Saturday, September 19, 2020

Friday, September 18, 2020

We Are All Algorithms Now

 Andrew Sullivan is so damn good. It's freaky, too, since he's such a weird guy

But this is really good. I look forward to Fridays, when I can read his column. I think Matt Taibbi posts his big pieces on Friday as well, so I'm going to go troll over there for a while, to see what he's got going. 

Here's Sully, "Is that what's really destroying the legitimacy of our democracy?":

Remind yourself that hefty chunks of our society still insist that Covid19 is a hoax, perpetrated for the sake of social control. Re-read Richard Hofstadter. Remember how vast numbers of white liberals drastically shifted their view of America — almost overnight — from a flawed but vibrant multiracial democracy to a version of apartheid South Africa because of a single video of a brutal arrest and murder. This week, I watched videos of people literally burning Harry Potter books, like latter-day Nazis, in the cause of transgender liberation. It’s safe to say, I think, that many of these people have lost their minds — just by staying online. And they not only think they’re perfectly sane; they think they’re heroes.

And online is increasingly where people live. My average screen time this past week was close to ten hours a day. Yes, a lot of that is work-related. But the idea that I have any real conscious life outside this virtual portal is delusional. And if you live in such a madhouse all the time, you will become mad. You don’t go down a rabbit-hole; your mind increasingly is the rabbit hole — rewired that way by algorithmic practice. And you cannot get out, unless you fight the algorithms to a draw, or manage to exert superhuman discipline and end social media use altogether.

But the thing about algorithms and artificial intelligence is that they don’t rest, they have no human flaws, they exploit every weakness we have, and have already taken over. This is not a future dystopia in which some kind of AI robot takes power and kills us all. It is a dystopia already here — burrowed into our minds, literally disabling the basic mental tools required for democracy to work at all. 

If you watch video after video of excessive police force against suspects, for example, and your viewing habits are then reinforced by algorithms so you see no countervailing examples, your view about the prevalence of such excessive force will change, regardless of objective reality. A new study shows how this happens.

RTWT.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Monday, September 14, 2020

Between 30 and 50 Percent of West Virginia Schools Lack Internet Access

Fascinating. Kinda sad, but fascinating.

Not sure if the figures include private schools, but either way, it's unreal.

At WSJ, "Remote Schooling Out of Reach for Many Students in West Virginia Without Internet":
HARTS, W.Va.—Just before 9 a.m., Hollee Blair sat in her boyfriend’s Toyota Tacoma in the parking lot of Chapmanville Regional High School and waited for attendance to be taken.

With no broadband internet at home, Ms. Blair, a 17-year-old honors student who plans to study nursing after high school, used her boyfriend’s iPhone to connect to the school’s Wi-Fi for an hour-long orientation over Zoom.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to keep up,” said Ms. Blair, shielding her eyes so she could see the phone’s screen. “If it means doing this every day, I’ll do it. It’s worth it.”

Much of southern West Virginia had already been struggling with a drug epidemic and persistent poverty before the coronavirus pandemic took hold here. Now, as students return to school online, the region is coming up against another longstanding challenge: a lack of broadband internet access.

Nationwide, about 21 million people lack access to broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission. When people with slow or unreliable internet connections are included, the number swells to 157 million, nearly half the U.S. population, according to a study by Microsoft Corp.

Providing service in sparsely populated areas is typically more costly and less profitable than in suburbs and cities. In Appalachia, the terrain has made it difficult to install and maintain the infrastructure necessary for broadband.

In West Virginia, between 30% and 50% of K-12 students don’t have internet access at home, according to the state Department of Education. By the start of school on Tuesday, the state had set up nearly 850 Wi-Fi hot spots at schools, libraries, National Guard armories and state parks for students.

So far, nine of West Virginia’s 55 counties, including Logan County, where Ms. Blair lives, are teaching all classes remotely after spikes in Covid-19 cases pushed them above a threshold for new daily cases set by the state.

But in the state’s other 46 counties, many students will still need to connect online as some districts choose a blended model that mixes in-person and remote classes. Counties may also be required to halt in-person classes if case levels rise too high.

Logan County has had 536 cases of Covid-19 and 36 related deaths.

This week, Gov. Jim Justice lifted a $50 million cap on how much the state can receive from a fund created by the FCC to bring high-speed broadband to rural areas. But it isn’t clear how much the state will ultimately receive and how long it will take providers to connect homes.

“You’ve just got to step up and meet this challenge,” the governor said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, is seeking federal funding to set up broadband hot spots across the country to aid remote learning during the pandemic.

“This is a short-term fix to a long-term problem, but until we treat access to broadband like the need for electricity was treated in the 1930s, our students will fall behind,” he said.

In Logan County, which is blanketed by rugged mountains, nearly a quarter of residents live below the federal poverty line, according to census data. At Logan High School, the hallways and classrooms are empty, and teachers are troubleshooting tech problems as they begin broadcasting their classes to students from laptops.

Jennifer Stillwell, a history teacher, said some poorer students won’t have transportation to get to a hot spot. She is giving students the option to use a photo of themselves rather than live video, in case they don’t feel comfortable having their home appear on screen.

She was encouraged that after three days of classes, she had been unable to reach only five students who may lack internet out of 105 on her roster.

On Thursday, her AP history class got off to a smooth start, with 16 students logging in. “Let’s see if we can chat,” she said brightly, as she introduced herself from her neat classroom.

The Logan County school district is using a $375,000 grant from the state to get students connected. Patricia Lucas, the district’s superintendent, said as many 40% of K-12 students in the county might not have internet at home...
Still more.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Hard Times for High Times

A fascinating piece, at Politico, "How Legal Weed Destroyed a Counterculture Icon."


Fishnet Babes

 At Drunken Stepfather, "FISHNET FRIDAY OF THE DAY."


Kim Strassel, Resistance (At All Costs)

*BUMPED.*

At Amazon, Kim Strassel, Resistance (At All Costs): How Trump Haters Are Breaking America.



Byron York, Obsession

*BUMPED.*

California is Toast

At WaPo, "Warmer. Burning. Epidemic-challenged. Expensive. The California Dream has become the California Compromise":
SAN FRANCISCO — The cityscape resembles the surface of a distant planet, populated by a masked alien culture. The air, choked with blown ash, is difficult to breathe.

There is the Golden Gate Bridge, looming in the distance through a drift-smoke haze, and the Salesforce Tower, which against the blood-orange sky appears as a colossal spaceship in a doomsday film.

San Francisco, and much of California, has never been like this.

California has become a warming, burning, epidemic-challenged and expensive state, with many who live in sophisticated cities, idyllic oceanfront towns and windblown mountain communities thinking hard about the viability of a place they have called home forever. For the first time in a decade, more people left California last year for other states than arrived.

Monica Gupta Mehta and her husband, an entrepreneur, have been through tech busts and booms, earthquakes, wildfire seasons and power outages. But it was not until the skies darkened and cast an unsettling orange light on their Palo Alto home earlier this week that they ever considered moving their family of five somewhere else.

“For the first time in 20-something years, the thought crossed our minds: Do we really want to live here?” said Mehta, who is starting an education tech company.

It would be difficult to leave. They love the area’s abundant nature and are tied to Silicon Valley by work and a network of extended family members, who followed them west from Pittsburgh. But Mehta says it is something she would consider if her family is in regular danger.

“Yesterday felt so apocalyptic,” Mehta said. “People are really starting to reconsider whether California has enough to offer them.”

This is the latest iteration of the California Dream, a Gold Rush-era slogan meant to capture the hopeful migration of an old nation to a new, rich West. For generations, the tacit agreement for California residents resembled a kind of too-good-to-be-true deal. Live in the lovely if often drought-plagued Sierra, or beneath the beachfront Pacific Coast cliffs, and work in an economy constantly reinventing itself, from Hollywood to the farms of the San Joaquin to Silicon Valley.

But for many of the state’s 40 million residents, the California Dream has become the California Compromise, one increasingly challenging to justify, with a rapidly changing climate, a thumb-on-the-scales economy, high taxes and a pandemic that has led to more cases of the novel coronavirus than any other state.

During the course of his term, President Trump has singled out California, a state he lost by 30 percentage points, as an example of Democrat-caused urban unrest, irresponsible immigration policy and poor forest management, even though nearly 60 percent of the state’s forests are managed by the federal government. Several are burning today, with millions of acres already scorched.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has responded specifically in some cases, but in others, he has invoked the California Dream, an aspirational noun attached to no other state. In his January 2019 inaugural address, Newsom warned that “there is nothing inevitable about” that dream.

“And now more than ever, it is up to us to defend it,” he said.

As the state’s climate has shifted to one of extremes, soaking wet seasons followed suddenly by sharp, dry heat and wind, no region has been safe from fire. This year — even before peak fire season has gotten underway — widespread fires have forced evacuations, from San Jose in Silicon Valley to the distant hamlet of Big Creek along the western slopes of the Sierra.

More than two dozen major fires are burning around the state and have consumed a record 3.1 million acres of land, more than 3,000 homes and at least 22 lives. Los Angeles has reported the worst air quality in three decades as a result of fires surrounding that city, already notorious for orange air and seasonal dry cough.

Wine Country has burned four straight years, with a number of vineyards lost. Homes have been destroyed far to the south in San Diego County, and more than 200 campers had to be airlifted to safety amid the Creek Fire, still burning hot and fast between Fresno and Mammoth Lakes...
Keep reading.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Remembering 9/11

It's been 9 years since I visited New York on September 11. See, "Faith, Freedom, and Memory: Report From Ground Zero, September 11, 2010."

At USA Today, "'America will always rise up': Trump and Biden pay respects to 9/11 victims in memorial visits."

And here's CJ Pearson, for Prager University:



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Selena Gomez, Looking Good

At Drunken Stepfather, "SELENA GOMEZ OF THE DAY."

Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State

*BUMPED.*

At Amazon, Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State.



Ignore the National Polls

Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by 6 points in the current RCP presidential polling average, 49.9 to 43.8.

The real margin is probably within the margin of error. There for sure is going to be a secret Trump vote this year, and I'm betting it'll be larger than the 3 to 5 five percent of shy Trump voters in 2016.

Don't trust the polls. They've been terrible now for years, and, well, this is 2020. Democrats are even more desperate to win.

Check all the headlines at Memeorandum, "Presidential Contest Tightens as Campaigns Move Into Eight-Week Home Stretch."

And at see the Miami Herald, "Biden is struggling to win Miami Latinos, new poll finds. Will it cost him Florida?"

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Your Definitive Guide to Understanding Polling (and Why Most Polls Are Garbage)

From Stephen Green, at Instapundit, "New You Can Use."

Why White Lives Don’t Matter

At the Other McCain:
No, I’m not talking about this — not yet, maybe later today — but rather about an interesting fact you probably haven’t noticed: Nobody cares how many white suspects get shot by cops. And I mean absolutely nobody cares. Certainly no black person has ever bothered to investigate how often the police shoot white suspects, but white people don’t care, either. Like, if I got pulled over by cops tomorrow and became belligerent when they tried to arrest me, nobody would care if this resulted in me being shot to death. My own family wouldn’t really care. My friends would be like, “He probably had it coming. He was always an idiot.”

There would be no protest marches. Benjamin Crump wouldn’t be all over CNN complaining about the “excessive force” if I got shot by cops. And this is not just true me, but of any other white person.
Keep reading.

What to Expect After the November Election

Chaos, in a word, and also "coup."

Lots of theories going around about what's going to happen in the election aftermath. Unless Trump or Biden wins a landslide, expect days or week of delays, protests, and riots. See Michael Anton, at the American Mind, "The Coming Coup?" And FWIW, at the Daily Beast, "The Left Secretly Preps for MAGA Violence After Election Day."

And Tucker's on the case:



Sierra Nevada Creek Fire

At the L.A. Times, "Sierra fire’s unstoppable path of destruction devastates town, sends residents fleeing":

As the sun set in the Sierra Nevada Friday, about 50 residents of the mountain hamlet of Big Creek gathered on an overlook at the edge of town. The Creek fire, as it would be called, had just started burning in the canyon below.

It seemed minor, and those assembled looked on hopefully as planes and a helicopter dropped water on it.

“It was a Friday night, something to watch, something to do. We are a bunch of hillbillies,” joked Toby Wait, the superintendent, principal and gym teacher for the town’s 55-student school. “Fire is part of our lives, but this was small.”

It didn’t stay small.

In the hours and days that followed, the Creek fire has exploded into a monster inferno that has consumed nearly 100,000 acres, enlisted nearly 1,000 firefighters, isolated small foothill communities and threatened to burn until mid-October.

California’s fire season got an early start this year with the massive lightning fires in the coastal mountains and wine country. Even without the fall Santa Ana winds, more than 2 million acres have burned so far in 2020, more than in any previously recorded year. Now the Creek fire promises to be one of the worst of the season.

For the mountain communities lying east of Fresno, the assessment as of Monday afternoon looked especially grave.

Fueled by millions of dead trees, the Creek fire has raced through mountain communities like Big Creek and vacation getaways like Huntington and Shaver Lake, confounding firefighters with unpredictable and terrifying behavior. Its smoke plumed nearly 50,000 feet high. There were lightning strikes. Forests seemed to explode.

The drama seemed to peak Saturday night when a CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter rescued some 200 campers trapped by flames at Mammoth Pool.

But among the thousands fighting the fire or evacuating from its path, there have been no reports of deaths.

Damage to property and homes is more difficult to assess. The fire is burning so dangerously and intensely that crews who normally count destroyed houses and buildings have been told to stand down for their own safety...
RTWT.



Democrats Are Laying the Groundwork for Revolution Right in Front of Our Eyes

It's Michael Anton, at the American Mind, "The Coming Coup?"

Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Best of Myla

Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition has gone downhill. It's bad. At least they've still got their old videos available.

Here's Ms. Maya from 2018:



Jennifer Delacruz's Record-Breaking Forecast

Ms. Jennifer's back in the studio!

At ABC News 10 San Diego:



Saturday, September 5, 2020

Jim Gaffigan, Donald Trump, and the Death of Laughter

At WSJ, "A family-friendly comedian unleashes an obscene rant against the president—and insults his own fans":
During the final night of the Republican National Convention last week, Mr. Gaffigan delivered a profane Twitter rant against President Trump: “I dont give a f— if anyone thinks this is virtue signaling or whatever. We need to wake up. We need to call trump the con man and thief that he is.”

There was more. Along these lines. You could look it up.

The sheer partisan rancor surely shocked many of Mr. Gaffigan’s fans. Yet the foul language was the real surprise—and, to some, the disappointment. Mr. Gaffigan’s success was built in part on his family-friendly reputation. He works clean—unlike most of his peers, he doesn’t swear during his act. More, he and his wife, Jeannie, have five children. Their willingness to identify publicly as faithful Catholics makes them a rarity in the entertainment business. In 2015 he was invited to “open” for Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit to Philadelphia. Dave Chappelle and Louis C.K. don’t get those gigs...
RTWT.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Labor Day Weekend 'Record' Heat

If you go back and read the "climate change" debates from just a few years ago, one big issue is measuring temperatures. The NOAA, if I recall, stopped using satellite earth temperature data, for on average, those satellite readings showed less movement toward the upper temperatures, amid all the baloney about "global warming."

In 2018, our electrical power went out during a 109 degree heat wave. So far, Irvine hasn't broken 100 this summer, if I recall.

At LAT, "Ferocious heat wave could bring record temperatures to California over Labor Day weekend."



'Everylong'

From my drive-time this morning, while out running errands.

The Foo Fighters, "Everylong," at Jack FM 93.1 Los Angeles.

Rio
Duran Duran
11:50am

Give It Away
Red Hot Chili Peppers
11:45am

What's on Your Mind?
Information Society
11:41am

Lights
JOURNEY
11:38am

Only Happy When It Rains
Garbage
11:34am

Rock The Casbah
Clash
11:31am

Blasphemous Rumours
Depeche Mode
11:21am

Unforgiven
Metallica
11:15am

Don't You Want Me
Human League
11:11am

You're My Best Friend
Queen
11:08am

Radioactive
Imagine Dragons
11:05am

Panama
Van Halen
11:01am

I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)
Daryl Hall & John Oates
10:52am

Everlong (Acoustic)
Foo Fighters
10:47am

Take On Me
A-HA
10:44am

Margaritaville
Jimmy Buffett
10:39am

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Alexis is Back!

Haven't seen this little hottie in a while.

On Twitter.