Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Mongol and The Caravan

It has come to my attention that this old story is not universally known... so I'm sharing it now...

A caravan is traveling down the road, and a lone mongol comes riding up, with his war cry and his sword, and orders the caravanners to stop...

So they do.

He waves his sword and shouts, and orders them all to line up in a row...

So they do.

He yells and waves his sword and orders them to give him all their gold and their goods...

So they do.

He yells and waves his sword, and he goes down to one end of the line, and orders the caravanner to get down on his knees and kneel over...

So he does...

...and the mongol chops the caravanners head off.

He yells and waves his sword again, and orders the next caravanner to get on his knees and kneel over...

So he does...

....and the mongol chops the caravanners head off.

Three guys down the line, a caravanner says to his friends "hey, there's only one of him and there's a dozen of us... let's rush him, he can only get one or two of us"

The rest of the caravanners grab him, beat him up, and say "what are you crazy? You might make him angry".

Gun Control and Electoral Math - The Scoreboard

Two years ago, I wrote a piece about electoral math and gun control, and how it was unlikely that we would have any serious national level gun control... and we have not (state level is another story unfortunately).

In that, I included a list of democratic senators who were up for re-election this year, their position on gun control, and how "at risk" their seat was:

Stupidity, Politics, and Electoral Math

So, now that we have the results of all of their elections, let's see what the last two years hath wrought among them:

XX = Unelected (or resigned and replaced by Republican)

  1. XX - Alaska - Mark Begich - Very Pro Gun - very unsafe seat
  2. XX - Arkansas - Mark Pryor - neutral - very unsafe seat
  3. XX - Colorado - Mark Udall - neutral - not a safe seat
  4. Delaware - Chris Coons - Very anti-gun - safe seat
  5. Hawaii - UNKNOWN (special election to replace Daniel Inouye) - safe seat
  6. Illinois - Dick Durbin - Very anti-gun - safe seat
  7. XX - Iowa - Tom Harkin - Very anti-gun - iffy, can't afford to screw up
  8. XX - Louisiana - Mary Landrieu - neutral - very unsafe seat
  9. Massachusetts - UNKNOWN (special election to replace John Kerry) - safe seat
  10. Michigan - Carl Levin - very anti-gun - safe seat
  11. Minnesota - Al Franken - very anti-gun - not a safe seat
  12. XX - Montana - Max Baucus - very pro-gun - iffy, can't afford to screw up
  13. New Hampshire - Jeanne Shaheen - very anti-gun - not a safe seat
  14. New Jersey - Frank Lautenberg - very anti-gun - safe seat
  15. New Mexico - Tom Udall - slightly anti-gun - safe seat
  16. XX - North Carolina - Kay Hagan - very anti-gun - not a safe seat
  17. Oregon - Jeff Merkley - very anti-gun - safe seat
  18. Rhode Island - Jack Reed - very anti-gun - safe seat
  19. XX - South Dakota - Tim Johnson - very pro-gun - very unsafe seat
  20. Virginia - Mark Warner - very pro-gun - not a safe seat
  21. XX - West Virginia - Jay Rockefeller - moderately anti-gun - very unsafe seat

Lotta XX's there... 9 actually, out of 21 (10 of those 21 were considered safe seats, barely challenged by Republicans). Pretty much every anti-gun democrat that wasn't in a safe seat, except Shaheen and Franken.

And THAT folks, is why we will not have any significant gun control on the national level any time soon.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The concept of "Cultural Appropriation" is both false and harmful

So... The subject of "cultural appropriation" is coming up again, this time in regards to Iggy Azalea (born Amethyst Amelia Kelly), a young, extremely white, woman from Australia, who spent the last 7-ish years in the American south (mostly Atlanta); who raps in a "dirty south" style and accent, common to black rappers from Houston to Atlanta.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of "cultural appropriation" here's a definition (from wikipedia):
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, specifically the use by cultural outsiders of a minority, oppressed culture's symbols or other cultural elements. It differs from acculturation or assimilation in that cultural "appropriation" or "misappropriation" refers to the adoption of these cultural elements, taken from minority cultures by members of the dominant culture, and then using these elements outside of their original cultural context.
Cultural appropriation, is often taken to be an act of racism, or at best racial insensitivity or intolerance, and in some cases, this can be a valid interpretation... SOME cases.

To be clear, Iggy Azalea doesn't claim to be black, pretend to be black, doesn't "act black" (whatever that's supposed to mean) in her normal speech, accent, or mannerisms etc... She simply raps in a style commonly used by black rappers.

Here's a video of her biggest hit to date "Fancy"(which hit number one earlier this year):

Overall, there is outrage, among the easily outraged, that a white woman is "acting black", and that this is racist, disrespectful, and cultural appropriation. Also, that she is racially insensitive... even stupid... And that in general, she sucks.

While I don't disagree that Iggy Azaelea sucks (actually, she's quite capable as a performer... she sucks on purpose, because it makes her... and her producers who really run the show... a lot of money), I hold the entire concept of "cultural appropriation" as a negative thing... or even as a thing... as not only false, but harmful.

If it was done mockingly, or deceptively, sure... but we're talking about a performance style, not someone actually passing themselves off as a different race.

More importantly, nothing is being STOLEN... You can't steal a cultural identity, or a performance style, or a form of artistic impression.

She isn't copying anyone in particular, she isn't plagiarizing, and she isn't stopping black people from rapping in the same way, or making money doing so.

No race "owns" any type or style of art. Just because someone of one race chooses to create or perform a style of art most commonly created or performed by another race, does not invalidate that art, or make it racist.

To suggest otherwise is to suppress freedom of expression.

It is also to suggest that Nat King Cole, Charlie Pride, and Harry Belafonte were illegitimate... or that the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds... Yeah, I could go on, about both sides... for hours.

I personally sing blues and soul. I love the music, it moves me, and I sing it very passionately, and well, with a great deal of emotion and expression...

If I preform this music as it is intended to be performed... or at all... Is that racist cultural appropriation?

I love Indian, and Mexican food... is it racist cultural appropriation if I cook and serve these foods in a restaurant?

Or is that just ridiculous?

Now... to criticize Iggy Azalea for racial and cultural stupidity... I'm right there with you.

But the whole cultural appropriation concept... or the notion that it somehow diminishes anyone or disrespects anyone... really needs to die.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

"Never speak of this again"

Many years ago, I used to have a "stupid" charge for clients.

I was completely upfront about it, and what I called it. i would explain this to my clients as part of my rates before starting a gig, or going out on a service call...

If you make me do something really stupid and irritating, because you didn't do what you were told to do, didn't follow instructions, repeatedly made the same dumb mistake, or called me out because you did something really dumb (like unplug the machine and not notice for example)... You got the stupid charge...

Double my hourly rate, two hour minimum charge.

If said call, or call out, was after hours, on a weekend, or a holiday, you got my "special stupid" charge, FOUR times my hourly rate... Eight times if it was any two, twelve times if it was all three.

At the time I was charging $35 an hour for basic IT service, including travel time from my office to their site if more than 15 miles.

So, sure enough, holiday weekend comes around, and I get a call at 8 o'clock at night from a very wealthy client (a good sized business owner who had a serious home office that I set up, with full connectivity to his business)... Systems not working... Can't connect to the internet, can't print. And this guy has a 24/7 monthly service contract with me, with a 4 hour response (he paid for it gladly, and in general he was a very good client).

I go through an hour or so of troubleshooting, including specifically asking the guy to check all his power and interconnect cables, and look for power lights, and explaining to him my stupid charge. He was adamant he checked everything and he needed me to come out there (over an hours drive each way) right now... I explained to him that if when I got there it wasn't a covered service, he'd have to pay a minimum of six hours service (3 hours travel, 2 hour minimum service charge, one hour out of hours phone service) at the "special stupid" rate (over $2500 total)... He was absolutely certain.

So, I drive out there to the middle of nowhere mountains, walk into the office, look hard and sideways at the hardware for about 30 seconds from across the room....

...Walk over and plug the power strip the modem and router were plugged into, back into the wall.

Then I turn them both on, plug the phone line from the modem back into the wall, wait for them to come up, turn to the PC next to them, try to access the net and dial out, hear the modem dial out, and watch the browser start loading a page, and the printer start printing a test page.

I turned around again, and the guy was already standing there with a signed check in his hand.

From greeting him at the front door, to that moment, I hadn't said a word... I started to say "that's not necessary" (in fact I wasn't going to  charge him the stupid charge at all, just the 6 hours).

He interrupted me, handed me the check and said "Here's $5000... never speak of this to anyone".

... And I didn't, until after he passed on a few years later...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Great Pyramid of Cheese

A few months back, I mentioned that I had found a "food", which had actually fallen completely off the Poretto Cheese Hierarchy:

""NO-MELT, imitation pasteurized process cheese product"
This is not cheese.
This is not "pasteurized processes cheese food"
This is not even fake "Cheez!"
This isn't even "Kraft Macaroni and Cheez" fake cheez...
This is IMITATION fake cheez...
It has fallen entirely off the Poretto Cheese Hierarchy.
But worse... they have taken the ONLY GOOD THING about fake cheese... that it melts really well for cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches...
What exactly is the point of this product? Because it is clearly not intended for human consumption."

Now unfortunately, Fran Poretto had taken down his original blog, so I wasn't able to post the hierarchy in response to reader inquiries. However, I wrote Fran personally, and he mentioned that he reposted it on a new site.
I have reproduced it here:

The Great Pyramid of Cheese - Francis Poretto

"On one evening not too long ago, a friend of mine, who has an extensive extended family, was dining with most of them. Included were several pre-teens. The bill of fare was, as is common in their not-particularly-pecunious household, macaroni and cheese.

One of the pre-teens commented on how different the entree tasted to him from "real" macaroni and cheese -- by which he meant, as pre-teens often do, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. He contrasted my friend's wife's dish unfavorably with the commercial preparation.

An uncle to the clan cleared his throat. "Kevin," he intoned, "you know I sell cheese, don't you?" The youngster nodded. "Well, it's about time you learned about the Great Pyramid of Cheese." And he told them all about it.

It seems that there are places where they make Cheese. The real stuff, straight from the milk, brimming with the odorific and oleaginous virtues that your narrator has found he cannot renounce. And it is good.

Most of it, anyway.

Some wheels of cheese just don't turn out right. But they're not thrown away, oh, no. That would be wasteful. They're sold to factors from other shops, which take them in, and melt them down, and add oil, and chemicals, and further processing, and thereby produce... Cheese Food.

Cheese Food is regulated by law to contain no more than 49% non-milk additives, and must not contain any but a specified list of preservatives and artificial flavor enhancers.

There are people who eat Cheese Food by choice. There are others who are trying to help them.

But some batches of Cheese Food don't come out right either, and they're not thrown away, either. They're sold to factors from other shops, which take them in, and melt them down, and add oil, and chemicals, and further processing, and thereby produce... Process Pasteurized Cheese Food.

PPCF is the step down from Cheese Food, and may contain up to 70% non-milk additives, plus a much wider range of flavor and color enhancers, and preservatives that guarantee that it will not spoil over the three months between your toddler's two demands for a grilled cheese sandwich right now, mom!

And not all of this is saleable, either, but (you guessed it) it's not thrown away just for that. The rejected barrels are sold to factors from other shops, which take them in, and melt them down, and add oil, and chemicals, and further processing, and thereby produce... Process Pasteurized Cheese Food Substance.

PPCFS may contain up to 82% non-milk additives. The flavor and color are almost entirely chemically produced, and the preservatives in it are reputed to be stronger than formaldehyde. Velveeta was once PPCFS, but has moved up the pyramid to Level 3 (PPCF). Cheez Whiz is PPCFS. A number of people have drawn images of the Blessed Virgin on their basement walls with PPCFS from spray cans, and have made quite a lot of money.

But... that's right. Some of it doesn't meet the standards for retail-saleable PPCFS. The rejected barrels are sold to factors from other shops, which take them in, and melt them down, and add oil, and chemicals, and further processing, and thereby produce...

Well, it doesn't really have a name, and it doesn't need one, either, because all of it is consumed by a single company.

"And Kevin," the uncle rumbled, "would you like to guess what that company is?"

Little Kevin swallowed and shook his head.

"It's the Kraft Company, Kevin."

And I, who have set this tale down for you, have checked it in all particulars, and every word of it is true. And I'm told that little Kevin no longer asks for Kraft Macaroni And Cheese, either."

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Climate Change... The New Inquistion

I was searching for something else, and I came across this piece I wrote back in 2007...

...And perhaps unsurprisingly, not much has changed today, except that now catastrophists are saying EVERYTHING is proof of climate change, which can apparently do anything whatsoever, including mutually exclusive and contradictory things, because "science".

It's absolutely unfalsifiable.

I decide to republish it here, to point out, that while the science against the catastrophists has only accumulated and strengthened; their stridency and grasping demands have only increased.


I say again, the concept of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, except in the case of localized micro-climates, holds absolutely no scientific water.

Honest scientists will tell you the same thing if pressed (and if their funding doesn’t depend on it), but the agenda politics of todays science (admittedly on both sides of the political spectrum, but generally on different subjects), prevents real, honest, science from occurring anymore; or from being reported if and when it is (the record of suppressing science which disproves catastrophic anthropogenic climate change is long and shameless at this point).

The mere language used by catastrophists against those who seek to use actual science rather than sociopolitical ideological faith, calling us "deniers" in an attempt to paint an equivalence with holocaust deniers, should make it clear that their concern is not truth.

The honest numbers are simple.

Global temperatures have risen an average of less than 1 degree centigrade since measurements started being taken ("adjusted measurements", which have been conclusively proven to be inaccurate and possibly deliberately manipulated say it may be as much as 1.8 degrees, but that is the absolute maximum).

There is no “sudden and precipitous increase”. There is no hockey stick. It was a lie, and even many of the climate change people have admitted it. The ice caps aren’t melting, in fact in most areas they are thickening slightly. The sea level isn’t rising any more than it would have naturally.

Oh and in case you didn't know... Polar bears are excellent swimmers.

More damning to the catastrophists faith; even by their own admission, there has been NO rise (and there may in fact have been a slight decline) in global average temperatures, SINCE 1996.

Since temperature recordings have begun, volcanic eruptions have put more carbon into the atmosphere, and caused more temperature change, than all of human industry and activity since the beginning of the human race; but it wasn’t by increasing temperatures with carbon, it was by decreasing them with dust in the air... much of which was in fact carbon particulates.

The world has been far colder than today at times when there was far more carbon in the atmosphere; even without more dust. The world has been far warmer than today with far less carbon in the air, even WITH more dust.

The amount of anthropogenic carbon dioxide and carbon particulates in the atmosphere are FAR less than one half of one percent of total carbon dioxide, and far less than one half of one percent of total carbon particulates (the vast majority of CO2 is released by soil, rotting vegetation, oceanic microorganisms, and seafloor offgassing. The vast majority of particulates, are released by forest fires, and volcanic activity ). Considering how small a percentage of our atmospheric carbon and carbon compounds (between 0.03 and 0.06 percent. Not between 3% and 6%, 3 one hundredths of a percent), that amount is completely insignificant to global climate change.

This is not to say they don't effect local microclimates, they certainly do. But in those local microclimates, these concentrations are literally hundreds to thousands of times higher.

These levels of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere are not a temperature driver, or a climate forcing.

In fact, historical records show that overall CO2 levels (which, remember, human inputs make up only a tiny fraction of) TRAIL global climate change by anywhere from a few hundred years, to a few thousand.

All currently existing GLOBAL climate change can be fully and scientifically explained by natural endothermic cycles (atmospheric oceanic interaction combined with volcanic and other geothermal activity, and large particulate emissions such as forest fires, plus natural greenhouse component and other climate forcing component emissions), and the fluctuation in output of the sun (because earth is an exothermic system). The suns output has varied greatly over the course of human history (and of course long before), and periods of warming and cooling have tracked right along with that output.

Models using average sunspot activity as an indicator of solar thermal forcing, have proven to be accurate within a few percentage points at predicting historical temperatures.

Some models (those used by catastrophists) predict that there may be FUTURE global climate change based on a theory that human generated carbon inputs, even though they are far lower than historical levels which did NOT cause these things to happen, will somehow cause the entire climate system to change the way it has always functioned.

These models are ridiculous on their face. The way you test a model is to run if forwards and backwards without adjustment, and see if it can accurately predict what actually happened in the past, using the data from further back in the past; then verifying against actual future results over time.

None of the models that predict significant global climate change due to human carbon inputs, come anywhere close to predicting the historical record.

They always consistently overestimate warming by SEVERAL HUNDRED PERCENT, as in estimating 4 to 8 times the actual warming.

And NONE of them came anywhere close to predicting the variability of the historical record, always showing a consistent warming trend over time, even for CENTURIES that had a significant cooling trend.

The models were not made to predict the actual climate... they were specifically made to predict massive warming,  no matter the input. And that's what they do, as non-catastrophists have proven, running data which any rational model should predict steady or cooling temperatures through the models... and they STILL predicted significant warming.

I leave it up to you to decide whether the models were just designed badly, or whether the distortion was intentional. Either way, these models cannot be trusted, and decisions should certainly not be made based on them.

The climate IS changing, and has since the moment the earth formed a climate. As near as we can tell (through ice core samples and the like) there has never been a period of more than 200 years without at least a 1 degree change in global average temperatures.

The climate will continue to change on its own; and no normal human activity will change global climate significantly one way or the other… unless it’s something that actually would kill us all (which would by definition not be normal... Incredibly massive particulate pollution over a high percentage of the earths surface - including the oceans - would do it. It would initially trigger warming from trapped thermal radiation, followed by extremely rapid cooling from blocking out the sun, and then a sudden ice age; and likely kill all crops and food animals in the process, along with at least 80% of humanity in the first two years, if not more, and ultimately followed by mass global extinction).

That isn’t to say we shouldn’t attempt to develop better sources of energy, we should. We aren’t going to “run out” of oil... ever in fact; a basic understanding of economics would show that. But, hydrocarbon fuels are eventually going to get more and more expensive as time goes on, and hydrocarbon fueled combustion engines are relatively inefficient, and do contribute significantly to micro climate pollution.

In many ways, doing things greener IS in fact better. Saving energy is generally a very good thing. Not polluting is generally a good thing. When it isn’t, is when it destroys economies, prevents job growth, reduces food production, increases food prices, and all the other ways that forced greenism (I won’t even call it environmentalism, because it isn’t doing the environment much good), causes pain, suffering, misery, and general reductions in peoples health, quality of life, standard of living, and basic liberties.

“Climate change” isn’t about the environment... It’s about giving financial and political control to anti-western, anti-capitalists.... Or just the cynical opportunists who would use peoples good intentions and fears to increase their own power.

It’s about punishing those rich capitalist nations and people, for not being poor socialists... Or just for "not doing things the RIGHT way".... whatever that particular person or group happens to think the "right" way is.

It isn’t science, it’s a pseudo-scientific sociopolitical ideological movement, and near religion. The adherents don’t need any proof, because they have faith; and any who challenge that faith must be burned as heretics in their new inquisition.

Soylent is made out of Diabetes... DIABETES

A commenter asked what I think of Soylent, the food substitute beverage, funded through kickstarter, that is supposed to provide all the nutrition you need in three drinks a day.

I think it's an abomination before god and man.

Food is meant to be enjoyed, savored, appreciated... it isn't just caloric intake for the purpose of maintaining body temperature.

However, in all seriousness, looking at the actual nutritional information, Soylent rather closely adheres to the Food Pyramid, with appx 50% of the calories from carbs, 30% from fat, and 20% from protein.

This is the Archer Daniels Midland diet, in its purest form.

And I mean that literally... You are literally replacing your entire diet of meats, fruits, vegetables, and grains, with the products of Archer Daniels Midland (they are by far the largest supplier in the country of the primary ingredients)... processed byproducts of corn and rapeseed.

The #1 ingredient, and the largest source of calories (almost 50%), is maltodextrin, which is literally corn sugar... or rather it's a polysaccharide derived from cornstarch.

Its common use in food is as a thickening agent, to absorb oils, and as a dusting powder; either infused with a flavor (like salt and vinegar potato chips), or to prevent clumping and sticking.

It's also used to provide bulk calories in protein shakes, weightlifting supplements, carboloading supplements for runners and cyclists etc...

It has the same glycemic index as pure glucose, and it has a similar effect on insulin triggering. Diabetics are specifically warned against consuming maltodextrin in more than very small amounts, for that reason.

The lipid component is almost entirely Canola oil, which is one of the highest Omega 6 oils there is, which dramatically increase inflammatory response and arterial hardening, and may contribute to prostate cancer.

Basically, the guy formulating this stuff believed all the junk science garbage about low fat, and low saturated fat, and polyunsaturated seed oils, and high carbs being the best diet; and formulated Soylent to match that.

The original formula was somewhat better (using olive oil, and having a better carb/protein/fat balance), but it has been reformulated to be cheaper, and vegan.

He also formulated it for three meals to have 100% of the minimum RDA of those nutrients defined by the USDA to have a minimum RDA... and NOTHING else.

That's idiotic.

It's also very engineerlike... which is what the developer of Soylent is... a software engineer.

He has stated that he never wants to think about or worry about or have to cook food again, and that science should let us do this cheaper, and be healthier, than eating actual food.

He couldn't be more wrong in every way.

Never mind the aesthetic issues... and the dehumanization and mechanization of one of lifes greatest joys...

Soylent is essentially the worst diet you could possibly have, and still pretend to be "healthy". It seems almost deliberately calculated to cause diabetes and heart disease.

I honestly think that if someone who was prediabetic went on soylent for six months, they would end up insulin dependent.