Friday, July 31, 2009

The Palindrome of Bolton Would Be Notlob.

John Bolton recently got on the Daily show to support his argument that Israel should attack Iran. He now works for the American Enterprise Institute, aka Crazy Right-Wing Fucknuts, and wrote this article in support of his view.

I can't even believe he got up and said this. Regime change??? Aren't we over that crap? Iran hates us today because of or previous attempts at regime change. And I'm sure ass-faces like him were arguing the same things he's arguing now back then. He's wrong. Totally wrong.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Every time the US starts fucking around with politics of another country, it leads to bad things. EVERY TIME. The last time it worked was friggin' Teddy Roosevelt and Panama. And that's because Teddy didn't couch his arguments in obfuscation and euphemism. He said American has a right to take what it wants, and he fucking did it.

Something tells me that politics like that wouldn't work today. What's that called, unilateral action, or something like that. Yes, something tells me that that would not work. I don't know what.

All you need to do to realize how wrong he is, is read this article from Smithsonian magazine.

Bolton is from the right, which means he likes to use the argument that liberals are pie-in-the-sky dreamers, who live in their academic towers far from reality. Any man who's running around arguing about the US invading other countries, instigating fights among other countries, and otherwise being a war-monger doesn't have a fucking clue. Not one clue.

He says that once Iran has nuclear weapons, everything changes. Why?! Why does everything change? Why does he assume everyone is an enemy? Iran can never use the weapons. So how does it change how we treat Iran in even the slightest?

He's not fighting. He doesn't understand these people. He doesn't know what Iran is. Hell, he barely has a grasp of basic psychology that any first-year college student would know. He doesn't know life outside of supermarkets and air conditioned cars. I'm not saying I do. I've lived a posh life just like most other Americans.

Getting self-righteous and talking like you know better than other people, and then sitting safe, fat, and happy as other people do your dirty work makes you worse than scum.

Bolton, go fuck yourself.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Post Racial America

I have written about how I see sexism as far more prevalent and damaging than racism. That is NOT to say that racism doesn't exist, I just think a lot of it stems from pop-black culture and a glorification of the thug/gang mentality. Truly, blacks would stop being looked at as criminals, if they stopped acting like them. Still, it's so disheartening to hear things like this.

By JESSE WASHINGTON, AP National Writer Jesse Washington, Ap National Writer – 42 mins ago

It took less than a day for the arrest of Henry Louis Gates to become racial lore. When one of America's most prominent black intellectuals winds up in handcuffs, it's not just another episode of profiling — it's a signpost on the nation's bumpy road to equality.

The news was parsed and Tweeted, rued and debated. This was, after all Henry "Skip" Gates: Summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale. MacArthur "genius grant" recipient. Acclaimed historian, Harvard professor and PBS documentarian. One of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans" in 1997. Holder of 50 honorary degrees.

If this man can be taken away by police officers from the porch of his own home, what does it say about the treatment that average blacks can expect in 2009?

Earl Graves Jr., CEO of the company that publishes Black Enterprise magazine, was once stopped by police during his train commute to work, dressed in a suit and tie.

"My case took place back in 1995, and here we are 14 years later dealing with the same madness," he said Tuesday. "Barack Obama being the president has meant absolutely nothing to white law enforcement officers. Zero. So I have zero confidence that (Gates' case) will lead to any change whatsoever."

The 58-year-old professor had returned from a trip to China last Thursday afternoon and found the front door of his Cambridge, Mass., home stuck shut. Gates entered the back door, forced open the front door with help from a car service driver, and was on the phone with the Harvard leasing company when a white police sergeant arrived.

Gates and the sergeant gave differing accounts of what happened next. But for many people, that doesn't matter.

They don't care that Gates was charged not with breaking and entering, but with disorderly conduct after repeatedly demanding the sergeant's name and badge number. It doesn't matter whether Gates was yelling, or accused Sgt. James Crowley of being racist, or that all charges were dropped Tuesday.

All they see is pure, naked racial profiling.

"Under any account ... all of it is totally uncalled for," said Graves.

"It never would have happened — imagine a white professor, a distinguished white professor at Harvard, walking around with a cane, going into his own house, being harassed or stopped by the police. It would never happen."

Racial profiling became a national issue in the 1990s, when highway police on major drug delivery routes were accused of stopping drivers simply for being black. Lawsuits were filed, studies were commissioned, data was analyzed. "It is wrong, and we will end it in America," President George W. Bush said in 2001.

Yet for every study that concluded police disproportionately stop, search and arrest minorities, another expert came to a different conclusion. "That's always going to be the case," Greg Ridgeway, who has a Ph.D in statistics and studies racial profiling for the RAND research group, said on Monday. "You're never going to be able to (statistically) prove racial profiling. ... There's always a plausible explanation."

Federal legislation to ban racial profiling has languished since being introduced in 2007 by a dozen Democratic senators, including then-Sen. Barack Obama.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., said that was partly because "when you look at statistics, and you're trying to prove the extent, the information comes back that there's not nearly as much (profiling) as we continue to experience."

But Davis has no doubt that profiling is real: He says he was stopped while driving in Chicago in 2007 for no reason other than the fact he is black. Police gave him a ticket for swerving over the center line; a judge said the ticket didn't make sense and dismissed it.

"Trying to reach this balance of equity, equal treatment, equal protection under the law, equal understanding, equal opportunity, is something that we will always be confronted with. We may as well be prepared for it," he said.

Amid the indignation over Gates' case, a few people pointed out that he may have violated the cardinal rule of avoiding arrest: Do not antagonize the cops.

The police report said that Gates yelled at the officer, refused to calm down and behaved in a "tumultuous" manner. Gates said he simply asked for the officer's identification, followed him into his porch when the information was not forthcoming, and was arrested for no reason. But something about being asked to prove that you live in your own home clearly struck a nerve — both for Gates and his defenders.

"You feel violated, embarrassed, not sure what is taking place, especially when you haven't done anything," said Graves of his own experience, when police made him face the wall and frisked him in Grand Central Station in New York City. "You feel shocked, then you realize what's happening, and then you feel it's a violation of everything you stand for."

And that this should happen to "Skip" Gates — the unblemished embodiment of President Obama's recent admonition to black America not to search for handouts or favors, but to "seize our own future, each and every day" — shook many people to the core.

Wrote Lawrence Bobo, Gates' Harvard colleague, who picked his friend up from jail: "Ain't nothing post-racial about the United States of America."

Let's see, average IQ of a cop: almost undoubtedly under 100. IQ of a distinguished Harvard historian: 150-plus. Who's likely lying to cover up bad behavior? Oh you better fucking believe it's the cop.

Still, as with the segregated Mardi Gras celebration in Mobile, Alabama, the behavior of cops does not a nation make. Racism, sexism, violence, and overall bad behavior is rampant among all cops, in every area on this planet. Racism is only one small part of the problem with the police. To pick this out and say that we still live in a distinctly racist society is stupid.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Twatting Twitter

Ok, I like Twitter well enough, but man is it chaotic right now. Spam, trolls, slower-than-molassas website. It's a winner! My current amartincolby Twitter will now be exclusively to this site. Cartoon Vixens and Watery Gourmet all get their own, as well.

iRobot Revisited.

I think about AI a lot. Read about. Write about. Masturbate to it (sexbots... Mmmm yeah). I still think that building AI is going to be impossible.

I look at it like a tree. Yes, we understand the basic model of a tree. We know where parts go in relation to one another, how the systems work, etc. But still, we can't build a tree from the top down. We can't engineer branches here, and leaves there. Because even though all trees are pretty similar, they are also wholly unique. Defined by the manifold variables to which they are exposed as they grow.

Instead, we start with a seed and let it grow. We know the primary, fundamental variable required to grow a tree, the seed, but we cannot construct a tree artificially. I think the various learning robots being created, where they respond to and learn from their environments, are the first steps in the creation of non-biological intelligence.

I use that term because I don't consider them artificial at that point. They've grown of their own action. Yes, we created the stuff at the beginnning, but that's like calling a GE ear of corn artificial corn. It just doesn't make sense. It's non-biological, but it has grown naturally, in the same way our own intelligence grew.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Devil Made Me Do It.

I somehow missed this memo, but apparently Evolutionary Psychology went from being generally accepted to facing substantial amounts of mainstream resistance. I just always assumed there was widespread criticism to it, um, always. All you have to do is go to and read the user reviews of any book dealing with Evo-Psych to see that there are bundles of people who consider it nonsense.

Evo-psych is a difficult case. It can make, and has made, testable hypotheses, but it also goes wildly into outright speculation very frequently.

We are creatures of evolution, and come born with certain coding and behavior. This coding must have come from evolutionary developments. So it makes sense that any behaviors we perform are rooted, in some way at least, to what helped us survive in the wild.

I think evo-psych falls off the rails most spectacularly when it progressively minimizes the roll of higher thought and culture to mold and outright alter mental workings. For example, thin people are attractive today. One hundred years ago, it was the opposite. Chubby people were attractive. Thin in America, birthin' thighs in many areas of South America. We are looking at two states at the extremes of a spectrum, yet they all are rooted in reproduction in some way.

Trying to distill humans down to purely animalistic behavior is doomed to failure. We can't test it, and importantly, ignoring the effects of a complex society, regardless of culture, means that the number of confounding variables is effectively infinite. We can never be sure of evo-psych arguments about our behavior.

Still, evo-psych does make a lot of sense. Many of the broader arguments about things like reproductive viability, the grosser aspects of our behavior, and importantly, unconscious reactions to stimuli work well in broader behavioral theory.

I also feel that the fear that evo-psych gives people an excuse for bad behavior is unfounded. It may work in a moralistic system of judgment, but we don't have that. We have a (supposedly) logic-based system of justice. So if a man rapes a woman, it doesn't matter if evolution made him do it. He's dangerous and MUST BE locked up. Our culture and its rules don't somehow transcend evolution, they stem from it. Thus what evolution begets is immaterial to how we treat the criminals in our species. Evo-psych is in no way a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

Why Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?
Human Nature Today
Questioning Evolutionary Psychology

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New to Twitter.

I've just started a Twitter account to Tweet my daily musings. I'll also use it to discuss my Cartoon Vixens blog. My Watery Gourmet blog will receive its own Twitter account that I think I'll make open.

Only Time

I'm going to post one of my more "out there" ideas.

First, some points. There's a growing feeling in the world of science that the world is the way the world is because we are built to perceive it that way.

Many people know that colors don't actually exist, only light waves of particular frequencies. Our eyes detect those light waves which are then translated into the abstract experience of "color."

Old philosophers had a terribly hard time explaining these subjective experiences and would frequently refer to them as secondary, or subservient qualities. Primary qualities were those that could be measured across observers, such as height, weight, and perhaps speed. These were supposedly objective.

I'm beginning to think that existence itself is not objective. Everything right down to our very perceptions is an objective experience that tells us little about the actual workings of the universe.

Kant argued that meta-physicists try to reach beyond what humans can know, which results in chaos in inquiry. Perhaps the reason why current physics can't explain some things is because the nature of reality is imperceptible.

Physicists have a tendency to say that what we see is not truth, but mathematics is. What are mathematics but discreet measurements. What is one? What is five? You can spend your time in theoretical math, but it must eventually leave that and become part of the "real" world. It must be testable. And where did the very first numbers come from? I argue they came from having one, or two, or three apples. Numbers were born of perceptions and are forever tied to those roots.

Psychology has a primary tenet, that our perceptions are fundamentally disconnected from reality by multiple steps.

I think time is disconnected from our perception by multiple steps. What is time? It is things moving forward. I argue that there is no time, only position. Discreet, unmoving position. Position becomes time when two things interact. Then, two more things perhaps farther apart interact. This could be two theoretical particles in a detector, or the light hitting our eyes. Time appears to move forward because our very perceptual construction is based on impact.

In reality, the only position we are aware of is that collision. Namely, the collision of an event with our senses. Be it light, smell, taste, or touch. The combined multitude of these collisions gives us the illusion of things moving, much like a movie is not movement, it is multiple discreet moments combining to give the impression of movement through time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I just discovered a new blog. It's called Jezebel and I have no idea how I didn't know about it before. It's run by Gawker media, the same company that runs Gizmodo, Jalopnik, io9, Lifehacker, and seemingly every other blog I read, so I don't know where I was.

It's a fantastic example of what I see as true feminism. Doing whatever the fuck you want and feeling good about it. Girl power. They're not my ideal feminist state, which requires non-self-awareness. If you are aware of your state of being liberated, then you aren't perfectly liberated, since your thoughts and perceptions are colored by an antagonistic environment. My ideal is a woman who does whatever she wants, loves it, and doesn't realize that it's special.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

12 Questions

Twelve questions. That's all. Twelve questions of basic scientific knowledge, and only 10% of those taking the quiz got them. That's fucking depressing.

Poll: Science, Though Beneficial, Losing Importance
The Science Knowledge Quiz (Pew Research)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Coal? Nuclear? Excluded Middle? Pastry?

SEED Magazine has an interview with a number of experts in the electricity generation and environmental field to discuss the choice between coal and nuclear.

I agree most with Gwyneth Cravens, a full-on supporter of nuclear power. I consider the pollution generated by nuclear to be easily manageable, and fears about meltdowns and radioactive waste are so comically overblown as to be meaningless.

I wish she had at least mentioned an overhaul of the current coal industry, though. We have hundreds of coal-fired plants in the US, and stimulating advances in clean-coal technology, through tax breaks and direct government investment would pay huge dividends in pollution reduction. It's something that can be done now. Hopefully, we'll move away entirely from coal in the future, but we aren't now, and we must do something to make it more palatable to a green-conscious world.

K.J. Reddy comes up next, and he discusses clean coal, so I guess his advice combined with Ms. Cravens' is the best course of action. He makes the opposite mistake by not mentioning nuclear at all.

Edwin Lyman is one of those fear-mongering over-reactors I hate. He even manages to squeeze in some hating of "The Man" near the end of his section, where he accuses the evil government and special interests of hiding the "true" costs of coal and nuclear. And I'm disgusted that he pulled out the terrorist attack line. I thought that was restricted to Bush supporters. Unless he is a Bush supporter. And if he is, whoa. Just, whoa.

Benjamin Sovacool is one of the pie-in-the-sky dreamers, who I would argue has both feet squarely in fantasy. He calls both nuclear and coal "Faustian Bargains."

"Energy efficiency—getting more out of each unit of energy—means insulating our homes, retrofitting our businesses, changing light bulbs, purchasing more efficient appliances, streamlining industrial manufacturing processes, and driving cars with better fuel economy to get more bang out of each kilowatt-hour (kWh) or gallon of gasoline. Over the last 40 years, these efforts have saved more energy than any single source of existing electricity supply in the United States."

So his argument is to... retrofit the entire country from the ground up. Yes, that would be ideal. But all of this is only ideal if we assume that both nuclear and coal are not just equally bad, but just bad. I argue that nuclear isn't even bad.

...renewable power technologies as they exist in the market today could quite easily meet three times the country’s 2007 electricity needs. Last year in the United States, for example, wind turbines and landfill gas generators produced electricity far cheaper than the newest coal and natural gas plants. Hydroelectric dams, solar thermal plants, and geothermal facilities provided billions of kilowatt-hours of baseload electricity. Scientific studies have confirmed that the country has so far tapped an infinitesimally small portion of this resource base.

First off, I think he and his fantasy crew are the only people who think we could "easily" meet our power needs with renewables. I'll use the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Japan as an example. It produces 8.2G gigawatts of power. Using GE's largest wind turbine as a counter example, it

  • produces 3.6 megawatts per turbine

  • Each turbine requires 1 acre of land to operate, with five to ten turbine diameters separating each turbine.

  • The GE 3.6Gw turbine would thus require one-half to one kilometer between each turbine.

  • Placed on a grid, you could fit four turbines on one square kilometer, with one on each corner.

  • To match the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, we would need 2,278 turbines.

  • This would require a grid placement of 47km x 47km, or, 2209km^2. Over half the size of Rhode Island.

  • But wait! The diagonal in the grid isn't 1km, it's 1.414.

  • So we shift the rows alternating left and right and move them down, which reduces the separation between rows to .866km. So instead of 47x47, we have 41x47, or 1,927km/sq, which is still nearly half the size of Rhode Island.

  • This all assumes 100% efficiency of the turbines at all times.

  • The US consumed 3.35 terawatts of power in 2004. Assuming an increase in consumption from then, we can round the 930,555 turbines required in 2004 to an even million.

  • This results in an area of around 866,000 square kilometers. Or round-abouts twice the size of California.

  • Wind turbines operate at about 30% efficiency.

  • This means we would need three times the number of generators, or six times the area of California.

If we dedicate OVER ONE-QUARTER of the US to wind generation, we can power the US today. Mr. Sovacool is beyond wrong. The only renewable power capable of reaching the levels we need are hydroelectric dams, such as the Grand Coulee or Three Gorges Dam, the latter of which produces an eye-popping 22.5Gw.

Still, dam's are limited to where there's flowing water, and the dams themselves result in massive amounts of environmental damage. There are positives, certainly, but the good/bad combo could be said of nuclear and coal as well.

I argue that not only does nuclear have the fewest downsides, I see NO downsides to nuclear. We produce such a small amount of waste from fission, that if need be we could simply fire it into space. We will run out of uranium long before we run out of places to store the spent fuel. It produces almost no CO2. It's compact. It can be placed anywhere. It runs 24/7. It's expensive, surely, but we get what we pay for.

Hopefully we will reach his powertopia some time in the future, but we're certainly not there now, and we have to change what we have. Altering our entire infrastructure is not a solution. It's the end-goal of many different solutions. Simply talking about how great it will be adds nothing to the discussion. Shut up.

Wind Turbine Info (

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I Seem to be Focused on Sex.

I've noticed that I've been writing about sex a lot. I guess living in a time when one of two major political parties has taken it upon itself to be the party of moral righteousness, sex just comes up.

I just finished reading an article in Scientific American that says in a slightly less confrontational way than me, that pedophilia is not only not an illness, but an evolutionary advantage. And not only that, but pedophilia isn't even easily defined.

Adult male attractions to very young females is easy, even if they aren't sexually ready now, they will be soon, so it's a good idea to claim them young. The article brings up an interesting question when it comes to boys and gay men, though.

Gay men have a penchant for very young men. Why would this have evolved? I think it's simply a reversal of psychological drivers. The primary driver of a male is youth, which is good for heterosexuality which comprises the majority of the population. Reverse that for homosexuality, and there's no evolutionary impetus to eliminate the driver for youth.