Friday, December 8, 2023

Vegans are not the world

Think that people aren't buying plant-based meat because you think it is processed? No

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Elections Matter, part 335 million

Biden administration proposes strictest lead pipe rules in more than three decades 

As someone who grew up with peak lead and all the cognitive effects, it is clear only one party truly cares about "the children." 

BTW, Hillary Clinton explicitly campaigned on lead abatement. Thanks to Jill Stein and the "Green" Party, we got the opposite.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Potentially Important Advice (Coda for Hawaii)

tl;dr:  Always take a video of your rental car return.

As a follow-up to my recent report (I changed its title to "My Brain Flaps Again, Hawaii Edition"):

After the long, drawn-out, absurd pickup experience at the rental company (that rhymes with Nertz), we returned the car in the pitch black before our early morning flight. Since it was completely dark (and the car was black) we did not videotape us returning the car.

That was October 26. 


Then, on the evening of December 3 (December) we received an email from ... Nertz ... saying there was damage to the car. The car we returned on October 26

Here's someone else's similar story, which at least seems to have a "happy" ending. ?

Note: I did not post a public negative review of ... Nertz ... just to avoid the chance of retribution. I did, unfortunately, honestly answer the survey they sent to me after the rental was over. DOH!

Our State Farm agent says this is a known scam. It happened to her brother-in-law. 

At least I wasn't thrown in jail.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Please Don't Buy the Vibes

Then-CBS CEO Les Moonves said Tangerine Palpatine "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."

Regardless of personal politics, the corporate media want him back. 

Please read, and pass on, Vibes vs Data by Noah Smith.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Maternal Mortality, Woke, Liberal Media, and Scam

In Losing, I rant about how terrible child and maternal mortality is in the United States. Here is an interesting article about the latter by Kevin Drum (whose photo of the Milky Way is in Losing).

I've read Kevin since he started blogging twenty years ago. He is ten years older than I am and is a good barometer of an educated, well-off, older male liberal. Not a swing voter, but much closer than the typical liberal on Twitter.* Several recent examples:  Louisiana governor wants to prosecute women who seek abortions |  Here is the new dictionary definition of woke.

*Calling Twitter a sewer is an insult to sewers. Twitter is like a reverse sewer. Why I'm basically never there. 

For anyone you know who says the media is liberal:

I will note that Hillary was correctly categorizing Nazis, while TFG was calling for the extermination of communists and socialists ... like Bernie Sanders.

Finally, here is a scary explanation of a scam I'd not heard of before:


Thursday, November 30, 2023

Self-Sabotage or Infiltrators? (rerun)

Humankind isn’t just some abstraction. To love humanity, you must start by loving individual persons, by fulfilling your responsibility to those you love.

-Death's End

I thought of this earlier post (below) when I heard about a protest demanding both climate action and "Free Palestine." Why not add in mandatory raw veganism and full dismantling the Department of Defense? And a free unicorn for everyone?

For more on the climate movement (in addition to my comments in Losing) please see The Implosion of the Climate Left.

Once upon a time, some animal exploiter tried to convince an unstable person to plan a (thwarted) terrorist attack in order to make animal advocates look bad.

This comes to mind whenever I see people supposedly concerned with making the world a better place doing things beyond absurd. I wonder: are they infiltrators trying to discredit actual dedicated advocates? Or are they simply unhinged people without any connection to reality?

In this case, the person is unhinged - don't wash to save mites that live on you. OK, fine, the "Effective" Altruism community wants to allow weird brainstorming, even about non-sentient "wild" animals. 

But whoever compiles the "best of" EA posts for the weekly newsletter actively chose to highlight and promote this insanity. 

Our is a world where countless fully-conscious human beings are actually and acutely suffering - including many individuals who are being tortured. Parents losing their five-year-old after a two-year battle with childhood leukemia. A teenager paralyzed by crushing anxiety. A new mother killed by a drunk driver, leaving behind a howlingly-despairing husband and infant. A political prisoner driven mad in solitary confinement.

And yet, in this world, the Effective Altruism community choses to promote concern for non-sentient invisible mites that literally feed on us


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Biases are inherent; religion seems necessary

Patty Griffin - Making Pies

Expanding on "We All Have Our Blindspots"

I assume you don't think different humans have different values based on their skin tone. Most readers probably also agree the sequence of ACTG nucleotides doesn't determine whether a lifeform deserves moral consideration. (As far as I know, no one has yet topped Bentham: “The question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?”)

Recently, I was listening to two people discussing whether we are alone in the universe. One said, "If we are, we have an obligation to spread life throughout the galaxy." The other replied, "Yes, life is good. I prefer a tree to a rock."


It wasn't until I was writing Losing My Religions that I realized that everyone I've ever met, read, or heard about has a set of unquestioned and unfalsifiable beliefs; IOW, a religion. 

The most obvious is a subset of people who don't eat animal products and speak of "Veganism" in purely religious terms (as discussed in the chapter "The End of Veganism"). 

Many (most?) Effective Altruists are similar. They assume "the sum of utility in the universe" is something that actually exists and is meaningful ("Against Longermism: My expected value is bigger than yours"). Far worse, they unquestioningly assume humans are good and the continuation of our species is inherently good and the overriding goal ("I welcome our robot overlords").

And, of course, some think they are the only rational person in the world.

Obviously, it isn't just people close to me intellectually or philosophically. Many on the right have made hatred / owning the libs their religion (and, of course, Tangerine Palpatine is their Savior). 

Breaking free of my disdain for the "ignorant" and "irrational" has been a real challenge for me. The main way I dealt with all the bullying I talk about in the first few chapters of Losing was to look down on my tormentors, so my visceral reaction to rednecks and religion is quite deeply ingrained.

But I certainly have my own unquestioned beliefs. I don't know what they are -- that is why they're called blindspots. If I had to guess, I'd say it is my worship of individual rights. I can imagine arguments in favor of throwing homosexuals off roofs, and people still rationalize enslaving people based on the skin's melanin content. But I simply can't imagine ever being swayed to believe either.

As far as all evidence indicates, an individual's conscious, subjective experience is the only thing we can be sure exists. And thus my belief is that a conscious individual is the fundamental unit of ethics. 

Oh - and that Anne is the greatest collection of matter and energy to ever exist.

PS: Your family is your first cult.

If you found this post useful, please share it. Thanks so much!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Maps that will change the way you think about the world

Via our pal Ken, really great stuff! Example:

This should be "The Majority of States Have a Smaller Population than LA County."

Monday, November 27, 2023

More on the Male Victimhood Complex

In response to the original post, a commenter notes that men and women are about equally likely to be the victim of a violent crime. But men are more likely to be punched and women are more likely to be raped. Not a symmetrical threat. (Republican Senator: ‘Every now and then, you need to get punched in the face.’ How many women talk like that?)

The same statistics show that men commit almost all violent crime. 

So let's imagine a fictional scenario:

  • Men ages 20-29 commit all the violent crime.
  • Men ages 20-29 are equally likely to be the victim of a violent crime as boys ages 0-9, but boys are much more likely to be sexually assaulted.

Would you really argue both groups are identically at risk? Would you distribute society's public safety resources equally? 

Saturday, November 25, 2023

IMHO: Worth 20 minutes of your (long?) weekend

Religion for the Nonreligious

I don't agree with Tim on everything (e.g., emptiness isn't quite the same as ignorance; "Truth" with a capital T doesn't exist IMHO) but I think there is enough insightful and useful stuff in his post to make it worth your while. And I think he and I are pretty close on the main parts.

And we also agree on how insightful Uncle Carl was (emphasis added for Thanksgiving):

Step 3 is also the answer to anyone who accuses atheists of being amoral or cynical or nihilistic, or wonders how atheists find any meaning in life without the hope and incentive of an afterlife. That’s a Step 1 way to view an atheist, where life on Earth is taken for granted and it’s assumed that any positive impulse or emotion must be due to circumstances outside of life. On Step 3, I feel immensely lucky to be alive and can’t believe how cool it is that I’m a group of atoms that can think about atoms—on Step 3, life itself is more than enough to make me excited, hopeful, loving, and kind. But Step 3 is only possible because science has cleared the way there, which is why Carl Sagan said that “science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” In this way, science is the “prophet” of this framework—the one who reveals new truth to us and gives us an opportunity to alter ourselves by accessing it.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Thankful for Chemists Finding Good Chemicals

I didn't want Losing to be all about dealing with depression but is certainly a central theme. Every day for the past nearly two years, I'm thankful for Wellbutrin. (Note: I'm also back on Pregabalin, the nerve pain medicine. I got ~11 hours of sleep the first night after re-starting! Was a mistake to go off - live and learn.)

From Having it Out with Melancholy by Jane Kenyon:

We move on to the monoamine 

oxidase inhibitors. Day and night 

I feel as if I had drunk six cups 

of coffee, but the pain stops

abruptly. With the wonder 

and bitterness of someone pardoned 

for a crime she did not commit 

I come back to marriage and friends, 

to pink fringed hollyhocks; come back 

to my desk, books, and chair.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Michael Lewis on Effective Altruists

From Going Infinite, his book about Sam Bankman-Fried, quoted in this 30,000-word review:

One day some historian of effective altruism will marvel at how easily it transformed itself. It turned its back on living people without bloodshed or even, really, much shouting. You might think that people who had sacrificed fame and fortune to save poor children in Africa would rebel at the idea of moving on from poor children in Africa to future children in another galaxy. They didn’t, not really—which tells you something about the role of ordinary human feeling in the movement. It didn’t matter. What mattered was the math. Effective altruism never got its emotional charge from the places that charged ordinary philanthropy. It was always fueled by a cool lust for the most logical way to lead a good life.

And from this review:

the abstruse grandiosity that allows generalities about benefiting humanity [in the future] to justify various smaller-scale inhumanities in the moment