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August 2, 2018 | 15 Comments

Corporate Zampolit

Soviet military companies and regiments infamously had in addition to regular officers zampolit, or (by the older name) political commissars. The position was as “a supervisory officer responsible for the political education (ideology) and organization of the unit they [were] assigned to.” Tom Clancy to the cheer of his readers has the captain of a defecting Soviet submarine kill the annoying zampolit in The Hunt for Red October.

Clancy juiced up the zampolit’s role for the sake of drama. Reality was more boring, according to one summary.

The zampolit’s official duties tended to be limited to ideological training and indoctrination, assist the commander in maintaining discipline, and to maintain morale…Far from an instrument of totalitarian terror, the existence of the large networks of zampolits tended to exacerbate the tendencies of the Soviet military to be officer-heavy and zampolit would often collude with their military counterparts to cover up evidence of wrong doing. The presence of these semi-autonomous officers did create some friction with their military counterparts, especially since a zampolit’s endorsement was crucial for promotion, but in practice the system was relatively benign.

Zampolit are thus no different than corporate Diversity directors or other relevant HR staff.

Zampolit enforced ideological conformity, so does HR. Zampolit needlessly swelled officer roles, therefore increasing bureaucracy and causing inefficiencies, and so does HR. Zampolit conspired to keep secrets, so does HR for favored officers and employees. The zampolit’s endorsement was crucial for promotion, and so is HR’s.

Every company of any size now has a Diversity officer, or very soon will have one, who herself is in charge of a corps of HR apparatchiks. Just as, I’m sure, ordinary soldiers and sailors would have dreaded being sent to a zampolit for a corrective session, ordinary employees fear being “sent to HR” over a diversity or -ism complaint.

Just ask Google’s now ex-employee James Damore of his experience with HR. He was fired for writing, in public, that hate fact that men and women are different. Ideology says they are not—though it is always allowable to point out instances where men suffer in comparison to women.

Since HR flacks have no real job beyond complying with insurance- and government-mandated paperwork, they must invent work for themselves to justify their existence. Most of this falls under ordinary bureaucratization, like inventing new and ever-longer review forms and procedures. Or to write and update “policy” manuals that never diminish in size.

But some of it is diversity related, and must be, since they are meant to be seen as ideological enforcers. Google (to stick with the example) even issues a diversity “annual report”. Judging by its length—and this is only a wild guess—I’d say it took at least one man-month to complete. Make that woman-month. Google’s Diversity & Inclusion Officer is a non-male.

This woman was compensated what must be in the high five figures, or perhaps much more, to write “First, the responsibility and work to achieve a more diverse and inclusive Google is shifting from a primarily People Operations and grassroots-led model, to one of shared ownership with Google’s most senior leaders. Google’s leaders are focused on, and committed to, accelerating our progress.”

This can be rendered in plain language: managers were told quotas will be tightened and enforced. That rendering, given it only took a couple of seconds to write, thus represents a considerable cost savings. But Brown, the non-male Diversity & Inclusion officer, does not want to make what she does look easy.

So she also wrote: “Second, we are further increasing transparency. Google’s publication of workforce representation data in 2014 helped shape the current industry conversation on diversity in tech. We aim to take the conversation—and our work—to the next level as we further refine our approach, so this year we’ve published new and more detailed workforce representation data.”

In short: employees were also told quotas will be tightened and enforced. It’s not clear what the “next level” will be. A good guess is that pain will be involved.

None of what Brown writes has anything to do with writing better code or creating nifty, marketable algorithms. It is instead pure ideological education and enforcement.

It is well to study Brown’s report, for if your own company doesn’t produce one like it, it soon will, as I said. Since victim groups and ideology shifts in time, so too will report contents. But that corporate zampolit must only grow in size and importance is assured.

Does this make America a communist country?

August 1, 2018 | 11 Comments

What Christianity Fails Into

People don’t usually embrace Caribbean animistic Santeria when abandoning Christianity. They instead become animal “rights” supporters and talk about being nice to the planet.

Nor do ex-Christians typically replace bathtub statues of Mary with household shrines to the Hindu god Ganesha. They instead commit to pilgrimages at that old church that was converted to a really cool boutique hotel.

It’s not impossible for an ex-Christian to convert to voodooism or Hinduism or real Buddhism or any of a hundred other religions. Most don’t, though. Or, if they do, they remake the religion into one consonant with “enlightened” values. They figure a way to fit both Pop Buddhist meditation retreats and Pride Parades into their schedules.

Getting From Here to There

Western culture is so steeped in Christianity that leaving the faith does not mean that one leaves the culture. Being an ex-Christian is different from being a non-Christian. That means that when people fall out of Christianity they usually fall into practices that resemble Christianity but which are devoid of all transcendence.

Nothing better illustrates this than Unitarian Universalism. It is a religion that has Christian roots, but one which has on purpose severed those roots. In its place is only a dry barren stump onto which its adherents loosely cling. It is like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of Christianity, where in each pass an artist has retouched the image based on his imaginings of what the original must have looked like. Kind of like how an old lady “restored” a Nineteenth Century fresco of Our Lord so that it resembled a cave-painting of a monkey.

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It’s all in the name. Unitarian says that God is one, not a Trinity. This doesn’t, however, accord with how, say, Islam sees the deity. Their unity is more like a pantheism where God is what exists, even to the extent we ourselves are part of God. Universalism is the idea all are saved, regardless of what they do. Saved into what? Most Unitarians would say “nothing.”

There is therefore almost no difference between the “nones” who proclaim no formal religion and Unitarians, who gather because they enjoy being sociable. Because nones don’t gather as such, it’s difficult to study them. They have no official journals. Unitarians do. Studying them provides insight into where ex-Christian culture is heading.

Or is already. And that place is — and here there will be no surprise — standard everyday reflexive progressivism.

Ever Forward

In the Summer 2018 print edition of UU World, “The magazine of the the Unitarian Universalist Association”, there is a lamentation on the “white supremacy culture” of Unitarians. Candidates for president of the UUA, three white ladies, were thought insufficiently diverse. There were four white ladies until the “Reverend” Sue Phillips dropped out. There were “concerns” because both Phillips and “her wife” had official UUA jobs, which some thought gave Phillips an “unfair” advantage.

Many other articles are devoted to “climate change.” On its website there is the announcement “Unitarian Universalists join movement to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement” where the people who illegally cross the border are called “migrants and asylum seekers.”

We learn that at the UUA General Assembly “approximately 70 UUs sang, held LGBT-affirming posters, and displayed a rainbow flag.”

And so on. A person not knowing he was on the UUA page might assume he was reading the New York Times.

Jesus the Man

What about Jesus? Unitarians speak of the “faith,” but it is not a faith in anything, except their own boundless intelligence. Few believe in the Resurrection. “Jesus died and decomposed, and yet he was right: The divine unity is beyond all final death.” Jesus was a “peasant revolutionary” and “committed to social justice.”

“‘Salvation’ isn’t a word Unitarian Universalists use much anymore,” said one writer. “[M]ost modern Unitarian Universalists … do not believe in the afterlife anyway, much less in heaven and hell or Jesus’s atonement for humankind before God.”

Everything Biblical is reduced to metaphor, even God. The interpretations are unfixed, free to be cast anew at each lurch forward. It’s a religion of man, and not of God.

The End

The questions are: Is progressivism shaping Unitarianism? Or does progressivism derive from Unitarianism and similar ex-Christian religions? If it’s the former, then there is nothing special to be gained in studying Unitarianism. But if it’s the latter, then there is, because then that sect is a good indicator of what Christianity will fall into.

There is plenty of evidence progressivism is the child of a Christianity drained of God. See, for example, Walzer’s The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics.

That means the devolution of the two greatest commandants into Unitarianism’s “seven principles,” which even members don’t have to believe, is a fate awaiting many soon-to-be-ex-Christian sects.

July 31, 2018 | 10 Comments

Everything Is Already In The Simulation

Quick post since I am still away Up North. On Drudge was linked the article “Pandemic ‘could wipe out 900 million people,’ experts warn” in some tabloid or sensationalistic rag (New York Times?).

A chilling simulation has revealed just how easily a new pathogen could wipe out a huge slice of the world’s population — up to 900 million people.

Researchers at John Hopkins University simulated the spread of a new illness — a new type of parainfluenza, known as Clade X.

The simulation was designed so the pathogen wasn’t markedly more dangerous than real illnesses such as SARS — and illustrates the tightrope governments tread in responding to such illnesses.

Here’s the world’s simplest chilling simulation:

nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp; Input X —> Output X.

Now imagine you’re a scientist anxious to understand how millions will die. Input “Millions will die from splenetic fever” (i.e., a mind-fever produced by consuming too much news media). What’s the output? “Millions will die from splenetic fever.”

What’s the headline?

Artificial Intelligence Computer Model Predicts Millions To Die By Splenetic Fever!

Doubtless “climate change” would feature in the body of the breathless article.

You will say the example is silly, which it is. But it is no different in a fundamental sense from the linked article. There, there was an Input and Output, and an algorithm to turn the one into the other. (The algorithm was “—>”.)

The algorithm is designed by the scientist or “researcher.” It does what it is told to do. Always. The algorithm—any algorithm—was programmed on purpose to say “When you see X, say Y”, however complicated the steps in between from X to Y. This is so even if the algorithm uses “randomness” (see the full dope of the severe limitations of simulation methods).

Of course, some algorithms are so complicated that some people cannot see which combinations of X lead to which combinations of Y. So what? Some people can’t multiply two numbers without a calculator, but multiplication is no mystery. That X leads to Y is in any algorithm by design. It was put there!

If you want to cheat, or cheat yourself, the path is clear. Call X whatever you like, label the algorithm a “simulation” or “deep learning” or “artificial intelligence” or similar, and then express marvel at Y. Again, sometimes the path is not clear from X to Y, and the way the algorithm produces Y might teach you something about X. But since X is put there by you, and the algorithm does what you told it, it cannot be marvelous when it works as it should.

This, incidentally, is why there is not one whit of difference between a “simulation”, “forecast”, “prediction”, “prognostication”, “scenario”, or any of the other words that describe getting from X to Y. People who take refuge in a failed “scenario” by claiming the scenario wasn’t a forecast are fooling themselves. And possibly you, too.

There is no saying the Y has to be certain: it need only be probable with reference to X and the algorithm.

Anybody notice the similarities between any probability model, or mathematical model, or indeed any model at all? You should by now.

A simulation, prediction, etc., fails in two ways. X could be mismeasured or misspecified, and the algorithm is good. Mistakes happen. Or X could be fine and the algorithm stinks. Or both. Pros, like those behind the linked article above, rarely screw up X. But they love their algorithms too well. Algorithms can be right in saying Y from X, but wrong in why Y truly came about. Monkeys throwing darts can pick good stocks.

Of course, I am not saying there will not be a pandemic where a seventh of the population is wiped out. Nor am I claiming “a doomsday cult” won’t release a “a genetically engineered virus.” But if you’re writing a simulation that takes as input X = “Doomsday cult releases genetically engineered virus”, part of that algorithm that leads to Y = “Nearly a billion die” has to specify, by design, the kind of virus that would kill a billion in a manner that must be imagined by the algorithm’s designers.

That is, we are not at from our simple chilling algorithm.