Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ubiquitous Robots

A month or so ago I had a long conversation with a relative by marriage who I have interacted with about 10 times over the 30 years or so we have been acquainted.

I have always thought he was very smart and the conversation did nothing to change my mind.

He is working on a book, a policy statement really as I understand it, with the goal of providing a pathway to constructive and productive living in the coming era of ubiquitous robots.

He asserts that without strong leadership and intervention by scientists, including psychologists (not scientists, in my opinion), many young westerners will be without jobs in the relatively near future.

I was somewhat disappointed that a person as smart as he is (something of a scientist himself) would still be in thrall to the Wilsonian notion that well educated people should be in given the reins of power so that they can shape the rest of us into a productive society. This sort of thing has never turned out well. The remnants of this "progressive" thinking are still haunting us today, 100 years later, in the form of credentialism, which I have written about before.

There is another school of thought about the impact of ubiquitous robots on employment and it is very positive.

While the potential problem described is the same, our young workers will have to have more skills in order to have meaningful employment in the robot era, the prescription on the right to address the issue is not a cohort of technocrats issuing directives from on high but the marketplace rewarding those who acquire the right skills.

The marketplace is rarely wrong. Among its most endearing features is that when errors occur the market itself forces corrections, when it is not interfered with by the credentialed. The "New Coke" fiasco of the 1980's is one high profile example of the market being allowed to do its job. Every business that fails and almost every one that succeeds are proof of the market's limited fallibility. It does not reward failure and does not wait long to make its conclusions felt.

The automaker bailouts of 2008 are examples of the credentialed interfering with the marketplace. Chrysler, which was bailed out in the 1970's, had to be bailed out again. General Motors was bailed out as well. GM will go broke again too, just as soon as it uses up the advantages that the cancellation of 60 billion dollars of debt produced. That is a lot of advantage so it will take a while but will certainly happen.

The mortgage debt bailout of 2008-9 had the predictable and undesirable effect of prolonging the agony for years. Arguably, it still is. The credentialed again stepped in to prevent the market from correcting its error.

Markets correct errors quickly and completely if they are allowed to function. The market will solve any employment problems caused by ubiquitous robots and we will all be better off for it, if it is allowed to function.

Unfortunately humans often react poorly to the immediate pain of market-style corrections and if we all cry loudly enough the credentialed will step in to ease our pain.

What they fail to understand, or choose to ignore, is that humans do not learn meaningful lessons from being forgiven our transgressions. If there is no pain associated with our misdeeds the odds of our repeating them are markedly higher. Without being made to feel the consequences of our actions we soon forget that we did anything wrong or stupid at all. Human nature never stops working.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017


I have written about the illegal immigration crisis we face several times.

There is a second, possibly more urgent problem in the same field. The legal immigration of people who have no interest in democracy and no interest in assimilating to western culture.

An opinion piece published in the Canadian Jewish News came to my attention recently. I can't find it on line so can't link to it.

The author is Dr. Sima Goel, a chiropractor in Montreal. She is also the author of "Fleeing the Hijab,: A Jewish Woman's Escape from Iran".

In the piece I refer to she writes of her escape from Iran as an 18 year-old "Over 30 years ago".

Her story is remarkable to those of us who have had the good fortune to be born into modern western democracies.

She is concerned that Canada is becoming unwelcoming to immigrants "...some of whom have different attitudes toward women, health care and child rearing."

The implication is (she never states it clearly) that her concern is that we are not welcoming to Muslims.

She says " I was entitled to live life as I chose, to adapt and modify my ways to the Canadian ethic". Later, "We have no right to impose our values on other Canadians, but we do share the common ethic of respect and tolerance."

"Are we afraid of these new immigrants," she asks?

Well, if I am correct and she is talking about the latest wave of Muslim immigration the only answer to the question is no, emphatically.

Have you noticed that the left (I am willing to bet she is on the left) tends to try to shame those of us who disagree with them into silence by using loaded terms like "afraid"? Opposition to the admission to our countries is fear of the other, they say. Not a good quality.

As usual, the reason for the taunt is an inability to otherwise support her position.

She has apparently failed to notice that an enormous proportion of the Muslims we are admitting have no intention of modifying their ways to "the Canadian ethic".

In fact the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world prefer sharia law to any other system according to a poll conducted by the left of center Pew Foundation.

"The survey involved a total of more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages." That is a very substantial sample.

Dr. Goel I am not afraid of immigrants. I have no interest in granting residency to immigrants who have no intention of adopting western ethics. They have every intention of altering the demographics of the west and then installing their preferred regime.

Offering the tolerance and benefits of western society to those who will take advantage of that tolerance and those benefits to make sure they eventually disappear is just stupid.

Those of us who oppose such idiocy are not afraid. We are willing and able to see the truth and act upon it.

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Friday, April 07, 2017

This and That

Steven Hayward at Powerline occasionally publishes posts titled "Loose Ends" full of tidbits that have accumulated over time.

I have decided to do a similar thing using the title "This and That", a phrase I often use interacting with my immediate family.

So here is the first post in what will become a series.

I am traveling without my laptop so writing on an iPad. My skill set is such that I am not willing to try and install links so you are going to have to accept my assertion of facts unsupported. Or not.

I speculated a few weeks ago that Obama, ignoring the tradition that former presidents remain out of sight for a while following the end of their term, would be running a parliamentary system style shadow government constantly attacking the Trump administration.

For a few weeks after the inauguration I read similar speculation here and there.

Now Barry seems to have disappeared. I am hoping the reason is that he can't peek out of his bunker for fear of being caught up in the Susan Rice, NSA surveillance mess. I guess we'll see.

Mrs. Clinton opined a few days ago that misogyny was "absolutely" one of the reasons she lost the election. She is probably correct. She is such an abhorrent and corrupt harridan that she even managed to turn large numbers of women into misogynists.  
I am familiar with the notion of anti-Semitic Jews but have never heard of a female misogynist. Good job Mrs. Clinton, you have created a new subspecies.

You may have noticed that we bombed the Syrian air base thought to be the source of the chemical weapons Syria used a few days ago. Jim Geraghty of WSJ's The Morning Jolt summed things up, with respect to Russia's reaction best, I think.

"Somebody didn't get their money's worth out of election meddling".

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mr. Trump Does Washington

Last Friday the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, pulled the American Health Care Act from consideration. He knew he didn't have the votes to pass it. The press and pundits generally considered it a yuuuuge failure for Mr. Ryan and President Trump. They are half right, better than their usual score. Mr. Ryan has indeed suffered a huge failure.

I wrote of Trump's inaugural speech on January 20,

"I thought it particularly comical when the camera showed Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell smiling, clapping and nodding vigorously. They appear not to understand that they are part of the problem and will either acquiesce to the new regime or be driven from office."

Having given a lot of thought to the AHCA situation it occurs to me that the President played it perfectly. He let Ryan lead with his chin. If the bill passed, Ok, another promise kept, if imperfectly. If not, the defeat was Ryan's. Another win-win.

There is another element to the equation, I think. Ryan has been neutered. He took on a job for the President, no doubt confidently assuring the neophyte Trump of success and thoroughly botched it. He cannot any longer present himself to Trump as the Washington insider who knows which levers to pull and buttons to push. He will, from now on, be told what to do and how to do it by the White House.

Mitch McConnell is next on the list and the Gorsuch nomination, if botched, will do for him what the AHCA did for Ryan.

As things stand, to the best of my knowledge, a Democrat filibuster is a possibility. If that occurs McConnell will be expected to press the button on the nuclear option. I don't think he will. He is an old timer with a lot invested in the Senate and will be loath to undermine his beloved institution and his buddies. Outrage and derision will follow.

A failure to use the nuclear option will neuter him just as Ryan's failure has neutered him.

Two veteran legislators, much too deferential to Democrats and government business as usual will be toast. Donald Trump will be in charge.

Happily Trump's list of Supreme Court nominees is long and excellent. The next one will be confirmed, on way or another. McConnell will have no choice but to press the nuclear button in round two.

Don  Surber is a writer whose work I have come across quite frequently. I find him generally to be thoughtful, smart and well informed. Yesterday he wrote,

"However, I realized it was a negotiating ploy to get a better deal. Not only that, but I realized by calling for the vote, President Trump had usurped House Speaker Paul Ryan's power."

Followed by a Trumpism,

"Negotiations 101: The best deals you can make are the ones you walk away from...and then get them with better terms."


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Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Narrative

I have written several times about the frustration of dealing with the Emperor's New Clothes era in which we live. I have suggested that this frustration on the right has led to the election (for which I am grateful) of Donald Trump. For years black has been white and white black depending on the narrative being spun by the mainstream media, democrats and far too many republicans.

False narratives are pervasive and, for far too many people, persuasive. "Hands up, don't shoot" is among the most famous and destructive. Donald Trump as, variously, Hitler, racist, anti-Semite, serial fabulist and tax evader among the most recent.

Jon Gabriel of Ricochet produced a very helpful chart to help us properly classify the news regarding violent crime as it is now reported.



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Thursday, March 09, 2017


Over the years I have saved many articles that have caught my attention. I go through them every so often to see how they read years into the future. I have referred to a number of them in other posts. One of my favorites is this one.

I have written before of my extreme skepticism with respect to the horrific outcomes projected for man made climate change. It occurs to me that if you did not live through the 1970's (there are fewer and fewer of us around these days!) you might not understand the source of my skepticism.

I offer a few quotes from the linked article as proof that the scientific community is often wrong in its evaluation of current conditions and almost always wrong about extrapolating their conclusions into the future. None of this seems to prevent many of them from continuing to opine and extrapolate. Worse still, none of this seems to prevent a credulous press from amplifying their statements. Keep in mind that these quotes are from 1970, the birth year of Earth Day.

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
• Life Magazine, January 1970

No doubt you recognize the construction of the opening phrase. The age-old appeal to authority. I imagine you have also heard that 97% of scientists agree that climate change is a man made problem. There is a small problem with that assertion. It is not true.

What is true is that a review of some 12,000 papers on the subject of climate showed that only 33% of them suggested a reason for climate change. 97% of those asserted that the cause was man. So, now we are down to 97% of 30%, 29.1%. Quite a different number than 97% .

Let's go get more of that 70's wisdom.

“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.'”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

Watt also predicted that,

“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

 And, from the ever reliable Sierra Club ,

“We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones.”
• Martin Litton, Sierra Club director 

If you follow the link immediately above you will see that they have not mended their
Malthusian ways. 

I don't think I have ever seen an acknowledgment from any of these people that they have ever been wrong about anything.

Be skeptical of those who assert our imminent destruction. Their assertions seem, curiously, almost always to be attached to pleas for money. I can't imagine why.

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Monday, March 06, 2017

President Trump Does It Again

I have mentioned before that I have been thoroughly enjoying watching Mr. Trump bait the left. In an earlier post or two I borrowed a phrase from Powerline's John Hinderacker to the effect that being a liberal means you don't ever have to learn anything. Well, they are certainly proving him right again.

As everyone on the planet now knows, DJT launched a series of tweets on Saturday morning claiming that Obama tapped his phones during the elections. Predictably the left has set their hair on fire over this one.

There are so many stories on the subject that it is difficult to chose one to link to so I will stick with Mr. Hinderacker .

As you read the details of the various stories a very insightful comment from, if I recall correctly, Glenn Reynolds , is useful to explain what is going on here.

What Mr. Reynolds said, more or less, is that Trump's critics take him literally but not seriously and his supporters take him seriously but not literally.

We know, despite the aggressive wording of his tweet, that he did not mean, literally,
that Obama tapped his phones. To us it is perfectly clear that he means the Obama administration, in one form or another, did.

The press, meanwhile, is dealing with his tweets as though he meant, literally, every word in them and is trying desperately to disprove a case that Trump never intended to make, which is a very difficult thing to do.

Great fun indeed.

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Why Hillary Lost

She lost because she is so thoroughly off-putting and corrupt that she couldn't even manage to attract the votes of large numbers of women.

"However the biggest surprise of 2016 probably relates to gender. The first major party female candidate for president, running against a notorious misogynist, captured the Democrats’ lowest share of female voters since 2004."