Consummate dilettantism!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Highest Poverty Rate In The United States

The poorest place in the country by far? Must be a black ghetto in Chicago or Detroit, right? Wrong. It is a ghetto, though -- a Jewish ghetto.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What Is The Problem?

The short term solution is to migrate to a more amenable country. Long term is to choke government monetary routes e.g. via en masse taxation circumvention by harnessing the support of those involved with the Ron Paul campaign.
What is the problem to which this "solution" is suggested? Good question. See here.

I sometimes read stuff like this and wonder just who these people are.

Friday, August 28, 2009

BLCU's International Student Handbook

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

On the orientation meeting:
You may find the keys to your puzzles and questions there.
On "laws and school regulations":
No religious activities or gatherings are permitted on campus. [Includes private prayer, I guess...]
Distribution or posting of propaganda materials is forbidden on the camps.
Also forbidden on the campus are gambling, excessive drinking, fights and scuffles, taking drugs... [Bye bye Benadryl, cheap-ass bottles of this stuff...]
On "awards and penalties":
Once the student receives disciplinary probation, the BLCU [yeah, "the BLCU"] will not only inform the students himself [yeah, "the students himself"] but his embassy, agency, office or parents. [Oh no, not mom and dad!]
On "holidays and leisure":
What is more, the university will also organize international students in Beijing or from all over China to take part in various cultural activities each year. The purpose is to make your life in China livelier, to enhance friendship among students from different countries and to leave a wonderful memory of your life, study in BLCU and in China. Therefore we expect your active participation. [...for make benefit glorious nation of China! Reminds me of this a bit:
Singaporean television is big on explaining Singaporeans to themselves. Model families, Chinese, Malay, or Indian, act out little playlets explicating the customs of each culture. The familial world implied in these shows is like Leave It To Beaver without The Beave, a sphere of idealized paternalism that can only remind Americans my age of America's most fulsome public sense of itself in the mid-1950s.

"Gosh, dad, I'm really glad you took the time to explain the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts to us in such minutely comprehensive detail."

"Look, son, here comes your mother with a nutritious low-cholesterol treat of fat-free lup cheong and skimmed coconut milk "

Oh, and there's also a "Purified Water Shop". Water of all shapes and colors, I guess...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Chemicals" Are Not Always Bad

I've told you this several times, internet, but you never seem to believe me. Some come around, though:
Good news and bad news at the dentist this morning. The good news is, my teeth are fine. The bad news is, the dentist told me I should give up Tom's of Maine and Nature's Gate in favor of Crest and Colgate.

I pressed him on it because I know sometimes people have knee-jerk reactions about green products, and he insisted that he's only come to the conclusion after observing many people's teeth. In fact, he went so far as to say that I'd be better off brushing my teeth with just water. He said the big C's of dental care have "lots of artificial ingredients in them that are great for your teeth."

And so it is with much dread that I will be reuniting with the tacky blue goop of my youth. The dentist did give me permission to go with the plainest, simplest version of a mainstream paste: No microbeads or built-in mouthwash needed.
Surprised it took him this long. I have instinctively trusted Colgate ever since I read the list of ingredients. Tetrasodium pyrophosphate? It heartens me to know that I am brushing my teeth with such an awesome-sounding, artificial (I presume) chemical, that I do not have to rely on coconut oil* or similarly ineffective nonsense.

Most of the time, "non-green" products are safer, more effective, and/or tastier than "green" ones. Why are there preservatives in snack products? To preserve them. Take those out and your food goes stale after a day or two. Chemicals like these are responsible for simple advances in human welfare. Ironically, without them we would be quite unable to suffer such luxuriantly indulgent movements as the "green" one, which is fundamentally reactionary and Luddite -- its proponents, however, do not understand that the world they wish to live in, one at once perfectly green and perfectly comfortable, cannot exist. We cannot revert to a medieval world without simultaneously reverting to medieval comfort and medieval technology (and, of course, medieval life expectancy), but the only people who think we should are those who are the products of an overly developed middle class. (Ever heard an African complain about the destruction of the rainforest, excepting those obviously aiming at a Western audience? No? That's because they want to rip it all down.) So does material comfort sow the seeds of its own reversion? No, because companies are smart enough to realize that people are stupid enough to fall for a "natural" product that's made in a factory with man-extracted chemicals and gums. "All-natural" has become an advertising technique, and, thank God, not much more. A truly all-natural world is not one I want to live in.

For more on how earth cannot naturally support all of humanity, read this Norman Borlaug column.

For more on how organic food is wildly overrated, read this.

And for more on how religious sentiment always finds an outlet, even when traditional religion is dying, read this.

*Is it just me, or does every green product there is have coconut oil? I guess it just makes some people feel all warm and fuzzy inside to use something probably not more effective than placebo in their hair or whatnot. Me, I prefer those delicious, man-made chemicals. I thought we all got over the bogeyman when we were, like, 5.

Internet Cesspool, Part II

Indians are a ugly semi primitive monkey race. The west should do something about these extremely ugly mutant people. They should all be forced to wear burquas (both men and women) so that other civilised humans do not have to puke on seeing their ugliness. Bollywood should be banned as they give a very false idea about India with their European looking celebs. 99.999% of Indians look nothing like their Bollywood stars but look like pig monkey hybrids.
Hilarious, fascinating thread here. More gems:
North East Asians are definitely far better looking and intelligent than the primitive caucasoid-australoid hybrids of South Asia and the primitive Mongoloid-Australoid hybrids of South East Asia.
Nguyen is a vietnamese name, they are the dirtiest shithole on earth, they smell of shit and seafood, they represents the poorest people in the western world. I have not seen them using any toilet paper either, becuse they eat shit. They eat raw seafood and crawling reptiles still very primitive. Chinese, vietnamese, malaysians, koreans, all come from third world countries, their claim to higher intelligence is hallucinatory and come out of inferiority complex, they are more closely related to Orungutans a primate just like Africans are closely related to chimpanzees and gorillas.Nguyen should have to see and Orangutan to see the reflection of his face, he would never resent looking to the mirror instead. Also these east Asians are characterised by smallest of penis on the planet, all Chinese girls run towards westerners, Middle eastern and Indians to get sexual satisfaction, leaving there male Orangutans.
Also, Jews are Mongolian:
ews in Europe and US are no longer pure Jews, and their major components in their blood are from whites, mongolian or both.
Almost forgot this one:
Indians are, on average, so unintelligent that all Bollywood films are required to include interminably boring song-and-dance-round-the-Banyan-tree routines (which, in a Euro milieu would be considered fodder for gays) in order that the government meets its objective of demonstrating to the decidedly dim double-digiters that cinema is not, in fact, reality.
This too:
A caucasian woman more like a monkey with Gook features in this image, flat face, flat nose and slant eyes, so primitive like ape, there countries are communist slums, they have invented nothing just steal and copy what their White masters invent. The reality is Caucasoids racial group is the best looking and most intelligent even the computer and internet you are using was invented by them, East Asians are working in factories for less than $2 a day for their white masters. It is China and Japan which have export dependant economies to the western nations mainly to the US, not the other way round. Most Chinese live with world class inferiority complex and thats why they try to cheat the world with their low quality and fake consumer goods, toys with lead paint, laptops with exploding batteries, poisonous pet food, vegetables with toxic pesticides, even toxic milk and baby food. Chinese can’t b e trusted they are dodgy and corrupt people with nefarious designs. High IQ my foot?? Most educated Chinese wants to immigrate to western countries, with labour rates one of the lowest in the world and standard of living so poor. These Chinese even fake their Olympic fireworks, can you trust them, they might have paid one or two Western Psychologist and Anthropoligist to improve their profile in the western world, to market them as high IQ people. East Asia can hardly be classified as developed when majority of its population works on less than $2 a day, the healthcare is poor, no social security, pollution is choking, standard of living are poor. These countries are just serving the western interests by providing them facilities and factories to manufacture consumer goods using them for paltry wages.
Part I was here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Oregon Trail

Raise your hand if all you did in that game was buy bullets and go hunting.Yeah, that's what I thought. I never figured out the point of all that other stuff -- laudanum? candles? Wax? Rope? What?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Funny English

I saw a girl wearing a shirt that said "Little Miss Rehab", with a picture below it of a smiley face with Xs for eyes.

My teacher wrote "kingdergarden" on the board. That's where I'm sending my kids.

Also, she called Chinese girls 溫柔, and said it meant "soft and tender". The class of four boys got silent for a little while, and then started laughing. The teacher protested that what she said was completely innocent, but we, of course, knew better.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Real Men Eat Meat And Nothing But Meat

Check this guy out:
The earliest and primary proponent of an all animal-based diet was Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a Canadian explorer who lived with the Inuit for some time and who witnessed their diet as essentially consisting of meat and fish, with very few carbohydrates during the summer in the form of berries. Stefansson and a friend later volunteered for a one year experiment at Bellevue Hospital in New York to prove that he could thrive on a diet of nothing but meat, meat fat and internal organs of animals. His progress was closely monitored and experiments were done on his health throughout the year. At the end of the year, he did not show any symptoms of ill health; he did not develop scurvy, which many scientists had expected to manifest itself only a few months into the diet due to the lack of Vitamin C in muscle meat. However, Stefansson and his partner did not eat just muscle meat - they ate fat, raw brain, raw liver (a significant source of vitamin C and others), and other varieties of offal. It is believed that ketosis prevents the depletion of vitamin C from the body by stabilising blood sugar.
Man up, bitches; it's raw brain from here on out. Chillin' with the Inuit eating only bloody caribou? That's some hardcore shit right there.

Seriously, though -- nothing but animal? For a year? In the name of science?! Jesus Christ, that's pretty fucking beast. (But with a name like "Vilhjalmur Stefansson", what would you expect?)

Speaking of the Inuit, here are their thoughts on the matter:
The Inuit ate primarily caribou meat, “with perhaps 30 percent fish, 10 percent seal meat and 5 or 10 percent made up of polar bear, rabbits, birds and eggs.” The Inuit considered vegetables and fruit “not proper human food but they occasionally ate the roots of the knotweed plaint in times of dire necessity.”
"[N]ot proper human food" is right -- we're not rabbits. More on this here:
My host was the seal-hunter whom we had first approached on the ice (...). [His wife] boiled some seal-meat for me, but she had not boiled any fat, for she did not know whether I preferred the blubber boiled or raw. They always cut it in small pieces and ate it raw themselves; but the pot still hung over the lamp, and anything she put into it would be cooked in a moment. When I told her that my tastes quite coincided with hers--as, in fact, they did--she was delighted. People were much alike, then, after all, though they came from a great distance. She would, accordingly, treat me exactly as if I were one of their own people come to visit them from afar...

When we had entered the house the boiled pieces of seal-meat had already been taken out of the pot and lay steaming on a side-board. On being assured that my tastes in food were not likely to differ from theirs, my hostess picked out for me the lower joint of a seal's fore leg, squeezed it firmly between her hands to make sure nothing should later drip from it, and handed it to me, along with her own copper-bladed knife; the next most desirable piece was similarly squeezed and handed to her husband, and others in turn to the rest of the family....

Our meal was of two courses: the first, meat; the second, soup. The soup is made by pouring cold seal blood into the boiling broth immediately after the cooked meat has been taken out of the pot, and stirring briskly until the whole comes nearly (but never quite) to a boil. This makes a soup of thickness comparable to our English pea-soups, but if the pot be allowed to come to a boil, the blood will coagulate and settle to the bottom...
Seal blood soup -- sounds delish!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kolmogorov Complexity: My Life In Two Words

This is it. Kolmogorov complexity. I've been obsessed with this idea for as long as I can remember, but only now do I know the name; in fact, I never even knew there was a name. For all I knew, it was an idea entirely of my own devising, my own little secret in a universe otherwise devoid of sentience. But it's pretty simple, really; let Wikipedia explain:
In algorithmic information theory (a subfield of computer science), the Kolmogorov complexity (also known as descriptive complexity, Kolmogorov-Chaitin complexity, stochastic complexity, algorithmic entropy, or program-size complexity) of an object such as a piece of text is a measure of the computational resources needed to specify the object. For example, consider the following two strings of length 64, each containing only lowercase letters, numbers, and spaces:


The first string admits a short English language description, namely "ab 32 times", which consists of 11 characters. The second one has no obvious simple description (using the same character set) other than writing down the string itself, which has 64 characters.
This image illustrates part of the Mandelbrot set fractal. Simply storing the 24-bit color of each pixel in this image would require 1.62 million bits; but a small computer program can reproduce these 1.62 million bits using the definition of the Mandelbrot set. Thus, the Kolmogorov complexity of the raw file encoding this bitmap is much less than 1.62 million.

This has a lot to do with compression, and in fact, what got me thinking about it was the idea of a "compressed" file, which is not like a compressed physical object; the latter is not truly "compressed" (its elements do not take up less space), while a computer file seemingly is -- how tremendous an idea! Something out of nothing! But it's all just an illusion, a blueprint, simple repetition. You're not "compressing" (for there is no such thing, you know), you're just eliminating redundancy, just as you do when you write 10^9 instead of 1,000,000,000, replacing 13 places with 4**. In fact, what you're doing is returning to the original formula that produced that number. (There is not always one, of course; those strings (i.e., everything in the universe) that are not redundant are completely incompressible.) You are creating the blueprint from the product, if you can, and then distributing the (hopefully much lighter) blueprint.

Finally, this is all just a summary. The main thrust of my thoughts has been what sort of data are compressible and what are not, which is covered in detail on the Wikipedia page.

*There's a catch; you need a language, whether natural (English) or artificial (C), to understand it. But this is irrelevant to the notion of complexity, because a language has rules for interpreting many things, and its rules can be "smaller" than their products.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Industrial Agriculture

I was arguing once with a friend about the morality of factory farming. I said that not eating meat, or eating only "free-range" meat, actually increases the suffering of animals, because a life in the wild is incomparably more brutal than a life in the cage. Support for this assertion comes in the form of a brilliant article in The American that utterly demolishes these "pro-organic" arguments that we've been hearing for years (and that I've been railing against for years):
Lynn Niemann was a neighbor of my family’s, a farmer with a vision. He began raising turkeys on a field near his house around 1956. They were, I suppose, what we would now call “free range” turkeys. Turkeys raised in a natural manner, with no roof over their heads, just gamboling around in the pasture, as God surely intended. Free to eat grasshoppers, and grass, and scratch for grubs and worms. And also free to serve as prey for weasels, who kill turkeys by slitting their necks and practicing exsanguination. Weasels were a problem, but not as much a threat as one of our typically violent early summer thunderstorms. It seems that turkeys, at least young ones, are not smart enough to come in out of the rain, and will stand outside in a downpour, with beaks open and eyes skyward, until they drown. One night Niemann lost 4,000 turkeys to drowning, along with his dream, and his farm.
And this:
We raised the hogs in a shed, or farrowing (birthing) house. On one side were eight crates of the kind that the good citizens of California have outlawed. On the other were the kind of wooden pens that our critics would have us use, where the sow could turn around, lie down, and presumably act in a natural way. Which included lying down on my 4-H project, killing several piglets, and forcing me to clean up the mess when I did my chores before school. The crates protect the piglets from their mothers. Farmers do not cage their hogs because of sadism, but because dead pigs are a drag on the profit margin, and because being crushed by your mother really is an awful way to go. As is being eaten by your mother, which I've seen sows do to newborn pigs as well.
Oh, and this:
We can do that, and we may be a better society for it, but we can't change nature. Pigs will be allowed to "return to their mire," as Kipling had it, but they'll also be crushed and eaten by their mothers. Chickens will provide lunch to any number of predators, and some number of chickens will die as flocks establish their pecking order.
Go and read the whole thing. While you're at it, check this out:
Organic food has no nutritional or health benefits over ordinary food, according to a major study published Wednesday.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said consumers were paying higher prices for organic food because of its perceived health benefits, creating a global organic market worth an estimated $48 billion in 2007.

A systematic review of 162 scientific papers published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, however, found there was no significant difference.
Add to that the often extreme inefficiency of organic farming and the utter bankruptcy of the "food miles" argument, and you've got a pretty convincing case that supporting organic food is not only not especially more ethical than not supporting it, but also that in many cases it is actually morally abhorrent.