Category Archives: Technology

The Goolag Echopeligo, by Robert Gore

If you find the title confusing, DDG the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. (DuckDuckGo.com is a search engine whose acronym is hereby designated as one of the replacements for the verb google.)

Warning: SLL is about to put forth two propositions that are so obvious they’re undoubtedly controversial. Readers offended by the obvious but controversial are advised to stop reading.

Proposition one: If Group A and Group B are competing for the same jobs and standards are lowered for Group B but not Group A, on average the members of Group B will not be as good at the jobs as members of Group A.

Proposition two: Men and women are different.

This, when you wade through James Damore’s excruciatingly diplomatic Google memorandum is the crux of what he said. SLL can say it but Damore couldn’t; Google fired him for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Google’s highly compensated management and engineering jobs are held disproportionately by white males. Here’s a fact: the universal set of people inside and outside of Google who have the ability to write complex computer code, or have the ability to manage such people, is disproportionately white males. That may be changing, but as of August 13, 2017, that’s still a fact.

While perpetuating gender stereotypes supposedly got Damore the boot, the money portion of his memo nails the contradiction at the heart of diversity and affirmative action programs: lower standards for Group B in the interest of promoting “equality” is inherently unequal. Group A has been disadvantaged and Group B has received preferential treatment.

From James Damore’s Google memorandum:

The harm of Google’s biases

I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:

• Programs, mentoring, and classes for people with a certain gender or race
• A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates
• Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate
• Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing the same scrutiny in the reverse direct (clear confirmation bias)
• Setting org level OKRs [Objectives and Key Results] for increased representation which can incentivize illegal discrimination

You can have equal treatment or preferential treatment, but you can’t have both. De jure unequal leads to de facto unequal, not de facto equal. It leads to two other consequences: the favored group will on average not do the job as well, and the unfavored group will know it.

A cherished goal of the diversity drones is to get the unfavored group to applaud not just the drones’ enlightened moral status, but to pretend that the favored group does just as good a job as the unfavored one, and that diversity of secondary traits (but not, evidently, diversity of thought) itself confers a benefit. It’s a subset of an “optics” problem that besets the entire redistributive racket: how do you get unfavored producers not just to go along with the scam and keep producing unearned benefits for the racketeers and redistributees, but to pretend they like it?

How a Google coder’s gender or gender identification, race, ethnicity, creed, or any other secondary characteristic will affect his or her ability to spot and fix the flaws in an algorithm is left unstated. But that’s not the diversity drones’ problem. Google makes so much money it can afford some less-than-stellar employees in service to enlightened ideals and the greater good. If members of the unfavored group can’t bring themselves to applaud, they should at least shut up. Or else!

Denounce the theory of evolution and you’ll be roundly condemned as anti-science. Turn around and accept the theory, point out that evolution’s prime directive is the propagation of a given species, that for humans each sex has an evolutionary role, that women’s evolutionary role is to bear and rear children, that men’s role is to protect and provide for the family, especially when the woman is pregnant and then nursing and is unable to do so, and that men and women are equipped with different hormones, sex drives, and yes, brain wiring to facilitate their differing evolutionary roles, and you will earn for yourself  a fusillade of criticism from the same people who were condemning your earlier stance against evolutionary theory.

The existence of differences, and what they might be, are questions for scientific inquiry. Repression is when you get shot for telling the truth. Totalitarianism is when you get shot for asking questions. We’re reaching the point where questions cannot be asked, and all sorts of energy is expended maintaining the fantasy that men and women are not different, that gender itself is merely a matter of choice and can even vary day-to-day.

We’re running into evolutionary dead ends. In the springtime of their lives, when both men and women’s fancy used to lightly turn to thoughts of love—and then marriage and procreation—appreciable percentages of both sexes hate each other. Many feminist groups despise men; men’s groups like MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way, aka Men Grabbing Their Own Weenies) despise women. One suspects that much of the antipathy stems from the eternal rejections and betrayals they’ve encountered with the opposite sex. In the good old days, the rejected and betrayed turned to lyric laments—“Your Cheating Heart,” “You’re No Good”—but didn’t lose romantic hope. Now they change their sexual orientation…or their sex…or embrace celibacy…or all of the above. And the birth rate continues to decline.

There is always one group of victims overlooked when standards are lowered for Group B: the members of Group B who meet the Group A standards. To say that computer coding skills might be more prevalent among men than women and minorities is not to say that no women or minorities have such skills, a point Damore bent over backwards trying to make (he even used illustrative graphs). He urged stepping up “nondiscriminatory” efforts to find them.

The women and minorities who make the “A” grade should be more upset at the lowering of standards than their white male coworkers. They will be unfairly stigmatized, and their advancement within Google will come with an asterisk—winks and nods that they climbed the diversity, not the talent and achievement, ladder.

That is an injustice against these individuals. However, in Google’s brave new world there are only groups, not individuals. Individual James Damore questioned the new order. Google exercised its right to fire him and intimidate everyone else. However, the decision to seek employment with a company is an individual one, as is the decision whether to stay or leave.

The kind of people who draw top dollars and stock options at Google have rare talents and are always in demand. Some of them may depart for companies eschewing today’s fashionable but counterproductive doctrines, where they and their coworkers will be judged on their own merits, not secondary characteristics. In its echo chamber—the Goolag Echopeligo—Google can maintain the fiction that Group A can be replaced by Group B, but competitive edges are remarkably ephemeral. The technology landscape is littered with the corpses of yesteryear’s hot new thing.

The decision to use a particular technology is also an individual one. Individuals critical of Google can refuse to use its products and services. There are plenty of other competitive technologies. DuckDuckGo claims it doesn’t track you. DDG your next search!

BEFORE  THE LUNACY

ROBERT GORE’S CLASSIC NOVEL OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

Advertisements

A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack, by Patrick Lawrence

A comprehensive, well-written report packed with supporting evidence on why the DNC could not have been “hacked” last year. From Patrick Lawrence at thenation.com:

It is now a year since the Democratic National Committee’s mail system was compromised—a year since events in the spring and early summer of 2016 were identified as remote hacks and, in short order, attributed to Russians acting in behalf of Donald Trump. A great edifice has been erected during this time. President Trump, members of his family, and numerous people around him stand accused of various corruptions and extensive collusion with Russians. Half a dozen simultaneous investigations proceed into these matters. Last week news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury, which issued its first subpoenas on August 3. Allegations of treason are common; prominent political figures and many media cultivate a case for impeachment.

The president’s ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia’s energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation’s economy is customarily considered an act of war, we must not forget. In retaliation, Moscow has announced that the United States must cut its embassy staff by roughly two-thirds. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War’s worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole.

All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that “hack” and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.

To continue reading: A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack

Amazon Online Grocery Boom? Not So Fast… by Wolf Richter

A lot of money gets spent on groceries, but the percentage that falls to grocers bottom lines is surprisingly small. Now, with Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and its intention to expand online grocery shopping, that percentage will probably get even smaller. A shakeout is coming. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

All big gorillas have been trying, but consumers just don’t want to.

Maybe Amazon has figured out that you’re not the only one who isn’t buying groceries online. Maybe it has figured out, despite all the money it has thrown at it, that selling groceries online is a very tough nut to crack. And no one has cracked it yet.

Numerous companies have been trying. Safeway started an online store and delivery service during the dotcom bubble and has made practically no headway. A plethora of startups, brick-and-mortar retailers, and online retailers have tried it, including the biggest gorillas of all — Walmart, Amazon, and Google. Google is trying it in conjunction with Costco and others. It just isn’t catching on.

And this has baffled many smart minds. Online sales in other products are skyrocketing and wiping out the businesses of brick-and-mortar retailers along the way. But groceries?

That’s one of the reasons Amazon is eager to shell out $14.7 billion to buy Whole Foods, its biggest acquisition ever, dwarfing its prior biggest acquisition, Zappos, an online shoe seller, for $850 million. Amazon cannot figure out either how to sell groceries online though it has tried for years. Now it’s looking for a new model — namely the old model in revised form?

This is why everyone who’s online wants to get a piece of the grocery pie: The pie is big. Monthly sales at grocery stores in June seasonally adjusted were $53 billion. For the year 2016, sales amounted to $625 billion:

But it’s going to be very tough for online retailers to muscle into this brick-and-mortar space, according to Gallup, based on its annual Consumption Habits survey, conducted in July. Consumers just aren’t doing it:

  • Only 9% of US households say they order groceries online at least once a month, either for pickup or delivery.
  • Only 4% do so at least once a week.
  • By contrast, someone in nearly all households (98%) goes to brick-and-mortar grocery stores at least once a month, and 83% go at least once a week.

To continue reading: Amazon Online Grocery Boom? Not So Fast…

Google: Search Engine or Deep State Organ?, by Michael Krieger

This is third part of a broad examination of Google’s power and policies (there are links below to Parts One and Two).  From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Today’s post should be read as Part 3 of my ongoing series about the now infamous Google memo, and what it tells us about where our society is headed if a minority of extremely wealthy and powerful technocratic billionaires are permitted to fully socially engineer our culture to fit their ideological vision using coercion, force and manipulation. For some context, readPart 1 and Part 2.

I struggled with the title of this piece, because ever since the 2016 election, usage of the term “deep state” has become overly associated with Trump cheerleaders. I’m not referring to people who voted for Trump, whom I can both understand and respect, I’m talking about the Trump cultists. Like most people who mindlessly and enthusiastically attach themselves to political figures, they tend to be either morons or opportunists.

Nevertheless, just because the term has been somewhat tainted doesn’t mean I deny the existence of a “deep state” or “shadow government.” The existence of networks of unelected powerful people who formulate and push policy behind the scenes and then get captured members of Congress to vote on it is pretty much undeniable. I don’t believe that the “deep state” is a monolithic entity by any means, but what seems to unite these various people and institutions is an almost religious belief in U.S. imperial dominance, as well as the idea that this empire should be largely governed by an unaccountable oligarchy of billionaires and assorted technocrats. We see the results of this worldview all around us with endless wars, an unconstitutional domestic surveillance state and the destruction of the middle class. These are the fruits of deep state ideology, and a clear reason why it should be dismantled and replaced by genuine governance by the people before they lead the U.S. to total disaster.

To continue reading: Google: Search Engine or Deep State Organ?

The Madhouse, by Jeff Thomas

The present course of world affairs looks pathologically close to routines Jeff Thomas observed in an asylum when he was young. From Thomas at internationalman.com:

In the late 17th century, we British decided that, as a humanitarian effort and public service, we’d collect up all the people from the towns and countryside who were bonkers and confine them in institutions, so that society could be protected from them.

As so often proves the case, the idea of a collective solution to an individual problem is doomed to failure from the start.

There are many problems with madhouses. First, they need funding and, of course, the entity that receives the funding is likely to prefer skimming off whatever they can, rather than spending it on the inmates. Second, the sort of people who apply to become staff are often not the most desirable, and in fact are often dangerous. Third, one madman might be a social problem, but what happens when you throw them all in together? Are conditions likely to make them less mad or more mad? (I would suggest the latter.)

When I was a teenager, I had the dubious pleasure of visiting a state-run madhouse—the maximum-security ward, where all the most violent inmates were kept.

I’d been asked to visit a short-term inmate named Billy, who’d been committed to the mental institution for a month as punishment for a petty crime. My purpose was to hopefully raise his spirits, but my one visit there provided me with insight that I couldn’t have gained otherwise and has stayed with me for life.

I was taken through several layers of security before being led through a series of heavy steel doors into a large room. There were tables and chairs in the middle and beds along the walls. About fifteen men were talking congenially in small groupings.

To continue reading: The Madhouse

More Lonely, Fewer ‘Friends’, Less Sex – Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation? by Tyler Durden

The nice thing about the WordPress platform is that it optimizes for smartphones, so maybe a few of the younger generation will see this post. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis…

The Atlantic’s Jean Twenge asks the most crucial question of our age“have smartphones destroyed a generation?”

Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, [teens today] talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”

I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data – some reaching back to the 1930s – I had never seen anything like it.

To continue reading: More Lonely, Fewer ‘Friends’, Less Sex – Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation?

Electric Vehicles No Threat To Oil Prices Anytime Soon, by David Eager

In the entire history of the universe, there may be nothing that has been as over-promoted, overhyped, and over-supported by governments as electric cars. From David Yager at oilprice.com:

Hardly a day goes by without another media report about the impending demise of the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) as petroleum powered cars and trucks are replaced by uber-clean Electric Vehicles (EV). It is just a matter of time before EVs start to materially reduce global oil demand thereby capping a meaningful oil price recovery now and creating an ever-shrinking industry in the future. EVs are yet another reason why the decline of petroleum production and consumption is inevitable.

Except it isn’t true. Your writer read dozens of articles and attended a conference on the future of EVs. The evidence overwhelming proves they pose no threat to oil prices anytime soon. Following is a summary of the major points.

• The forecasts for EV growth are all over the map. Late last year investment research outfit Morningstar figured EVs will be 10% of new vehicle sales by 2025 (only 8 years from now!) compared to 1% in 2015. Washington’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted in January cumulative sales of EVs (cars and light trucks) would push 1.4 million by 2025. Last month Morgan Stanley predicted 1 billion EVs would be sold by 2050 and 70% of European vehicles would be electric. Bloomberg New Energy Finance wrote a glowing report on EVs in early July titled The Electric Car Revolution is Accelerating stating “…adoption of emission-free vehicles will happen more quickly than previously estimated because the cost of building cars is falling so fast. The seismic shift will see cars with a plug account a third of the global auto fleet by 2040 and displace about 8 million barrels a day of oil production. In just eight years, electric cars will be as cheap as gasoline vehicles, pushing the global fleet to 550 million by 2050”. When Volvo recently announced it will only produce vehicles with electric motors of some sort – pure EV or hybrid – in a couple of years made global headlines.

To continue reading:  Electric Vehicles No Threat To Oil Prices Anytime Soon