Friday, 24 February 2017

Human distinctives

Found in male and female forms, humans live in colonies, have concealed ovulation and almost no pheromones  (Think about that), long gestation times, and high survival rates.  They hide their stools.  They walk on hind legs and have a capacity to learn language.  They specialize food jobs by sex (hunting and gathering),  deceive group members about status, practice monogamy but are opportunistic for adultery and polygamy,  prefer meat but eat anything, trade food  (and other stuff) across the species with individuals that have different DNA, have a male form a little larger than the female form, show evidence of neoteny, have females modified to feed their DNA offspring with milk. Males mate frequently with females but females reproduce rarely, bearing one or at most two young in a year, and  generally have both parents invested in the young's survival.    Colonies are hierarchical with status defined for both females and males.  Competition is chiefly with other members of the same species for status, males with males, females with females, as well as males with females competing with each other for mating.  The head organ has grown dramatically in the last five million years, unlike other members of the ape and monkey families, but rather like the bottle-nosed dolphin which outpaced other dolphins and whales.   This may be to win mating competitions with complex displays of fitness.  Recent technical developments are making some of this irrelevant, perhaps making ourselves irrelevant too.

Thanks for much of this to Matt Ridley who wrote  The Red Queen - Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature.  

Monday, 13 February 2017

Justin meets Donald. Two observations and a picture of small hands.

First the small hands.  The photo shows our prime minister's hand buried in the larger hand of the U.S. president.

I was puzzled last night that President Trump tweeted he'd be meeting with our PM and some business women today.
That seems to be exactly what happened except the business women didn't get a high profile news conference.  What is our man doing as part of this joint US/Canada group, standing behind the ladies with his smile? Did Donald Trump think the roundtable discussion was a bigger deal than a meet-and-greet with the Prime Minister of Canada?  Perhaps it was.


  Both Trudeau and Trump called on lesser-known press reps (including The Daily Caller Blog) and got substantial economic questions from them, as Breitbart reports. Mainstream media whined, as The Washington Times reports.  They wanted gotcha questions to embarrass Trump over Flynn, not analysis.
“By handpicking reporters, Trump manages to get through a news conference without being asked about Flynn,” New York Times reporter Peter Baker lamented on Twitter." (See several other quotes at the Washington Times story link.)
Update 8:20pm PST: Breaking news, Flynn has resigned with the finger pointing to credible evidence that he could be blackmailed and with evidence that he lied to presidential staff about talking to Russia about sanctions.  Added:  His letter of resignation posted on line.
Update: CBC has an informative report on the meeting (which I should have read first). It's noteworthy for being reportage, not persifilage.


I've seen the future: You get a real butler, not Siri, Alexa or Google.

Today we're toying with corporatist assistants from Google, Apple and more.  They can influence our vote to support a Trudeau and shun a Trump.   They shape the news we see, guess the ads and maps we will ask for and stand ready to answer whims day or night. Google tells me it's time to leave for the airport because it read the ticket in my inbox, offers a map of YVR while I'm there and comes up with a review page of the restaurant I'm sitting in.   Our characters are so varied that ultimately only a custom product will serve.  This means default "OK Google" and "Siri" software will be displaced by hundreds of competing and customizable apps that will be like a friend and like a servant.

Authors Ezrachi and Stucke write:
 "As the digital butler seamlessly provides more of what interests us and less of what doesn’t, we will grow to like and trust it. Communicating in our preferred language, our assistant will develop the ability to anticipate and fulfill our needs and requests. They can do so, based on our connections, data profile, behavior, and so forth.     The digital assistants have the potential to usurp the current super-platforms, namely Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Not surprisingly, each of these companies is now seeking to become our digital personal assistant. The winner will become our primary interface."
I disagree with the last sentence.  The big players will have an influence, just as Windows can be found in many computers without controlling what you do on them.  Competition demanded by the millions of nearly unique users means big players will be swamped by startups.  Compare how a few network broadcasters and newspapers owned the news twenty years ago and now dozens of medium sized sources and thousands of smaller ones are being watched and read every day.

I look forward to my first fully customizable butler, available online and off-line, a butler with a sense of humour that amuses me, a butler who can take a hint, that will go look for stuff I need or am curious about, a butler who asks unobtrusively if I want to send a thank you note to Aunt Tottie for the slippers.

Neil Stephenson wrote about a future where you buy a suitcase and say"Follow me" to it.  The rest is looked after.   We'll be shopping for personal assistants too and saying, "Follow me!".

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Iraqis who'd kill you on the street if you walked alone are angry that Trump's EO will vet them.

A security contractor in Iraq asked his co-workers what would happen if he went out on the town by himself.  They said local people would torture and kill him within the hour. The ex-marine asks, then why would we want you in our country?   Three and a half minutes, 44 million views already on YouTube, h/t Fox News.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Art illustrating politics: A semblance of truth and a passel of lies can co-exist.

The portrait of a young girl, highlighted at Ace of Spaces illustrates this well. The artist, Sully, wrote: From long experience I know that resemblance in a portrait is essential; but no fault will be found with the artist, at least by the sitter, if he improve the appearance."   The face is a good likeness and the legs are stretched beyond belief.  We now call this "photoshopping" in images and "spin" in politics.
lady with harp.jpg

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Winning: Support for Islamic terrorism in Pakistan suddenly muted in late January

The threat of adding Pakistan to the list of temporary travel bans is making our world a safer place and doing it cheaply.  "What made this threat so convincing is that the newly (since January 20th) installed U.S. government started keeping campaign promises".  (Strategy Page).   No bullets were fired or marines deployed.
"Surprisingly the vocal popular support for Islamic terrorism in Pakistan was suddenly muted in late January as the military made some unexpected concessions regarding its support for terrorism and the government was able to go after a major Islamic charity that was long known (by literally everyone) as a front for Islamic terrorist fund raising. What caused this sudden change was the unexpected American threat to declare Pakistan a supporter of Islamic terrorism and restrict the movement of Pakistanis to and from the United States.What made this threat so convincing is that the newly (since January 20th) installed U.S. government started keeping campaign promises and banned seven nations (Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen) that have long been the source of most Islamic terrorism. Many in South Asia believe Pakistan should be on the list. Afghanistan and India have long called for such action against Pakistan but Pakistanis thought the Americans would never do it. The leaders of Pakistan’s Islamic parties, who normally call for violent demonstrations against any effort to shut down Islamic terrorists who only attack outside Pakistan were quiet. That was because many of their key supporters may be enthusiastic about Islamic terrorism, they are more concerned about family in the West, especially the United States, or seeking to go there. ... The fear may not last, but it’s a refreshing change of attitude for people in the region, including most Pakistanis."

And this: "January 29, 2017: In Pakistan, three days after pro-Islamic terrorist host Amir Liaqat was banned from appearing on TV, four of five online critics of the military who had mysteriously disappeared three weeks earlier reappeared and two of them promptly left the country."

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Voter fraud? The exception proves the rule

You've heard the line about progressive politicians: "If they didn't have double standards, they'd have no standards at all".  (Maybe this applies to all successful politicians.)

Dissent was the highest form of patriotism, and then it wasn't and now it is again.  A supermajority was needed to pass important bills until Obamacare when a majority of 1 was enough. Now a supermajority is back for Democrats.       Filibuster was good until the Democrats got the upper hand, when it became bad.  Now it's good again.   The electoral college was good until it didn't favour Democrats and then it was bad.  Fearing Russia's power was foolish '80s policy but the danger of Russia is now obvious to every Democrat in Christendom.   Texas secession was for crazed rednecks but now it's favoured by one third of enlightened Californians.

The one standard that never changes when Democrats are in power or out of power is the claim there's no problem with vote integrity.  That tells me that leaving an unexamined and undisciplined voter policy in place is a bedrock value.   Voter integrity doesn't affect their sojourn in Washington but it must play a big role at the margins for getting Democrats there in the first place.

Some painful background on the voting swamp: Read the excerpt from Fitton of Justice Watch's book.
You get a pdf download of a chapter that is worth reading.

Dressing up as assholes: Vagina costumes

Enough said.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The First Hundred Hours

No need to debate "The First Hundred Days" of President Trump.  The first hundred hours is enough Winning.   Never in my life have I seen more consequential leadership. Even press conferences are entertaining and move the needle. A sip of this cordial will be nice in Ottawa too.



Monday, 23 January 2017

The Trump Restauration (and Ezra's comment)

"Restoring something to its proper or original condition, renewal of something which has been lost." Domestically:  This morning, business leaders and union leaders were equally enthusiastic about President Trump's support.  (See quotes below). In the Middle East:   Israel is enthusiastic about Trump's direction and some Arabs like the Iran angle.  (See quotes below).  
Enemies finding common cause? Better than dogs sleeping with cats.

Quotes from the business leaders:
Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical: "He is going to make us more competitive"
Mark Fields of Ford Motor Company:  "The president is very, very serious about making sure that the United States economy is going to be strong.  And have policy, tax, regulatory or trade, to drive that. And I think that encourages all of us."

Quotes from the union leaders:
Wayne Ranick of United Steelworkers said on behalf of the group: "When the President laid out his plans about how he is going to handle trade, how he is going to invest on infrastructure, and how he is going to level the playing field for construction workers and all Americans across this country...and then took the time to take every one of us into the Oval Office and show them the seat of power in the world...the respect he just showed for us ... and when he shows it to us he shows to three million of our members in the United States .. was nothing short of incredible, and we will work with him and his administration."
And two more union quotes from the last couple days:
James Hoffa of Teamsters:  "Today, President Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. With this decision, the president has taken the first step toward fixing 30 years of bad trade policies that have cost working Americans millions of good-paying jobs."
Rich Trumka of AFL-CIO said TPP withdrawal is "a good first step toward building trade policies that benefit all workers.".

Quotes from Israeli leaders:
Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat: "I applaud President Trump on his historic announcement that the White House has begun discussions regarding moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  President Trump has proven that he is a true friend of the State of Israel and a leader who keeps his promises."
Tzipi Hotovely, Israeli deputy minister of foreign affairs:  "I think that all the declarations of the Trump administration were showing a deep friendship to Israel.  They understand the complexity of the situation in the Middle East."
Prime Minister, Netanyahu: "After eight years in which I withstood enormous pressure on various issues, primarily Iran and the settlements, I certainly welcome the change of approach, President Trump believes that peace will only be achieved through direct negotiations. Does that sound familiar?” said Netanyahu. “He spoke to me at length about the threat from Iran. He also believes the nuclear deal with Iran is a bad deal. That certainly must ring a bell. We are facing great and significant opportunities for the security and future of the State of Israel."

Quotes from the Arab world:
The first foreign government to congratulate Trump November 9th:   'Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi congratulated Donald Trump on Wednesday on his victory in the U.S. presidential election and said he hoped his election would unleash a new era of closer ties with Washington. The Egyptian Arab Republic is looking forward to the period of Donald Trump's presidency to imbue new spirit into the path of Egyptian-American ties with more cooperation and coordination in the interests of both the Egyptian and American people," he said in a statement.'
From a Maclean interview in Dubai: 'Gulf Arab states are quietly applauding the arrival in the White House of a hawkish leader opposed to their adversary Iran, even if they suspect Donald Trump's short temper and abrasive Tweets may at times heighten tensions.'
Also quoted, Abdulrahman al-Rashed, a veteran Saudi commentator:  "Trump does not look like the kind of guy who will bend towards Iran or anyone else. .. If he behaves as he says, then we will see another Ronald Reagan, someone all the forces in the region will take seriously. That's what we have missed in the past eight years, unfortunately."  "We hope Trump can correct (Obama's) policy, and while we are not sure of that yet, his choices to run the administration all sound experienced."
A Gulf Arab businessman:  "I think he is going to be very, very tough on Iran. He will be decisive", noting he expected the deal-maker Trump would demand something in return.

A rince-bouche to finish the tale, this one a tweet from Ezra Levant:
"While the Media Party was obsessing over tweets and crowd size, Donald Trump just took over the blue collar wing of the Democratic party."

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Holding the election is more important than winning it. Kudos to Stephen Harper for Bill C36 (2007)

A fair open challenge by popular vote at regular intervals is far more important than which party wins.  The body politic is forced to renew itself or displace its rulers bloodlessly.  This is done by institutionalizing the violence that otherwise would develop.    Calls in the U.S. to have a third term for Barack Obama or to overturn the results of the 2016 vote invite the death of democracy.

Has it not always been so?  The latest iteration is Turkey's Erdogan:  "Democracy is like a train. You get off once you have reached your destination".    In Canada, we don't have a president-for-life as Kazakhstan seems to have, but we used to game the system with election dates.  The prime minister could juggle to get a three to five year term, watching the polls and choosing the best moment in two years to strike and recapture the spoils of power.  The party in power always had its thumb on the scale.

Stephen Harper brought in Bill C-36 in 2007.  Wikipedia summarizes:
 "It requires that each general election take place on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year after the previous poll, starting with October 19, 2009. During the legislative process, the Liberal-dominated Senate added an amendment listing conditions under which an election date could be modified, in order to avoid clashes with religious holidays, municipal elections, and referenda, but the House of Commons, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives, rejected the amendment and the Senate did not pursue it."
Kudos to Stephen Harper.
 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Toronto Zoo and Orangutan Earwax - Too good to skip

From a US health and medicine website comes this gem in Statnews on the dangers of poking at earwax:
"Ear canal cleaning is a hard habit to kick. It may be as innate as tool use itself. (Dr. Vito) Forte was once called to the Toronto Zoo to treat an orangutan that seemed to be having ear trouble — and found out that the ape was known to pick up secondhand wads of chewing gum, check them for stickiness, and then use them to extract whatever might have been buried in its ears."
Picture source 

The article also cites a survey of a teaching hospital that found over 90% of the health professionals there admitted sticking objects into their ears to get at wax.

First ever Super Nova Prediction 2022 - Show the kids.

An eclipsing pair of binary stars are going to spiral into each other in 2022, give or take a few months and for half a year will probably become the brightest star in the sky.  This is amazing!    Their light pulses every 11 hours as they block each other from earth view.  This viciously fast orbit has been picking up speed lately and some orbital math shows they have about six earth years left until they spiral into each other and self-obliterate.  The red nova will appear in Cygnus, The Swan.   Watch for the  end-of-life explosion of KIC 9832227, some 1800 light years away.

Reported at National Geographic and The Daily Mail.

There was an earlier prediction of a supernova appearing in 2016 but of a very different character.
Light from that one had arrived here by several pathways, some via a gravitational lens.  After seeing the supernova once, scientists were able to predict additional images would appear soon. The KIC 9832227 story will allow us to observe the violence as it happens and is predicted from first principles.

The Inman Aligner: Orthodontics Fast And Cheap

This Orthodontic front-tooth aligner looks promising.
Eight to twelve weeks is probably enough time.
Cost looks like $2000-$4000.
You can take the Aligner out yourself part of every day which makes it easy to clean your teeth.
It's less obvious than the traditional braces and you can leave it at home for a few hours a day.
If just works on the front teeth but they're the one's everybody sees.
It has a middle push section and two sides that anchor the spring-loaded connections.
It doesn't need to be re-calibrated because the springs can travel all the way from the starting point to the place you want the teeth to end up.
You can get a hidden retainer spring wire bonded into place behind the straightened teeth so they stay put.
You still need an initial mold and the orthodontist will keep an eye on progress every few weeks.

Where I read about it:  The Daily Mail
The Inman Aligner home page.
Change in the making: The Inman Aligner pushes and pulls the teeth into place for a fast result

The Hoity Toity don't get to live my life for me. "Trump Voter"

"Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken" is good advice.  And the Hoity-Toity don't get to live my life for me.  Not even when they are brainier than me, better educated than me, more globalized than me, more gender-neutral than me and more woke than me.  Ace from Ace of Spades explains it:

"Suppose you want an architect to draw up plans for a house. You want a dining room because you never had one as a kid, and always associated it -- from old magazine pictures, from old movies, whatever -- with a stable and happy home.
Suppose your architect comes back with no dining room -- just one big great room combining living room, kitchen, and dining area.
"Where's the dining room I asked for?" you want to know.
"No one has dining rooms any more," the expert tells you. "It's all Open Concept now, one room sweeping into the other, bringing together the family in one big room at all times."
"That may well be, but I want a dining room."
"Walls are passe," the experts smugly tells you. "They interrupt the sight-lines."
"I don't care about sight-lines. And honestly, I love my kids, but I'm not so crazy about them so much I want to be locked in a giant room with them 24/7. I want walls and I want a dining room," you say again.
"No one eats in a dining room and anyway dining rooms are too formal."
"I'd like to be formal on occasion."
"Well," the architect tells you, "I've decided that dining rooms are in bad taste and I'm the expert and you can't have one. You're getting Open Concept whether you like it or not, Trump Voter."

Bicycle helmet for a four year old on a trike in a parking lot.
Four recycle bins but no garbage.
Spank a kid and be a criminal.
Thinking "He" and "She" for the men and women you meet every day means you're a gender thug.
Take off your shoes and be treated like a criminal to board a plane.
Buy plastic bags because the grocery store wants you to use dirty fabric bags instead.
Hire a HazMat subcontractor before installing a new plug in older drywall in BC.
( "Exposure control plan for cutting small amounts..." )
I don't want my betters telling me what to do, a one-size-fits-all policy swamping common sense.

California likely to become "A cross between Tijuana and Hawaii, a land for the aging rich and their servants"

Joel Kotkin crystallizes California with this unforgettable observation.  Follow the link.