Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Buzz

I'm hearing they just wanted "a few more days" to get to the bottom of these allegations, a rerun of Pizzagate in 2016 in a lot of ways. 

Giuliani and Sydney Powell were always making it seem like the big revelation was coming tomorrow. 

Just like 2016: stay tuned, and we'll have proof Hillary is Spawn of Satan. 

This kind of short term myopic "tomorrow is the apocalypse" science fiction, is worth mocking I think.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

More Remarks on Race, Revised & Extended

Downtown Portland from Mt. Tabor

The white African pictured above [Facebook] is of course Yolandi Visser. My parents moved to Lesotho sometime after Bhutan (from one mountain kingdom to another), which is surrounded by RSA (Republic of South Africa). 

Over the years, through many adventures, I've come to feel at home in that part of Africa. The idea of "white Africans" is nothing jarring or new. White refers to skin color yes, not race really. 

There's no "race" gene and conflating the world to "white brown yellow red black" is just comic book cartoonery. Fits on a brochure. Keep it simple, and stupid (KISS of death).

Tiffany doesn't identify as 3rd culture because she associates that with international schools, which she didn't go to. Fair enough. 

Her dad tells the story of how, when Tiffany was growing up in Japan, she'd talk about skin color very literally, as in RGB values. A person might be light pink, or tan, or... given her own dark skin, she'd of course know the difference. But it wasn't about race, yet. Then, after some time back in the states, Tiffany came home and talked about a "black" person, where you could tell the meaning had shifted, and literal color was no longer the meaning. That day was sweetly sad, a loss of innocence. 

The racist meme virus had claimed another victim in a way.

If hair, eye and/or skin color were a reliable indicator of ethnicity and personality then I could see where racism could keep a toehold. "White skin means you think as I do" -- that could work in some isolated setting, but fewer and fewer settings are that isolated.

The problem is, as Somalis repatriate in Tennessee, for example, you get ethnic tensions and rebalancings that belie the simplicity of "skin color" as the key parameter. People want to hate each other first, and look for distinguishing physical characteristics second.

In the language of the data scientist, skin color, eye shape, body type etc. have become less and less principal components in our model of the human persona.

Like, I am often seeking out ethnicity when I meet a person (say it's a date), which means everything from what magazines do they read (do they read), what profession and so on.

If, like an idiot, I conclude from skin color that I'm free to talk down or be rude somehow, as if I'm superior, then I stereotype myself more and more as a typical jerk. My reflexes are seeming more and more awkward as I'm surprised again and again by how sad and clownish I've become. Racism leads to awkward embarrassment, which is what is ultimately going to extinguish it, more than ratiocination, I'd hazard.

Case in point, my family, Quaker, once stayed at the home of then deputy defense minister of the RSA, formerly with African National Congress and now married into the Routledge family and a Friend.

That RSA would appoint a pacifist to the defense ministry was creative. On trips to weapons bazaars, where they'd wanna sell you every type of fighter jet this and bazooka that, the booth people would inevitably swarm around the little guy, assuming Nozizwe was the personal assistant. Imagine their surprise. 😀

Per my angle, "race" is hokum and a racist is someone who believes in races. That's OK though. Nationalists believe in nations, likewise social constructs and not unrelated. I don't expect either racists or nationalists to die out anytime soon, even if my own ethnicity takes neither too seriously.

My mission is to not force "true beliefs" on people, let them believe whatever crap they like and feed them anyway, don't hold their bodies hostage to meme viruses. Give everyone a fun life if possible. Waste less and we'll get there.

I do like "ethnicity" (over "race") for being plastic. Steve Martin raised black in the south in The Jerk comes to mind.

Given my high school in the Philippines and subsequent immersion in Asian cultures, plus my own studies and who knows what else, I have no worries identifying as Asian if people ask. Of course I know it's not my ethnicity they usually care about. The little check boxes are about my "race". I dutifully check "white" and inwardly sneer at my stupid ancestors and their superstitions.

Thinking of myself as Asian puts some distance between me and these other domestics around me, the ones who never left and don't share my 3rd culture expat upbringing. Feels right (to put some distance).

As to gender, I get from theater that we are able to play characters in movies, and it might get to where your "home character" is like a female even if your body is XY. A whole city, like Portland, might agree to go with that convention, that regardless of your body's XX or XY, you have a right to define a home base character of any gender.

But that's like a fleeting and fragile overlay in a subculture, like Vienna being sensitive to a special music. Outsiders are just gonna see it as weird, take offense, and think Portland is trying to export its idea of "life as theater" to the world (whereas in fact Portland is inward-turned and sometimes forgets there's "a world" out there).

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

In Defense of Public Medicine

Dr. Fauci gets a lot of criticism for "lying" and "moving the goalposts" etc. however let's think about medical practice more generally.
I may wish the doctor to only address my rational ego, to enlist the support of the persona I might imagine myself to be, and yes, that's important, but long practice has taught the doctor it's also a good idea to scare the bejeezus out of me a little, hit a button.

Flip side: the doctor knows I might live longer and more happily if I don't get the full "benefit" of knowing in detail all that could go wrong, given whatever condition. If I'm a worrier, I'll dredge that all up, but no need for the doctor to encourage such fantasies.

Don't tell the patient they'll very likely be dead in a year, if having a positive outlook has the effect of adding quality time. That's just not good medicine. Don't be all negative and extinguish all hope. You're a doctor, not a philosopher, let's remember.

When Dr. Fauci lied about the efficacy of masks, it was to triage the supply of PPE to front lines medical workers. 

"Just level with us doctor, if it's about saving masks for the front liners, just say so, we promise not to hoard."
An "honest Dr. Fauci" might reply: "yes you will hoard. Everyone will want their precious children to have the very best N95s, a black market will develop, and many of you will buy cases and cases of the things to sell from your basements, look at toilet paper. Our front liners will have to do what they're doing now, reuse surgical masks for days, like in Haiti. I know you. You'll break your promises in a heartbeat when confronted with the actual situation."

What's great about Dr. Fauci is he comes out later and reveals his technique, like a magician explaining his trick. 

Or he'll even tell you at the same time as he's "lying": "yes, I'm moving the goalposts because if you're tantalized by the prospect of 'herd immunity' you might start acting even dumber, idiot human that you be" (that's "honest Dr. Fauci" again). 

In sum, the medical profession includes psychology, and much as we like to imagine ourselves as rational beings, the model must be developed empirically, not just on wishful thinking.
Doctors as a part of their professionalism are not allowed to take our so-called "rational selves" too seriously.
Advertising, for better or worse, also includes psychology, and the lesson there is the same: if you want to induce a specific behavior pattern, it's more effective to bypass the rational "talk to me" earnest individual who erroneously regards itself as an in control sole proprietor of its psyche. Better to talk to the subconscious demon who actually runs the place. Politics 101.

Sometimes we get lonely, we rational cogitos, so well educated and introspective, because none of the institutions are really wanting to communicate with us as reasoning brainiacs. They're all too busy manipulating us to give us that courtesy.
But hey, that's a strategy based on results, and not entirely misguided. I'm for cutting public medicine (its practice) some slack.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Great Unraveling

The way the Washington Post quickly jumped on Cozy Bear as a culprit, in connection with the SolarWinds narrative, undermines Russiagate.  The evidence-free fingering of the GRU makes the CrowdStrike story inside the Mueller Report less credible. Two pigs in the same blanket.

Likewise the Navalny shennanigans vis-a-vis novichok, have further undermined the Skripal story (Salisbury).  

The doubling down, on both fronts (hacking and chemical attacks) is backfiring. The facade is crumbling. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Withholding More Than Taxes

A curriculum introducing the concentric hierarchy of volumes 1, 3, 4, 6, 20 with other volumes (including irrational) interspersed, in the context of closest packing (non-XYZ lattice), does not have to purge itself of XYZ. It goes directly to the imagination and fills your head. Cartesian coordinates are welcome (but we glance at Quadrays for a different perspective).

You get comfortable with these geometric concepts early (in connection with natural and human designed architectures) and that means you get the history too: this bold futurist (tons of materials) returned from obscurity, thanks to his invisible army (fans, colluders, many of them Chinese speakers), and now it's not all doom and gloom, even though peak oil and climate change are still real (not denied). That bold futurism has returned.

All it would take is like a cooking show with polyhedron measuring bowls and some cartoons (animations). Given Youtube, you don't even need to wait for the classroom teachers to get on board (they tend to be extensions of big publishers -- I used to work at McGraw-Hill and saw it from that angle). But you do need to give kids some clues. Needles in haystacks take a long time to find (especially if you're not even looking for them).

We're one popular program away (like Sesame Street) from kids being fluent enough to know of their Dymaxion Map (Fuller Projection) and all those other conceptual tools he bequeathed to them, that the "corporate personae" (the liability limiting master controller pseudo adults) are now sitting on, withholding, deliberately suppressing, precisely because our American heritage is not consistent with the Great Tragedy scenarios they have in store for us humans (endless war, misery for the many, unfettered greed for the few --- we've already been herded around their block a few times, sacrificing the kids instead of teaching them).

(from somewhere on Facebook)

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Friday, December 04, 2020

Refugee City

The Economic Refugee Zone that I've focused on in these blogs (see sidebar for blog list) is taking shape here in Portland, out by the airport (PDX), as I've detailed in EPCOT West.

As of today, here in Plague Times (covid-19) we've seen no action by "powers that be" to enact any of the EPCOT West scenario planning.  We have no real "powers" at the moment, only baronies, like the Water Bureau.

The vista is pretty bleak at the moment.  For PR purposes, all we can do now is keep the images flowing, letting the world know you don't want Americans backseat driving your development plans. 

We've got major PR firms on top of it I'm sure.  Don't look at me.  Check my Asylum City playlist.  I'm the guy who saw it coming.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Remember LaTeX From Camp?

Hey high schoolers, remember Camp?

What might look like super hard STEM, with all those Ramanujan Identities, turns out, from another angle, to be typesetting.  As the typesetter for the mathematicians, you did not need a degree in whatever they were going on about, but you did need some skills when it came to arranging symbols.  That's setting type.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, who rescued business computing from being the unimaginative dullard monster  Microsoft / IBM had in mind, we got highly developed fonts a lot earlier than we might have.  

The only other technology that might have saved us, from the dreary fate MS DOS had laid out for us, was LaTeX, the brainchild of Donald Knuth. 

As it is, we got Apple LaserWriters and PageMaker and desktop publishing, and I got a job at CUE (Center for Urban Education).  That's when I picked up some of my skills as a trainer, and to some extent a desktop publisher.  

I usually got high marks for working with people.  Some of my lecture presentations might have been too weird for some tastes.  I wasn't auditioning for prime time commercial television, let's put it that way.

Anyway, coming back from Memory Lane:  remember our Covid Camp earlier this year?  Some of you might still be following.  

We didn't do a lot with LaTeX but we did explore Jupyter Notebooks, and their ability to make use of the LaTeX layer, a built-in JavaScript library I assume?  Right, the MathJax JavaScript library.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020