Deep Thoughts

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
— H. L. Mencken

Hillary

She’s grown on me.

I was pretty lukewarm on her, initially. I wanted her to face a challenge in the primaries, which she definitely did. But the Benghazi hearing where she stomped on the little GOP witch-hunters is what started me coming ’round. The way she handled herself during the primaries was impressive, too. No, she’s not a natural politician. But she’s tough as hell, and smart, and I think she’s generally on the right side of things.

The sub-zero quality of her opponent helps, too.

The Earth is Not Moving!

In case you’d like some non-political lunacy in your day…

We live in a yin-yang world of duality where everything and its opposite exist together in perfect proportions like male/female, good/evil, hot/cold, knowledge/ignorance, inhale/exhale, dark/light, day/night and of course, sun and moon. Half our lives (the daytime) are ruled by the sun and half our lives (the nighttime) are ruled by the moon. When you look up at the sun and the moon they are in perfect proportion to one another as exemplified during an eclipse. But thanks to a total eclipse of the mind these nihilistic cosmologists have indoctrinated world-wide generations of people to believe Earth itself and all the planets revolve around the sun. That the sun is much larger and farther away, the moon is much smaller and closer, and it’s simply our coincidental perspective here on Earth that makes them appear the same size. They have convinced us that the very Earth on which we stand is spinning beneath our feet. So next time you’re wondering why it’s so difficult to awaken your friends and family to the Atlantean conspiratorial matrix, consider how deep the establishment indoctrination really is, and how easy it is to convince people that up is down and down is up.

There are hundreds of comments below it, where dozens of amateur and professional physicists pop in to point out how geocentrism was thoroughly discredited hundreds of years ago. Each one is dismissed with the same stack of conspiracy theories and pseudoscience – Fake moon landing! Coriolis effect has never been proved! It’s the aether! Copernican propaganda!

Good times.

Nope, not even during the DNC.

On the day after Hillary Clinton officially became the first woman to receive a major party nomination for US President, our pals over at Talking Points Memo have fifteen stories about Trump and two about Clinton. One of those two Clinton stories is about how Trump “raises the stakes” for “fans and skeptics” of Clinton. The other is a story about how newspapers today are catching flack for not featuring Clinton’s historic achievement on the front page – which TPM also does not. Heh. Irony.

None here, either. I assume nobody comes here for news.

Context

I find the safety obsession with self-driving cars to be amusing. Safety is the easy part. I’m sure they’ll be able to make cars which drive themselves on highways and have as good or better safety records as humans in similar driving conditions. Programming them to not hit things and to avoid being hit by things is, I would guess, the simplest challenge right now.

I disagree.

Here’s the scenario that convinces me otherwise:

You’re driving on a residential street. It just happens that there’s a birthday party in one of the houses ahead on the right. You can see a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” banner in the front window. Cars are parked along the street, on both sides, in front of the house. Kids are playing with a ball in the front lawn.

Most human drivers will see the kids playing in the yard and will, at least a little, raise their guard. Kids, ball, street – balls have a tendency to go into streets. Maybe you slow down a bit, maybe not. But you’re probably going to start paying close attention.

You keep driving. And now you’re in front of the house driving between two rows of parked cars, slowed down a bit because it’s narrow, plus, kids.

Suddenly, a ball appears from between two cars immediately ahead on your right, bounces once, then exits between two cars on the left. What do you do? You slow way down, or even stop, because you already know that:

  1. there are kids playing in front of that house
  2. with a ball
  3. that ball just bounced across the street in front of you
  4. kids follow balls

At 30mph, you need 45 feet to stop (not counting human reaction time, which adds another 45 feet). 45 feet is about three car lengths. I hope you had already slowed down a bit. If you didn’t, you will never be able to stop in time.

In this scenario, knowing about kids and balls is what gets you to slow down enough to be able to stop in time. It’s not enough to react when the ball appears. You have to actually understand the situation and prepare yourself for the worst. Dumb sensors can’t do that. It takes some amount of intelligence. Would the computer in a self-driving car know how to identify “kids playing with a ball on a lawn”? Not today. In ten years? Maybe. With matter-of-life-or-death reliably? I wouldn’t bet my life on it. Maybe in twenty years? But until they can, self-driving cars will have to be limited to driving impractically slow except on restricted-access highways.

We’re So Vain

Love songs have always dominated the pop charts, and the current era is no exception. But today, the singer’s object of affection is very often that stunning someone they see in the mirror.

A new study reports self-regard, self-promotion, and plain old bragging are far more prominent in pop music than they were a quarter-century ago.