Saturday, 6 January 2018

Playful means Clever. Dog likes to go sleighing up hill and down hill on his own

You know you'll want to show this video clip to someone else.

In the same spirit and the same season, this Russian crow gets the same results with a jar lid.
Carry it back up the roof and do it again.

Which brings me to a book recommendation:  Octopus
These mischievous, big-eyed, distributed-brain creatures are from the mollusc family with snails and clams and what not.  They separated 600 million years ago from the stream that led to crabs, spiders and bugs  and from the stream that led to fish, canaries (via dinosaurs), puppy dogs and humans.

Along with squid and cuttlefish, they are the only members of their family tree with what we call brains, some 200 million neurons distributed down the arms and to the steadfast eyes.  Meet your first aliens.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Six seconds to live: General Kelly

The NYT is shocked to learn that General Kelly is a patriot.  You can figure from this they knew the Obama people were not.
Quoted at the link:
"For all of the talk of Mr. Kelly as a moderating force and the so-called grown-up in the room, it turns out that he harbors strong feelings on patriotism, national security, and immigration that mirror the hard-line views of his outspoken boss," Baker warns.

I was moved moved to read this selection from a patriotic speech by General Kelly:

"It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated. You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives.I suppose it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. No time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. 
By this time, the truck was halfway through the barriers and gaining speed. Here the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were, some running right past the Marines, who had three seconds left to live.For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines firing their weapons nonstop. The truck’s windshield explodes into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tear into the body of the son of a bitch trying to get past them to kill their brothers – American and Iraqi – bedded down in the barracks, totally unaware that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground.Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder-width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could. They had only one second left to live, and I think they knew.The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty. Those are the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight for you, and as amazing as this selfless act of sacrifice may seem, it is the norm. In all the years I have been both enlisted and an officer of Marines, I have praised them and have chewed them out. I have promoted them and unceremoniously disciplined them. I have hung decorations on them and court-martialed them. I have visited them mangled and broken in military hospitals around the country, in lonely defensive positions across Iraq, and in brigs. I have known thousands of them over nearly 40 years, and I can tell you without hesitation or qualification that I never met one who would have run from his post that morning."

Thursday, 19 October 2017

C02 Climate Science Not "Settled" But Settling Fast. A Dozen Tweaked Models Now Show Doubled C02 Response Is Smaller, Or Trivial.

The left side of the chart is Chicken Little territory. The data points added to the right of the shaded trend-lines are thought provoking.  Tweaked models and sober second thoughts are more credible.  This was originally published with data to 2013.  The update dramatically extends the pattern to 2017 although the sources vary.   h/t  smalldeadanimals

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Digital Swamp Has Overtaken The State. Welcome to The New Village. You May Be A Target.

We have rules to govern the state: Elections, rules of order, recorded votes, pages of policy minutiae, backed by threats of force, but now the digital swamp is bigger than the state and it's unruly and snoopy.  You may have more to fear from "unfriending" and blocked twitter accounts than from the state. 

In village and tribal settings, we bump into all our neighbours every week. We are often blood relatives  and take great interest in their sexual unions, their work and kids, their status, beliefs and deeds.  We like to reinforce beliefs and behaviour by shaming, story-telling, kinship rules, force of habit and brute force. 

For groups much above 100, policy trumps relationships to maintain order.  Impersonal structures develop to safely form beneficial groups of towns, cities, states, parties, armies, guilds,clubs, and NGO's.  This includes double-entry bookkeeping, secret ballots, money, reading skills, concepts of "citizen, constitution, corporation", and the rule of written law.

But now we’re back in a village, a global village, thanks to the speed of light. It just got personal again.   Social media, twittering and texting, internet and email have shrunk the world electronically.  Linked-in people may be thousands of miles apart, but the digital time to connect  is less than a second and the cost is less than a penny.   Connect means “reach out" and “like”.  It also means, “Target” and "Hack."

What’s next?  Thousands of people who care little about me are now my neighbours in time and effort but not in place.  They vote me up and down at will when I appear in the digital swamp. Most of the news and fake-news is about this phenomenon.  Trump is attacked for culture, not for policy.   The news media are players. The parties are players.  So are bakeries. So are restaurants, billionaires, and corporate giants.  So is the state.   This is the wild wild west and if you’re lucky, you’ll just be un-friended for speaking your mind.  Your safety, your job security, your wealth and your reputation are visible in the digital swamp and you may lose them.

Yeats wrote, “What rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem?”  For a few hundred years, the state helped keep order but the digital swamp is now bigger than the state.  The rules are unwritten.  What is next?  

New forms of government, cultural government are in the wings.  I want them to stay clear of my liberty to do what's best for my and my family.  Yet I want safety, fairness and community strength.      "It could be heaven.  It could be hell".

Monday, 7 August 2017

Democrats retreat to cities. Are Canada's politics different?

In the quarter century since Bill Clinton's anomalous mandate, Democrats have retreated to the cities. See counties won out of a possible 3112:

1992     Bill Clinton      1494
1996     Bill Clinton      1693
2000     Al Gore             642
2006     John Kerry        567
2008     Barack Obama  833
2012     Barack Obama  649
2016     Hillary Clinton  454 (A second source says 489)

The stunning graphic bears study.  Columns are counties.  Column height is population. Column colour is the percent advantage for the party.  Los Angeles county has 10 million citizens favouring Hillary by 25 to 50 % over Donald.  One link is 3D interactive.

What I see in Canada is the same cities/globalist trend-line but zones in Quebec and the Maritimes have their own populist back histories.  We are not immune but have some breathing room to watch the political lab to the south as it goes toxic.  This is a natural phenomenon, arising from the behaviour of complex groups, and it won't be going away any time soon. What is next?

Thank God Ottawa is more diverse than Washington

Click to enlarge (source)
If you live in Washington D.C., you probably don't know a single person who voted Republican. DC is a government town and 23 out of 25 voters went for HILLARY.  All of America's big cities tell the same story, but 9 in 10 is more typical.
 See the evidence.

In Canada this is a trend rather than a great divide.
Source at 308
In fact, if you look at this chart, it's hard to find a clear pattern.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Community of Agency explains the term "Individual".

Calling people individuals is like believing the sun and planets rotate about earth. There's no there there when you try to find out who you really are.  There are communities embedded in each other that we call "me".  The thirty trillion cells in your body are subordinate to one another yet can live and multiply on their own in a lab. They want to be fed, maintained, reproduce and have a say in who we are. The utilities are supplied by homo sapiens, moving oxygen in, C02 out,  proteins and sugars in,  fecal matter out, as well as corporate defence from T-cells and physical motion.  Sapiens uses the surplus to be an interesting animal.  Our big two-footed corpus wants new copies made, the more the merrier and that means baked in programs for males and females to have babies, baked in hard enough to prevent the personality's operating system to forget about the having-babies part.  A couple trillion bacteria make their home in our gut and groin and nose.  There may be a thousand species of them, some four of five pounds of them,  adventitious, sometimes inherited, and engaged in a free-for-all to live and reproduce, sometimes our friend, sometimes our enemy, digesting food, influencing our brain, hurting and healing us.  The mitochondria energy-packs in each cell, inherited solely from the mom, appear to be an earlier version of ourselves, a simpler sort of cell that negotiated getting swallowed up by the larger cells, in exchange for favours. Home sweet home means something for viruses too and a few of those trillions are embedded in our inherited DNA.

There's also our alternate life form, eggs and sperm.  The male Sapiens makes independently alive master copies of himself every day, more than twenty million short-lived sperms that wiggle on their own. He can ask, "Is that me?"   They won't answer but it's still a good question. A couple admiring their newborn are busy saying "that's you" and "that's my Aunt Sophie" and so on.

Influences Coexist

Out of the surplus comes the glorious me, myself and I.  I fancy to be the owner of it all but it's not clear that I even steer the glorious human thing-a-ma-jig.  But I am up front, and am the best explanation for much culture, most science and enterprise.  That's not exactly a soul, a spirit, an animus, an ego, an id, a personality, a psyche, but it's something and fun.

Not exactly a "soul".  Not even remotely so.  The memes of memory and action in my brain are like starlings in a stupendous flock.  They look like a single living thing but are sorting out what to do next, one tiny bird-brain at a time, using the same sorting rules.   The outcome is a wonderful, purposeful somebody, a.k.a. me.  

Who's that other guy in the operating system, the one that dreams dreams? Our dream life has a 90 minute wave length and feels like "mine" but has its own rules.  We have male and female people. We also have two kinds of me in the "RAM" zone of our brain, one that dreams, one that does. They are not even compatible which means the second daily erases the first to get along in society with other Sapiens "communities of agency".

Community of agency explains why males have done a sex assessment of breasts and fitness of every female they meet within 3 seconds while also "being themselves", treating men and women like themselves in culture, work and play.  Somehow men and women treat each other both as selves and as mates in a blended way.  The agencies differs but the behaviour blends.

Existential joke for philosophers:
"Psychic hotline?"
"I just have two questions.  Who am I and what is my basic problem?"

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.