Happy Annual War on Christmas!

Christmas comes but once  a year, so the saying goes, but semantic  arguments are  forever.  24 hours a day, 365 days a year, forever.
Of course,  this whole nonsense about whether to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ has only been in place since Bill O’Reilly, commentator extraordinaire (Fuck it, we’ll do it live!), the most passionate of pundits, the looniest  of the loons, although the competition for that title has become severe, and sexual pervert  without parallel (the idea of jamming a felafel up a lady’s hoo-haw is just gross, but even a loofah is kind of kinky), decided he could convince his loyal viewers, and they were legion, that liberals had declared war on Christmas.  Maybe he believed  it himself, maybe he was just showing off.  We may never know.
He based this on a couple of stories of schools which had disallowed nativity scenes, which happens every year because they are, by definition, a religious display and, according to the principle of separation of church and state, should not be on state property, and also on the fact that lots of liberals say ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of Merry Christmas.
I’d never thought about it much before, I think I usually said Merry Christmas, but  now I try to say Happy Holidays.  Because, you know, it’s a war so all hands on deck.

You don’t hear much about O’Reilly any more.  He got  to be too much even for Fox News, probably all the sexual harassment stuff, and there are plenty of younger, fresher, and just as angry pundits out there.  But his War on Christmas lives on, as every year you hear a few people arguing over whether or not you should say Christmas, and how often and under what circumstances.
This is Bill O’Reilly’s legacy.  May we never forget.

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Robotics and AI

The other day I got onto  a jag of watching videos about robots and AIs, because a friend had been raving about Sophia, but I  couldn’t find any one of her that I hadn’t seen before, so I wasn’t quite as impressed as he was.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s impressive, but once you’ve seen her a couple of times, it’s like, O.K., a robot can answer real time questions, logically, in grammatical English, certainly quicker and more intelligibly than some of my students ever could, but so… I guess I’m just expecting a bit much, and the fact that she actually can’t fool anybody into  thinking she’s human (the fact that they don’t put a wig on her really  sets her back in that respect.)
But, they still have to wheel her out, so there are the mobility issues, and despite the speed and appropriateness of her answers, there was still a somewhat inhuman (but not unpleasant) cadence to her speech, and she would flunk a Voit-Kampf test in about two minutes.

What I don’t get is this:  they are doing such amazing things with robotic mobility, I’ve seen robots that can walk down stairs, and do back flips and such, and they are doing such amazing work  with AI programs, so when are they going to put these two together?
That would be cool.

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Future Car

I was watching this thing on TV and it was pretty interesting, as I’m interested in the future and stuff, I mean, I plan on living there at some point, or at least visiting.  They were talking about how our cars would be  on a car intranet, and connected to the human internet, and everybody else through their mobile phones, plus they’ll have AI and be a million times smarter than us. You’d have stuff like you could know what music people  were listening  to in the cars around you and it could tell you which drivers near you might have mutual interests, so I guess you could contact them and agree to meet at the next diner, to conclude a business deal or just hook  up.  It all looked very interesting until it came time for the commercial break and I realized it was called Future Car, logically enough, but at that point I realized that the future they are selling is one that is directly contrary to what I want and probably not the best one for the future of mankind, no matter how cool it looks.  It’s still an  endless parade of individuals or small, small groups encased  in metal  and hurtling rickety split here and there on  and endless, world-girdling strip of concrete, consuming some kind of  energy  and gaining a minimum of satisfaction.
We need to go with trains.  Oh, sure, these future cars may be electric, and driverless so  that they’re massively more efficient. They might even be powered by magnets embedded in  the pavement, but a train could  do all  that too, carry a lot more passengers for a lesser amount of energy (which still costs something, and  I’m talking  about  costs in terms of resources, although  cash is a  consideration  as well), not isolate human beings into units of four or  less,  and make the journey oh, so much more pleasant.  You can even meet  people on the  train.

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Continued from Yesterday’s Blog

Very often, after I write a blog, I think “Oh, now I know what I should have written.”  This happens in conversation even more often, of course, because that’s real time, but it still happens with a blog, and it happened last night.
After analyzing Trump’s impenetrable paragraph of stupid, I realized I was probably overly focused on the illiteracy of it all, which probably doesn’t bother his illiterate base one bit.  Of course, none of it is going to bother his base one bit, but there was one bit of scientific ignorance which stood out above all  the rest.
After his ridiculous statement that American air is cleaner than ever but the air in China and Russia and other places is totally filthy, he added “and when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over,” which kind of proves that he doesn’t know what the atmosphere is.
Yes, it’s bigger than the oceans, and it goes the whole world round (like the oceans), but it is an important part of Earth’s biosphere (like the oceans, again) and this means two things: the pollutants do not dissipate and drift off into space, is one thing, and the other is  that it’s not divided into “Chinese air” and “American air.”  Once there’s  too  much  carbon in the air, we are all going to  die.
Air moves.  And it doesn’t matter how high  he builds the wall.

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Stupidest Man on Earth

It’s really too easy, it’s sort of cheating, to write a blog about something stupid that Trump just said, because you can pretty much do that on any day that ends in a y, but here you go.  Just one day after comparing himself to Elvis (not the old, fat Elvis, the young Elvis that  all the ladies were swooning over, because of his good looks and beautiful voice), the American president said this, in defense of his ongoing war against planet Earth:  “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including – just many other places — the air is incredibly dirty. And when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, it flows, and we say where does this come from. And it takes many people to start off with.”
It reminds me of the last words of Dutch Schultz (google it, it’s a hoot), it makes so little sense.  The first sentence, which isn’t grammatically correct, speaks of his high level of intelligence.  It takes a truly stupid man to think he is intelligent even while he is saying stuff which absolutely, 100% proves that he is a moron.  This isn’t just a proof of the Dunning-Krueger theory, it is a comical illustration of it.  Then “a record clean.”  Again, not grammatical.  It’s so ungrammatical that if I were going to correct a fellow internet commenter on it, I would check first to see if  English was not  their native language.  But, the main point is that it’s not.  That’s what the report, which he is so busy ignoring, is  all  about.  Our air is at a record level of filthiness, our water is so bad it is poisoning the lettuce, and in a few short years it could pass the point of no return and doom the human race to extinction.
Then he insults China, Asia (Donald, Donald, Donald.  China is part  of Asia.), South America, and Russia.  Also, China is planting trees and putting up solar panels like crazy.  They are dealing with the pollution problem.  The U.S. is not.
Then, he says oceans are very small, but not that  long ago he was saying he couldn’t  get aid to  Puerto Rico because they are so big.  Make up your damn mind.

Yes, the atmosphere is a relatively large area, but the pollution doesn’t “just blow over, just sail over.”  It blows around, and around, and around the world but the pollution doesn’t blow out of the air  because there’s no place for it to blow out to.

Seriously, the man has some  sort of a mental handicap and this poses a threat to all mankind.

 

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Who Do You Trust?

The Guardian used to be one of my preferred,  and most trusted,  sources  for  news.  They’re still  far from the worst,  I don’t view them as actually being the enemy, as I do the New York Times, for instance, but they are tainted.
There were a couple of iffy stories today, but not for the same reasons.  First was a story about a new beauty treatment that is popular among Hollywood elites – Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, and some others, which consists of oils  extracted from foreskins after circumcisions.  This is ridiculous.  A baby, as anyone whose ever seen a newborn one in the hospital knows, is really, really small.  The penis on a boy baby is only a tiny fraction of that baby, which is, as I’ve already mentioned, very, very small.  And the foreskin of that penis is almost nothing at all.  So, the oil extracted from that foreskin is practically nothing.  It would take hundreds, maybe thousands, to get enough to spread across your face.  Not that I doubt the story.  Just that the product itself is ridiculous stuff, and writing about it is the stuff of tabloids.
The other is a report that Paul Manafort (a Trump follower who is in plenty of legal hot water) met secretly with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, I guess to co-ordinate the release of the information that Hillary Clinton had rigged the primaries.
Wikileaks has totally denied the story and is threatening to sue them, and Glenn Greenwald and a lot of other journalists (Greenwald is one of the few journalists I still  trust) have said there are a lot of  things fishy about the story.
So,who  can you trust any more?  Well,  on politics, there’s no source you can trust 100%.  Everybody has their own viewpoint, and the line between facts and opinion  is blurrier and blurrier.  I still trust Assange and Wikileaks pretty  much, though.

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Christmas in Hell

NASA has landed another robot on Mars, and this one will drill into the red planet about 5 meters, giving us information we never had before, and it didn’t take long before I  saw a comment on Facebook along the lines of “They should be exploring the Earth.”  To all of the morons who share that opinion:  NASA’s job is space exploration, and they do an absolutely amazing job on a shoestring budget.  Get out there and explore the Earth your own damned self, it’s right outside your front door.

Just watched the latest episode of my favorite TV program, Humans, which is not  about humans, it’s about Androids.  It’s pretty  good  as action adventure, and speculative drama, but as far as science goes, it jumped the shark long ago.  The  little boy android is ridiculous.  He’s been  conscious exactly  as long as the adult androids, and has the same programming, so why does he draw, and talk, and play games like a little kid?  It’s just dumb.

In other news, Melania Trump is catching flak, for the 2nd year in  a row, for her absolutely hideous taste in Christmas decorations.  A hallway lined with blood red Christmas trees like an evil hellscape. I’ve seen  people comparing it to The Shining, and The Handmaid’s Tale, and uncooked hamburger.  Also, the Eagle gracing the top of another tree looks a hell of a lot like a Nazi eagle.  Weird.
Some people, of course, are saying that we shouldn’t be criticizing her over her choice of Christmas decorations, saying ‘That doesn’t make her a bad person.’
Of course not.  And it doesn’t make her a bad person that she was a nude model who married the richest American she could find.  A girl’s gotta eat, a girl makes choices, and as  long as nobody else gets  hurt, it’s none of anybody else’s business.  It doesn’t make her a bad person that she plagiarized a couple of speeches here and there.  Incompetent,  maybe. A bit lazy, but not truly evil.
What makes her a bad person is that after she visited a children’s prison in Texas, she put on a jacket that had the words “I Don’t Really Care, Do U?” on the back, and made sure all the camera people saw it.  She might as well  have stood there with her middle finger held high.
Yes, she is a bad person.  She has the same monstrous, anti-human values as her piece of shit husband.  So, we’re mocking her for her shitty taste in Christmas decorations.  It’s nowhere near the contempt she deserves.

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