very tall order. But progressives go further. They tell white males that they should care for minorities, and women, more than they care about themselves. But it's human nature to care more about people like ourselves more than we care about than about people who are different. If you make demands of people that are too inconsistent with their nature, just don't expect them to stick around for too long. You may say, "but we aim to change human nature". Fine. But that's been tried before, and it hasn't tended to work out too well.



https://www.thedailybeast.com/american-racists-look-for-allies-in-russia
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I think Mark Zuckerberg is right not to ban Holocaust deniers-- not because I agree with their position or their motivations, but because of the precedent it sets. Suppose they were banned, it would open up the door to make Facebook and similar companies the arbiter of truth on all politically sensitive topics. Soon enough, such companies would be asked to enforce positions on such topics as the Israel/Palestine situation; genetic influences on behavior; the status of Taiwan as a separate country; whether homosexuality is biological; and a host of other topics that have strong opinions on both sides. Not only would it be business suicide for Facebook; in my opinion it might even harm society in the long run by conditioning people to expect centralized control over peoples' opinions.

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A paragraph from the biography of Mao by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday (published in 2005), about the 1st Communist party congress, that would definitely never be allowed to be circulated in China:

The presence of the foreigners, and the control they exercised, at once became an issue. The chair was allotted to one Chang Kuo-t'ao (later, Mao's major challenger), because he had been to Russia and had links with the foreigners. One delegate recalled that Kuo-t'ao at one point proposed cancelling the resolution of the previous evening. "I confronted him: how is it that a resolution passed by the meeting could be cancelled just like that?" He said it was the view of the Russian representatives. I was extremely angry ... `So we don't need to have meetings, we just have orders from the Russians'. The protest was in vain. Another delegate suggested that before they went along with the Russian plans they should investigate whether Bolshevism actually worked, and proposed sending one mission to Russia and one to Germany-- a proposal that alarmed Moscow's men and was duly rejected.
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I love how AI is such a blank state onto which people can project their pre-existing concerns.

Modern progressive: "AI will reinforce biases around race and gender."
Traditional left-winger: "AI will take away the jobs of the working classes and increase inequality."
Right-winger: "Liberals will use AI to police conservative thought."
Nationalist: "Foreign powers will use AI to leapfrog our military development."
Science fiction enthusiast: "AI will produce hyper-intellingent grey goo."
Religious extremist: "AI will take the name of the Lord in vain."

Which is not to say that those concerns may not be valid, but the choice of which thing to be concerned about says much more about the person than it does about AI itself.


https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/24/17605320/google-machine-learning-ai
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It's probably just my male privilege talking, but it slightly sticks in my craw that a woman dressed like that can issue a $5 billion fine. From the article:

"It's a very serious legal infringement, and you see how it has worked," Vestager added. "It has cemented Google's position in search, and it has de facto locked down Android in a completely Google-controlled ecosystem."

Wow-- I bet that must really piss off whichever company originally developed Android. Oh, wait...

https://www.businessinsider.com/google-tried-to-avert-record-fine-from-eu-2018-7
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Interesting piece of fiction by Zadie Smith about the current tendency to make everything a witch trial.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/07/23/now-more-than-ever
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There has been a recent rash of senior people fired for making allegedly racially insensitive remarks in a creative context (discussing advertising, TV shows, etc.). The latest is the one below, but there were about 3 more in the last week that made it to the mainstream news media. It seems to me very problematic, because candid discussion of sensitive topics is surely sometimes necessary when designing things like TV shows.
I'm even having difficulty thinking of historical parallels for this. The obvious ones are in Communism, I suppose, but there was a top-down aspect that doesn't really exist here. And it all seems to be tied in with the splintering of US society into two parts-- liberal and conservative-- with purity spirals going on in both parts. Sometimes it seems like there's no-one left in the middle. Or are they all just keeping quiet?


https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/paramount-amy-powell-fired-racial-remarks_us_5b51de3ce4b0fd5c73c48aa9
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https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/16/opinion/climate-change-parenting.html

This NY Times opinion writer is conflicting about raising a child in a world with climate change, and wonders whether it's ethical to have one at all:

"Living ethically means limiting our desires, respecting the deep interdependence of all things in nature and honoring the fact that our existence on this planet is a gift that comes from nowhere and may be taken back at any time."

I think he's missing something here. If people with a given value system choose systematically not to have children (or to have fewer children than others), in the long run it probably just means the extinction of that value system. Just advocating for the value system wouldn't be enough, if you consider the very long run, because the things we choose to believe are partly influenced by our genetics (and also because children will tend to believe their parents; and because advocacy itself can sometimes backfire).
What I suspect this writer believes, deep down, is that his progressive values are true in such a deep way that, eventually, everyone will believe them. But that's not how values work: they are a layer of meaning that we impose upon the world, they are not inherent in existence itself. Even for beliefs that are objectively true, it's far from inevitable that people will eventually believe them: that assumes a kind of progression towards truth that may not actually occur.
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Summer came early this year
But from this floor,
it's hard to tell.
Scrum at 11.
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