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  • Archive for February, 2018

    Artificial Intelligence and Human Behavior

    Posted by David Foster on 28th February 2018 (All posts by )

    WSJ has an story on the use of artificial intelligence to predict potential suicides.  The article cites a study indicating that “the traditional approach of predicting suicide,” which includes doctors’ assessments, was only slightly better than random guessing.

    In contrast, when 16,000 patients in Tennessee were analyzed by an AI system, the system was able to predict with 80-90% accuracy whether someone would attempt suicide in the next two years, using indicators such as history of using antidepressants and injuries with firearms.  (It would have been nice to see numbers cited for false negatives vs false positives…also, I wonder how nearly the same results could have been achieved by use of traditional statistical methods, without appeal to AI technology.)

    Another approach, which has been tested in Cincinnati schools and clinics, uses an app which records sessions between therapists and patients, and then analyzes linguistic and vocal factors to predict suicide risk.

    Both Apple (Siri) and Facebook have been working to identify potential suicides.  The latter company says that in a single month in fall 2017, its AI system alerted first responders in 100 cases of potential self-harm.  (It doesn’t sound like the system contacts the first responders directly; rather, it prioritizes suspected cases for the human moderators, who then perform a second-level review.)  In one case, a woman in northern Argentina posted “This can’t go on.  From here I say goodbye.”  Within 3 hours, a medical team notified by Facebook reached the woman, and, according to the WSJ article, “saved her life.”

    It seems very likely to me that, in the current climate, attempts will be made to extend this approach into  the prediction of self-harm into the prediction of harm to others, in particular, mass killings in schools.  I’m not sure how successful this will be…the sample size of mass killings is, fortunately. pretty small…but if it is successful, then what might the consequences be, and what principles of privacy, personal autonomy, and institutional responsibility should guide the deployment (if any) of such systems?

    For example, what if an extension of the linguistic and vocal factors analysis mentioned above allowed discussions between students and school guidance counselors to be analyzed to predict the likelihood of major in-school violence?  What should the school, what should law enforcement be allowed to do with this data?

    Does the answer depend on the accuracy of the prediction?  What if people identified by the system will in 80% of cases commit an act of substantial violence (as defined by some criterion),  but at the same time there are 10% false positives (people the system says are likely perpetrators, but who are actually not)?  What if the numbers are 90% accuracy and only 3% false positives?

    Discuss.

    Posted in Current Events, Human Behavior, Tech | 13 Comments »

    Square your shoulders, stand up straight: Only Take What You Deserve

    Posted by Ginny on 25th February 2018 (All posts by )

    An interesting history.

    Posted in Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Miscellaneous, Society | 17 Comments »

    Just sayin’

    Posted by Margaret on 24th February 2018 (All posts by )

    In all the righteous indignation about the story that there were four cops who failed to enter the school after the shooting, I’ve yet to see a source cited other than CNN.

    We on the right have spent a lot of time and energy yelling that CNN is untrustworthy.

    Why, then, do we uncritically accept this story from CNN?

    Posted in Politics | 19 Comments »

    Boycott the NRA Boycotters

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd February 2018 (All posts by )

    Start with the Enterprise and Alamo and National car rental companies. Add other companies to the list as they join the PC #BoycottNRA bandwagon.

    Do these people remember the Smith & Wesson boycott? Perhaps not. And the anti-RKBA boycotters in this case aren’t gun companies and therefore don’t stand to lose as much from a conservative/pro-RKBA boycott as S&W did. The management of National et al no doubt figure their political opportunism won’t cost them much. They may be mistaken. Late-night TV hosts can get away with antagonizing half of their potential audience if doing so gets them increased viewership from the other half. However, sellers of ordinary goods and services are unwise to expect any such political partisanship to be good for their businesses.

    Posted in Current Events, Politics, RKBA | 36 Comments »

    We are in uncharted territory.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th February 2018 (All posts by )

    On October 18, 2016 Barack Obama ridiculed anyone who could think the election could be rigged.

    OBAMA: I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place. It’s unprecedented. It happens to be based on no facts. … [T]here is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, in part, because they are so decentralized and the numbers of votes involved. There is no evidence that that has happened in the past or that there are instances in which that will happen this time. And so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whinin’ and go try to make his case to get votes.

    Then Hillary lost.

    In December 2016, Democrats were still trying to figure out what happened.

    This process, which is a form of what’s called confirmation bias, can help explain why Trump supporters remain supportive no matter what evidence one puts to them—and why Trump’s opponents are unlikely to be convinced of his worth even if he ends up doing something actually positive. The two groups simply process information differently. “The confirmation bias is not specific to Donald Trump. It’s something we are all susceptible to,” the Columbia University psychologist Daniel Ames, one of several scholars to nominate this paper, said. “But Trump appears to be an especially public and risky illustration of it in many domains.” (Ames and his colleague Alice Lee recently showed a similar effect with beliefs about torture.)

    One of those was a good observation. But what about the “Russia Collusion” story?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Elections, Russia | 23 Comments »

    What Won’t Happen

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th February 2018 (All posts by )

    And why – in the wake of the latest horrific school massacre. What I mean is the banning of gun ownership in the US, or the abrogation of the Second Amendment, or the passing of so-called “sensible” new gun restrictions (which will be as little-enforced as the last set of so-called “sensible” restrictions). Not going to happen, no matter how emotional the demands by the ban-gun advocates scream, weep, stomp their feet and accuse gun-owners and organizations like the NRA of having blood on their hands. And no, we don’t much care how they do it in Europe, or Britain, or Australia. Weirdly enough, in the United States, the most violent cities are the ones with the most restrictions on personal firearms. Violent crime is generally the preserve of a distinctly urban racial sub-culture, which if omitted from the statistics, presents a very different picture when it comes to violent criminal activity in the US as a whole. That’s an anomaly and discussion for another time, although it does have slight bit of bearing on this one. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, RKBA | 63 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: How My Next Academic Article Begins

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th February 2018 (All posts by )

    Since 2008, I have argued in multiple publications that the Foreign Emoluments Clause’s Office-language (and closely similar language in other constitutional provisions) reaches only appointed federal officers, and not any elected federal officials, including the presidency. My position has not gone entirely unnoticed; indeed, it has even occasioned some firm and thoughtful opposition. My goal in this Article is not to illustrate the full spectrum of views opposing my position on the subject. There are far too many such views—many of which contradict one another—many of which (do not appear to) have gone through any sort of independent review process, by student editors, by peer review, or otherwise. Instead, my more modest goal here is to illustrate how deeply idiosyncratic some of these views are—not merely in their conclusions, but more importantly in their broad methodological approach.

    Read the entire post.

    Posted in History, Law, Politics, Trump | Comments Off on Seth Barrett Tillman: How My Next Academic Article Begins

    A French Village: Complete Series Now Available

    Posted by David Foster on 18th February 2018 (All posts by )

    I’ve previously mentioned this series, set in the (fictional) French town of Villeneuve during the years of the German occupation and afterwards.  It is simply outstanding – one of the best television series I have ever seen.  The program ran from 2009-207 on French TV, and all the seasons are now available in the US, with subtitles. Having now watched the whole thing, my very positive opinion of the series is sustained.

    Daniel Larcher is a physician who also serves as deputy mayor, a largely honorary position. When the regular mayor disappears after the German invasion, Daniel finds himself mayor for real. His wife Hortense, a selfish and emotionally-shallow woman, is the opposite of helpful to Daniel in his efforts to protect the people of Villaneuve from the worst effects of the occupation while still carrying on his medical practice. Daniel’s immediate superior in his role as mayor is Deputy Prefect Servier, a bureaucrat mainly concerned about his career and about ensuring that everything is done according to proper legal form.

    The program is ‘about’ the intersection of ultimate things…the darkest evil, the most stellar heroism….with the ‘dailyness’ of ordinary life, and about the human dilemmas that exist at this intersection. Should Daniel have taken the job of mayor in the first place?…When is it allowable to collaborate with evil, to at least some degree, in the hope of minimizing the damage? Which people will go along, which will resist, which will take advantage? When is violent resistance…for example, the killing by the emerging Resistance of a more or less random German officer…justified, when it will lead to violent retaliation such as the taking and execution of hostages?

    Arthur Koestler has written about ‘the tragic and the trivial planes’ of life. As explained by his friend, the writer and fighter pilot Richard Hillary:

    “K has a theory for this. He believes there are two planes of existence which he calls vie tragique and vie triviale. Usually we move on the trivial plane, but occasionally in moments of elation or danger, we find ourselves transferred to the plane of the vie tragique, with its non-commonsense, cosmic perspective. When we are on the trivial plane, the realities of the other appear as nonsense–as overstrung nerves and so on. When we live on the tragic plane, the realities of the other are shallow, frivolous, frivolous, trifling. But in exceptional circumstances, for instance if someone has to live through a long stretch of time in physical danger, one is placed, as it were, on the intersection line of the two planes; a curious situation which is a kind of tightrope-walking on one’s nerves…I think he is right.”

    In this series, the Tragic and the Trivial planes co-exist…day-to-day life intermingles with world-historical events. And the smallness of the stage…the confinement of the action to a single small village….works well dramatically, for the same reason that (as I have argued previously) stories set on shipboard can be very effective.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in France, Germany, History, Human Behavior, War and Peace | 10 Comments »

    New! – Your 2018 Poorer-But-Wiser Haiku Blowout

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th February 2018 (All posts by )

     
    hurricane
     
    Minor hurricanes:
    Always worse than expected
    With much long-term harm.

    —-

    She cares not a whit
    About your gearhead hobbies,
    But your words – watch out.

    —-

    Earnings out today.
    They killed volatility.
    Those calls you bought? Ha.

    —-

    Your lawn guy vanished.
    Perhaps he was deported?
    That’s the way to bet.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Poetry | 3 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: How My Next Academic Paper Ends: The Way Forward

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th February 2018 (All posts by )

    First, the commentators above (along with other commentators) believe their position carries a strong presumption of correctness (if not certitude), that it is my duty to displace that presumption, and that they will be the judges if I have carried that burden. Certainly, I have never agreed to such terms for this debate. Nor should I. The text of the Constitution does not expressly state that the Foreign Emoluments Clause applies to the President. The text of the Constitution does not expressly define the scope of the Constitution’s “Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” language. The Supreme Court has had no occasion to address the scope of the clause or the meaning of the clause’s operative language (or even the scope of similar language in other clauses.). As educated generalists who have chosen to recently inject themselves into this debate, their opinions should get a hearing. I would add: so should mine. And since, what is involved here is a debate between opinions lacking firm judicial support, our divergent ideas (and we) meet as equals. I add that the Legal Historians are supporting the plaintiffs in active litigation. Generally, in civil litigation, the burden of proof, production, and persuasion falls on the plaintiff, not on the defendant.
     
    Second, it is time for my intellectual opponents to be fair. Claims that they have made that they know or now know to be incorrect should be withdrawn or revised. Claims that they have made asserting the existence of documentary support, should be supported, and promptly, with actual documents—or else the claims should be withdrawn. If they have to go through this process repeatedly, they might ask themselves if their position (and expertise) is really as strong as they have led themselves and others to believe.
     
    Third, it is time for my intellectual opponents to be forthcoming in regard to an improved debate and debate atmosphere—an atmosphere rooted in mutual respect and goodwill…

    Read the whole thing.

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    Posted in History, Law, Politics, Trump | Comments Off on Seth Barrett Tillman: How My Next Academic Paper Ends: The Way Forward

    Attack of the Job-Killing Robots, Part 3

    Posted by David Foster on 13th February 2018 (All posts by )

    The final months of World War II included the first-ever battle of robots:  on one side, the German V-1 missile and on the other, an Allied antiaircraft system that automatically tracked the enemy missiles, performed the necessary fire-control computations, and directed the guns accordingly. This and other wartime projects greatly contributed to the understanding of the feedback concept and the development of automatic control technology.  Also developed during the war were the first general-purpose programmable digital computers: the Navy/Harvard/IBM Mark I and the Army/MIT ENIAC…machines that, although incredibly limited by our presented-day, standards were at the time viewed with awe and often referred to as ‘thinking machines.’

    These wartime innovations in feedback control and digital computation would soon have enormous impact on the civilian world.

    This is one in a continuing series of posts in which I attempt to provide some historical context for today’s discussions of automation and its impact on jobs and society…a context of which people writing about this topic often seem to have little understanding.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, History, Tech | 10 Comments »

    A 60 Year Old Fighter Design – Still Operational

    Posted by David Foster on 10th February 2018 (All posts by )

    In 2009, Neptunus Lex paid tribute to the MIG-21, which he referred to as “a noble adversary.”  At the time, it appeared that the airplane was about to be phased out of service by those countries still operating it.  Didn’t happen that way. though…the airplane is still in use by several countries, most notably India, which still operates more than 200 of them.

    Design studies for the MIG-21  began in 1953, with first flight in 1958 and production shipments beginning in 1959.  As analogy for the design’s longevity, imagine the Red Baron’s Fokker triplane from 1918 still being employed in a military role in the post-Vietnam era of 1977!

    An article asks: is the MIG-21 is the fighter jet that could fly for 100 years?  Probably not, I imagine, at least in any kind of operational role…but it’s already done pretty well in longevity terms for a combat airplane.

    There are some web pages on the MIG-21 by a former East German fighter pilot.

    Also, there’s a pretty decent movie, based on real events, about the 1966 Israeli operation to steal a MIG-21 from Iraq.  The moviemakers were evidently unable to get their hands on a real MIG-21 (in 1988), so a MIG-15 was used for the flying scenes instead.

    More MIG-21 information here.

    Posted in Aviation, India, Russia, Tech, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    Civil war or just uncivil society?

    Posted by Margaret on 8th February 2018 (All posts by )

    It seems that at least once a week I read an article predicting that the extreme political divisions in our country will lead to an actual civil war. “The country hasn’t been this divided since 1860!” is a common refrain.

    Divided, yes. But leading to war? I don’t think so.

    Those who actually know all about our Civil War may wish to correct me; I admit that discussion of this topic in my Georgia high school was so frequent and so prolonged that I did my best to sink into a coma whenever the subject came up. Even so, I think I grasped a few general points about that war which differentiate it from the present situation.

    (1) The war was driven by one major moral/economic dispute, even if the two sides described it differently. (North: “Slavery is wrong.” South: “Our economy depends on slavery. Besides, states’ rights.”)
    (2) The opposing sides were (mostly) geographically divided.
    (3) There were, on both sides, people who were willing to actually fight with something more lethal than a sarcastic Tweet.

    Now look at the current mess.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, History, Leftism | 83 Comments »

    With a Pillow

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th February 2018 (All posts by )

    In Iowahawk’s deathless phrase regarding the establishment press, “Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.” Here it is a weekend and a couple of working days after the release of the notorious and long-awaited FISA memo, and the relatively conservative side of the blogosphere is still happily chewing it over. Doubtless the professional national media wishes the whole matter would just go away already, just because. Frankly, the whole matter reminds me of the swiftboat veterans and the matter of John Kerry’s service in Vietnam.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Blogging, Crime and Punishment, Current Events | 31 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th February 2018 (All posts by )

    Theodore Dalrymple:

    But censorship by language reform is not a matter of logic, it is a matter of power. As Humpty Dumpty said, it is a question of who is to be master (if one may still be allowed the word), that’s all.

    Like many things.

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Rhetoric | 1 Comment »

    Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman: The Emoluments Clauses Litigation, Part 6: Are the Claims Against the President in his Official or Individual Capacity?

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th February 2018 (All posts by )

    Arguments progress:

    On January 25, 2018, Judge Messitte held oral arguments in Greenbelt, Maryland. Blackman attended. The very first question from the bench referenced our amicus briefs, and asked the parties to address whether the Maryland Complaint concerns actions taken in the President’s official or individual capacity. Over the course of nearly five hours of argument time, counsel for the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia maintained that Trump’s receipt of (purported) emoluments concerned his official capacity. But once confronted by skeptical questions from the bench, Plaintiffs volunteered to amend their complaint to bring claims against the President in his individual capacity.
     
    Judge Messitte did not order the Plaintiffs to amend their complaint, but during the hearing, counsel for Plaintiffs represented that they would do so in due course, presumably through a Rule 15 motion. At the hearing, the Justice Department did not indicate that it would oppose such a motion—rather, the Government suggested that it would file a new motion to dismiss. In short, the Maryland action, which had been set either to be dismissed or to proceed onto discovery, now sits in limbo awaiting a Rule 15 motion to amend, a new round of briefing on a motion to dismiss (and possibly in regard to the Rule 15 motion too), and, presumably, a new oral argument on the revised motion to dismiss (and, perhaps, also in regard to the Rule 15 motion). Moreover, all Plaintiffs have to do, to move the litigation into its new “path,” the obvious direction it should always have been in, is to change the Complaint’s caption and the 1-page prayer for relief; yet, it is now more than a week later, and still no amended complaint has been filed.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in History, Law, Politics, Trump | Comments Off on Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman: The Emoluments Clauses Litigation, Part 6: Are the Claims Against the President in his Official or Individual Capacity?

    The Details of Work and the Realities of Automation

    Posted by David Foster on 5th February 2018 (All posts by )

    An interesting piece on the automation of trucking, with an extensive comment thread.  Many of the commenters have practical experience in the trucking industry and in automation work in other industries such as sawmills.

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Tech, Transportation | 7 Comments »

    Trump’s “American Heritage Pheromone Fumigation” of The Federal Gov’t and The Coming Defenestration of The Deep State

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 4th February 2018 (All posts by )

    So what did you all think of Pres Trump’s SOTU “American Heritage Pheromone Fumigation” of the Congress?   Trump’s systemic use of American symbols and American success stories, in short American Patriotism, had political and media elites melting down.  The videos of the Democrats during and after Trump’s speech  certainly showed a lot of people who were acting like they were smelling week old road kill.

    So what was Pres. Trump up too and what does the Nunes Memo have to do with it?

    On the surface, Trump mentioned nothing about the FBI and Department of Justice civil rights abuses of his campaign and the spying on him during the first six months of his Administration, detailed in the Nunes Memo.  Despite the President reading and vetting it during his preparation for the State of The Union Address and executing plans against these scoff law internal security thugs.

    Huge hint — It was part and parcel of Trump’s long term political strategy tree in setting up the Nunes Memo release last Friday (2 Feb 2018).  So far only Daniel Greenfield over at Frontpage understands anything at all of what Trump was doing.

    See:

    https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/269181/trump-divides-americans-and-un-americans-daniel-greenfield

    Understanding Trump’s Political Strategy Tree
    Most Presidents are the head of a major political party faction who win the nomination as head of faction that unites the party for the general election. Then the party sells an agenda to the general public to govern in a wider governing political coalition.
     .
    President Trump, in contrast, is building a governing coalition -AFTER- he was elected.  He was his own party faction in the GOP and he is willing and messaging into existence a resurgent, predominantly working class/suburban/rural “Heritage America” as his governing coalition.  This general public coalition is dragging existing GOP party factions to Pres. Trump to unite the GOP under his banner.
     .
    The only DC politico that seems to understand what is going on is Texas Tea Party-elected U.S. Senator Ted Cruz with his talk of nuking the filibuster.
     .
    The Senate filibuster now is about retaining the “Uniparty” elites last real hold on elective power in DC.  The GOPe Senators who want to keep the filibuster want to use it against political factions in their own party, not the Democrats.  The Senate  filibuster’s destruction will mark the full blossom of Trump’s populist hostile take over of the Federal government.
     .
    And carefully note, those pro-filibuster GOP senators are mostly #NeverTrump, open borders,  tools of the Deep State, and they start throwing accusations off racism, sexism, Alt-Right white nationalism etc when ever Trump uses his “American Heritage Pheromone” shtick.
     .

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Speeches, Trump, USA | 55 Comments »

    ChicagoBoyz are Well-Traveled

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 3rd February 2018 (All posts by )

    A guide to spiritual enlightenment can be found anywhere … even by the side of the road.

    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »