Monday, December 07, 2020

Timnit Gebru: Google Definitely Has A "Type" When It Comes To Diversity And Inclusion...,

technologyreview |  The paper, which builds off the work of other researchers, presents the history of natural-language processing, an overview of four main risks of large language models, and suggestions for further research. Since the conflict with Google seems to be over the risks, we’ve focused on summarizing those here.

Environmental and financial costs

Training large AI models consumes a lot of computer processing power, and hence a lot of electricity. Gebru and her coauthors refer to a 2019 paper from Emma Strubell and her collaborators on the carbon emissions and financial costs of large language models. It found that their energy consumption and carbon footprint have been exploding since 2017, as models have been fed more and more data.

Strubell’s study found that one language model with a particular type of “neural architecture search” (NAS) method would have produced the equivalent of 626,155 pounds (284 metric tons) of carbon dioxide—about the lifetime output of five average American cars. A version of Google’s language model, BERT, which underpins the company’s search engine, produced 1,438 pounds of CO2 equivalent in Strubell’s estimate—nearly the same as a roundtrip flight between New York City and San Francisco.

Gebru’s draft paper points out that the sheer resources required to build and sustain such large AI models means they tend to benefit wealthy organizations, while climate change hits marginalized communities hardest. “It is past time for researchers to prioritize energy efficiency and cost to reduce negative environmental impact and inequitable access to resources,” they write.

Massive data, inscrutable models

Large language models are also trained on exponentially increasing amounts of text. This means researchers have sought to collect all the data they can from the internet, so there's a risk that racist, sexist, and otherwise abusive language ends up in the training data.

An AI model taught to view racist language as normal is obviously bad. The researchers, though, point out a couple of more subtle problems. One is that shifts in language play an important role in social change; the MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, for example, have tried to establish a new anti-sexist and anti-racist vocabulary. An AI model trained on vast swaths of the internet won’t be attuned to the nuances of this vocabulary and won’t produce or interpret language in line with these new cultural norms.

It will also fail to capture the language and the norms of countries and peoples that have less access to the internet and thus a smaller linguistic footprint online. The result is that AI-generated language will be homogenized, reflecting the practices of the richest countries and communities.

Moreover, because the training datasets are so large, it’s hard to audit them to check for these embedded biases. “A methodology that relies on datasets too large to document is therefore inherently risky,” the researchers conclude. “While documentation allows for potential accountability, [...] undocumented training data perpetuates harm without recourse.”

Research opportunity costs

The researchers summarize the third challenge as the risk of “misdirected research effort.” Though most AI researchers acknowledge that large language models don’t actually understand language and are merely excellent at manipulating it, Big Tech can make money from models that manipulate language more accurately, so it keeps investing in them. “This research effort brings with it an opportunity cost,” Gebru and her colleagues write. Not as much effort goes into working on AI models that might achieve understanding, or that achieve good results with smaller, more carefully curated datasets (and thus also use less energy).

Illusions of meaning

The final problem with large language models, the researchers say, is that because they’re so good at mimicking real human language, it’s easy to use them to fool people. There have been a few high-profile cases, such as the college student who churned out AI-generated self-help and productivity advice on a blog, which went viral.

The dangers are obvious: AI models could be used to generate misinformation about an election or the covid-19 pandemic, for instance. They can also go wrong inadvertently when used for machine translation. The researchers bring up an example: In 2017, Facebook mistranslated a Palestinian man’s post, which said “good morning” in Arabic, as “attack them” in Hebrew, leading to his arrest.

The Incredible Difficulty Of Writing Chinese Characters On A Computer

happyscribe |  Listener supported WNYC Studios. Wait, you're OK? You're listening to Radiolab Radio from WNYC. Hey, I'm Jad Abumrad

[00:29]
This is Radiolab to start things off today.

[00:32]
A couple months ago, we also got to a small community in America in that magical, forgotten time before the coronavirus, our reporter Simon Adler somewhat mysteriously walked me a few blocks from our office making hand to a coffee shop.

[00:49]
OK, with our coffee purchased. Let's go stand in the corner where it's maybe a little less loud. Sort of a fancy one. Exposed brick bear Eddison bulbs.

[00:57]
So let let's gaze out upon the hipsters of Lower Manhattan in the survey and count the number of laptops. Yeah. So how many laptops do you think are here. I get a kick starting from the left. We're going to circle around. We got one, two, three, four, five, six, two more on the four more on the bar.

[01:16]
And they're all typing the same way. Right. Or they're all using a quirky keyboard.

[01:21]
Yeah. Yes.

[01:22]
And the reason he dragged me there as I now know it now let's imagine we're in Shenzhen in a Chinese Starbucks was to point out a massive cultural difference hidden in plain sight and to propose a bit of a reporting trip.

[01:36]
Are you going to send somebody to to Starbucks in Shenzhen?

[01:39]
Well, that's my hope, that I will be the one sent to a Starbucks in Shenzhen, Wellfleet, Adler.

[01:46]
Now, you did not bite on that reporting trip. No. Plus, pretty soon thereafter, traveling to China became a lot more difficult.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

No Super Soldiers, Just Drug-Moderated Virally-Delivered Epigenetic Cellular Regeneration...,

nature |   In Sinclair’s lab, geneticist Yuancheng Lu looked for a safer way to rejuvenate cells. He dropped one of the four genes used by Belmonte’s team — one that is associated with cancer — and crammed the remaining three genes into a virus that could shuttle them into cells. He also included a switch that would allow him to turn the genes on by giving mice water spiked with a drug. Withholding the drug would switch the genes back off again.

Because mammals lose the ability to regenerate components of the central nervous system early in development, Lu and his colleagues decided to test their approach there. They picked the eye’s retinal nerves. They first injected the virus into the eye to see if expression of the three genes would allow mice to regenerate injured nerves — something that no treatment had yet been shown to do.

Lu remembers the first time that he saw a nerve regenerating from injured eye cells. “It was like a jellyfish growing out through the injury site,” he says. “It was breathtaking.”

The team went on to show that its system improved visual acuity in mice with age-related vision loss, or with increased pressure inside the eye — a hallmark of the disease glaucoma. The approach also reset epigenetic patterns to a more youthful state in mice and in human cells grown in the laboratory.

It is still unclear how cells preserve a memory of a more youthful epigenetic state, says Sinclair, but he and his colleagues are trying to find out.

In the meantime, Harvard has licensed the technology to Boston company Life Biosciences, which, Sinclair says, is carrying out preclinical safety assessments with a view to developing it for use in people. It would be an innovative approach to treating vision loss, says Botond Roska, director of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology in Basel, Switzerland, but will probably need considerable refinement before it can be deployed safely in humans, he adds.

The history of ageing research is littered with unfulfilled promises of potential fountains of youth that failed to make the leap to humans. More than a decade ago, Sinclair caused a stir by suggesting that compounds — including one found in red wine — that activate proteins called sirtuins could boost longevity. Although he and others continue to study the links between sirtuins and ageing that were originally observed in yeast, the notion that such compounds can be used to lengthen human lifespan has not yet been borne out, and has become controversial.

Ultimately, the test will be when other labs try to reproduce the reprogramming work, and try the approach in other organs affected by ageing, such as the heart, lungs and kidneys, says Judith Campisi, a cell biologist at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California.

Those data should emerge swiftly, she predicts. “There are many labs now who are working on this whole concept of reprogramming,” says Campisi. “We should be hopeful but, like everything else, it needs to be repeated and it needs to be extended.”

 

Why So Hard To Believe Super-Soldiers In The Age Of Disposable Robot Assassins?

lawfareblog |   Someone—almost certainly Israel—recently assassinated Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the leading scientist behind the Iranian nuclear program. The latest reporting from Iran suggests that the assassins employed a remotely controlled machine gun mounted on a pickup truck. If this reporting proves correct, the death of Fakhrizadeh will not be the first instance of successful or attempted assassination-by-robot: In 2018, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro survived a possible attempt on his life carried out by small drones armed with explosives. And the U.S., in targeting Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani with a drone strike, has made clear that it is not above the use of such tools in modern statecraft.

So how hard is it to build such a tool? How expensive? Unfortunately, the answer is “hard but doable” and “not much money”—with the further complication that in a few years, it will probably be possible to pick up the necessary equipment online from vendors like Banggood. I know, because this field is something of a hobby for me. For three years, I’ve been trying to build an autonomous computing package for drone-hunting drones, and this work has familiarized me with the relevant technology.

It doesn’t take much for a robot to kill an exposed person. 200 grams (seven ounces)—not that much more than a baseball—is enough explosive to kill anyone within five meters (15 feet). A small ground or air vehicle can easily carry that payload, creating a robotic assassin.

Currently, the remote control needed to maneuver such an assassin is easily defeated with broad-spectrum jamming, which interferes with the radio signals necessary for communication. This played out in 2017, when the Islamic State developed and deployed effective small drones until the U.S. and others employed jammers to disrupt the remote link. There is also reporting suggesting this is why the Maduro assassination attempt failed. In order to avoid this problem, successful robotic assassins will need to be autonomous, capable of identifying targets and attacking without any human intervention.

Likewise, a drone-hunting drone needs to be autonomous because it needs to deal with autonomous—and therefore fast-thinking—adversary drones. It also needs to be fast in order to engage its target while protecting a larger area from attack. And it needs to be cheap, because there are so many potential targets that need defending.

Basically, to fight autonomous robot assassins, I need to build autonomous robot assassins to assassinate the autonomous robot assassins.

Captain China? Do You Find The Bourne Movies Completely Far-Fetched?

caitlinjohnstone |  “What we know is that the nation’s top intelligence official says that the US has evidence that China is conducting biological experiments on its soldiers to enhance their capabilities,” said CIA asset and reporter Ken Dilanian on a recent MSNBC segment designed to keep you nice and terrified of the west’s current Official Bad Guy.

“I was somewhat skeptical about this claim, but when I started poking around I found that private American military experts in the think tank world have actually studied this issue and written about it and they have found that there is ample evidence that Chinese scientists are very interested in applying bio-technology to the battlefield,” Dilanian continued. “Picture super strong commandos who can operate on three hours’ sleep, or a sniper who can see twice as far as a normal person. This is the kind of thing that the Chinese aspire to doing, and you know, it’s problematic because in the west we consider that to be unethical, to tamper with the genes of healthy people.”

Dilanian was referring to a claim made in a freakish screed of cold war smut recently published in the Wall Street Journal by US Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe titled “China Is National Security Threat No. 1“. The piece includes an illustration of a red serpent shaped like the Great Wall squeezing the world in its coils, much like the globe-strangling tentacled beasts traditionally used in propaganda to drum up fears of communists and Jews taking over the world.

Ratcliffe claims that “China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom world-wide since World War II,” asserting that there are “no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power” and its “efforts to drag the world back into the dark”.

 

Saturday, December 05, 2020

An Analysis Of TheAnalysis On Democrats And Their Money Masters

nakedcapitalism |  I hate to have to make a couple of qualifying remarks about an otherwise excellent discussion of how the Democrats have made promises to too many constituencies, particularly Big Finance and top professionals, and will soon go through elaborate exercises to try to pretend that they aren’t betraying some interests to deliver to others.

I’ve mentioned before that Paul Jay has developed a misguided obsession with BlackRock, when it is far from the most powerful financial firm. Goldman, with its astonishing alumni penetration of top level government positions in the US and abroad (Mario Draghi, Mark Carney, William Dudley and Neel Kashkari as as central bankers; Bob Rubin, Hank Paulson, and Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretaries; Gary Gensler, admittedly a bit of a turncoat, as head of the CFTC; John Corzine and Phil Muphy as New Jersey governors; I’m sure I missed plenty). The idea that a former BlackRock official Brian Deese becoming head of the National Economic Council confers some sort of outsized influence is quite a stretch…particularly since former Goldman President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cheld the same post in Trump’s administration.

Similarly, any of the top private equity firms has vastly more power than BlackRock. Even though BlackRock manages more money, it has an arms-length, virtually nil influence relationship with the companies whose shares are in its funds.

By contrast KKR stated in one of its annual reports in the mid-2000 that it would be the fifth biggest employer in the US through its portfolio companies. Given that private equity has only grown as a share of global equity since then, it’s extremely likely that Blackstone, Carlyle and KKR each through their portfolio companies are among the top ten employers in the US.

All of these private equity firms hire and fire the executives of their portfolio companies and dictate which law and accounting firms they use; they could reach in and fire any employee if they chose to (say they found offensive remarks on Facebook or Twitter). Private equity collectively is the biggest source of fees to Wall Street (their rich merger and acquisition and financing fees dwarf the skimpy stock and bond trading fees a BlackRock pays1), the biggest source of fees to white shoe law firms, and I am told, since the early 2000s, also pay more than half the fees of top consultants McKinsey, Bain, and BCG

By contrast, Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, has extremely little direct influence over any of the public or late-stage VC companies in which BlackRock invests. Nearly all shares are held in index funds, which means BlackRock’s overriding concern is index replication at the lowest possible cost. It can’t buy or sell shares to make a point. BlackRock does not hold large enough stakes to appoint directors, let alone hire and fire executives or employees.

And BlackRock’s promotion of ESG, as in environmental, social and governance investing? BlackRock is very late to that party. CalPERS and CalSTRS were true believers long ago; CalPERS famously dumped tobacco stocks at the worst possible time, right before the Federal-state settlement. CalSTRS pressured Cerberus to dump its holdings in gun maker Remington in 2015. A party with inside knowledge of BlackRock told me that the big reason BlackRock suddenly became a vocal advocate was that it hoped to win the mandate to take over CalPERS private equity portfolio. Recall that Bloomberg publicized in late 2017 that that was CalPERS’ plan, despite BlackRock’s lack of meaningful private equity experience. BlackRock was indeed on a short list of firms invited to propose over that Christmas/New Years holiday. BlackRock staring making a full throated defense of ESG investing, which is near and dear to the board’s heart, in early 2018, with CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Ted Eliopoulos at Larry Fink’s side during the press conference. The effort to hand off CalPERS’ portfolio to an outside party and have less control and pay even more fees fell apart under press scrutiny, led by this website.

Another smaller sour note was Mark Blyth depicting Republicans as representing extractive, old economy industries. Top expert on political money in America, Tom Ferguson, says that’s simplistic. While oil and fracking company donations are strongly Republican, of the four biggest private equity firms, the heads of three (KKR, Blackstone, and Carlyle) are established heavyweight Republican donors. Industry insiders report that private equity firms press portfolio company executives to donate in line with parent company preferences. Apollo, as more of a real estate firm, gives to both parties, as do most developers, since they always need friends in office. The arms industry skews Republican. The health care industry gives heavily to both parties.

Do You Know How Much Damage One Corrupt Bill Clinton Can Cause?

vanityfair |  Band’s ultimate goal was to transform Clinton from a beleaguered politician, remembered for sex scandals and debating what the meaning of the word is is, into the world’s philanthropist in chief. Band came up with the concept at the 2003 World Economic Forum as he watched attendees flock to Clinton like groupies. In 2005, Band convinced Clinton to host his own version of Davos. Celebrities, billionaires, and CEOs descended on New York to mix and mingle while making “pledges” to donate to charity. The Clinton Global Initiative quickly established itself as one of the hottest tickets on the conference circuit. In 2007, Gallup ranked Clinton’s favorability at 63 percent. “Clinton was happy because CGI gave him what he wanted--redemption and being in the spotlight,” Band said.

As the impresario of CGI, Band became a central node in a network of the most powerful people on the planet. Because Clinton didn’t carry a cell phone or use email, anyone who wanted to speak to Clinton had to go through Band. (At his peak, Band carried three BlackBerries at all times.) Most petitioners didn’t get through the door. Not surprisingly, this pissed off a lot of people. “You make so many enemies when you’re the right-hand guy to a powerful person. You just can’t make everyone happy,” Ruddy said. Band didn’t help himself by coming across to many as self-important and blunt. “You had to kiss Doug’s ass to get anywhere. It was like Doug began to think he was Bill Clinton,” said a Clinton adviser who dealt frequently with Band. Clinton ignored Band’s critics because Band was getting results.

Band’s relationship with Clinton rocketed Band into the stratosphere of Manhattan’s social scene. He frequented Bungalow 8 and Buddakan, and briefly dated Naomi Campbell. Band’s bachelor years ended when he met Lily Rafii, a Morgan Stanley banker turned handbag designer, at a Bergdorf’s trunk show. In 2007, they wed at the 17th-century Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, near Paris, at a ceremony attended by no fewer than three billionaires. Clinton delivered a moving toast. “If there is one person I want in a foxhole with me, it’s Doug,” Band recalled Clinton saying.

His problem was that someone else was already in the foxhole.

Politics is the Clinton family business, and it was inevitable that Band would get squeezed between Bill’s and Hillary’s competing ambitions and conflicting priorities. It’s hard to overstate how parallel Bill’s and Hillary’s lives had become by the 2000s. “It was separate worlds that had very little overlap,” Band said. Band was Bill’s guy, which meant he saw Hillary’s career as a threat. “I wanted him to stay out of politics and do great big things,” Band said.

As Hillary’s 2008 run approached, the tensions played out, and the campaign brought on unwelcome scrutiny of Bill’s postpresidency. How exactly had Bill, with Band’s help, earned that $109 million after leaving office? The Wall Street Journal uncovered Band’s role in brokering a $100 million real estate deal between Italian con artist Raffaello Follieri, Ron Burkle, and a Clinton Foundation donor named Michael Cooper. (Follieri wired Band a $200,000 finder’s fee, which Band later returned.) A New York Times investigation exposed how Canadian mining mogul Frank Giustra won a lucrative uranium mining concession in Kazakhstan two days after Giustra and Bill dined with Kazakhstan’s strongman president. (Months later, Giustra donated $31 million to the Clinton Foundation and pledged $100 million more.)

Rafa Still Gassing About MIT's Corrupt Old Nerds And Epstein's "Irresistible" Jailbait

To the members of the MIT community,

 

Last January, following the release of a fact-finding report about Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to MIT, I articulated five actions to address the challenges that emerged during that difficult time. I write with updates on those actions.

 

Please know that MIT offers extensive resources for survivors. I encourage you to use any you might find helpful.

1.

We are establishing clear policies and processes to guide decisions about controversial donors.

 

In September, Provost Marty Schmidt and Chair of the Faculty Rick Danheiser released the draft reports of two ad hoc committees, one charged with identifying values and principles to guide MIT’s outside engagements, and one with improving MIT’s processes around gift acceptance. Following a comment period and a forum to gather feedback, the committees are incorporating community input into the final versions of their reports and recommendations. You will hear about next steps early in the new year.

 

Separately, the MIT Alumni Association and Resource Development retained Huron Consulting to review MIT’s donor and alumni database. The review confirmed that the information captured in the database is accurate and secure. It also proposed a number of steps MIT is now pursuing to further centralize the handling of donor and alumni information across the Institute.

Friday, December 04, 2020

Robert Kraft Walked While Trafficked Asian Women Got The Book Thrown At Them

palmbeachpost |  After the arrests, prosecutors and several law-enforcement agencies said they believed the spas may be linked to human trafficking. To date, no one has been charged with human trafficking in relation to these cases, according to court records.

Once the case was brought to court, the recordings were challenged by lawyers and barred by judges from being used as evidence because of the controversial means in which law enforcement obtained the video, known as "sneak-and-peek" warrants. 

MORE: Search warrant used to catch Robert Kraft built for terrorists, not johns, critics say

After prosecutors spent a year fighting the charges, an appeals court ruled in August that the lower court was correct and that "total suppression was the appropriate remedy under the circumstances of this case."

"The type of law enforcement surveillance utilized in these cases is extreme," the 23-page opinion read. 

Florida's Attorney General Ashley Moody said she wouldn't take an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, so the prostitution solicitation charges were dropped in September.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said he and his office were forced to drop the charges after the rulings.

"Without these videos, we cannot move forward with our prosecutions, and thus we are ethically compelled to drop the cases against all the defendants," he said in September. 

When asked why the charges against the women were not dropped, Aronberg said there was still enough evidence without the recordings to prosecute them. 

"Orchids of Asia Day Spa was a notorious brothel in a family shopping center," Aronberg said.

"Rich guys from a local country club lined up to receive sex acts throughout the day until the place closed around midnight," Aronberg said.

American Neofeudalism The True Source Of Its Discontents

dailyreckoning |  It’s easy to lay America’s visible frustrations at the feet of Covid lockdowns or political polarization, but this conveniently ignores the real driver: systemic unfairness.

The status quo has been increasingly rigged to benefit insiders and elites as the powers of central banks and governments have picked the winners (cronies, insiders, cartels and monopolies) and shifted the losses and risks onto the losers (the rest of us).

We now live in the world the 19th-century French economist Frédéric Bastiat so aptly described:

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

Ours is a two-tier society and economy with a broken ladder of social mobility for those trying to reach the security of the technocrat class.

As Bastiat observed, those rigging the system to benefit themselves always create a legal system that lets them off scot-free and a PR scheme that glorifies their predation as well-deserved rewards from their enormous appetite for hard work and innovation.

Embezzling a couple billion dollars also earns you a get out of jail free card: none of the perps in Wall Street’s skims, scams and frauds ever gets indicted, much less convicted, and none of Wall Street’s legalized looters ever goes to prison.

And this is a fair and just system? Uh, right.

Meanwhile, the reality is the roulette wheel is rigged, and only chumps believe it’s a fair game. Those who know it’s rigged have essentially zero agency (control/power) or capital to demand an unrigged game or finagle their way into the elite class doing the skimming.

The net result is soaring frustration with a patently unfair system that’s touted as the fairest in the entire world.

The key takeaway, in my view, is that the unfairness isn’t limited to the economy, society or politics —  it’s manifesting in all three realms. It isn’t just frustration with domestic issues — the global economic order is also a source of unfairness and powerlessness.

These are the dynamics that are tearing apart our social cohesion and that will soon start destabilizing the economy — regardless of how much “money” the Federal Reserve prints.

How divided is America?

 

There Are 600,000 Hardcore American Homeless And Many Millions More Couch Surfing

currentaffairs |  When most people think of “couch surfing,” they picture the adventurous European travels of college students during summer vacations. But the term is also used by homeless people to describe their own efforts to avoid the streets by temporarily staying with friends, family members, or (oftentimes) complete strangers. This type of couch surfing is a sort of purgatory that exists midway between sleeping in the abandoned ruins of factories and the relative comfort of one’s own subsidized housing. If the couch surfer is staying in someone else’s subsidized housing unit (as is often the case, because poor people tend to shelter with people from their own social networks) that is likely to draw intense bureaucratic scrutiny. For both couch surfers and those harboring them, there is risk from landlords, housing authority officials, and caseworkers who (often in concert) have the authority to harass, evict, and even terminate precious subsidies. Couch surfers then become the targets in a high stress game of cat and mouse. For millions of Americans there is no assurance that the bed, sleeping bag, or undersized couch they slept on last night will be available the next day. But in a country where the “official” social safety net exists more in theory than practice, poor people have few other options. 

Couch surfing is a form of homelessness, but the U.S. government refuses to recognize it as such. To appreciate this conceptual failure, one has merely to scan the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) 2019 Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. The 98-page document begins with a statement by HUD secretary Ben Carson, accompanied by a photo of his sleepy face. The thing that most struck me about this document, however, is that the term “couch surfing” never appeared. Not once. The report mentioned, in passing, that many homeless people stay with relatives or friends prior to becomi00,000ng officially homeless, but “staying with relatives or friends” is a rather euphemistic phrase that does not capture the anxiety and desperation inherent in the struggle to keep a roof over your head when you can’t pay rent. 

The 2019 HUD report on homelessness estimated there are fewer than 600,000 homeless people in America on any given night. However, this is equivalent to concluding that the only Americans who eat are those who are within the walls of a grocery store on “any given night.” The HUD’s numbers refer only to people who stay in an official shelter, or no shelter all. The total would be far higher if the HUD included people who fall under the Urban Dictionary’s definition of a couch surfer, which refers to anyone “who is homeless and finds various couches to sleep on and homes to survive in until they are put out.” It is both concerning and darkly amusing that an extensive, supposedly definitive government report provides less context than an anonymous quip posted to illustrate vernacular speech.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

With Covid19 Americans Don't Know The Difference Between Science And Scientism

tomluongo |  And with COVID-19 we’ve reached the height of this practice of imbuing scientists with a god-like knowledge of what we should do given any thorny political problem.

That’s why pseudo-intellectuals and midwits in white suburbia bought into the lies of Anthony Fauci, while ignoring the flip-flopping of him, the CDC, the WHO, and every other ‘expert.’

This science worship neatly bypasses politicians you don’t like to support whatever argument you want to believe. It doesn’t matter that it’s now just as much a religion as Christianity or Islam.

If the high priest of ‘science’ says masks are necessary on Tuesdays but not Thursdays then they simply go along with it because the alternative is admitting that your priests are just hucksters with fancy government titles.

It also absolves people of the responsibility of making the hard decisions. The experts have all that worked out.

Which brings me to what actually started this blog post.

One of these true high priests of ‘scientism,’ the straight-out-of-central-casting Neil Degrasse Tyson opined recently on RT about how disappointed he was with humanity over not coming together over COVID-19.

“I thought that when the coronavirus landed that we would’ve all banded together and say: ‘We’re all human and that’s a common enemy, like an alien invasion. We’ve all seen it in the movies. We got to be together on this one.’ But it didn’t happen to my great disappointment in our species.”

At this late date for a guy like Mr. Tyson to go on thinking COVID-19 was such an existential threat to humanity as an alien invasion is really stunning.

I thought this guy was supposed to be smart? Like really smart? 

He goes on further:

“I don’t mind political fights. Political fights are fine when you’re talking about policy and legislation. But you should never have a political fight about…scientific research that has been objectively shown to be true in peer-reviewed journals,” Tyson said, adding that doing so is a “recipe for disaster.”

Now this I agree somewhat with, which is why I consider this more like Coronapocalypse: The Movie and not a true existential threat to humanity which required any kind of policy decision which sparked this political fight he’s crying crocodile tears over.

Because, and I’m sure Mr. Tyson would agree with this if he were a scientist, there is little “…scientific research that has been objectively shown to be true in peer-reviewed journals…” about COVID-19 which has been properly discussed in the public sphere.

And yet very polarizing policies are in place depriving people of not only their rights, which he seems cavalier to, but also their future prosperity.

Since the ‘science’ has been used by governments assume a level of control over our movements and activities far beyond the scope of what the ‘science’ has shown. And since when the science isn’t settled shouldn’t we settle back on first principles to minimize human suffering along all vectors, not just the one variable, virus transmission, we think we’re controlling, especially for most people the survival rate is greater than 99.9%?

And even this position undermines the basic framework of human rights by placing some cost/benefit analytic overlay on society giving the social engineers more credit than they deserve.

 

As Went Arecibo - Now Goes America's International Space Station...,

spaceaustralia |  On November 2nd, 2000, humans set foot on the International Space Station (ISS). What we now know as two decades of continuous habitation in space.

During these 20 years, the US$150 billion orbital space lab has hosted 241 crew members from 19 different countries. And in doing so, has made up 43% of all people in space.

The 16 module station houses four Russian, nine US, two Japanese, and one European module with six regular crew members taking six-monthly shifts. To date, the rotating crew have conducted more than 3,000 scientific experiments.

But as the bi-decadal benchmark came and went, we were reminded that all good things come to an end.

And the ISS is no different.

 Although the ISS is cleared to circle Earth until 2028, wear and tear is an issue. And the White House has "asked" NASA to stop finding the ISS in 2025.

It's highly doubtful that NASA will clear the space station for another run past 2028, and will be decommissioned sometime shortly after.

A good run considering its expected shelf-life was only 15 years.

The station's mileage has seen a Russian toilet go kaput, an oxygen-supply system on the fritz, and a notorious air leak worsen over time. Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka said of the Russian side of the ISS, "All modules of the Russian segment are exhausted,'

And it's not like a Russian - let alone a Russian cosmonaut - to complain.

Once NASA decides to retire and decommission the space station, the complex will be de-orbited over the Pacific Ocean, most likely burning up during re-entry.

So, what does a post-ISS space look like?

 

Arecibo Collapse: When It Was Built, It Was Only Intended For A Decade Of Use..,

space |  After two cable failures in the span of four months, Puerto Rico's most venerable astronomy facility, the Arecibo radio telescope, has collapsed in an uncontrolled structural failure.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the site, decided in November to proceed with decommissioning the telescope in response to the damage, which engineers deemed too severe to stabilize without risking lives. But the NSF needed time to come up with a plan for how to safely demolish the telescope in a controlled manner.

Instead, gravity did the job this morning (Dec. 1) at about 8 a.m. local time, according to reports from the area.

"NSF is saddened by this development," the agency wrote in a tweet. "As we move forward, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain our strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico."

The NSF added that no injuries had been reported, that the top priority was to maintain safety and that more details would be provided when confirmed.

"What a sad day for Astronomy and Planetary science worldwide and one of the most iconic telescopes of all time," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, wrote in a tweet. "My thoughts are with the staff members and scientists who have continued to do great science during the past years and whose life is directly affected by this."

Images shared on Twitter by Deborah Martorell, a meteorologist for Puerto Rican television stations, compare views of the observatory taken yesterday — showing the 900-ton science platform suspended over the massive dish strung up on cables — and today, when the observatory's three supporting towers are bare.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Warren Buffett's Kneegrows For Biden BLM Just Now Getting "Woke" To How They Got PLAYED!!!

blmchapterstatement |  It was recently declared that Patrisse Cullors was appointed the Executive Director to the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLMGN) Foundation. Since then, two new Black Lives Matter formations have been announced to the public: a Black Lives Matter Political Action Committee, and BLM Grassroots. BLM Grassroots was allegedly created to support the organizational needs of chapters, separate from the financial functions of BLMGN. We, the undersigned chapters, believe that all of these events occurred without democracy, and assert that it was without the knowledge of the majority of Black Lives Matters chapters across the country and world.

We became chapters of Black Lives Matter as radical Black organizers embracing a collective vision for Black people engaging in the protracted struggle for our lives against police terrorism. With a willingness to do hard work that would put us at risk, we expected that the central organizational entity, most recently referred to as the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLMGN) Foundation, would support us chapters in our efforts to build communally. Since the establishment of BLMGN, our chapters have consistently raised concerns about financial transparency, decision making, and accountability. Despite years of effort, no acceptable internal process of accountability has ever been produced by BLMGN and these recent events have undermined the efforts of chapters seeking to democratize its processes and resources.

In the spirit of transparency, accountability, and responsibility to our community, we believe public accountability has become necessary. As a contribution to our collective liberation, we must make clear:

  1. Patrisse Cullors, as the sole board member of BLMGN, became Executive Director against the will of most chapters and without their knowledge.
  2. The newly announced formation, BLM Grassroots, does not have the support of and was created without consultation with the vast majority of chapters. 
  3. The formation of BLM Grassroots effectively separated the majority of chapters from BLMGN without their consent and interrupted the active process of accountability that was being established by those chapters.
  4. In our experience, chapter organizers have been consistently prevented from establishing financial transparency, collective decision making, or collaboration on political analysis and vision within BLMGN
  5. For years there has been inquiry regarding the financial operations of BLMGN and no acceptable process of either public or internal transparency about the unknown millions of dollars donated to BLMGN, which has certainly increased during this time of pandemic and rebellion.
  6. To the best of our knowledge, most chapters have received little to no financial support from BLMGN since the launch in 2013. It was only in the last few months that selected chapters appear to have been invited to apply for a $500,000 grant created with resources generated because of the organizing labor of chapters. This is not the equity and financial accountability we deserve.

We remain committed to collectively building an organization of BLM chapters that is democratic, accountable, and functions in a way that is aligned with our ideological values and commitment to liberation. We will move forward with transparency and expound on our collective efforts to seek transparency and organizational unity in a fuller statement in the near future. As we collectively determine next steps, we encourage our supporters to donate directly to chapters, who represent the frontline of Black Lives Matter.

Caren An'Em Still Not Woke To The Great Reset As New Normal Slavery 2.0

publicseminar |  This past summer, Kroger, one of the nation’s largest grocery store chains, received a 15-year, 75 percent sales tax exemption for setting up two new data centers in Ohio. This is the definition of unnecessary. Kroger is not exactly poverty struck – it accrued profits of more than $2 billion last year. Moreover, subsidizing data centers is for suckers. Companies need to build that infrastructure, and they don’t create all that many positions. Municipalities and state governments that subsidize data centers sometimes literally pay upwards of seven figures per job.

Then it got worse: Kroger is using its data to move into what’s known as the “ghost kitchen” business, something that is a terrible development for local independent restaurants. So, Ohio taxpayers are helping a massive supermarket chain put other businesses out of business, including their favorite corner eatery. That Ohio is doing this in a year when small restaurant proprietors are under all but existential threat adds insult to injury.

Ghost kitchens are as spooky as they sound. Big corporations like gig companies, supermarkets, and fast food chains use the data they collect through their various lines of business to create delivery-only food operations. But here’s the catch: They often hide and disguise the fact that they aren’t actual restaurants. They give them homey sounding names, like Seaside or Lorenzo’s, and build out web pages that make them appear to be places you could drop in on. In fact, they are randomly located in warehouses and other industrial spaces, and backed by big investors and corporations whose participation is often hidden by a web of shell companies.

The poster children for this issue are the big delivery app companies — UberEats, GrubHub, and Doordash — which use the data they collect doing deliveries for restaurants, and which they don’t subsequently share with those restaurants, to see what sort of items sell best and when. Then, much like Amazon weaponizes the data it collects from small businesses that sell on its platform to create its own products, the delivery apps use the data to create their own, delivery-only food outlets, with the aim of cutting real restaurants out of the business entirely. (Amazon, of course, won’t miss this opportunity either: It has invested in a delivery and ghost kitchen company called Deliveroo.) 

This model of operating a platform and then also competing on it should just be illegal, even though it’s widespread. Whether it’s Amazon using info gained from its third-party sellers to steal products, Google using data gleaned from its advertising technology to outbid publishers, or delivery apps cutting real restaurants out of the restaurant business, the issue is the same: The corporation that runs the infrastructure has an anticompetitive advantage over all of the other participants. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, succinctly puts it, “You can be an umpire, or you can be a player—but you can’t be both.”

But even if authorities woke up and banned Uber from going into the ghost kitchen business, that wouldn’t stop Kroger. It’s got the data too, and it doesn’t need to trick rival businesses into turning it over. It’s the largest grocer in the U.S., and the second-largest in-person retailer after Walmart. It runs stores under its own corporate name, as well as Harris Teeter and 14 other brands. They are using info gained from their own shoppers. Kroger is partnering with an outfit called ClusterTruck that uses algorithms to remove the so-called “pain points” of ordering food, which I suppose means orders showing up cold, or something.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

To Date, No Evidence THAT The DOJ Has Investigated Russiagate, Huntergate, Or Systemic Election Fraud

AP |  In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but they’ve uncovered no evidence that would change the outcome of the election.

“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told the AP.

The comments are especially direct coming from Barr, who has been one of the president’s most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voter fraud could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail. 

Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they existed, before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud. That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.

The Trump campaign team led by Rudy Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence. Local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making similar unsupported claims.

 

Georgia Getting Busy With The BleachBit On Its Dominion Servers...,

epochtimes |   Attorney Sidney Powell said on Monday that someone had removed a Dominion Voting Systems server from a recount center in Fulton County, Georgia.

“Someone went down to the Fulton center where the votes and Dominion machines were, claimed there was a software glitch and they had to replace the software, and it seems that they removed the server,” Powell told “Lou Dobbs Tonight” in an interview aired on Nov. 30.

Powell added that her team does not know where the server is.

Jessica Corbitt, the director of external affairs for Fulton County, told The Epoch Times on Dec. 1 that the server in question is still on the premises of the recount location at World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Robb Pitt, the chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, told reporters on Tuesday that the county 88 percent through the recount when the Dominion server crashed. The Dominion technician on-site could not resolve the problem so another Dominion representative flew in the day after.

Pitt vehemently denied that his county was involved in any “hanky panky” in relation to the 2020 election.

Dominion’s software and hardware feature prominently in two lawsuits filed by Powell in Georgia and Michigan. The lawsuits claim that the software is vulnerable to manipulation by hackers and was used to alter vote totals in the presidential election.

Powell prefaced her comment by saying that the alleged removal of the server took place when her team was seeking a temporary restraining order against the resetting, wiping, or altering of any of the Dominion machines. A district court judge subsequently granted the temporary restraining order on Sunday night.

Election Fraud Treason By Foreign And Domestic Actors

gnews |  “The Kraken” is the Military’s nickname for the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

We have all been wondering what was the meaning of this term, what was the meaning of the rumor that a server was seized in a CIA facility in Frankfurt, was the rumor that people were killed or hurt in the raid true, why is it important that Sidney Powell is trained in procedures of Military Tribunals?

WVW-TV broadcast an exclusive interview with General Mike Flynn, General McInerney and Mary Fanning on November 28th which sheds light on all of these questions. It is a must-listen for anybody who believes in the Constitution, the Republic and finding out the truth about this election.

What we are finding out is that we are facing treason in the homeland and clear interference by foreign actors – aka by the CCP, and others. The dam of closely-held secrets is breaking. The conspiring actors have been trying to hold the dam but the cracks are appearing.

The Constitution did not contemplate cyber-warfare by the CIA on America, a collaboration by media and social media in treason, treason by a major party, and unlimited cyber warfare by foreign actors, all at the same time! We are facing a Constitutional “safe harbor” deadline of December 14th, but for treason, the President and the Military will not, cannot, stand by and watch this election be stolen. The President swore an oath to protect the American people and the Constitution from all enemies Foreign and Domestic, not to give up because of an artificial deadline. Treason is a matter for a military tribunal. Sidney Powell is trained in the procedures of military tribunals. These charges will be brought to the Supreme Court of the United States, but beyond that, it can be a matter for a military tribunal.

General McInerney also disclosed that his phone has been hacked by the treasonous forces trying to subvert the democratic process in America. His warning to Joe Biden and all the forces arrayed with him was to surrender, the American people will not rest until they are brought to justice for treason.

American Thinker also published an important article (“The smartest man in the room has joined Sidney Powell’s team, Andrea Widburg) on November 28th. Widburg states that Sidney Powell in her Georgia lawsuit included the declaration of Dr Navid Keshawarz-Nia. He is a witness stating that the election was turned in favor of Joe Biden through computer fraud.

Twenty Things About The 2020 Election That Don't Pass The Smell Test

americanthinker |   Americans have common sense, so they can understand when they're being played (for example, when politicians place Americans under house arrest and then ignore their own rules to party and travel).  And they know there is no way on God's green earth that decrepit, demented, corrupt, and terminally stupid Joe Biden fairly won this election.  This post assembles various election anomalies that don't pass the smell test.

J.B. Shurk, who frequently publishes at American Thinker, wrote a knock-out article for The Federalist about Joe Biden's magical performance in the election.  You should read the whole article, but here are four things that don't pass the smell test:

1. Biden allegedly got 80 million votes, which is more than Obama received at his peak, in 2008 — and Biden did this despite losing minority voters to Donald Trump and trailing Trump in voter enthusiasm.

2. Biden broke 60 years of precedent by winning nationally despite losing prodigiously in bellwether states and counties.  The last time this happened was when the mafia got out the vote for John F. Kennedy in 1960.

3. Trump had extraordinary coattails, so much so that even the New York Times admitted that the "Democrats Suffered Crushing Down-Ballot Losses Across America."  Think about that: Biden had no coattails and no enthusiasm, yet he allegedly won a record number of votes.  Smells fetid to me.

4. Biden barely made it through the primaries, while Trump soared, with Trump's performance being a historically sure sign of voter enthusiasm and probable victory — yet Biden, again, allegedly scored an equally historically strong victory.

At The Spectator, Patrick Basham, a professional pollster, also felt that Biden's alleged win cannot pass the smell test.  Again, this is a summary, so you should read the original article:

2020 Election Was The Most Secure In American History

cbsnews  |  Though the transition has begun, President Trump remains largely holed up in the White House tweeting false accusations of a rigged election from behind a crumbling wall of lawsuits. No legal challenge, no recount, no audit has changed the outcome in any state. Mr. Trump's claim that millions of votes were deleted or switched is denied by the official he chose to secure the nation's election systems. Christopher Krebs called the 2020 vote "the most secure in American history" which promptly got him fired. Tonight, in his first interview since he was dismissed, Krebs tells us why he believes the vote was accurate and why saying otherwise puts the country in danger.

Chris Krebs: I have confidence in the security of this election because I know the work that we've done for four years in support of our state and local partners. I know the work that the intelligence community has done, the Department of Defense has done, that the FBI has done, that my team has done. I know that these systems are more secure. I know based on what we have seen that any attacks on the election were not successful.

Two years ago, President Trump put Christopher Krebs in charge of the new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Krebs, a lifelong Republican, was confirmed unanimously by the Senate. 

His agency, known by its acronym, "CISA" helps secure computer systems anywhere that a security breach could be catastrophic, nuclear power plants for example, and the election hardware in all 50 states.