David Stove, PMS Admakers Apologize For PMS Apology Ad, San Franciscan Criminals, More

David Stove

David Stove has a posthumous essay, put out in book form: What’s Wrong With Benevolence: Happiness, Private Property, and the Limits of Enlightenment. There is a review at American Conservative (via A&LD). Jim Franklin, Stove’s literary executor and professor of math, told me this is a new essay, never before appearing elsewhere.

I’ll be reviewing the book/essay in about two weeks.

PMS Ad Angers Women

While I was reviewing over-used statistics, I came across a website that suggested that some women tend to become moody while suffering from PMS. The site said imbibing milk could relieve PMS symptoms, but that if men could not get their hands on any, they should memorize some helpful apologies that would get them out of trouble. Example: “I’m sorry for listening to what you said and not what you meant.”

Well, there was a backlash. The Daily Mail reports that “The California Milk Processor’s Board decided on Thursday to alter its campaign, which portrayed men as the victims of temperamental women.”

Some women’s tempers flared after suggesting that they become temperamental, so they demanded the website be altered. Now when somebody surfs to EverythingIDoIWrong.org, they will be redirected to another site which “will encourage discussion of the issue.”

A glass of milk will now contain 100% of the recommended dose of irony.

Criminals To Become Protected Class In San Francisco

“No more discriminating against felons! Rapists are people too!” These, or similar, are the new slogans by the enlightened members of the San Francisco government, which is proposing a brand new law to “make ex-cons and felons a protected class, along with existing categories of residents like African-Americans, people with disabilities and pregnant women.”

The law would make it a crime to ask potential employees if they ever killed or maimed anybody, or if they committed any other felony. Landlords would also be barred from inquiring whether prospective tenants were sex fiends or bad check passers.

Lost on the government is the logical feedback loop created by this law. If a business asks, “Did you kill” and is caught doing so, they have committed a crime, which according to this law, cannot be held against them. We must consider the possibility that the enlightened city council is trying to psyche San Francisco residents out.

The story reports on one Monique Love, “who served time five years ago on a drug offense. Clean and sober now, she says boxes on application forms asking about criminal history unfairly discriminate against her.” She neglected to say how considering her previous criminal was “unfair.”

The report: “Commission Director Teresa Sparks calls it a public safety issue.” No, not in that way. She meant that if you don’t give criminals houses and jobs, they are likely to commit more crimes. Sparks said, “”All we’re saying is get a chance to know” the ex-cons before judging them.

But, of course, this is not “all” she is saying. She demands a law enforcing her benevolent advice.

The Singularity is Far

Boing Boing has an article by David Linden, a neuroscientist who argues that our knowledge of the biology of the brain is not increasing very fast. He doubts that we’ll soon be equipped with Kurzweilian nanobots which will cause us to be able to access our iPhones remotely, etc.

Yes, we have now sequenced quite a few human genomes and, yes, the speed and cost of doing so are improving exponentially. The human genome sequence—and those of the rat, mouse, fly, zebrafish and rhesus monkey—are an invaluable tool for biologists. That said, while the fundamental insights that have emerged to date from the human genome sequence have been important, they have been far from revelatory…

That’s all useful information, but it doesn’t represent a game-changing, exponential transformation in our understanding of genetics. When the human genome sequence was finished, no one was able to look at it and say, “A-ha, now I can understand what makes us uniquely human,” or “A-ha, now I see how a fertilized egg becomes a newborn during the course of gestation.”

There have been massive, exponential increases in data but “most of the other key conceptual breakthroughs in this field, have come slowly, the result of stubbornly linear small science, and not of the huge technology-driven data sets that Kurzweil describes.”

Read the entire article; well worth your time.

It’s made better by some intelligent commentary (as is often found here). One, by somebody calling himself Brainspore:

I’ve noticed that most futurists (and doomsday prophets) seem to favor timetables which place the amazing world-changing events within their own lifetimes, especially when the prophets in question seem obsessed with their own mortality. Anyone know if there is a name for this kind of predictive bias?

It’s called Wishcasting.

11 Comments

  1. “if you don’t give criminals houses and jobs, they are likely to commit more crimes”

    I agree. If you give them a room in prison and a job making license plates they stop committing crimes.

  2. Ray:

    Don’t take this comment as support for this ridiculous proposal – I take a back seat to no one in my disdain for it.

    But it’s certainly not the case that putting someone in prison stops their committing crimes – prisons are an absolute petri dish for drug use, rape, extortion, bribery, assault, murder, etc. In fact, there is a significant number of prisoners for whom it does not prevent them from committing crimes against those not in prison via outside support groups – examples are legion. It’s likely true though that it reduces the number of crimes committed by the imprisoned against those not in prison.

    The most salient point, in my opinion, was Briggs’ statement that “But, of course, this is not “all” she is saying. She demands a law enforcing her benevolent advice.”

  3. Rob,
    Concure.
    Sending criminals to prison doesn’t stop them from being criminals. I like the idea of sending them to San Francisco, like the British transporting their criminals to Australia. The Feds send Al Capone to San Francisco so there is historical precedent.

  4. Common sense is very uncommon.
    Democracy amplifies mediocracy (or stupidity).

    Is it really worthwhile to engage yourself in fighting stupidity? Isn’t it futile? Will the stupid understand the argument?
    Finally, does the truth have a tendency to assert itself despite the efforts of stupidity?

  5. So what is SF doing about Sex Offender lists? Or is it now the A-list?

    If a business asks, “Did you kill” and is caught doing so, they have committed a crime, which according to this law, cannot be held against them.

    The business is a criminal only after conviction, no? That is if that’s even possible. How does one convict a business?

  6. In the UK we have the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Convictions are said to “expire” after a certain period. Expired convictions do not have to be reported on application forms and similar and will not be reported on a check with the CRB. I guess the intention is to support criminals who have a genuine desire to go straight. The system is imperfect, naturally, with, I believe, 8% of CRB checks being inaccurate. But it does recognize that not all criminals are career criminals, something often forgotten in discussions on this topic.

  7. I doubt the city will be hiring any sex offender to work in the schools. In fact state law says that there is a minimum distance that sex offenders must stay from schools (1000 ft?) There was an effort to increase the distance to 2000 ft a few years ago, but it didn’t pass on the arguement that there would be no urban locations where these poeple could live.

  8. The human (and other) genome sequences are presumably codes that control the development of living organisms. Researchers would like to believe that they can eventually apply some decoding algorithm to these sequences and extract the information they contain.

    There is a distinct possiblity, however, that these codes are irreducibly complex, in the sense that the simplest possibly decoding algorithm is to embed the sequence in the environment of a fertilized egg (and possibly a uterus) and let it direct the growth of an organism.

    This wouldn’t mean that no progress was possible, just that it would progress the way it has up to now — by experiment, trial and error, and slowly.

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