Jul 21

The thought itself

It seems to me that the primary reason philosophy is demeaned and opposed is not its instruction in or elucidation of any particular doctrine, but rather it is an attempt to remove the possibility from consideration that any set of ideas and practices is and always will be based on a particular but now-concealed philosophical underpinning.

This nullification of philosophy is itself of course a philosophy.

Jul 20

What it looks like

Here’s how it looks when you don’t do your homework.

And then do some spreadsheet fuckery.

Damn, this lack of depth of analysis pisses me off. This stuff is not hard. Also, looking for rightward shifts or the refutation thereof just based on spending alone, and in a relatively-small part of the federal budget, is just lazy.

I don’t have the energy to write a whole screed here, but there’s this:

The answer lies in the fact that the major effect of Welfare reform was a substantial increased in administration costs, commonly known as bureaucracy, and wasteful spending. In fact the total amount of administration costs increased by 300%. [2,3]. After doing the math I found that we could double the number of people on welfare without adding a cent to the total cost of welfare, if we simply repealed “The Personal responsibility and work Opportunity act (welfare reform)”. The savings would come in the reduction in wasteful spending.

(I removed emphasis.)

So much wrong with the post and the thoughts therein.

Lately, I’ve regretted reading so much. I hate writing that makes me dumber.

Jul 19


Another teaser.

My car is quite rare, as mainstream production cars go. Less than 13,000 were ever produced, and less than 300 in my color. 2017 was the last production year, and the last one rolled off the line months ago.

With the specific options that I have, there are probably less than 100 cars in the world just like mine.

As noted, they will never be made again, and neither will cars of its type, so for not spending all that much compared to say, a Maserati, I have a car that very few other people have or can lay hands on. Makes it easy to spot in a parking lot.

Right now, there’s less than a dozen for sale in my color remaining in the whole country, and after those are sold, that’s it. No more, ever.

Jul 19

Regal, but not a Buick

By the way, the color of my new car has a fairly stupid name, as carmakers’ colors often do. It’s “Regal Peacock Green Metallic.”

Nice color; dumb name.

And from that chromonym alone, you can figure out what kind of car I bought if you have the moxie.

If not, I will tell you later.

Jul 19


Every time I visit the many state parks around the country that still rely on infrastructure built back in the 1930s by the CCC and the WPA, it makes me a bit sad.

And when I drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world, I marvel that something like this was ever built because nothing remotely like it would be even attempted today.

Amazing what our forebears with fewer resources and with worse technology were able to achieve that we now are utterly incapable of contemplating, much less constructing from nothing.

Our culture tells us we can’t do things that are in fact easily possible (such as single payer), and we just believe it, no questions asked.

Jul 18

N to the O

Ask the grumpies: Why is healthcare getting more expensive in the US?

Two things are the primary drivers of healthcare cost increases in the US: 1. more expensive technology and 2. as people become richer, they demand more/better healthcare.


Let me say that again:


Those reasons are absolutely not why health care is getting more expensive. They contribute very little to increased costs. The two causes they state are not even in the top eight or ten reasons. Perhaps not even in the top 20.

At least one of the people who writes on that blog (perhaps both) is an economist, too. Not shocking, I guess, to be totally, idiotically incorrect for someone in that field.

Health care is getting more expensive primarily due to insurance. Insurance itself is inflationary, and it’s the prime driver of health care costs. For a similar reason — that is, student loans — secondary education is also increasing drastically in price.

Some other factors are health care corporate consolidation, lax regulation, bureaucratic costs related to insurance, patents, crowding out by the affluent, doctor training being too expensive/intensive, thus causing a lack of supply, and a few other factors.

But it has very little to do with those stated reasons, at least not directly.

I need to stop reading that blog. It’s bad for my mind, or any mind, because it’s usually full of bullshit.

Jul 18

Off world

I got a new car. More on that later. But it’s one of the ones with a relatively-large screen in the front.

As I was driving along today, a song played. This car grabs the album covers associated with each song from a database automatically. More than a few albums I listen to have naked people on the front, as this one did. Specifically, it was Sky Ferreira’s album Night Time, My Time which if you scroll down the cover in full can be seen here.

I don’t really want to disable the feature as I like it, but I realized that now I have to be extremely, extremely careful with this when any female co-workers ride in my car, which happens somewhat often when a group of us goes to lunch. Or any co-workers period, but I’m far less likely to be seen as harassing a male, or be reported for such.

My best bet is to make sure the infotainment system (damn, I despise that word) is off completely before anyone I don’t know really well gets in the car.

I hate having to worry about things like this, but we live in a culture of offense-taking. The off chance that I guess wrong about when to turn the stereo off could destroy my life.

Strange world.

Jul 18


All of this concentration on Russia and pissants like Donald Trump Jr. is going to look awfully stupid when the Democrats have no strategy and no chance of winning in 2018 and 2020.

But of course, that is the goal. Keeping the current Democrat power structure right where it’s at is the point, not some side effect.

The Russia and Trump tweet stories are a brilliant distraction from and preventer of leftist reformation of the party.

That is the real story, and the real tragedy.

Jul 18

It’s the software

It’s the software that’s holding us back in the AI realm, not hardware.

Kevin Drum does say things that are incredibly smart at times as long as he stays away from economics, the stock market, or related. It’s why I keep reading his site. Or at least skimming it.

If anything, software has more potential for exponential growth right now than hardware, and lots of people are working on this.

For probably 20-30 years, lack of software has been the main hindrance of AI, not hardware. We’ve had good enough hardware for near-human-level AI for a while now, but not the first clue how to produce software to run on it.

Also true:

As for the argument about sociability, I find this even more baffling. It seems to spring from a desire to believe that there just has to be something unique about human beings. I don’t really see why. The human brain is, in a sense, an existence proof that it’s possible to construct a human brain. But if it’s possible at all, why shouldn’t it be possible to construct one using solid state electronics rather than organic chemistry? And if it’s possible to build one using solid state electronics, why shouldn’t it be able to learn sociability just like human children do?

By the way, all the hoopla you’ve heard about processor speed improvements and Moore’s law? While not unimportant, algorithmic optimization has absolutely trounced any hardware-based gains. It’s not even remotely close.

The algorithms that we use today for speech recognition, for natural language translation, for chess playing, for logistics planning, have evolved remarkably in the past decade. It’s difficult to quantify the improvement, though, because it is as much in the realm of quality as of execution time.

In the field of numerical algorithms, however, the improvement can be quantified. Here is just one example, provided by Professor Martin Grötschel of Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum fur Informationstechnik Berlin. Grötschel, an expert in optimization, observes that a benchmark production planning model solved using linear programming would have taken 82 years to solve in 1988,using the computers and the linear programming algorithms of the day. Fifteen years later – in 2003 – this same model could be solved in roughly 1 minute, an improvement by a factor of roughly 43 million. Of this, a factor of roughly 1,000 was due to increased processor speed, whereas a factor of roughly 43,000 was due to improvements in algorithms! Grötschel also cites an algorithmic improvement of roughly 30,000 for mixed integer programming between 1991 and 2008.

Also unknown to most, we are still making such algorithmic improvements today.

This will not get us to AI but it is part of the path.

The world will change more than most people realize in the next 50 years. Perhaps not for the better, but it will certainly not be the steady state that is now imagined — not in the realm of AI, nor in climate change, nor in biotech.

Jul 17

Chaiting a bit

There is no greater proof of an ideology’s reach and efficacy than the fact that those who espouse it, promote it, and benefit from it completely deny that it exists.

Or as Alex Press observes:

Neoliberalism has been the defining political and economic philosophy since the mid-80s, achieving total dominance after the fall of the Berlin Wall — and the Democrats have been fully infected by it. Chait wishes we did not notice that, and it bothers him that people do.