Weird Internet Ideas: Science isn’t Science

It is deeply saddening that the anti-science attitude has become so entrenched on the right and in the government. However, it is nice to find all your targets standing in a row.

The minor good news is that watching the presentation and recognising the names, I’d already debunked this nonsense. https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/dont-forget-climate-change-chapter-12-climate-science-venus-market-researchers/

Yes, this is the same warmed over nonsense I tackled when I went through a climate change denial book last year.

From the presentation:

armstrongiswrong

What I found then was that Armstrong and Green, to reach a conclusion that a forecast of global cooling was more ‘accurate’ than global warming, had to make the following errors:

  • Use only ONE warming scenario
  • Use a cooling scenario smaller in magnitude to the warming scenario
  • Use a retroactive forecast using the warming scenario that does not actually correspond with the warming hypothesis (specifically using modern rates of warming for the mid 19th century)
  • Ignore more recent data (specifically from 1975)

What was even more notable was that some of these problematic steps were in violation of their own ‘principles of forecasting’.

There’s more, but I’ll come back to it later.

Willful gullibility

Oh this is so delightfully wrong that I can’t help linking to it now even though I can’t write about it in depth until later: http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/modern-science-is-non-science.html

I need a sort of happy little gif for times like these that captures the mix of delight and capturing a pokemon-of-wrongness with the sadness of how pervasive the wrongness is.

Hint: we’ve met the protagonist of the story before.

A Message from the CEO of Cattimothy House

These days life can get a bit hectic.

If, like me, you run a popular vanity agile publishing house built using your father’s money, you’ve probably found yourself ina situation just like my friend Ted did recently. Maybe Ted is you or maybe Ted is a friend or relative or arch-nemesis, but I think we all can sympathise with Ted’s predicament.

You see, Ted, like many publisher’s today, found himself having to pull a book from Amazon because rogue squirrels hidden among the lower ranks OBJECTED to his book on the spurious grounds that his book cover was a clear rip-off humorous parody of another book.

What to do! Even the most nimble of publishing houses may take nearly a day to slap some stock images together and think of a new fake name author. And let me tell you, a day is 23 hours and 55 minutes TOO LONG in this cut throat, cat-eat-cat world we live in.

That’s why our scientists at Felapton Towers have borrowed the idea from the pulpomizer come up with a wholly novel new web application.

The Corrodiser allows you, yes YOU, to create your own amazing new cover after waiting several minutes for the bloody thing to load in a matter of moments!

Available right here: https://camestrosfelapton.neocities.org/hype/covermaker.html

corrodiser

The Corrodiser will make you NIMBLE and LOOK GREAT!

Yours,

Timothy the Talking Cat
Chief Editor and CEO
Cattimothy House
Estonia

PS Enjoy
PPS Please direct all complaints to the bozo who made it. No, he doesn’t know how you can’t but your own text in. The guys is an idiot. I only keep him round because he changes the litter tray.

Some responses to that Nazi piece

Chris Chupik mentions this piece in the comment section at Sarah Hoyt’s blog.

Coyote Gravity by Christopher M. Chupik

Oddly he says this:

Christopher M. Chupik March 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm
If you believe the commenters, I’m an American Christian Conservative Trump-supporter.

News to me.

Except…well nobody (i.e. zero people) call him either an American, Christian or a Trump supporter. I expect non-sequiturs and claims of persecution but I’m actually a bit baffled by this. Naturally, he doesn’t quote anybody but wow, talk about people running in mid-air with no ground below them.

Hoyt also adds, counterfactually:

 accordingtohoyt | March 26, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Reply

Oh, we all are. In fact I was going to do a post on this. They don’t understand quite a number of us are not Christian, not straight, not cis anything. They divide by conformist group, so the only reason we don’t belong to them must be our unacceptably characteristics and being members of the establishment they imagine (which hasn’t existed for at least 100 years.) The scientific name for them is “Asshats.”

Huh? Is it the quip about modern conservatives thinking demons are real and nazis are imaginary that annoyed them? Because Hoyt just appended her comment to a piece that complains about witches and which disputes the existence of Nazis. The comment relates not to what I think conservatives ARE but as to how conservatives PORTRAY themselves, as amply documented by fellow pups in recent weeks.

Are conservatives all kinds of people? I assume so, because I’ve never met a group of people that wasn’t diverse at least on some dimensions. Do modern right wing conservatives/libertarians let straight Christian men call the shots and control the debate? Hmmm, yup. Indeed we all saw how that dynamic played out in the Puppy-debacles.

Ho hum.

Weird Internet ideas: Are modern nazis imaginary? (spoiler: no, they’re real)

We’ve been busy watching Rabid shenanigans with books covers, but meanwhile over in Sad Puppy domains, Chris Chupik has decided that modern Nazis are largely imaginary. Chupik, for those who don’t know, is notable mainly as a regular commenter on Puppy blogs but sometimes he guest-posts at According to Hoyt. https://accordingtohoyt.com/2017/03/25/coyote-gravity-by-christopher-m-chupik/

[This get’s long so more below the fold…also ‘Spencer‘ is usually an external link but each time to a different article rather than peppering this piece with quotes]

Continue reading “Weird Internet ideas: Are modern nazis imaginary? (spoiler: no, they’re real)”

Rewatching The Running Man (1987)

running_man_ver31_7588In 2017 the economy is a mess, the US is in the grip of authoritarianism and a TV show host has unparalleled political power, so it is an apt time to watch the futuristic dystopia from the 1980s set in 2017: The Running Man.

The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is arguably peak Arnie. A year later Twins allowed Schwarzenegger to branch out into broader roles and other film genres, and while Total Recall was yet to come, Running Man packages all the expected qualities of a cinematic fast-food feast. Violent, silly, packed with morbid quips and an inevitable “I’ll be back”.

The opening credits (which interspersed with the opening scenes of the film) are themselves a strange cultural time capsule. Some of this is happenstance and some of this is due to odd casting.

  • “Paul Michael Glaser” yes, I’d forgotten that this film was DIRECTED by Starsky!
  • “Mick Fleetwood” yes, for reasons unknown the ageing leader of the resistance is the founder and drummer of Fleetwood Mac.
  • “Dweezil Zappa” i.e.Frank Zappa junior is the second in command of the resistance – naturally
  • “Richard Bachmann” as we all know the original story being written by the pseudonymous Stephen King
  • “Jesse Ventura” who was also in Predator with Arnie and who also later became Governor of Minnesota plays Captain Freedom

Like Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop that was released the same year, The Running Man mixed action and social/political satire with odd comical twists. Lees subtle and thoughtful than Verhoeven, the film still crams in sight gags (a poster for a TV show called “The Hate Boat”) along with observations about media manipulation. But were Verhoeven seems to be always aware of how his films play with being complicit with what they criticise, The Running Man just runs along with it.

So either by design or by ironic unawareness, the film’s multiple 1980’s cliches and issues often work in its favour. Cliched 1980s dancers (choreographed by Paula Abdul!)? Satire or not? The way ethnic diversity reflects the dystopian society (PoC characters are either poor, victims in the show, part of the resistance or the gladiatorial ‘Stalkers’ in the game) or the blinkered vision of 1980’s casting (or both at the same time – who can tell!).

More obviously a reflection of 1980s film values is the limited role for women. Maria Conchita Alonso role is significant but her character gets little control over events until near the end. Running through the film is an implied threat of sexual violence (and at one point an overt threat) including early in the film where she is kidnapped by Schwarzenegger.

Veteran comedian and game show host Richard Dawson as “Damon Killian”, the obnoxious host of the titular game show, is the lynch pin of the film. He manages to combine a plausible charisma and cynicism that holds the chaotic mess of elements together.

Dated, weird, odder than you remember – The Running Man is not a great film. The sound editing is weak, and other aspects just feel lazy. Yet, in its own madcap, bonkers, 1980s way it still delivers an entertaining 100 minutes of movie. A prophetic vision of the actual 2017? No, but the parallels are easy to draw.

Reading ‘Corrosion’ so you don’t have to

complqiningtrashfireOh, if only this WAS a parody:

“It was worrisome that the Human League had declared him “a traitor to Galactic Man” and was offering a bounty on his head. Still, this wasn’t the first time he’d been targeted by crackpots, though, and as a technocrat, he found it hard to be Praton as a sacrifice to his furious fellow council members.”

So with the tune of ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’, running in my head I descend into ‘Corrosion: The Corroding Empire Part by Johan Kalsi and/or Harry Seldon Edited by Vox Day’.

Servo is a robot working in a cocktail bar, when we meet him. Again, if only this book was a pastiche of new-romantic pop lyrics but it isn’t – I mean how would it have been to have included a cocktail bar in the story?

Instead, we get a bunch of connected not-exactly awful stories set in a technological society run by ‘algorithms’. The style is one I shall now christen ‘Puppy Clunk’. If you read some of the less appalling slated works in 2015, you’ll recognise the style. It’s not illiterate or wholly unreadable but it just sort of goes ‘clunk’ in every sentence.

“It had been ten months since the first time Servo made contact with the First Technocrat, and since then, things had gotten increasingly out of hand. The drone’s behavior had arguably become more erratic than the theoretical algorithmic anomalies with which he was obsessed.”

The premise is that this high-tech space-faring human civilisation is totally dependent on ‘core algorithms’. The civilisation doesn’t depart much from a bog-standard space-future (robots and vid-screens) and the importance of the ‘algorithms’ is just waved around a lot.

For reason unknown, this advanced society has apparently no understanding of boundary conditions or chaos theory or any one of the many ways humans have known that deterministic computation will depart from empirical data without regular correction. As a consequence, humanity is suffering from ‘algorithmic decay’ and only ex-surgeon turned rogue robot ‘Servo’ (no not the one from MST3K) can see the truth.

“He had been allowed enough visitors in prison to gather that the Human League were planning to do through legal means what they had failed to do illegally: assassinate him. His only chance was to win over a Technocratic Council that was not only looking for a sacrificial lamb to throw to the frightened public, but would be presided over by Harraf, his would-be successor as First Technocrat.”

Civilisation is heading for a crash!

OK, that was gratuitous. I’ll let Caden Jarris, First Technocrat infodump a summary of the dangers of algorithmic decay:

“As far as I know, there is nothing that is going to halt this mysterious, gradual corrosion of both the galactic and planetary infrastructure on its own. The trend may be slow, one might even describe it as glacial, but even so, the long-term trend is clear. If algorithmic decay is not arrested, interstellar transportation will be the first sector to fall. That will doom dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of populated planets and colonies to stasis if they are fortunate, and extinction if they are not.”
“We know all this, Caden,” the Sixth Technocrat complained.

I think we all sympathise with the Sixth Technocrat – nobody likes a gratuitous infodump.  The decay is a handy wavy substitute for Hari Seldon’s prediction of galactic Empire collapse from Asimov’s seminal Foundation stories. ‘Corrosion’ is supposedly some sort of parody/pastiche/homage to Asimov but it fails to capture any of his magic. Nor does it compensate by addressing Asimov’s failings: the characters are as thinly drawn as the plot. The book is short and yet still mainly waffle. It’s a bit like eating packing material – if packing material could go ‘clunk’ (which it can’t by design).

[NOTE: starch based packing ‘peanuts’ can be digested but are not produced in conditions that are food-safe. Also, they are intentionally stripped of useful nutrients so as not to attract vermin. You can learn more about packing peanuts here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foam_peanut#Starch-based_packing_peanuts No, this isn’t the most interesting article on Wikipedia but yes, it’s less dull than reading this book]

Speaking of peanuts, after the trial of First Technocrat Caden Jaggis, we are whisked away to see more of this amazing future society. We meet a farmer, called The Farmer, sitting on his future tractor: “Ontanso-44 tractor-processor, manually correcting bad readings and attempting to factor a uniform set of correcting algorithms. ” See, this society is all based on ALGORITHMS and so the Farmer has an algorithm-tractor, possibly an algorithm-combine harvester as well and an algorithm-chicken coop.

Nah, that would be silly. Instead, he has his trusted Intrepid-Abundance Class biogenetic tractor-combinator. But things are going badly because of, you know, ALGORITHMS.

“It was that fragile moment in the growing season when blight or insectoid plagues still threatened, but the natural algorithmic defenses of the crops were not yet a full strength. Every class of every crop he mastered — polito, chomats, paradagas, corbolini, purple crone, zaim, yossa beans, and even the hardy gang roots — were going wrong. They were behind schedule, maturing poorly or in several cases, mutating inconsistently.”

The poor old farmer has a bad time of it and…well then we jump forward in time and the empire has collapsed.

the-human-league-empire-state-human-single

Three stories in we meet another man with a vehicle, Scot Farmerson, who has a 00198 Burneck-made truck. That’s nice. You know what Foundation lacked? Trucks and tractors. Nothing says hard sci-fi like a decent agricultural vehicle.

Any Scot dies horribly because of bad algorithms. Not even his truck could save.

Then things go a bit milSF but we are still in the same story because they have gadgets and complain about ‘algodecay’. Then we wander. Things get dull. I can’t even make Human League jokes anymore. People don’t want jokes, people love action.

human20league20love20action See?

Skip, skip, skip, oops I’m at the epilogue. This starts with a binary code because ROBOTS! Robots that communicate in ASCII (not Unicode? darn – no emojis). The super secret messages in binary says:

The machines have developed a sense of morality. The galaxy is ours.

Morality? Perhaps but the book still hasn’t developed a sense of humour.

Yeah, anyways, war is good, robots plotting stuff etc. You know the drill. If you read the Castalia MilSF compilation in the Hugo Packet it’s basically the same stuff.

What can I say? The opening chapters were clunky and the rest were formulaic. It is almost like output generated from some deterministic sequence of rules and operations – why, it is almost ALGORITHMIC…