Tuesday, 4 July 2017

All morality is local

All politics is local.  So is moral choice.
If it were not so, bribery, blackmail and antifa thuggery would be null.
But local is good, the intersection of matters of state and the heart, of physics and appetite.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Bicycle Helmets will decide my vote.

Bicycle Helmets will decide my vote.  Those helmets can be strapped onto kiddies by parents, chosen wisely by serious riders, even promoted by social advertising, but should never be mandated by laws, fines and police.   British Columbia abuses the law for social engineering.  No party will defend freedom of choice and thus, no party got my vote in the provincial election.
Normal human choice, some with, some without

See below.


11. Section 120 is amended
(a) in subsection (1) by adding the following paragraphs:
    (b.1) that a person operating or riding as a passenger on a cycle on a path or way designated under paragraph (b.3) must properly wear a bicycle safety helmet that
      (i) is designated as an approved bicycle safety helmet under section 185.1 (4) (a), or(ii) meets the standards and specifications prescribed under section 185.1 (4) (b);
    (b.2) that a parent or guardian of a person under the age of 16 years must not authorize or knowingly permit the person to operate or ride as a passenger on a cycle on a path or way designated under paragraph (b.3) if that person is not properly wearing a bicycle safety helmet that
      (i) is designated as an approved bicycle safety helmet under section 185.1 (4) (a), or(ii) meets the standards and specifications prescribed under section 185.1 (4) (b);
    (b.3) for the designation of paths or ways within the municipality, other than paths or ways that are highways or are located on private property, for the purposes of a bylaw made under paragraph (b.1) or (b.2);(b.4) for the exemption of any person or class of persons from a bylaw made under paragraph (b.1) or (b.2) and prescribing conditions for those exemptions; , and
(b) by adding the following subsection:
    (1.2) Despite subsection (1) (s), a municipality may not impose imprisonment or a fine of more than $100 for the contravention of a bylaw made under subsection (1) (b.1) or (b.2).
22. The following section is added:
Bicycle safety helmets
    185.1 (1) A person commits an offence if that person operates or rides as a passenger on a cycle on a highway and is not properly wearing a bicycle safety helmet that
      (a) is designated as an approved bicycle safety helmet under subsection (4) (a), or(b) meets the standards and specifications prescribed under subsection (4) (b).
    (2) A parent or guardian of a person under the age of 16 years commits an offence if the parent or guardian authorizes or knowingly permits the person to operate or ride as a passenger on a cycle on a highway if that person is not properly wearing a bicycle safety helmet that
      (a) is designated as an approved bicycle safety helmet under subsection (4) (a), or(b) meets the standards and specifications prescribed under subsection (4) (b).
    (3) A person who is convicted of an offence under subsection (1) or (2) is liable to a fine of not more than $100.(4) The superintendent may make regulations as follows:

      (a) designating a helmet as an approved bicycle safety helmet for the purposes of this section;(b) prescribing standards and specifications for bicycle safety helmets.
    (5) Regulations made under subsection (4) (b) may adopt by reference, in whole or in part, standards or specifications published by a national or international standards association, as amended from time to time.(6) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

      (a) providing for and requiring the identification and marking of bicycle safety helmets;(b) exempting any person or class of persons from the requirements of this section and prescribing conditions for those exemptions.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Consciousness and personality pixellation

There is no there there, when you zoom in.
That consciousness exists is not a fact.
Personality is mistaken for consciousness.
Personality is like a market of memes vying with one another in my head.
Memes are viewpoint memories of successful events competing with one another by simple rules,
rules as simple as those governing a flock of starlings in their thousands.
There are clear vector outcomes, as with the flock, sometimes advancing in several directions at once, but not controlled by any one viewpoint.
What some call thinking, I call competition.

Is this conscious?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Evolution of Dreams

How does dreaming evolve?  In what crucible of trial and error is dreaming tested?   Where is the DNA advantage in my children because I dreamed?

This is a good question.  There must be a specific way dreaming affects survival. Dreaming occupies hours out of every day of my life, comes in pulses at 90 minute intervals and is generally forgotten, perhaps designed to be forgotten.  It shows up in other mammals as anyone who has watched a sleeping dog's twitching toes knows. Why is something that is somehow essential, yet is essentially forgotten -- so prevalent?  What survival advantage accrues to dreaming?  Why do some other animals have REM sleep?  In what crucible is their dreaming tested?

Man has always been interested in dreams, wondering what they mean. Perhaps they mean nothing apart from being a form of behaviour.  The activity of dreaming is important and the dreams don't mean much in themselves.  Having recorded a couple thousand of my own dreams, I feel comfortable with that observation.  As Marshall McLuhan said, "The message is the medium".

Added:   The idea that I dreamed, sorted some stuff out, and later on survived because of it .... is not enough.  The actual REM event must reward the animal.

We are unique naturally.

If consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, then why are we so individual?  Because the interface where we come to be is always and everywhere somewhat unique.  Diddlybobs, thingees, blerps and generally chaotic stuff peaks at interfaces.

That's why shorelines are so interesting and so are we.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Socialism kills and impoverishes. Why does it keep popping up?

Learning the average Venezuelan has lost 19 lbs since Chavez and now Maduro took over, has got me thinking.  Why does socialism keep happening with popular support at first and why do we never seem to learn when it fails?  My tentative answer:
Nuclear family, shared DNA
It's baked into our DNA.  What works to manage a genetically-linked family doesn't scale up well to tribe and nation. Nations are the new kid on the block and strategies to prosper them are in their infancy.   The top-down guidance and distribution of resources for the good of the pack works for a reproductive pair and their dependent infants but fails for a nation. It isn't total failure but it fails.

Extended family.

Problems of scale and inter-relatedness
Top-down "for-your-own-good-kiddies" government will always be with us.  The impulse to look after our kids and to tell them what to do extends to a lesser degree to watch our for our kinfolk and even our tribe. It starts falling apart at the scale of the nation state that has multiple genetic backgrounds.    Because a treasure trove of resources is concentrated in centralized government, there will always be predators attracted to feed on the taxes. These rewards help perpetuate a bad governing trend.  People in government cream those goodies, doing well for themselves while believing, at first, they are doing good for others.  That and our tendency to go along with going along perpetuates a destructive governing style.  Until, that is, things fall apart, riots start in the street and millions starve.

Then what?  One approach recognizes we are genetically nearly the same, all one big family that can live in harmony. (The Kumbayah theory)  The other main approach recognizes that we are genetically varied and calls for competition and markets.  The flaw I see in Ottawa and Washington is that the competition is split into parties and only one party is in power at a time.    When you go downtown to buy groceries, you don't expect all grocery stores to be shut except one for the next four years. Let's find a way to encourage more internal markets within parties.

I have one at home: Kindergarten Math

First day on the job as a kindergarten teacher, he asked a little boy what 5 and 5 added to.  The boy froze.   The young teacher rephrased it more concretely to help the lad.  "If I give you five white rabbits and then give you five more black rabbits, how many rabbits will you have?"  The boy paused for a moment and answered, "Eleven".    "How can you come up with an answer like that?"  "I have one at home".

This was related by Paul O'Brien at a folk music evening in Sidney B.C. (Deep Cove Folk) and he heard it from his daughter who had just graduated as a teacher from Queens University and she heard it from the professor who says it was his own story.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Trump's Border Wall: Promise Kept For Free

The wall along the US-Mexican border is already built, stopping three quarters of the migrant invasion.  It's been done for free with a change of attitude from the top.  As we enter peak inbound travel season, the numbers go down instead of up.  See year over year chart.  Policy moved the needle more than money did.

While Congress won't release wall funds that were already kabuki-style voted, let alone add the new ones President Trump asks for, I think the voters are satisfied.  The illegal alien problem has been shrunk four-fold for free.

Canada can move the needle with policy instead of borrowed money, too.  For example, all citizens can be first class, not split into regular citizens and Indian Affairs wards.  All food bought and sold in Canada can come and go at the price consumers will pay at home and abroad instead of what the cheese and milk police and their friends say.  Remember how the world was going to end when the Wheat Board died?  It didn't.   The same goes for lumber:  While we sing the blues about the tariff attack by the US, we have protest dirges when people in China will pay more for our logs than mills in B.C. think the logs are worth.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Intimations of mortality in a chess game

The artist's sisters and mother at chess 450 years ago.
How can that bubbly girl with the impish grin have grown old and mouldered with her days done?

Sofonisba Anguissola, 1555

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Government trust plunged from 75% to 20%

 A PEW poll shocks me.  The question asks if you trust the federal government to do the right thing most of the time.  While Democrats and Republicans have swapped places several times for trustworthiness since I was a kid, the electorate is saying "a pox on both your houses".  The average respect has plummeted from 75% in the late fifties to about 20% now.  A marker of change can hardly be more bleak than this.  Trump will be but the first in a line of populist leaders.

Can this be part of the explanation? There is not a single congress person who writes legislation or laws. The people who hire the lobbyists do.  The number of congressmen divided by the amount invested in lobbying comes out at $5.8 million per lawmaker per year.

O'Rourke asks for a little bit of commonsense: Progress is a step forward.

"We’re told cars are dangerous. It’s safer to drive through South Central Los Angeles than to walk there. We’re told cars are wasteful. Wasteful of what? Oil did a lot of good sitting in the ground for millions of years. We’re told cars should be replaced with mass transportation. But it’s hard to reach the drive-through window at McDonald’s from a speeding train. And we’re told cars cause pollution. A hundred years ago city streets were ankle deep in horse excrement. What kind of pollution do you want? Would you rather die of cancer at eighty or typhoid fever at nine?"P.J. O'Rourke.

Attributed at Ace of Spades

Friedman knew how to create jobs

He was driving along in postwar West Germany in the late 1940s, ... when he spotted a large number of workers shoveling out a building site. Milton asked his German host, “Why don’t you get a tractor and some mechanized equipment for that?”“Ah, but Prof. Friedman, you don’t understand—this provides jobs!Milton .... responded: “Well in that case why don’t you give them spoons.”
Quoted by Stephen Hayward at Powerline.

Sidney has a lucky brick

In Sidney BC there's a lucky brick.  I had to retrace my steps because I didn't believe my eyes the first time.  

The evidence on First Street is here to check:

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Consciousness is an emergent phenomenon of matter.

Consciousness is an emergent property of matter, or more properly, of matter/energy/space/time. The building blocks of life from hydrocarbons and even an amino acid have been detected over and over in space.  The properties of long chain carbons, organic loops, the alcohols and sugars will appear whenever conditions permit their propagation.  The double helix is a possible solution everywhere in the universe. There may be a couple other replicating combinations which will show up in locations with different chemical feedstocks.  Locally we have a lot of oxygen, carbon, water, as well as temperature and light gradients that have proved propitious for the appearances of life on earth.   What's next, I wonder?

This line of thought predicts other non-earth life forms will show up and many of them will have properties that resemble our own. This is because DNA folding machines are likely to pop up elsewhere and trial and error in those environments will result in convergent evolutions.  On earth, eyes are formed from different tissue in houseflies, squid and marmots but because of the information available in focused light, have developed homologous shapes to resolve that data.  The underlying properties of light are driving the solutions.

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel,

Our amazement at how clever we are and our fierce individuality are compatible with being emergent phenomena.  "Individual" means that which is not divided.  If the source is undivided, the result can also be undivided.  Each of us fiercely advancing our cause and that of our near kin is reflecting the "character" of this emergent property.  Peculiar evidence is the name we call our selves to distinguish ourselves from background noise.  In English, it's "Me" and "I".    More than a billion of us use the same I.D.  

I bridge "individuality" to physical "law" with this thought:   Every particle/wave/string/thingy is constantly moving towards a new equilibrium, like the breaking crest on the surf.  They/it are always reacting totally in the now to unique tussles and sparks of action, being bumped, being pushed, being transformed, consuming, being consumed, burning, being burnt.   It's always everywhere about being individual but doesn't rise to the level of dinner conversation until noticed in ourselves.

Getting from DNA folding devices that copy bodies and make new ones..... getting from there to people who self-report having consciousness.... is a step not decoded.   But the next step beyond into A.I. is already being coded.  More activities that people consider human distinctives are being handed on to computing devices that do it better with less effort.

We (that are starting to be left behind but supported comfortably) are spending hours texting, Wall-E where devices seem to be looking after stuff and people are largely plump passive things like larvae in a networked cocoon.)
playing solitaire, watching groups fighting to control balls and pucks, developing skills of small value, because we feel like it.    (A movie illustration is the cartoon

We are even leaving ourselves behind, finding it unnecessary to reproduce, or just making one or two copies, not enough to keep our population numbers up.   We still use naturally produced DNA instead of superior custom-designed product.  We still mostly use wombs for the reproduction workshops because we didn't have superior safe places to get the job done.  This is changing.  This future won't eliminate old ways, just displace the ones that can't hack it.

I've watched a grassland fire, seen the thin line of fire steadily advance across the field, consuming the consumables and moving on.  Today I think we are some of those consumables and tomorrow may be a place where the fire has moved on and left behind most of us and most of the robots too.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Grisly folk art

This grisly folk art is near White Lake in the Okanagan where Dean Gillette's body was found January 2017.

Family members point fingers, quote scripture and grieve while making a memorable and quirky showpiece.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Second Opinion Usually Changes Diagnosis

A Mayo Clinic study of several hundred patients who went for a second medical opinion, shocked me.  Two thirds of the diagnoses were significantly modified and another one fifth were changed completely.  Only 12% of the original diagnoses were confirmed.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined 286 patient records of individuals who had decided to consult a second opinion, hoping to determine whether being referred to a second specialist impacted one’s likelihood of receiving an accurate diagnosis.The study, conducted using records of patients referred to the Mayo Clinic’s General Internal Medicine Division over a two-year period, ultimately found that when consulting a second opinion, the physician only confirmed the original diagnosis 12 percent of the time.
Who goes for a second opinion?  People with mortal diagnoses.  People who have doubts of their own.  People who have already done on-line research with Google.  People who don't trust everyone in a white coat and a degree.   My anecdotal evidence is of a neighbour whose husband was dying. She did some research and got a second opinion after he had been direct to a hospice.  The cancer was re-evaluated as a commonly treatable one in a bad spot and his life was saved.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

News from Outer Space, April 2017

Near Miss.  Most of the potentially climate-changing meteors have been found but a little guy, the size of a car, was discovered just the day before it missed us by a mere 10,000 km this week, flying below our geostationary satellites.  It would have made a nice fireball and a bang but little else.  Don't be too relaxed.  About once a month, spaceweather.com's chart of fireballs shows one that was travelling in a nearly straight line.  This may be space junk from outside our planetary system, not from the Oort belt, not something we will ever be able to predict.

Image published in the Daily Mail
Two young stars,viewed in the constellation Orion, spiralled into each other and "kaboom".  They were only a couple hundred thousand years old and only 1350 light years away.  Remember the dinosaurs?  They've been gone sixty million years.  These were baby stars.   The appallingly beautiful aftermath will be noticeable for another five hundred years. The energy released is equivalent to the total output of our sun for the next ten million years. Interesting pictures at the link.

A new type of cataclysmic event was
spotted a couple weeks ago.  A galaxy 3/4 of the distance to the other end of our universe disappeared in a ball of light that lasted for a few hours and was gone.  The galaxy location flared up 1000 fold and died back to a dot of light.  "No astronomical phenomenon that scientists currently know of can explain the behaviour.".

Then there are some puzzling bursts of radio light lasting milliseconds. Almost two dozen have been observed so far but their source isn't known.  The news is that a local on-earth source has been ruled out.  One has been localized to a single galaxy.

Earth's oxygen is raining down on the moon!  About 90 metric tons of earth's oxygen whisks daily out into the tear-dropped magnetosphere around the earth.  For about five days a month, the moon is positioned downstream of that magnetosphere and shielded from the sun's harsh bombardments. Some of earth's oxygen in the magnetosphere escapes downstream. About 26,000 oxygen ions per second per square centimeter are landing on the moon during that time.  This also explains why some oxygen isotopes were found on lunar samples that would have been appropriate as exhaust material from plant life on earth.  This doesn't add up to a fuel supply for lunar explorers but is still a WOW moment.

Amateur astronomers joined a crowd-sourced project and found four candidates for Planet Nine. Sixty thousand people took part after being given access to the raw data.  They analyzed five million objects to come up with the four candidates. The largest distant objects like Pluto are somewhat clumped which implies some other object much further out and about the size of Uranus and perhaps in a non-standard orbital plane has been interacting with them.  "We have achieved four years of scientific analysis in under three days".
Related, some Australian amateurs found four new exoplanets, after analyzing data made public.

The first serious space tourists are lined up to go.  Elon Musk has sold two SpaceX tickets to go round the moon once in 2018.  Stephen Hawking has accepted a free ticket on Virgin Galactic's ship to the moon, a few years in the future.    Blue Origin is offering rides to the edge of space and back for 2018 for about $200,000.

Ivanka Trump, role model and "Yi Wan Ka goddess" in China

President Trump's right-hand daughter is widely admired in China by upwardly mobile women. The New York Times wrote it up. This is true diplomacy and augurs well for peace between China and America.  Culture is senior to Politics.

Ivanka ("Yi Wan Ka") has a booklet of wise sayings that you have never seen but is read by millions of Chinese women.  It's on line.   See examples below.

What does the NYT say they love about her?
xinhua.net  "elegant"
She's an elegant symbol of power and ambition.
She reflects Confucian values, converting to the Judaism of her husband.
She started her own fashion brand instead of focusing just on her father's real estate business.
She's called a "goddess" on Weibo.

Millions on Weibo watched her daughter sing in Chinese. (The daughter actually speaks  Chinese, learned from her nanny).
"A lot of people think Ivanka is the real president. We think she has the brains, not her father."
They seek to emulate her tenacity and  confidence.
They study her speeches on how to make a sales pitch.
And most shocking of all:
“She represents what we’re looking for—
to marry into a decent family, to look good,
and to also have your own career.”
This is true diplomacy.  We exported rock 'n roll to the world.  This is better.

Some of Ivanka's "Wise Words"


What did Trump and Xi Jinping talk about?

Can there have been any less news coverage of the top meet-up yet between Donald Trump and a foreign leader than there was for the 24 hours Xi and Trump spent at Mar a Lago. Crickets and a hopeful sign.. El Sisi, Abdullah II, Netanyahu, Merkel, May had bigger photo ops,and made joint public statements.  It was crickets, however, for the meeting with the leader of the second-strongest power on earth, leader of the world's most populous nation, leader of America's largest source of imports and leader of the country most able to position itself as a warring enemy or a respected competitor.
On top of that Thursday night, after the steak and before the sorbet,  president Trump told premier Xi that he's bombing a Syrian airfield.  I jumped out of bed Friday morning to hear the joint communique.

No communique.  Instead, intriguing bits of goodwill.  "Lots of very bad problems will be going away" was the extent of American verbosity plus a cute moment of the grand-kids singing in Chinese to the guests.      This reads to me as a peace indicator, not a warlike one.   Keeping things private and personal is the right setting to explore new ground. Everything public would be posturing, locking un-examined positions in place.

And what's with "Yi-Wan-Ka" and the Trump grandchildren singing in Chinese?  Another indicator for co-regency instead of war.   Ivanka is a life model to many Chinese women.

Two days later, a little information emerged.

Forget about world peace

An all-time great bumper sticker:
Forget about world peace.  Visualize using your turn signal.