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Author: Briggs

December 13, 2018 | 5 Comments

I See You — Everywhere

People, as we already know, voluntarily carry tracking devices with them most places. These devices allow woke corporations and the (woke) government access to the habits and activities of the volunteers. What makes it hilarious to us curmudgeons is that people not only voluntarily do this, they willingly pay for it.

Cells phones show where you are, to within reasonable accuracy, where you have been, who you called, when you called, who you texted, what sites you looked at, who you called called and who they texted, the duration of calls, and so on and so forth. We’ve spoken of these data many times. Even not knowing the precise content of your communications, government and corporations can still do a decent job of discerning what you’re up to.

Now comes a new way to be tracked. Embeddable chips.

UK firm BioTeq, which offers the implants to businesses and individuals, has already fitted 150 implants in the UK.

The tiny chips, implanted in the flesh between the thumb and forefinger, are similar to those for pets. They enable people to open their front door, access their office or start their car with a wave of their hand, and can also store medical data.

Another company, Biohax of Sweden, also provides human chip implants the size of a grain of rice. It told the Sunday Telegraph that it is in discussions with several British legal and financial firms about fitting their employees with microchips, including one major company with hundreds of thousands of employees.

The chips talk to door scanners, computers, vending machines, whatever. Key cards now already allow a company to know precisely when you come and go, and chipped credit cards are close, but this is something more. Why? Because RFID readers can be placed anywhere. If you want to maximize efficiency, it pays to have data, so why not install readers along well traveled pathways? In the toilets, in meeting rooms, in your cells (i.e. cubicles).

That’s not very inventive. Don’t most retail stores now have RFID readers at their entrances and so forth? Why not share data with them! They’ll be happy, we can imagine, to give this data up in exchange for the data on the people from Company X who requested the store’s data.

How hard would it be to put readers at major intersections? Helps estimate traffic flow, you know. And why shouldn’t, when asked, Company X share its tracking data with Company Y, or the government? Internal company or national security could be at stake.

And why should you worry if some company knows where you’re going at all or most times of each and every day? If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. Tracking improves safety, and these scientific studies show. Are you against safety? Besides, the chips act like credit cards, and cash is used by criminals to commit crimes.

Since there is no reason for you to object to being chipped, there is even less reason for you to give up your DNA to our beneficent overlords, who love us and only want what is best for us.

Science magazine (a journal of politics) asks “Is it time for a universal genetic forensic database?” Guess what the answer to that question is. If you guessed “Yes, because racism”, you win the prize.

Several countries—the United Kingdom, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia among them—have even toyed with creating a “universal” DNA database, populated with data from every individual in society, obviating the need for any other DNA source (1). Although this move would be controversial, it may not be as dramatic as one might think. In the United States, for example, the combination of state and federal databases (containing genetic profiles of more than 16.5 million arrestees and convicts) and public and private databases (containing genetic data of tens of millions of patients, consumers, and research participants) already provides the government with potential access to genetic information that can be linked to a large segment of the country, either directly or through a relative (2, 3).

It may not be as dramatic as one might think. True words. Most will volunteer for this Get a 20% coupon for a new TV at Big Box Store for a drop of your blood. Want to work at Mammoth Corp Inc International? See HR with this cotton swab. How else can you verify this is your tax return without a DNA stamp?

We’ll still need chips, even with facial recognition. It’s getting better, though there are still a few bugs, but it’s possible a fake moustache will always fool it.

You recall the story. The “mark” of beast is not a punishment. Removing it is.

Addendum After writing this, I came across story Sweden Is On The Verge Of Going Completely Cashless: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

December 12, 2018 | 26 Comments

Technical Notes On Destroying Universities From Space With Large Rocks

Headline Students bark in protest to save the trees.

Seems Western Michigan University was going to cut down some trees. Students duly went outside and barked. Anything to avoid studying—which is racist, sexist and other kinds of evil anyway. They held signs like “Cut a Tree, Cut a Life.” One doesn’t have to wonder what would happen on campus if somebody held a similar sign denouncing non-males killing their offspring in hopes of finding better deals for themselves. You do have to feel sorry for the professors who were made to follow the protestors around with pooper scoopers, though.

This is only one of thousands of such stories. We’re already far past the point of proving the need to destroying the Western University System as it now exists. The only question that remains is how.

Some of us have been advocating dropping large rocks from space onto the most cancerous institutions. Shouldn’t take more than a dozen flattenings or so before the others get the idea. It works.

It’s easy to be glib about these rocks. Yet sooner or later it comes down to the hard labor of making actual plans. Let’s start.

We have the happy and fascinating paper Estimation of Destructive Power of Meteorites and Meteors by George Kilimi and Joel Greenstein to help us. Here is the abstract:

This paper aims to give a simple approach to explain and estimate quantitatively the effects of the NEO(s) impacts on Earth and evaluate their destructive power using physics and mathematical models and methods. Based on historical evidence of the meteorite/meteor impact on Earth (crater of impact, signs of destruction of plants, forests, or other destructive characteristics, i.e. the “fingerprints” of the meteor/meteorite) we estimate the power of the explosion that is related to the impact on ground of a meteorite or the burst in air of a meteor as well as the damages and casualties of affected population.

Anybody with training in physics or math will be able to follow along.

We’re obviously dealing with meteors, since it’s expensive to cart rocks into space (only to re-drop them). There’s tons (literally) of free ones up there ripe for plucking. There are of two major species, rock and iron. Rock is about a third less dense, pound for pound, than iron (meaning we could get away with smaller iron meteors). As rock tends to calve upon reentry, they would spray debris at locations other than where they are targeted, it’s best to use iron.

Next to mass (and assuming an average density for iron), the two most important attributes are velocity and impact angle. These drive most of the destruction calculations.

Speed is important. Our authors estimate Near Earth Objects (from which we will draw our supply) whiz about at around 11,000 to 70,000 m/s. The bigger objects are usually slower, which is to our advantage, since we have to find a way to sidle up to these brutes before directing them where we want them.

This sidiling and targeting will be the largest engineering challenge; unfortunately our authors say nothing about it. As the cliché has it, more research is needed. Luckily, we’ll soon have available a ready supply of uber-competent white male scientists and engineers who have lots of time on their hands.

These gentleman will also have to tackle the “shape” and density problems. We want objects uniformly dense so that the chance of breakup is minimal. Some kind of low-frequency radar could work here. It’s not clear how influential shape is: the authors say nothing about it. Oddly shaped objects might “tumble” and go off course. Perhaps spin could be induced, and much like with a rifle bullet, the conservation of angular momentum will be our friend.

There are all sorts of interesting details to be relished in the paper. The difference in pressure blast and Mach waves and their relationship with impact angle, reflected shock, quantifying instantaneous air bursts and inefficiencies introduced by poor impact angle, which might be a great option because of crater avoidance, and of course the fun of figuring equivalent explosive charge.

For instance, the Tunguska meteor donated the rough equivalent of 31 megatons of TNT—which flattened some 25 km of forest around the blast. Of course, those where piddling trees, not reinforced concrete buildings, and the meteor never made it to the ground. That makes the author’s estimate of a “casualty area” of about 22 km too high, I think, to use for modern university cities. Their Table 3 on “Foreseen effect of blast wave” should be studied by all fans of Reality and Classical Christian Civilization.

Bonus link! ‘Cosmic airburst’: Tunguska-like blast destroyed part of Middle East 3,700 years ago

Some have theorized that this event may have been the biblical destruction of the ancient city of Sodom as the Tall el-Hammam site has long been a strong candidate for the ancient ‘Sin City’, though no definitive conclusion has been reached as of yet.

Golly.

December 11, 2018 | 21 Comments

Strong AI From Ping Pong Balls

If you can’t see the tweet above, click here.

Practitioners of Strong AI believe that if we string enough of these ping-pong (or marble) machines together, rationality will emerge. By rationality, I mean intellect and will.

No, seriously. They do. This is not a jest!

Of course, the little ball movers have to be in a particular order, and be supplied with energy. The balls don’t get loaded into the hopper by themselves. But, in principle, since a contraption like this can be built, it is then a computer, which can (they say) be programmed to develop rationality. Strong AI.

Why they say this and why it won’t work is covered in three articles, starting with this one (the other two are linked within). So I won’t repeat any of it here.

That’s how they are wrong. But why might they be wrong, or on the wrong track? That’s what I’m curious about here.

There is nothing mysterious about little balls sliding down ramps. And so it doesn’t seem like a mysterious power like rationality can develop from a huge ball-sliding machine. But electricity, particularly in its quantum aspects, is strange and wondrous. It is even magical, which prompts, we might guess, the magical thinking that curve-fitting algorithms can think because they can carry on operations fast via shifting electrons (or whatever).

We can’t see electrons (etc.) tunneling and doing their things, which makes it easier to suppose that they can get away with creating intellects. Hey, they might be up to anything down there! We can see dumb little balls sliding down stupid inclined planes. They can’t possibly do anything extra.

This is, as should be clear, a psychological argument. It presupposes the philosophical one provided in the links, that no AI algorithm is ever going to reach rationality. That being so, we have to ask why people think it will.

One reason is progress. We’re cleverer now than a century ago at making gadgets. So, it is argued, we’ll eventually be clever enough to build a rational being. Out of some substance, it follows. A substance which is usually thought to be formed from silicon and wire. But it could easily (in our thought experiment) be made from ramps and balls, and pulleys, and maybe a wheel rotating in a stream.

Yet it seems absurd that a created rational being can be constructed from ping pong balls. Since it should be able to do this if the goals of strong AI are possible, then we have to ask ourselves why it seems absurd. It’s because we can’t think of a way sliding ping pong balls can make rationality out their movement. In this, we are correct.

But since these slippery balls are a computer, it must follow that we cannot extract rationality out of any computer.

December 10, 2018 | 21 Comments

Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Losing

There are many stories, but this one is as good as any other.

Long-time school teacher Peter Vlaming was fired for saying these words: “Don’t let her run into the wall.”

Problem is, the lunatic parents of the poor little girl Vlaming sought to protect are telling the world the little girl is a little boy. The lunatic “parents said it was unhealthy for their child to remain in Vlaming’s class.”

Unhealthy.

UNHEALTHY.

Now what should have happened was that the male neighbors—not the government, not the authorities—of the lunatic father of the little girl, should have, when they heard the father wanted to begin pretending his daughter was his son, took him for a little walk. And when they picked him up from the bottom of the steps he accidentally slipped down, they should have explained to him that Reality trumps feelings. The father could then have brought this wisdom to his idiot wife. And all would have been well.

But no. Feelings trump Reality. Feelings are what count.

It is feelings that will doom us.

The lady boss of the school where Vlaming created an “unhealthy” environment recommended to the school board to suspend Vlaming. She got her way.

That is the real story. (If you instead believe it is right and just this man Vlaming was canned for calling a girl “she”, I do not care to hear from you, especially if you say we must respect the feelings of the girl. It does the girl no good at all to go along with her parent’s fantasy.)

There are lunatics and idiots ever with us. And cowards. That is not important. What is important is that now the cowards in charge of us fear the lunatics and idiots. They do not fear those who hold with Reality. And the reason our cowardly leaders fear the lunatics and idiots is that the lunatics and idiots have stronger feelings than the Realists. And feelings are what counts.

The majority in Vlaming’s case, represented by his many students, walked out of school to protest Valming’s removal of income. Here is what the cowardly woman who fired Vlaming said

“Given the peaceful nature of the event, students will not be disciplined for this instance of leaving lunch or class,” she said.

“We understand that some students are unhappy with the decision made by the School Board last evening and felt it important to let them express their viewpoint concerning this matter.”

Let them have feelings. But she must have considered that the feelings of the larger mob that would come for her now that the matter is public would have been stronger. In this judgment (if she made it) she was surely right.

A reader to Dreher’s original story wrote in:

My brother is a leftist atheist who teaches biology at an elite liberal arts college. He told me that he has stopped using pronouns with ALL his students. He said that it is impossible to have a rational debate with them about gender ideology. He told me that this is all about power and control, and the students’ demands keep on escalating. He is distressed that a whole cluster of female students in the physics department suddenly declared themselves trans, and immediately the tone of the department changed from “celebrating women in physics!” to “celebrating transgender people in physics!”

[A] whole cluster of female students in the physics department suddenly declared themselves trans.

Feelings, nothing more than feelings.
Feelings, wo, wo, wo, feelings

You will recall it was the students—the young, ignorant, and passionate—in the Cultural Revolution that were the most murderous and bloody minded. So it will be with us.

Few will stand up against these students. Nobody who has anything to lose will say “Reality!” Nobody in any authority will say “That girl is not a boy.” No public persona will say, “The parents of this girl should be spanked.” Even Vlaming’s supporters did not do this, and instead dithered on about “rights” and—you guessed it!—feelings.

Oh, maybe I shouldn’t complain. It’s just one man with a family tossed on his ear because he chose Reality over the Lie. He should have gone along and embraced the lie. And protected his family.

At least, until the mob discovered something else disqualifying in his earlier life.

It will only get worse. We are losing.