25 March 2021

baizou

From the definition in the Urban Dictionary.

Baizuo (pronounced "bye-tswaw) is a Chinese epithet meaning naive western educated person who advocates for peace and equality only to satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority. A baizuo only cares about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment while being obsessed with political correctness to the extent that they import backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism.
The Chinese see the baizuo as ignorant and arrogant westerners who pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours.
Justin Trudeau's worldview is a low-resolution caricature of an adult's worldview.
            "Oh yeah. He's a total BAIZUO."

I guess it makes sense that the Chinese would have such an accurate and precise word to describe the many useful idiots they exploit to further the demise of the West and promote their own ascendancy.

17 February 2021

And technology cannot write good poetry anyway...so there.

Apparently computers will never write good novels or poetry. That is according to a carefully crafted narrative in Nautilus by Angus Fletcher dated February 10, 2021 entitled Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels. Thank you again to the Arts & Letters Daily website for pointing me in the direction of another story that is helping me make sense of this confusing post Trumpian and COVID world.

Angus Fletcher's thesis in Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels is beguiling and quite encouraging, and it does seem to help neutralize Cameron Hilditch's thesis in National Review, discussed a couple of posts earlier on this blog, that Technology Will Destroy Us.

Fletcher's proposition is that because computers think only in the syllogistic Boolian language of AND/OR/NOT, which is necessarily directionaly neutral and non-causal, computers cannot create imagined causes and connections that are the essence of authentic disbelief-suspending narrative. It was quite an eye opener to me to read Fletcher saying:

Causal reasoning is the neural root of tomorrow-dreaming...
It’s our brain’s ability to think: this-leads-to-that. It can be based on some data or no data—or even go against all data. And it’s such an automatic outcome of our neuronal anatomy that from the moment we’re born, we instinctively think in its story sequences, 

Computers can't do this because computers only use:

...syllogistic thought ... composed of mathematical equations, which ... take the form of A equals Z. And unlike the connections made by our [human] neurons, A equals Z is not a one-way route. It can be reversed without changing its meaning: A equals Z means exactly the same as Z equals A, just as 2 + 2 = 4 means precisely the same as 4 = 2 + 2.

This feature of A equals Z means that computers can’t think in A causes Z. The closest they can get is “if-then” statements such as: “If Bob bought this toothpaste, then he will buy that toothbrush.” This can look like causation but it’s only correlation. Bob buying toothpaste doesn’t cause him to buy a toothbrush. What causes Bob to buy a toothbrush is a third factor: wanting clean teeth.

Computers, for all their intelligence, cannot grasp this...

Now I recognize I may be in danger of getting into a self reinforcing destructive technology bubble (where I only engage with stuff that accommodates my desires), but ...  this analysis is kinda reassuring. It might mean that technology wont be able to destroy us after all. Fletcher goes on to say:

This inability to perform causal reasoning means that computers cannot do all sorts of stuff that our human brain can. They cannot escape the mathematical present-tense of 2 + 2 is 4 to cogitate in was or will be. They cannot think historically or hatch future schemes to do anything, including take over the world.

And they cannot write literature.

So come on now all you computers and artificial intelligences, prove this thesis wrong. Write us some literature that isn't just a tossed word salad (...like most art criticism)

Can you AI overlords, even match the doggerel poetry of the last post here on the Realm of Threalm?  I hereby challenge you to do so AI.     Go on. Do your worst.

Bob

(And, just for the record; Fletch is right. Just coz I buy some toothpaste doesn't mean I'm gonna buy a toothbrush. It's more likely to mean I already have one).

 

 

10 February 2021

Less screen time and more outside-play time? Unplug...

Perhaps to help stop technology destroying us we might each day seek to unplug. Say...


Leave your mobile on the bench today,

become unplugged, yes, tablet free,

go out the opened door to play; 

touch, taste, sing and see.

 
Be beckoned by beguiling birdsong,

brace brazenly 'gainst the blust'ring breeze,

bypass business and the bustling throng,

bend time, slow space, incept brain freeze.

 

Shift slimy sand from sandalled soles,
 
smear sweated skin with sunscreen oil, 
 
slide seaweed strands through swimsuit holes,
 
savour the succulent scent of sea and soil.


Wonder at the wideness of the world's night,

wistfully wander where there's no walkway,  

plunge dark pools and rise up to light,

then wake to silently laugh out loud, OK?

 

Technology is impotent to destroy such doggerel from deep in our souls.

So threalm on. 

Less blogging and more jogging and snogging 'til we've pulled out of this tech death spiral. OK? 

 

03 February 2021

Technology is destroying us. What is to be done?

In the cacophony of the interesting times in which we live it has been difficult to sustain a coherent picture, let alone a coherently articulated explanation for why such chaos has now enveloped us. This may partially explain the long silence of the Realm of Threalm through the time of Trump and COVID. There has been all too much to talk about in recent years but not really a lot to say that makes sense of it all. 

I have been prompted however to return from my social commentary somnolence to blog again here by a Nation Review article of 23 January 2021 by Cameron Hilditch entitled "Technology Will Destroy Us". I might just have been shown a plausible story that helps coherently explain what the hell is happening in this noisy, fractious, partisan and unforgiving world we now seem to live in.

Here's a summary (using the article's own words) of what appears to be its thesis:
Technology allows human beings to shape reality in such a way that it conforms to their own needs and desires...  
...(we) replace nature with technology, so that human beings no longer have to bump up against any intractably resistant reality that might hamper the fulfillment of their desires.
...The Internet has allowed us to subjugate information to our own desires much in the same way that older technologies allowed us to master the elements...  
...If our technology allows us to filter and control the information that gets to us so that it always conforms to our own desires, what hope have we of sharing a common experience of reality...
...Having left us collectively estranged from intractable reality, technology has conditioned each of us to select the information that best suits our desires. And so we follow the logic of technology through to its conclusion...
...reality is less and less likely to penetrate the layers of self-serving, reality-curating technology with which they wrap (themselves) ...the endpoint of all this ... 
virtual reality: a technological end-state in which no individual has to confront anything contrary to his own desires...
What’s troubling is that technological development has now spiraled out of human control...We are its servants rather than its masters. The real problem with technology is that “it has become a reality in itself,”...
This process is plunging many of us into a kind of political solipsism, whereby we’re increasingly intolerant of any state of affairs that doesn’t express and execute our own desires...
How we can pull ourselves out of this tech-driven death spiral isn’t at all clear."

Sobering stuff from Cameron Hilditch, who cites Aldous Huxley and Jacques Ellul as authorities in earlier recognition of this potentially awful and seemingly inevitable plight for humanity. And this plight sounds and feels plausible enough based on what we are increasingly seeing and experiencing in the hyper crazy mixed-up uncivil polarized world we now exist in.

So how indeed are we to pull ourselves out of this tech-driven death spiral? 

I guess the first step in solving such a problem is acknowledging we have one. OK. 

Houston. We have a problem.

The next steps would probably be finding and then executing a solution or a work around...

Now that's a little tougher...

What about starting with say

...less screen time ... and more outside playtime?  


 

 

 

 

 

12 August 2019

If it doesn't happen suddenly it's not new news; it's old news.

Good news is gradual. Bad news is sudden.

If the world is getting warmer slowly it's not news. It's only news if it happens quickly. People who want to slow the warming or who sell news for a living, or both, must speed up this perceived slow warming to make it newsworthy. Alarmism is the answer. Sudden weather events are good for this, especially when the weather event can be said to be evidence of the Warming. The nomenclature of this issue has therefore consciously progressively moved over the last 30 years from "Global Warming" to "Climate Change" to "The Climate Emergency" in the service of this imperative.

But if the weather doesn't comply with this narrative?  What if the weather event'shows coldness, not heat? Is there anyone out there with an incentive to accelerate a slow cooling to make it newsworthy; that the warming is slowing? This could after all be good news. The planet may not be heading for a catastrophic warming after all.

"But,", you say, "get with the program. Everyone knows the world is warming. Where's your perspective? You couldn't possibly want to promote the notion that the world might not have a global scale warming problem. That would be irresponsible."

"But", I say, "there are from time to time some unsettling indicators that we may not be so doomed to an imminent warming catastrophe after all. What should we make of these inconvenient factoids?"

Saturday 10 August 2019 was apparently the coldest August day ever recorded in Orange, New South Wales, with the temperature only barely getting above zero degrees for a few hours.  Has this been reported on anywhere other than Orange? Doesn't look like it. The Bureau of Meteorology seems not to want to tell us about this event.

I speculate that it might work like this. Weather reporting is mainly about forecasting weather, not for the general public the recording of what the weather actually did. The Bureau forecasts the expected temperatures, often for hotter than happens, and it publishes and gives prominence to its forecasts on its website. Then the weather happens. It is then recorded as an "observation" by the Bureau, but its publication of its "observations" are delayed for a few days. It can therefore not be readily observed how the BOM may have overestimated its forecast. There is no incentive for BOM to report both it's errors and that the weather is not conforming to its house view of warming. To report on colder outcomes would not be hot news. Hence we're continually led to believe our world is warming and few are going to be bothered by some irksome anomalies . Warming is bad. And this needs to be news. But what if our world is cooling slowly? Would that ever be reported as good news? Nah. Not if it's not sudden. And it ain't.

Maybe we're approaching this whole climate problem from the wrong perspective. Lionel Shriver in the Spectator suggests the issue could  just be us. Yes. Us. People. Here's what she's suggesting:


"The biggest driver of climate change and every other global headache you care to name — species extinction, deforestation, desertification, ocean acidification, pollution, fresh water scarcity, oceanic plastic, soil erosion, ‘irregular’ migration — is people. Too many of them, and born too fast.At least another 2.3 billion more neighbors are on their way by 2050, and they will all aspire — understandably — to a western lifestyle. So if you care about these issues, supporting organizations that provide people living in Africa and the Middle East with access to reliable contraception is more effective than gluing yourself to a bridge."

So stop breeding people. You are the problem. Not the solution. 

Humanism turns out to be a plague not the triumph of civilization. 

Whilst digesting this conclusion you might also, if you live here, enjoy the fine skiing conditions in the Australian ski fields this winter. You know the ones. The ski fields that were going to go broke a decade or so ago because the're wouldn't be enough snow anymore due to global warming. They  apparently however are continuing to operate quite profitably. Just don't procreate whilst there and don't make any awkward observations or worse, seek to draw any conclusions, from the fact that there is enough snow there after all.

But may be its all hokum after all. Is Global Warming just the latest in countless doomsday predictions that are trotted out so that elites can control rubes with scary stuff? That's what Issues and Insights are suggesting here. Let's party.

02 November 2016

"Find the good and praise it"

The title of this post is a quote from an article entitled "If it ain't broken, it must not be America"  by George Korda in the Knoxville News Sentinel of 1 November 2016.

That article suggests things may not be as bad as they seem. We humans do seem to have a proclivity towards pessimistic presentism whereby, when we feel that things are going badly for us (like now in the midst of this appalling US presidential election campaign), we tend to think that our lot is worse than it has been in the past. Clearly this is an over-reaction.

In the previous post on this blog I suggested that although things do feel pretty rum in the world right now, fear not; we are all probably not going to ruin, provided enough of us stick to our jobs and do our duty undistracted by the whirling noise of potential chaos.

Similarly, George Korda in his article quotes his own father as telling him:
 “Quit worrying. Times are always desperate.” 
And George counsels us to lead by finding the good and praising it, rather than calling on people to act simply because the system is broken.  I hear what he is saying.  I may have been partially guilty of doing that in my "...We'll all be rooned" post. That is saying: "Hey you out there, do the right thing because no-one else is". What I understand George to be counseling us with is we would be better served by saying act positively because it is positive. "Find the good and praise it" he says, quoting Alex Haley (who?).

I'm listening George. Here's an example of perceived good being praised, and I'm here to praise the sentiment too, even if the praise being praised here is over the top, American centric and politically slanted. I get what he's saying about standing tall to do the right thing, even when doing so risks your personal advancement:
"The FBI Agents Who Stood Up for the Rule of Law Make me proud to be an American". So says David P Goldman in an article dated 31 October 2016 in PJ Media. 
This article seems to make a similar point in the heat of a real political battle, to the more generic point I made at the end of the previous post about being prepared to make personal sacrifices for what you believe in. More interestingly, it also may just help explain to mystified non-Americans like myself, just what the appeal of Donald Trump is to so many Americans, even though they know he is a blow hard egotistical creep who shoots from the hip.

If the tendency to polarization in politics seems largely to do with the contest to claim higher moral ground than your enemy, the kind of perspective Goldman's article brings may help us observers outside the US understand just what moral ground Trump could possibly even be standing on in this contest. Until this article I perceived him as just standing for "I'm not one of those Washington types". A negative. What this article is suggesting, as George Korda would have us do, is that many see Trump as standing for something positive. Something along the lines of standing for those who "do their duty and what they believe is right, rather than following the latest whim of some perceived prevailing political and cultural fashion."  

Can this ghastly election spectacle therefore really be just the latest iteration of the ancient civilizational contest between those who believe in permanent values and those who see values as changing (conservatives v progressives), but now amplified to new dizzying and unprecedented heights by the spectacular speed and pervasiveness of contemporary communications?

The more things change the more they stay the same.









20 October 2016

"... We'll all be rooned", said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."

Things sure do look like they're going to ruin on planet Earth at the moment:
  • Russia seems intent on provocatively escalating its saber rattling in the Baltic, Syria and Ukraine.
  • China is aggressively asserting its hegemonic claims in the South China Sea and seems to have incomprehensibly large domestic debt problems.
  • Iran is now actively developing a nuclear warhead capability, unrestrained by the international community. 
  • North Korea is testing nuclear capable ballistic missiles that can reach Japan and beyond.
  • The interminable war with Islamic extremism intensifies yet again. This time its Mosul, Iraq.
  • Aleppo, Syria is being bombed into oblivion in the proxy millennial war between Sunni and Shiite
  • Britain has voted to Brexit. 
  • France is on a path to electing Marine Le Pen.
  • Academia in the West is progressively and inexorably losing whatever slight grip it may have had on reality. Each day we seem to read yet another story of an educational institution abrogating its responsibility to maintain high standards for scholastic achievement. This adds to the mounting evidence that relativism, diversity and subjectivity are becoming the prevailing educational benchmarks.  A lack of regard for intellectual rigour is now coupled with widespread spineless institutional concessions to strident student demands for restrictions on the exercise of fundamental academic freedoms, to make mediocrity the new academic norm, even in formerly prestigious seats of higher learning. 
  • And the media screams dis-proportionally louder each day exaggerating beat ups of claims of Muslim victimization, refugee mistreatment, gender bias and impending climate catastrophe.
  • Meanwhile Donald and Hilary just call each other names and complain about each other's family's sexual misconduct and mendacity. And the US grinds relentlessly sideways with almost a decade of anemic growth and ugly racial and gender discord increasingly dogging its communities. 
It looks like we're all going to continue to be losers whoever wins on 8 November.

Moral indignation, fear and loathing seem to be everywhere and unusually loud, random and disorientating at present. What's a person to do in the face of all this ruin?

Is  this all just a symptom of pessimistic present-ism? Or should we all just curl up in a ball, play RPGs, watch sport, surf shopping sites, or read social media and blogs?

Hah. In the midst of these melancholy thoughts I was heartened to happen upon this blog post: "Screwtape and the Human Wave" at the blog Cat Rotator's Quarterly (Lid Dip to Instapundit and Sarah A Hoyt) . Here's my takeaway from the post (which refers to CS Lewis's famous Screwtape letters and also takes you to ancient Norse sagas):
... Are we doomed? Well, since life has a 100% probability of ending in death thus far*, yes. Is the US and it’s version of Western Civilization doomed? No. We survived the Thirty Years War, we survived the Black Death and the slow-motion disaster that was the Fall of Rome – Western Edition, we survived WWI and WWII, although with a gaping spiritual wound that some people only recognized about 10-15 years ago. We will survive Marxism and the return of collective thinking, of those who would pit man against woman and neighbor against neighbor for their own gain.
It will not be easy. Dragging civilization out of the shadows never is. Fighting a battle that may be lost so that others will take heart and carry on the fight is hard...
So the message is to keep up the struggle even if all appears doomed. Somebody might just be sufficiently heartened by some small sign of self belief and self sacrificial honour, to actually lift themselves out of the mire one more time, and assume personal responsibility for carrying the flame into tomorrow.


02 September 2015

Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language

So said Ludwig Wittgenstein.

I did not stumble on this beguiling jewel of language reading Wittgenstein. Nein. That would require too much grit, wit and deutsche. I found it reading an intriguing article in Slate by David Auerbach titled "The Limits of Language", subtitled "Wittgenstein explains why we always misunderstand one another on the Internet".

It was very prescient of Ludwig, who died in 1951, to do this for us. He just knew that the Internet was going to be a poor medium for us to communicate in. Some may claim he was merely saying that humans are poor at communicating sometimes, but then they would clearly not get Witt.

Mr Auerbach's  proposition appears to be that because the later period Ludwig held that the meaning of what we say can't be abstracted away from the context in which we say it, this means that the inherent abstraction of our communication on the Internet results in our words losing their appropriate context and therefore losing the required nuance required for communicating meaningfully.

The point here is that if you are not following what I am trying to say, it's not because of me, its because of you, whoops, I mean it's because of this Internet thing we're communicating on. You see, as Wittgenstein put it, "speaking a language is part of an activity, or a form of life" and since the Internet is neither an activity nor a form of life (it's a wide web where words were wrapped waiting to wield when wanted), we struggle to properly understand each other on it.

I may've taken Ludwig slightly out of context there, but you'll get my drift, with a pinch of wit.

17 November 2014

Wavo Bowlo too.

Haiku prolixia.

Swallows swirling in a swaying sky,
Yachts creak on moorings of rust, 
Lycra clad grunts on swathes of green, and
"Howzat?" intruding from far off fields.
' I declare that I reside outside a 5 km radius of this club ...'
Do we sign? 
Alan, master of the barefoot bowls, knoweth all mysteries here:
sliced white, espresso, doily, egg, teapot, ditch and jack.
Spiritual direction and art non-appreciation are our fare, 
for gods would be present too.
Thing achieved.

Bob 15.11.14 

Wavo Bowlo

Since early days.
Time, toast and labradors.
Bob and me.
Talking, laughing.
Throat singing.
Iambic pentametre melts on tinfoil.
Tea grows colder.
We grow older.
Than we were. 
Once.
I am an author!

Fiona 15.11.14