Well, That Was Fast!

Man. April! If April showers bring May flowers, I’m gonna be up to my ass in flowers pretty soon here.

I’m so far behind on movie reviews it’s ridiculous. In April we saw Gasland, The Secret of the Kells, Kick Ass, Cop-Out, The Secret In Their Eyes, City Island and…I think one more….
I’ve also been meaning to write on two topics for some time: One is that free marketers often accuse (rightly) statists of operating on the basis of how the world (specifically people) should be versus how they actually are, and how I thnk free marketers have a similar blind spot.
Also, I wanted to write about how racism isn’t, in fact, the worst thing ever. (Let’s see if I can worm my way out of THAT statement! Heh.)
Anyway, I’ll get back on the stick here in a bit and thanks for dropping by.

Blog Wars

Hello, everyone!

Sorry for the long absence. I’ve been hard at work looking for work to be hard at work at. I’m going to be part-time at the current job (which didn’t stop them from giving me two new, huge projects to do) which is a mixed bag. On the one hand, if I get another PT job or consulting gig, that’s a kind of security and potentially more money. On the other hand, if I get a FT gig, that can mean things like going into an office and wearing clothes and stuff. (Shudder.)

I’ve got two other projects with potential going, so I’m working on those as well. It’s just busy.

Which is my whiny excuse for not posting reviews on An Education and Everybody’s Fine yet. I will, though, soon. Promise.

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching the Goldstein/Patterico wars, which I hate. I actually unfollowed Patterico on Twitter because his attacks strike me as both petty and strident.

To summarize, Patterico said that Stacy McCain had made a racist statement (over ten years ago!) but may or may not be actually racist himself. Goldstein, on a pretty straightforward point of logic says, no, there cannot be racism without intent. You can’t say someone made a racist comment but may or may not be racist. Patterico then talks about “unconscious” racism, etc. etc. etc.

I feel for Patterico because he’s parroting what we’ve all learned, isn’t he? We’ve all learned over the years that white people, in particular, are racist (even if only unconsciously so) and their willingness to use words that others deem racist is proof of that. I mean, we’ve all lived through the kabuki of constantly changing names/titles/designations to prove the purity of our intentions. And we’ve all lived through (and accepted) the gradual loss of our freedoms to do the same.

Volokh himself talks about this in the terms of the First Amendment here. Like Volokh, I want people to be free to express their prejudices. I don’t want them cloaked in PC talk. I don’t want a ritual that is used to demonstrate the right thinking; I want what people think to be right out there in their speech and associations. Then I can choose whom I want to associate with. (And you know what? A lot of racism and other faulty -isms actually do yield to logic, but you never learn that when people just know it’s taboo to discuss certain things.)

But despite the simple truth of Goldstein’s argument—I mean, really, to argue that racism doesn’t need to be intended by the racist is to argue that it’s an actual substance with physical properties that can be identified by climate scientistsproperly annointed clergyright thinking people—Patterico has instead doubled-down, defending the most heinous corruption of our ability to communicate.

It’s not the first time he’s done this, and it’s a shame, because he does really good work calling out the L.A. Times on their biases, errors and general buffoonery. But as Goldstein points out (again and again): if you accede the ability to decide what you meant to another agency, you lose if ever you decide to go against that agency. (Said agencies, not remarkably, are always statists, and these days, they’re on the left. It wasn’t so long ago they were establishment Christians and other social conservatives who wanted the state to interfere on behalf of their causes—the whole problem with the old order, when you think of it.)

Anyway, Goldstein absolutely skewers him with a two part demonstration on exactly how Frey’s logic can be used against him. But Patterico seems to have a hard time with being wrong. Either that, or far worse, he doesn’t want to let intention get in the way of his own ability to exercise power over others by misconstruing their speech.

Nah, he’s probably just being pigheaded.

Meanwhile, I’m going to get back to reviewing stuff.

Rape vs. Cuckoldry

In what seems to me to be a shining example of “us vs. them” syndrome, a debate is going on about which is worse being raped, or being cuckolded (in the biological sense of raising another man’s child). Via Instapundit. Arguments are being made based on financial costs, emotional damage, etc.

But the only point in having this debate is to try to score a point against the opposite sex. Just as men and women are different, they have different ways of hurting each other. Even if one is “worse” than the other by some standard, it doesn’t really say anything by itself about the conflicts between men and women.

Just as I think collectivism makes for bad government, I think it also makes for a bad way to try to resolve interpersonal issues. One should worry materially less about what “men” do and what “women” do than what the particular men and women in one’s life do.

The kids have been on a real “King of the Hill” kick lately. That show, if you’ve never seen it, features a character, Dale, whose son Joseph is clearly not his. Dale is a comical character, cowardly and stupid, and his cuckolding by his wife played for laughs in both his and others’ inability to see the obvious. (Joseph is around 14 through most of the series, and Dale’s wife’s affair is still going on when the series starts.)

But from the start, Dale’s devotion to his son (such as it is) is the bedrock of the family. And as the series progresses and his wife rededicates herself to him, it turns out to be Joseph’s real father who ends up lonely and isolated, watching his son grow up to admire and emulate another man.

It’s a very funny show, but I don’t think I’ve seen the topic handled more thoroughly and sensitively anywhere else. And I think it’s more interesting than trying to figure out who hurts who more, men or women. Because I think we all do a pretty good job of that—and keeping score is probably just going to make us all look bad.

Wherein I Compare AI Development To Global Warming

Instapundit highlights this little article on Artificial Intelligence where J. Storrs Hall writes the following:

If you’re OK with calling a robot human equivalent if it can, say, do everything a janitor is supposed to, it’s likely by 2025; if it has to be able to create art and literature and do science and wheel and deal in the political and economic world and be a productive entrepreneur, you may have to wait a little bit longer.

Insty quotes this, and it’s a misleading. Hall believes we’ll have an AI capable of janitorial work, not really an AI that can “do everything a janitor is supposed to”. What he means is that we’ll have, essentially, a more advanced Roomba—perhaps humanoid, though humanoid shape wouldn’t be necessarily optimal.

And, no, this isn’t human intelligence. Robot janitors will, guaranteed, be stupid. They’ll clean while building burns—or if that’s prepared for, while the building floods. And if they’re programmed for that, while the roof caves in.

To my mind, the key graf is:

What remains to be seen is whether it will be equivalent to the 2-year-old in that essential aspect that it will learn, grow, and gain in wisdom as it ages.

First of all: No, it won’t. No mystery. See, that would be intelligence, versus pre-programming a set of defined tasks with a certain set of fixed parameters. I’ll give him some credit that he’s wondering, as opposed to making a prediction that anyone will actually be there in 15 years. 25 years ago, people who used to write and speak about AI predicted wondrous things in 5, 10, 15 years.

And we have the Roomba. And some other very cool domain-specializing tools. But nothing like intelligence.

But the idea that a two-year-old is considered less than a janitor, and a janitor less than an artist suggests to me that the field is still lacking a definition of intelligence. A two-year-old has as powerful an intellect as any of us will ever meet. A janitor’s intelligence isn’t necessarily going to be taxed by his job very often, but sometimes it will be—knowing how to react in an unexpected circumstances, like a fire, a flood, previously unsuspected structural unsoundness.

One can argue that many janitors who face such circumstances react wrongly or inappropriately, but they react to the best of their ability. Robots will simply fail to react to things outside their parameters.

Again, not to say that there won’t be useful ‘bots, but this isn’t intelligence.

I’m not an expert in it, but I think the singularity guys have based their theory on a combination of working AI and Moore’s Law. But Moore’s Law is a trend, not an actual “law”, and AI doesn’t seem to be any closer to realization than it ever was—it’s only a massive amount of computing power that allows the meagerest appearance of less-than-animal intelligence.

Appearance, I say. It’s not even intelligence and the distinction is not something that can be remedied with quantity.

I’ll go one step further: If the singularity were to come to pass, it would be a nightmare for humanity. But that’s a different topic for a different rant.


The inimitable Freeman Hunt has had a blog for quite some time, but I never linked to it because she didn’t blog much. But since the new baby came around she’s stepped it up a bit, so I added her to the roll. She has a couple of posts I wanted to call out, too.

Item the first: He Is Not Coming. This is a rather depressing and scathing indictment on modern society, not entirely undeserved. But I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion. How many people 235 years ago fit the mold that Freeman outlines? A small percentage, to be sure. We have a much smaller percentage today, to be sure, but we also have one-hundred times as many people (in this country). The percentage can afford to be smaller–with the only rub being that there has to be an appreciative audience.

I believe a segment of the audience is getting more receptive with each passing day.

Also, while The Boy and I are looking at learning Latin (on Victor Davis Hanson’s advice), I would note that the Founders did not know the language of relativity, of computing, of information science and so on. The game has changed and education needs to reflect that. Today, the primary skill may be knowing how to sip from the firehose.

The past had its festering effete as well, even if today universal education and socialism has allowed them to spread their disease as a philosophy.

Finally, I’m not sure we need a “he”. I think we need–and may have–a “we”. That’s where the “he"s and "she"s will come from. We don’t need a revolution: We need a hundred revolutions. The rot came from the top down; the cure will come from the bottom up. Economics may work better supply-side; liberty must needs be demanded.

Item the second: Freem also linked to a blog called "Life is Not a Cereal” with an entry on what to do if your homeschooling kids get “school envy”.

Homeschoolers are not immune to “grass is greener”-itis. This is almost entirely resolved by acquainting them with the realities of industrialized schooling? Yes, those kids get to have recess. But, yes, they must take it, whether they want it or not, it is always an exact amount of time, and hell, you never know when you’re going to be stripsearched.

As the entry also points out a little bit of consumerism can take the edge off: Let the kids buy “back to school” supplies or lunchboxes, for example.

Finally, it’s not unheard of for homeschoolers to let their kids take the senior year of high school. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with that, though it’s preferable that they have their college degrees first.

Anyway, check out Freem’s blog. Oh, especially these pictures from her grandfather from 1952. She claims they’re military but they look an awful lot like The Thing From Another World to me….

“I Believe In The Principle of Free Speech But…

…shut up already!“ Or so says Althouse in this post. I assume it’s the "but” she objects to, so apparently if you believe in anything less than absolute freedom of speech all the time, she doesn’t want to hear it.

I feel for her. Her blog’s been inundated with trolls at a time when she probably couldn’t be much less interested in maintenance issues. But I’ve never seen an online community with an absolute freedom of speech rule that wasn’t ultimately destroyed by that devotion.

The logical paradox I see is that she’s not rebuking the trolls, who are acting in bad faith, but she is rebuking people who bitch about the trolls, even though they’re acting in good faith. So why is free speech an absolute for trolls–but not for troll haters?

Links You May Have Missed, But Probably Would Like To See, If Only You Knew About Them

These are for me as much as you. I’ll thank me later. Mostly from Twitter.

Via Freeman Hunt : The blog of Milton Friedman’s “Free To Choose” PBS series. Funny that for all the PBS crap I got shown in school, this wasn’t among the viewing options.

Via Andy Levy via Allahpundit: Face transplant story with pictures. Amazing.

More on the voucher situation from the WSJ: “If, however, you are a pol who piously tells inner-city families that public schools are the answer – and you do this while safely ensconcing your own kids in some private haven – the press corps mostly winks.”

Also, today is not the day where I wish I sent my kids to public school.

27% of all marketers suck? Sounds a little low to me.

Funny and short: Why copywriters should be native speakers.

Cringely talks about the future of television on the Internet. It’s interesting.

Hot: Bill Whittle schools John Stewart on the history behind Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The beauty of being a useful idiot is that you never have to research and you never have to say you’re sorry. Because, damn the facts, you’re right, and Harry Truman was a war criminal.

Lastly, Tabitha Hale aka Pink Elephant Pundit has started doing a radio show/podcast/audio blog/whatever the hell the kids these days are calling it. Episode One is here. I was going to listen to it, but there’s, like, the entirety of “Walk This Way” at the front and that used up any time I had, plus confused me.