Sunday, August 30, 2015

Re: 35 Practical Steps Men Can Take To Support Feminism

I think that this article at really demonstrates the problem with modern feminism: "35 Practical Steps Men Can Take To Support Feminism". I'm going to briefly comment on these "steps". (I'm not going to fully quote the text, to keep this shorter, and to avoid copyright issues. You can read the full text from that link.)

1. Do 50% (or more) of housework. 

WTF do you mean "or more"? Really? I thought feminism is about equality.

Besides, the amount of housework done by people is none of your business. It's their business. Spouses can agree on the amount of housework done by each, which may depend on things like how much other work each has to do. They can also agree on who wants to do what. (For example, if one spouse would want more housework to be done than the other, they ought to reach a compromise. If there's something that eg. the woman would want to be done and the man doesn't, then perhaps the woman should do what she wants.)

2. Do 50% (or more) of emotional support work in your intimate relationships and friendships.

This "emotional labor" is one of these modern academic feminist bullshit things. There is no such a thing as "emotional labor". That's a completely made-up concept.

Like it or not, men and women are, on average, different. Their brains are wired differently. You might try to deny it, but that doesn't change reality. Most men just aren't as emotional as most women. Live with it. (Also, no matter how much you don't like the idea, there are women who prefer strong stoic men over weak emotional ones.)

3. Consume cultural products produced by women.

Why? I appreciate people by their merits, not by their gender. I do not engage in preferential treatment based on gender. Feminists do, I don't. If a woman creates a work of art that I appreciate, then great. However, I appreciate it because of its merits, not because it was made by a woman. Stop being so sexist.

4. Give women space.

This is one of the most obnoxious ones. Just read it:
"If a seat is available on public transit next to a man, take that seat rather than one next to a woman. If you are walking outside in the dark close to a woman walking alone, cross the street so that she doesn’t have to worry someone is following her. If a woman is standing alone on a subway platform, stand some distance away from her."
What the fuck are you talking about? Cross the street if a woman is walking alone? Do you even understand how amazingly obnoxious that sounds?

If you don't, then just replace "man" with "white person" and "woman" with "black person". Do you have any idea how sexist this is?

If a woman is prejudiced against me solely because I'm a man, that's her problem, not mine. She is the prejudiced one, not me. I don't have the slightest obligation to submit to other people's prejudices.

5. … but insert yourself into spaces where you can use your maleness to interrupt sexism. 

Pamela, Pamela, Pamela... you don't even know what you are doing here. You are perpetuating the notion of women as weak, as damsels in distress, and in need for protection from men, their knights in shining armor.

Oh, what's that? Feminist rhetoric doesn't work when it's aimed at a feminist? Right. Double standards for the win.

6. When a woman tells you something is sexist, believe her.

No, because I'm not a sexist. I evaluate claims on their own right, based on merit, not based on who makes those claims. My acceptance of your claims is completely independent on what gender you might be, I'm sorry.

7. Educate yourself about sexual consent and make sure there is clear, unambiguous communication of consent in all your sexual relationships.

In other words, educate yourself about what feminists consider "rape" this week.

Of course this is a completely futile endeavor. No matter how much and how clearly she gave consent, if she accuses you of rape, you are fucked. Even if the police investigation clears you of all charges, you are still fucked. Because feminism.

8. Be responsible for contraception.

This is a complex issue, but this part is just obnoxious: "Assume financial responsibility for any costs related to contraception." What the fuck?

9. Get the HPV vaccine.

"as a matter of fairness men should be the ones who at least assume the potential risks of getting vaccinated."
WTF? Do I even need to comment how twisted this whole paragraph is?

10. Have progressive name politics.

"If having a common surname with your spouse is important to you, be willing to change your surname and treat this as a preferable option to your spouse changing hers."
And then they claim that feminism is about equality. I think we are seeing a pattern in this article.

You know what? This list is so incredibly stupid, that I am going to stop here, or else this will be just repeating the same thing over and over.

A solution to the "wage gap" problem

Feminists just love to sensationalize the "wage gap". It's an enormous problem affecting the entire world, and needs to be fixed urgently. Well, let me propose a solution:

Firstly, if too many women are applying for lower-paying jobs, we stop them and force them to take higher-paying jobs. For example, if too many women are applying for the position of pediatrician, then we put a limit to how many women can apply to it, and force the excess to apply for the position of surgeons, cardiologists, and so on. (Naturally they will have to study those degrees, but we can force them to do that as well.) Or if, for example, too many women are becoming hair stylists or kindergarten teachers, we put a limit on that, and force the excess to become construction workers, miners, electrical engineers, and so on.

Of course this has to work in the other direction as well (else there will still be an imbalance.) In other words, if too many men are applying for the position of cardiac surgeons, electrical engineers and so on and so forth, we put a limit to it, and instead force them to become pediatricians, kindergarten teachers and hair stylists.

You know, because personal choice does not matter. Only the "wage gap" does.

However, that's not still enough. Secondly, we have to force women to do the same amount of hours as men, whether they want it or not. After all, it doesn't help if they are doing the same jobs, they also have to do the same amount, in order to earn the same.

So, for example, we look at how many hours on average male miners are doing, and force all female miners to do the same hours, even if they don't want to. If male miners are doing, let's say, 50 hours a week, then we force female miners to do 50 hours a week. (This might sound a bit like slave labor, but that doesn't matter. What matters is the "wage gap".)

Thirdly, maternity leave has to go. Sorry, but if you want to earn the same amount of money as men, you can't take time off, else your yearly work hours won't match.

On that same note, you can't be a stay-at-home mom. You have to earn the same as men in order to close the "wage gap", therefore you will be forced to go to that construction site or that mine, and do the same job as men do, in order to earn the same salary. You have no choice in this matter. Closing the "wage gap" is much more important than your personal choices.

Alternatively, we could force some men to be "stay-at-home dads" and force the mothers to go to work, whether they want it or not. (Naturally the mom needs to study the requirements for the job to be qualified. For example, if the father was a neurosurgeon, we'll have to force the mother to become a neurosurgeon instead. Because personal choice is not important in this situation, only the "wage gap".)

But how can we achieve this utopia where there is no "wage gap" anymore? How can we remove people's freedoms and force them to do jobs that they might not want? Well, the only possible solution to this is to create a world-wide totalitarian dictatorship, and annul all constitutions and declarations of human rights. This way we can use slave labor and force people to earn the same amount of money each year. Dissenters could be put in concentration camps to teach them a lesson. I think we can really learn from how North Korea does these things.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Barbershop quartets

I love polyphony in music, especially in singing. For example one of the main reasons why I love the song The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel is precisely the awesome polyphonic singing.

Naturally I thus also like acapella groups and choirs, as they usually use polyphony (an example.)

It should logically follow, that I would like barbershop quartets. They are highly polished acapella groups that use polyphony to its maximum effect for singing.

But somehow, I don't. And I have no idea why. I don't mean I hate it; it's quite ok. I'm just not crazy about it. I just somehow don't dig it as much. I don't know what it is; I just can't put my finger on what the problem is, but it just doesn't work, somehow.

Perhaps the most irritating thing about this is precisely that I don't know why. My reason says that I should love it, but I just don't. What could possibly be the reason for this?

Friday, August 28, 2015

I have been a long-time victim of racism

I am a native Finn, ie. a native Nordic, and thus basically as white as you could probably get. And I have been a long-time victim of racism in my youth.

And I don't mean a victim of generic racist attitudes addressed to white people in general. I really mean racism addressed at me directly and personally.

You see, when I was 7 my family moved to the Canary Islands, and we lived there for 12 years. This was back in the 80's.

Obviously I got tanned pretty quickly, but as a Nordic parson, even at full tan I was significantly lighter-toned than the locals. And that was a constant subject of mockery, jokes, and in some cases even outright insults. This was, of course, more frequent at first than after a decade, but it never really fully stopped. There would always be some a-hole who would use it as a tool for mockery or insult.

But not only was I mocked because of being drastically lighter-skinned, I did also several times experienced outright prejudice, even xenophobia, for the sole reason that I was a foreigner.

Having gone to the local school for almost a decade, starting from childhood, I spoke Spanish completely fluently. (I'm not very fond of bragging, but if I'm being completely pragmatic, I arguably knew Spanish even better than most locals, especially in terms of written Spanish.) Yet there was this woman who owned a shop at the village where I was living who would always talk to me in a stereotypical overly simplistic manner (ie. never inflecting verbs but always using their basic forms, and so on. If you know Spanish, you'll understand how ridiculous, and condescending, that sounds.) I actually didn't find it offensive, just amusing and stupid; it was actually a source of amusement for my friends too, who thought that woman was a bit idiotic.

My mother would sometimes make some Finnish delicacies, and my friends just loved them, especially the baked goods. There was this one woman, however (not the same as the above) who refused to even taste it. Why? Because she did not eat foreign food, period. And I'm not interpreting or making that up. She said that directly and unambiguously. (This kind of xenophobia was in fact so obnoxious that even my friends thought it inappropriate.)

Why am I writing this? Because I find it really, really obnoxious the fact that there exists a portion (quite a big portion in fact) of social justice warriors who seriously postulate that white people cannot be the victims of racism. Some of them even state it outright, rather than simply implying it.

Yes, white people can be victims of racism. Not just imagined racism, or racism that's aimed generally at white people as a whole, but direct, personal racism, targeted at the individual. And I can say that from personal experience, not just hypotheticals or knowing a "friend of a friend" who has experienced it.

But of course to these social justice warriors my experiences don't matter. They only see people as groups divided into races. They don't see individuals. You are your race, and if your race at large doesn't experience something, then you don't experience that something (or even if you do, it's of lesser importance.)

This is one of the (many) reasons why I hate social justice warriors with a passion.

How feminism can be dangerous to women: Flibanserin

Examples of how feminism can actually be dangerous to women's health are piling up.

I made previously a blog post about one example: Normalizing obesity. (Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and a bunch of other diseases. Yet a portion of modern feminism wants to make obesity something "normal" and not something that should be avoided and fixed.)

Feminism also discourages women from taking precautions against being assaulted and raped (which, of course, have devastating effects both physically and psychologically.)

The latest example is the "viagra for women", ie. flibanserin. The FDA rejected the drug twice because it has extremely poor efficacy in treating women with lowered sexual desire disorder, and has an alarmingly high rate of side-effects (with 75% of the test subjects reporting negative effects during treatment). These side-effects include things like low blood pressure, drowsiness, fatigue and fainting, among others. Also, alcohol is categorically not to be used during treatment, as it had severe side-effects on the majority of test subjects. (And this is not just a pill that you pop once in a while when you feel like it. The treatment consists of taking a pill every day for months, or even years. And during all that time, absolutely no alcohol. And even then, you are still 75% likely to get adverse side effects. And all this for a negligible improvement.)

Yet, the FDA was bullied by several feminist groups to approve the drug. The reasoning these groups had to pressure the FDA was because it's "unfair" that men have so many drugs to treat sexual dysfunction, while women have very few. There were even accusations of sexism and misogyny. They completely ignored the science.

So in the near future a corporation will be allowed to sell a pill for women which is pretty much a placebo in terms of helping their problem, but which has a high likelihood of negative side-effects, including low blood-pressure, drowsiness and backouts, and which can be outright dangerous if used with alcohol.

And if that didn't fully sink in, let me repeat: Drowsiness and blackouts. For women seeking to enjoy sex.

And if that still doesn't sink in, let me state it more clearly: This can be, effectively, a self-administered rape drug.

Which feminists bullied the FDA to approve.

Great job, feminists. Great job.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Singers in TV talent shows

This post spoils one of the winners of Britain's Got Talent, so I suppose that if you haven't seen them and want to watch them some time and not spoil the surprise for yourself, then you ought to skip this post.

I have been watching Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent, and while they are really interesting shows, there's one thing that I find a bit disappointing.

There are like three or four big-time singing TV contests. The "Got Talent" series is great in showing other kinds of talent than just singing. Thus it feels a bit extraneous to not only have singers in the "Got Talent" shows, but have them winning. There are tons of talent shows dedicated exclusively to singing; do we really need to dedicate time for them in the only big generic talent show?

I don't mean that a musical, even singing, performance never fits. It can be really interesting and fitting entry if it does something special and unusual. In other words, the kind of performance that can't be seen on those singing contests. Perhaps there could be something unusual about the performer him or herself (like being really young or old), or the way that the performer sings, or the song/music itself might be highly unusual (and something you never see on those singing contests), or there may be something additional that happens in addition to the singing (such as dancing, or other kind of ancillary talent.) I suppose big choirs also count (because it's also something you don't see in the singing contests.) Someone singing a more unusual style, like opera, is a bit borderline, but I suppose I could accept it, if it's really, really extraordinary.

But then you have, for example, just a five-member boy band winning the eighth season of Britain's Got Talent. Don't get me wrong, they were very good singers. However, other than that, there was absolutely nothing special about them. They did not sing in an unusual manner (like barbershop acapella style, or anything like that), there was nothing unusual about their voices, there was nothing unusual about the songs (which were just your regular run-of-the-mill pop songs with nothing unusual about them), there was nothing unusual about the singers themselves (they didn't even dress in any unusual manner or anything; not that that would had been enough in my books, but at least it would have been something), nor did they perform in any unusual manner (they just stand there pretty much motionless, singing the song).

In other words, they were quite bland. Their only talent was their run-of-the-mill regular average pop-song singing voice... but that's it. The exact same talent we have seen thousands of times in actual singing contests and elsewhere.

The same season showed many people with actual physical talent and skill. For example I thought the dancing group that got to the final was a lot more interesting and skillful than the winners. I would actually pay to see those dancers perform live; I would not pay to see that winning boy band perform live. They have an ok singing voice, but otherwise they were very bland and had nothing unusual or interesting about them.

Given that there are so many singing contests and so few generic talent shows, I think that it's a real shame that boring bland singers get to steal the spotlight from other talents. (Sure, this doesn't happen in all seasons, but it does happen way too often.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Usenet is dead

Usenet used to be ubiquitous in the 90's, and still well into the 2000's. It was the all-encompassing forum system before any other practical online forums even existed. While quite limited (you were pretty much limited to ascii text posts, with any binary attachments such as images being frowned upon), it was a very handy and useful way to have online conversations with people about a topic.

And the best part of it was that the forums were very centralized. With this I don't mean that their physical location on a server was centralized (the exact opposite, in fact; all usenet news group content was distributed, shared and synchronized among thousands of usenet servers from all around the world). What I mean is that if you wanted to find discussion about a certain topic (like a programming language, or a hobby), there was usually one major newsgroup for it, so all conversations about that subject were centralized on one (or at most a few) newsgroups that anybody could follow and participate in.

And the best part was that you didn't need to create accounts. Just connect to the usenet, search for the newsgroup you wanted, and start reading and posting. No extra hassle.

Those days are pretty much gone. ISP after ISP have been terminating their Usenet servers during the past decade or so. For example here in Finland, ten years ago basically all ISP's offered a Usenet service. Nowadays almost none of them do, and even those that do, have an extremely limited subset of all newsgroups (eg. limited to only Finnish newsgroups, and often even just a small subset of them.)

Perhaps nowadays the only widely available method for accessing Usenet is Google Groups. This is not a very good implementation because it lacks hierarchical threading, making it hard to follow conversations. On the other hand, it's pretty much the only option left.

Nowadays Usenet has pretty much been replaced with WWW-based online forums. There are advantages and disadvantages to this.

The major advantage is, naturally, that a WWW forum has no limitations on the type of content that it can support (other than the limits of WWW itself.) This is a major step-up from Usenet, and it's an excellent thing. There are of course other advantages like for example it being easier for the forum to have moderators (and for the forum software to offer tools for those moderators.)

The major disadvantages, on the other hand, are that there are thousands and thousands of random forums out there, and nothing is centralized, and you need to always create a separate account on each one of them. If you have a quick question about a certain topic, you can't simply search for a forum on said topic and make a quick post and get an answer. No, you always have to jump through the hoops of creating an account and have it validated... And this quite often for one single post you wanted to make, with a good likelihood that after you get the answer you will never have the need to post there again. This is a real hassle.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Constantly changing technologies in mobile platform development

Do you know what really grinds my gears, from personal experience? The constantly changing technologies in mobile platform development.

So you want to develop for a mobile platform (like iOS). Thus you learn the best tools and APIs for the job, you get experience on them, and along the line, when implementing projects, you develop a series of well-crafted tightly designed helper libraries that make common tasks so much easier and faster. You become so good at it that you can implement a small project in a week.

And then, a year or two later, you have to throw almost all of it to the trashcan. Those APIs and libraries will have become obsolete and antiquated, and not the best way of implementing those projects. Better services are provided, better APIs, better libraries, requirements change and expand, which can't be met with that old API...

And thus 90% of those nifty helper libraries you made become useless, and you have to learn a completely new, different development environment, and write different utility libraries for it to make your job easier.

And then a year or two later, they too become obsolete and useless, as new projects once again switch to a completely different, "better" development platform, or a "better" service that replaces the old one. Once again, all those thousands and thousands of lines of code go completely to waste. They are useless because they use the old APIs and the old environment. Rinse and repeat.

Even if you are using the same API (like a graphics library) for years, newer versions of it may become so different and so backwards-incompatible, that it's effectively an entirely new library that obsoletes most of your existing helper classes.

You could implement a small project in a week with one of those old environments that you were so acquainted with, and wrote so much reusable code for... but no dice. Sucks being you. That environment is obsolete and antiquated, and doesn't meet the newest requirements for new projects, sorry.

It's quite annoying when this happens over and over and over. You wouldn't believe how much code I have written, code that I consider very cleanly and well designed, that's easy to use, efficient, and very reusable, and which I can be proud of as a programmer, that is now completely useless and obsolete, and thus is a complete waste, because it is a convenience wrapper around an old library, service or technology that has become obsolete or unsuitable.

Hidden defects and talents

(Not something that grinds my gears. Just something I find interesting.)

You know how some people don't realize, for example, being color-blind until well into adulthood, usually because of some kind of test or other circumstance where they suddenly become aware that their vision isn't actually normal? Yes, it does happen.

The same happens with just myopia as well. Surprisingly many people live years with a significant myopia without realizing it (and often only realize when they happen to take a vision test or similar.) It sounds unbelievable, but it does indeed happen. They have just got so used to it that they don't even realize something is not completely right about their vision. (Usually they then become painfully aware of it, especially if they have tried corrective glasses, as the difference is like day and night.)

Oftentimes this happens with hidden talents too. That in itself doesn't sound that surprising, except perhaps with certain kinds of talent. Like singing voice.

I myself didn't realize that I could actually sing somewhat decently until I was well into my mid-20's. This even though I had since childhood been in many situations of group-singing etc. Singing was always very uncomfortable to me, and it felt really forced, and I had a quite horrible singing voice. For that reason I hated singing and almost never participated.

So what was the problem? The problem was that I was trying to sing on the same octave as everybody else. And that was just not the natural octave for me.

At one point I had a friend who sung one octave lower than the normal average male singing voice. You know, that really deep and distinctive bass singing voice. For fun I tried that myself, and to my surprise I realized, for the first time in my life, that I could actually easily reach those notes, and it felt a hundred times more natural and easy. As incredible as it may sound, I had never previously tried to sing that low. I always imitated everybody else, without ever trying something different.

I'm not saying that I have a good singing voice, or a very loud one, but singing one octave lower than the normal male singing voice feels a lot more natural, and I'd say I can sing at least decently at those ranges. This range is a bit unusual because only a small minority of men can even reach those low notes at all.

It's a natural talent (or perhaps physical characteristic) that I didn't know I had until my mid-20's. It's curious, but it happens.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why bullying will never stop

I wrote in a previous post about the biggest problem with bullying: The bullies get away with it, and they know it. And that's why they do it.

In many countries there have been massive anti-bullying campaigns, with millions and millions of dollars spent on them. There are appeals to emotions, there are awareness campaigns, there are education campaigns... and this has been going on for at least the past 30 years or even longer. Yet school bullying continues. Why? Because they get away with it, and they know it.

That's the problem. There are no serious repercussions for bullying. They are underage, which means that they are untouchable, and we are too afraid to do anything to them. We are a culture that puts children in pedestals and consider them, essentially, gods. They are the holiest of holiest, and have absolute diplomatic immunity. No crime, no matter how horrendous it might be, has any severe consequences. They are our holy cows. We may bemoan what they are doing and organize massive campaigns that achieve absolutely nothing. The bullies are so bold and self-confident that they even engage in bullying in front of cameras. Because they know they will get no punishment for it.

The only way to stop bullying is to treat the bullies as criminals. Bullying must have actual real tangible punishment.

The parents of the bullies must be involved, and must be held responsible. And this can be done with the only language that they understand: Money. That's the universal language that even the most depraved uncaring people understand. If they start receiving ever increasing fines for what their children are doing, they are going to react. If they don't pay, then they go to jail as anybody else who refuses to pay their fines.

As for the bullies themselves, if they don't stop after a reasonable amount of warnings, sanctions and fines, then they go to prison. It's that simple. Even this might not reform some of them, but why should the innocent victims pay the price? The bullies must be removed from their potential victims, like any other dangerous criminals.

But no, we can't do that. Our holy cows cannot be touched. And the victims must suffer for our cowardice.

A different form of "uncanny valley" effect?

The "uncanny valley" effect is a psychological phenomenon, where if you take objects that look more and more humanlike in their features (starting from something that doesn't resemble a human at all), using elements that are generally deemed as "cute" and pleasant to look at, there's a strange point at which the thing becomes highly disconcerting and repulsive. So a teddy bear may look cute, a doll resembling a small child may look even cuter... but the more "realistic" human features you keep adding to it, at some point, when it's getting closer and closer to looking indistinguishable from a human, it becomes really disconcerting. It just looks like there's something wrong. What was something cute and huggable suddenly becomes something that causes more or less a phobia.

I have noticed, however, that there are some other things which are unrelated to that, but still may cause a sensation that's similar, and I'm wondering if the psychology behind it is the same.

For example, if you put a body harness on somebody and attach a camera onto that harness pointing at the person's face, the resulting video looks mostly ok, and there's nothing too bothering about it. It looks relatively natural and normal.

However, put a helmet on the person and attach the camera to the helmet, pointing at the person's face (from any direction), and the resulting video suddenly becomes really awkward to watch, at least for me. When suddenly the face stays completely stationary on the video while everything else moves, it looks really unnatural and disconcerting. It doesn't look normal, and it's quite bothering to watch.

(I noticed this when some "reality TV" shows have done exactly that. The result is really awkward.)

I'm wondering if the psychology behind this is similar, or even the same, as behind the uncanny valley effect.

Veganism as a dogma

For some reason many vegans are very dogmatic and religious about it. Many of them will outright distort, lie and fabricate claims, and will viciously attack critics with all the fallacies and tactics in the book.

Like all other religious people who try to impose their dogma onto others, they will often try to masquerade their own principles behind good-sounding reasons, which are nevertheless just excuses.

For example, one of the most common excuses is that they are vegan because of the mistreatment of farm animals. They will go on and on with sensationalistic stories and pictures of extremely poor treatment of farm animals. An appeal to emotions, essentially.

But if that were the reason for their veganism, and if they are consistent about it, then surely they wouldn't have any problem in eating animal products that have been fairly and humanely produced?

Will a vegan eat fish? No. Because of cows and chicken being mistreated somewhere.

Will a vegan eat eggs that have been produced in what's essentially a chicken paradise, where chicken live a luxurious life that's much better than they would ever live anywhere else? No. Because cows and chickens are mistreated somewhere else.

Will a vegan drink milk that has been produced in what's essentially a cow paradise? Of course not.

The "animals are mistreated by the food industry" is just an excuse. They are seldom consistent about it. If that were truly the reason for their veganism, then they would have no problem in eating animal products that has been produced humanely. But they don't, because it's just an excuse.

The other major reason they always give is the claim that a vegan diet is healthier. These claims are often ridden with exaggerated and outright fabricated claims about the health hazards of meat.

(Processed meat can be somewhat detrimental to health, but meat itself is not. For example, there's a widespread misconception that red meat is unhealthy. This is false. Processed red meat may have health risk factors, but unprocessed red meat does not. In fact, when you study more remote and isolated populations who eat principally unprocessed red meat, you'll find that they are in general very healthy, with little to no coronary artery diseases and other such problems traditionally associated with meat. It's not the meat itself that causes this; it's the kind of meat.)

And a vegan diet is not somehow automatically healthy. I can live with a 100% vegan diet, and become extremely sick from it in a year. The diet still has to be varied and contain all necessary nutrients in proper amounts, or else you will suffer from deficiencies.

This is in no way different from normal food. You can have a very healthy varied diet containing animal products, and suffer no ill consequences from it. Veganism all in itself is no guarantee of health.

Moreover, a purely vegan diet tends to lack certain nutrients (like certain vitamins) because those are primarily found in animal products, and extremely rarely in plant products. If you live on a 100% vegan diet for years without taking care of getting those certain nutrients (which you won't get unless you are specifically aware and use supplements), you will suffer for deficiencies.

It is, in fact, easier to have a healthy diet containing animal products than a purely vegan diet. The traditional wisdom applies: Some meat, veggies, milk, eggs and so on, in a reasonable proportion each, using common sense, and you are quite unlikely to suffer from any deficiencies or negative health effects. You generally don't even have to know about nutrition or what kind of nutrients can be found where. Not so with a purely vegan diet.

The thing is, some vegans are really, really dogmatic about it. They are really obnoxious and resort to outright lying and distorting in order to defend their religion and to attack critics. Some of them are outright sociopathic. (I could point to concrete examples that you can find eg. on YouTube, but I'm sure you can find them with a bit of searching if you are really curious.)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Will we run out of copper?

Copper is one of the abundant elements in the Earth's crust. Copper is also one of the most versatile and useful elements.

Humanity has used copper during thousands of years very lavishly. Naturally during the past century copper has been extremely useful and used because of its electrical properties: It's a very good conductor of electricity and heat. As a conductor it's one of the best materials for all kinds of electricity transportation, as it incurs relatively low losses (unlike, for example, iron, which also has good conductivity, but incurs significantly higher losses when conducting electricity.) For this reason copper is the main material used for electrical wires, and all other sorts of electric conductors. (Copper is not the absolutely best material for this purpose, but its advantage is that it's cheap. There are better conductors, like silver and gold, but those are significantly more expensive.)

However, copper is not used solely on electric wires and circuits. It has been used (and is still being used) very lavishly in all kinds of construction. Millions of tons of copper have been used for things like pipes, roofs, statues and the like.

The use of copper has only increased in the modern era. 95% of all the copper ever mined in the history of humanity has been mined in the last century. Over half of that has been mined in the last 25 years.

This has, in fact, become a problem. While the amount of copper in the Earth's crust is extremely vast, only a minuscule portion of it is actually directly usable (the majority of it appearing in compound elements, where it's very hard to extract from.) And we are, in fact, running out of mineable copper. While a hundred years ago copper could be mined almost anywhere, nowadays copper mines need to become deeper and deeper. Almost all of the copper that's easily retrievable near the surface has been mined.

There is, obviously, a limit to how deep we can dig, and how easily we can find usable copper. And the demand and use for copper is not decreasing, but the exact opposite. We are needing to mine more and more of it each year, at an increasing rate, due to demand. And we are running out of places where to mine.

We are, in fact, running out of copper sooner or later. Most estimates say that we will run out of it in less than a hundred years from now (the most pessimist estimates a lot less than that.)

This is yet another thing where humanity will face a crisis in less than a hundred years. Once we run out of copper from mining, we are pretty much screwed. (Humanity will probably start recycling copper, but that's probably not going to be enough, without some serious cutbacks.) Unless we can figure out a more abundant alternative for copper, we are screwed.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Human milk

One day I was talking with a friend about cheese, and I pondered if you could make cheese out of human milk, and what it would taste like.

I bet that when you read that, you got an immediate feeling of aversion, even disgust, didn't you?

But why? Don't get me wrong, I get the same feeling as well, and the thing is, I can't get rid of it no matter how much I think about it logically. (I'm not saying all people have this instinctive aversion, but most do.)

Why do we have such a strong instinctive aversion towards human milk? Where is it coming from? This feeling is almost as strong as our instinctive aversion towards cannibalism. But what causes it?

After all, babies drink that stuff all the time, and we think nothing of it. It's normal. It's healthy. We do not get any kind of feeling of aversion, or think about "cannibalism" in this context. So what exactly makes it different as an adult? Why the aversion and disgust?

I often like to theorize about the innate instincts we have, and where they come from. However, with this one I'm pretty much drawing a blank. I have no idea why we have this innate instinct of aversion. Does it have a biological purpose? (If it does, what could it be? As far as I know, human milk is in no way harmful to adults.) Is it just a psychological by-product of something else? If so, what?

I have no idea, really.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How feminism is slightly ruining video games for me

I have been playing video games for quite a long time (since the early 80's, in fact). I have never cared much about what kind of playable character or characters a game might have. Male, female, robot, dog, white, black, blue, neon... it doesn't make much of a difference. The important thing is the gameplay, the story, and the playability of the game. If the playable character is "empathizable" (I don't think there exists an actual word in English for this), all the better. If the character fits into the story well, all the better.

Moreover, whether the playable character (or any character for that matter) in the game is, for example, a woman, or eastern Asian, or whatever, I don't think much of it. It can sometimes add some exoticism to the game (as in, for example, Mirror's Edge), but that's it.

The current feminist barrage against video games during the last few years, however, is a bit changing this, and I think it's sad.

You see, now whenever a playable character is, for example, female (and there's no choice), or black, or whatever, I get the unavoidable instinct of thinking whether the game developers made it so because it fits the narrative, or even just because they thought it would be nice... or whether they are trying to force-feed me some social justice ideology and cram it down my throat. Was the choice made for storytelling reasons, personal preference, or even just semi-randomly without any deeper meaning behind it, or was the choice made because "we need strong female characters" or "we want to be inclusive and have diversity". In other words, was the choice of gender or ethnicity artificially tacked on because of ideological reasons and to try to send some kind of implicit message to the player?

I am probably being a bit paranoid. And that's exactly the problem. This feminist barrage against video games (and the mostly positive response by the video game press and industry) has caused me to become a bit paranoid about it. And I hate that. I don't want to get an instinctive feeling of aversion when I start a new game and notice that the playable character seems to conform to one of the "politically correct" demographics, making me suspicious about why that choice was made, and whether the game developers are trying to shove an ideological message down my throat.

I want to go back to the time when video games were innocent fun, and not potential tools for politics, propaganda and bigotry.

Non-gameplay tricks in speedrunning

Speedrunning of video games is a very interesting hobby to follow. Unassisted speedruns are often real shows of skill and expertise, and it can be real fun to watch a difficult game being completed in one tenth of the time (or even less) than a normal first-time playthrough, especially when doing so involves really skillful maneuvers that are very hard to pull off and require tons and tons of practice. It could perhaps be slightly compared to a skillful juggler, or parkour. Tool-assisted speedruns are interesting to watch because they depict, essentially, what it would look like if a superhuman perfect player played the game: A perfect playthrough as fast as possible with zero mistakes or inefficiencies.

In both cases there's an important key concept involved: Playthrough. As in playing the game from beginning to end. Playing the game from beginning to end.

Then they started discovering bugs, defects and glitches in various games that allowed them to skip parts, sometimes even large parts, of the game. Such glitches are often interesting (and sometimes really hard to pull off, which adds to the skill level), but as long as it happens purely through gameplay alone, it's fine. (Sometimes they skip large parts that would have been nice to see played through, which is a pity. Sometimes they make a longer and more boring run shorter and more interesting, so the overall entertainment value increases. It depends a lot on the game and the glitches in question.)

Then they start discovering glitches that do not involve actual gameplay (in other words, feeding input to the game itself that it uses to control the gameplay, eg. the movement of the playable character, etc.)

Like "if I quick-save and quick-load repeatedly here, it allows me to glitch through this wall" (as is a relatively recent trick in Half-Life 2 speedruns.) I suppose it's debatable whether quick-saving and quick-loading is part of actual gameplay. In my opinion, it's not. (Sure, they are necessary to resume the game if the player dies, but I still don't consider them part of actual gameplay. They are a mechanism external to the gameplay itself, and not part of actually playing the game.) This could be considered a borderline case, but personally I don't consider it legit gameplay, and thus I really don't like it. (Additionally, I find it quite egregious that runners are still calling those runs "single-segment" when they are quick-saving and loading dozens of times. That's not single-segment. But that's besides the point here.)

Then they discover glitches like "if I quick-save, then go to the game's main menu and delete the save from there, and then resume, it allows me to skip this part". Going to the main menu and deleting a save file is most definitely not part of the gameplay proper in any way, shape or form. This is inducing a glitch into the game via external non-gameplay methods. This is not playing the game anymore. (If the argument is that it all happens from within the game, using the tools that the game itself offers, then by the same argument you could simply open the console and start writing cheat codes there. Games like Half-Life 2 support this, fully within the game, using tools that the game itself offers. No, just no.)

Then they discover glitches like "if at this point I alt-tab to the desktop, start the task manager and kill the game from there, and then restart it, it allows me to skip this/duplicate items/whatever" (like with games like Minecraft). Likewise in some consoles "if I reset the console at this point, it corrupts the savegame." No. A million times no. This is not playing the game by any possible definition of the concept. This is not "speedrunning" anymore. This is not completing the game via gameplay. It's corrupting the game via external means, and is no different from simply using cheat codes, hex-editing the savefile or modding the game.

Yet, year by year, more and more of these non-gameplay tricks are being discovered and classified as a "legit" way of speedrunning the game. Speedrunning is going farther and farther away from actually playing the games. Some of those tricks may be interesting for the sake of curiosity, but they are killing what makes speedrunning so exciting and marvelous.

With some games this is going into another tangent: While technically speaking the glitching is done via gameplay (ie. solely by the input keys that the game interprets as controls for gameplay), the glitches nevertheless are such that they alter the game code itself and allow for arbitrary jumps anywhere within the game's code. The most prominent example of this are the first-generation Pokemon games.

For a long time there was a way to glitch the games to jump to any arbitrary location, but this glitch involved resetting the game while it was saving. Recently it was discovered that it can be done without resetting, purely via the normal gameplay buttons (ie. directional buttons and the A and B buttons). Essentially what happens with this glitch is that at some point the game is tricked into loading the wrong room when the player goes through a door, and this wrong room is the Hall of Fame room (which for the intents of speedrunning is considered the game's ending.) This is nice and interesting... but it still leaves a bit of a bad taste in by mouth, because the game wasn't actually played through. The game was corrupted in such a way that it loaded the wrong room and thus the run jumped to the end without actually playing the game.

To understand my problem with it better, consider that if there was a way to do that from the main menu of the game right from the start (or the very first room where you start in), they would do that. They would jump directly from the very beginning of the game to the very end... and that's it. That's somehow a "speedrun", ie. completing the game as fast as possible... without actually playing the game or completing anything. And this isn't like the ending is right next room and you glitch through the wall due to a bug or bad level design; this is done by corrupting the game and making it jump to a completely different routine than normally. Even if the corruption was caused by using the input keys alone, the game was not played through. (Again, this also could be considered a borderline case, but personally I just don't like it. I don't consider this speedrunning. It's not playing the game.)

Tool-assisted speedrunning isn't free from this either. On the contrary, it's even worse (because it's far more frequent.) For something like 10 years tool-assisted speedruns always completed the game "cleanly". Sure, with some games lots of glitches were abused, like zipping through walls and so on, but nevertheless the games were played from beginning to end, through each level that had to be played at minimum, starting from the beginning of the level and progressing to the end, and so on. Some local level-abuse aside (which is fine in my books), this was pure and clean gameplay, from beginning to end, as fast as possible.

Then they started discovering that hey, if we abuse the reset button, we can corrupt the game's savedata, or corrupt the game in other ways. Emulators didn't support recording the reset button, so this technique was unusable in practice. Then they added support, and dozens of speedruns were immediately ruined by it. Resetting the game is not gameplay. Corrupting the game's savedata via resetting is an external, non-gameplay technique. It's not a legit completion of the game in my books.

A few years later people started discovering a different trick in some games: They could glitch the game into executing arbitrary machine code, which could be inputted by the runner using the controller. This is a very nice and interesting technique in itself, and allows for some quite spectacular results (such as making a game run a completely different game that was inputted to it via the controller). However, in terms of speedrunning... well, it isn't anymore. Once you have taken control of the console and are able to input and execute whatever machine code you want, you have stopped playing the game. The actual "speedrun" is over. This is not gameplay anymore. You have simply hacked the game and took control of the console, and can now program it to do whatever you want (within the limitations of its RAM capacity.) Thus anything you do from this point forward is not a speedrun of the original game anymore. It's over. Moreover, you didn't even complete the game, and thus it's not a full, legit speedrun of it.

But of course they consider it a "legit" speedrun of it. After all, one of the things you can do by executing arbitrary code is to jump to any routine within the game's own code (and set any RAM values you want, if needed). Pick an arbitrary point in the game that you consider its "ending", and jump there. Done, game completed? And most of the games glitchable in this manner have a published "legit" tool-assisted speedrun that does exactly that.

No, just no. The gameplay ended immediately when you hacked the game and took over the console. You are not playing the game anymore. The run is over. Anything else you do after that is not a legit speedrun. It's executing your own code. Just because you can now jump to any arbitrary routine within the original game program doesn't somehow return it to be a legit speedrun of the game. You did not complete the game via gameplay.

I find it really sad that this is becoming more and more common, both in unassisted and in tool-assisted speedruns. Especially in the latter case the non-speedrun is sometimes even considered the only official fastest completion of the game, replacing any non-glitched speedrun of it. In other words, for some games there exists no current official tool-assisted speedrun of it (not in my books at least.) If you want to see an actual speedrun, you'll have to find an older version.

I think this is ruining speedrunning in the case with many games (where these non-gameplay tricks have been discovered). Lost are the days when these games were actually played through as fast as possible. Now they are just corrupted and glitched using external means or, in a few cases, by arbitrary code execution (which is not gameplay in my books.) Moreover, in many cases runs using these tricks are often considered the only current "world record", so you essentially get no choice (other than be content with older, perhaps obsolete versions.)

Of course speedrunners are completely free to do whatever they want, and consider whichever run they want to be "legit". I just think it's a pity that these non-speedruns are becoming more and more common, ruining the whole concept. (Fortunately these tricks can, so far, be used in only a minority of games, which saves the day for me. Unfortunately the tricks are being discovered in some of my all-time favorite games, like the Half-Life series, which just ruins it.)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Girls only" educational events

"'No boys allowed' day teaches girls about science and math"

If you think that's just an isolated thing, it isn't. "Girls only" events where "boys/men are not allowed" are in fact becoming more and more popular by the year, in our modern feminist zeitgeist.

These are obviously sexist to the core, and nobody cares (and even if somebody does, they are just dismissed as misogynists... never mind whether that makes any logical sense or not.) However, let's forget about that for a moment. Let's think about what the message is that they are sending to those girls. This is a very implicit message, and it is given completely inadvertently, but it is quite strongly there. And it's quite detrimental.

One thing that one of the interviewed girls in the video says really digs into the crux of the problem: "I think it's a lot of fun because there is no competition."

That really reveals what these "girls only" events are telling those girls. What the implicit message is.

"You will never be able to compete with the boys. You are weaker and less capable than them. If you ever want to learn science and math, if you ever want to succeed in the STEM fields, you will need special treatment. You are not capable of achieving these things on your own, when there are boys competing against you. They are so much better than you, and thus you have no chance unless we organize these special no-boys-allowed events."

Even further, this implicit message leads to even more detrimental thoughts. It leads to man hatred: "The reason why we can't succeed in the STEM fields is because of men; they somehow stop us from succeeding. It's men's fault. The very reason that we need special girls-only events like this is because of men. Without them, we would be much more capable. Men are stifling our academic career; men are oppressors."

Of course this kind of event is not directly or explicitly giving that message, but it easily leads to that kind of thinking. It easily leads to such thoughts (even if just at a semi-conscious level). It easily leads to prejudice and hatred of men. When the message is "I can't succeed in these fields because of men", and if this message is hammered into one's head, it quite naturally leads to resentment and hatred.

And then you wonder why so many women go to gender studies courses instead of STEM fields, and become angry misandrist feminists. Hatred breeds more hatred, even when there are apparently good intentions behind events like this. (You know what the saying tells about good intentions and paving roads...)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Why has "capitalism" become a dirty word?

Just like "nationalism", the word "capitalism" has a really negative connotation nowadays. I bet that when you read that word, you immediately got some negative feelings about it.

The word "capitalism" immediately spawns thought of greedy and abusive huge megacorporations invading every market, screwing up both customers and competition, caring very little if at all about customers' rights, and which will go to any lengths necessary to make profit. They also elicit the mental image of these megacorporations going to foreign countries to abuse and deplete their natural resources and to employ cheap local labor in horrendous working conditions for a minimal salary. The word "capitalist" also spawns the thought of the greedy industrialist who abuses his workers, treating them almost like low-paid slaves. Both words also give mental pictures of huge wealth gaps between the extremely small rich majority, and the poor majority, many of them who live in extreme poverty, even on the street, with nobody caring about them (especially not the megacorporations.)

In other words, "capitalism" has pretty much become a synonym for "anarcho-capitalism" (in other words, capitalism that's completely unrestricted by governmental control and limitations, which means, effectively, that the megacorporations regulate themselves, as there is no higher authority imposing limits and sanctions to their actions.)

The thing is, we often tend to judge something based only on the most visible extremes, rather than seeing the bulk majority of it. Those abusive megacorporations do indeed exist, but they form a really, really small minority of the total body of the worldwide capitalist market and economy. They are the extreme form of it.

Moreover, when the word "capitalism" is uttered, most people think of only one single country: The United States. Most people seem to forget that capitalism is really widespread, and most countries have a form of capitalist economy.

The thing is, in most countries the capitalist economy is strictly regulated by a strong government. And that's exactly how it should be. The government makes sure that capitalist megacorporations do not get out of hand, nor start abusing the citizens for their own profit. The government imposes customers' and workers' rights, and puts limits on commercial abuse (such as deceptive marketing, anti-competitive conduct, fraud, monopolies, and so on.)

The fact is that without capitalism, we wouldn't have the level of technological progress that we today have. I find it quite ironic how so many people attack capitalism... by using computers and technology that are a direct result of capitalism.

Sure, capitalism is at its core greedy. But this "greed" is what drives technological innovation. It's what drives corporations to become market leaders by improving their products to be better than the competition. There's a constant race between corporations on who makes the fastest, smallest and most efficient piece of any particular technology. We wouldn't have the desktop supercomputers we have if it weren't for this competition. And the competition is directly caused by, to put it bluntly, greed.

Greed is generally a negative trait. But in this particular case, it really isn't. Sure, it can sometimes lead to abuse and skewing of human rights, but it has also lead to amazing technological advance. And capitalism is the most effective form of economy that entices this.

Is capitalism perfect? Of course it's not. However, capitalism, when tightly controlled by a strong government, is the best form of economy that there seems to exist. Many countries have tried many different forms of economy during history, but (government-controlled) capitalism just works the best, like it or not. You wouldn't be reading this text if it weren't for capitalism.

Remember that the United States is not the only country in the world. There exist other countries as well, and many of them are quite developed welfare societies regardless of their capitalist economy.

(Curiously, "capitalism" has become such a dirty word that even many people who live in these countries deny them being "capitalist". It's like it would be shameful to say such a thing. But there is no way around it: They are capitalist countries, and they are doing well. Capitalism just works. No need to be ashamed of it.)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A concrete example of how modern social justice can be harmful: Witch trials

Presumption of innocence (ie. "innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt") is one of the cornerstone of modern justice. It means that when a suspect is accused of a crime, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. In other words, it's the prosecution who has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.

The reverse is what could be derogatorily called a "witch trial" (or perhaps "kangaroo court", although that refers more to a court system that disregards and perverts the law, rather than the law itself being perverted.) In other words, the accused is assumed to be guilty by default, and the burden of proof is on the defense to prove the innocence of the accused. If the defense fails to prove the innocence, then the default verdict is that of guilt.

This presumption of guilt is all in itself a mockery of our modern justice system. However, it becomes even more egregious when the thing that has to be proven is intangible, something that's very difficult to prove with tangible physical evidence. Such as consent.

How exactly do you prove that someone gave you "consent" before having sex? In 99.9% of cases it's just your word against theirs, because there can't be physical evidence of this. This means that "you have to prove that she gave consent, or else you will be guilty of rape" is an absolute mockery of the justice system. It gives absolute power to the alleged victim, with the accused having absolutely no means of defense, no matter how innocent he may be. Even if the accused is absolutely innocent, it's physically impossible to prove. This nothing more than a witch trial. "Prove that you are not a witch, or you'll be burned on the stake."

Do you think I'm just exaggerating and hypothesizing? That this will never happen? Well, read this article.
The Labour Party's plan to reform the criminal justice system would mean that the accused in a rape case would have to prove consent to be found innocent -- a change it acknowledges as a monumental shift. [...]
The policy would mean that in a rape case, if the Crown proved a sexual encounter and the identity of the defendant, it would be rape unless the defendant could prove it was consensual.
Welcome back to the Middle Ages.

Friday, August 7, 2015

A concrete example of how modern social justice can be dangerous: Normalizing obesity

Social justice warriors are often mostly just annoying and obnoxious. Sometimes they, however, succeed in being more than just annoying. Sometimes they can get people fired from their jobs and shunned for life, for instance.

However, there are also some things where modern social justice can be dangerous on a massive scale. One of them is the attempt to normalize obesity.

There is a part of social justice activists that promote the strange idea that "ideal weight" is just a cultural artificial construct, and essentially just "fat shaming". They complain how the media portrays an "unrealistic" body image to people, by using skinny and fit people as this "ideal". These social justice warriors seem to think that there is no difference between people of different weights, and that idealizing one particular weight is artificial and detrimental. In other words: There's nothing wrong in being overweight.

But the thing is, this isn't a body image issue. This is not about aesthetics. This is about health.

Obesity is a leading cause for many deadly ailments, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, and some types of cancer. Fit people close to their ideal weight are much less likely to suffer from these diseases than overweight people.

By telling people "you are fine as you are; do not feel ashamed, be yourself", they are essentially telling them "do not worry about your health, do not even try to improve it; keep living an unhealthy life that's likely to kill you much sooner than needed".

Of course some people will immediately object with the old tired "but this and this person was obese, and lived her entire life without any health issues". Sure. And some people have survived the bite of a rattlesnake. Does that mean that rattlesnake bites are not dangerous and you shouldn't worry if a rattlesnake is near you? Are you willing to take the risk?

Obesity is becoming a pandemic in the western world, and it will have its consequences. We don't need these jackasses encouraging people to not worry about it. That is literally lethal advice.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hulk Hogan and the n-word

There was a big controversy recently when the pro wrestler Hulk Hogan apparently appeared in some kind of sex tape uttering the n-word a few times.

Twenty years ago nobody would have given a flying fuck about it. (About his use of the n-word, that is. The sex tape might have been a different issue, but that's not the point.)

Ten years ago he might have been slightly reprimanded by the WWE, and perhaps they would have given some kind of minor press release apologizing.

Nowadays he not only gets fired from the WWE, but he gets retroactively erased completely from WWE history. He became essentially an unperson.

Enough said. I don't think I even need to comment. What can I say? The entire world is becoming a totalitarian shithole. It just won't be "Big Brother" who will be watching.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

(Almost) irrefutable proof of extraterrestrial intelligence

While not immensely popular nor common, there are nevertheless quite many people out there who flat out claim that they are in direct communication with aliens from another star system or galaxy. I'm sure that a bit of googling will give many examples.

The thing is, unlike with many other similar woo, this is something that could actually be proven with pretty much irrefutable proof... yet it just doesn't happen. (I wonder why.)

Ok, the proof wouldn't be irrefutable of the "aliens" being exactly from where the person is claiming they are from, or any other characteristics that the person may have come up with to describe them. But it would be pretty much undeniable evidence of a non-human higher intelligence.

These people always get very vague and wishy-washy messages about our destiny and future, and what we are doing to harm ourselves, and what we should be doing instead, and yada yada. Something that's extremely easy for anybody to come up with.

However, there would be a relatively easy way to actually prove that the person is indeed in contact with a higher intelligence: A correct answer to a question like "give me a proof of (or counter-example to) the Riemann hypothesis."

A correct answer would be pretty much irrefutable proof of a higher intelligence. No human has so far been able to crack this problem, but it's nevertheless something that we could verify.

And if the excuse is that the proof would be too complicated for us to even begin to understand (or, perhaps, that even the aliens themselves don't have the answer, although this excuse would be highly unlikely because these people are seldom willing to attribute any flaws to their alien "gods"), it's not like there aren't plenty of other unsolved mathematical problems, like the Goldbach's conjecture, the twin prime conjecture, the Collatz conjecture, and so on and so forth. There ought to be at least some that the "aliens" ought to be able to give a proof of.

It's rather curious that all these aliens are always happy to give vague answers to vague questions about philosophy, but never to actual questions that would prove their existence and higher intelligence.

It would also be quite curious if the aliens' mathematical knowledge would just happen by chance to coincide with ours.

(There's an "(almost)" in the title of this post because in theory this isn't exactly a 100% sure proof. That's because theoretically some person could come up with an actual valid proof, and then claim that aliens gave it to him. While this is highly, highly unlikely, especially if the person has no background in mathematics and it comes completely out of the blue, and it's unlikely that such a mathematically talented and knowledgeable person would be a ufo-believer, it's not absolutely impossible. However, if said person gave correct proofs to two different unsolved conjectures, that would be quite definitive.)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Autism" is the new "retard"

I find it rather curious, and perhaps a bit puzzling, that in terms of petty insults used by internet trolls, "autism" has pretty much replaced the older insult "retard" (which in itself pretty much replaced the even older "nerd" and "geek"). And yes, "autism", not "autistic". (Although the latter is also of course used, it seems that at least 90% of the appearances of the insult use the former form, even when it makes no sense grammatically, or even if the sentence needs to be phrased awkwardly for the word to fit. Somehow "autism" seems to feel even more offensive and provocative than "autistic", for some reason.)

Or more specifically, the use of the word is not so much puzzling. Trolls will always use whichever terms are most offensive. It's the incredible widespread of the phenomenon that's a bit puzzling. It seems that no troll uses the older insults anymore, and almost every single one of them uses "autism" now.

Go to, for example, YouTube and search for almost any video that shows some kind of "nerdy" hobby (especially if it's not very mainstream), or any person behaving in a socially awkward (ie. typically "nerdy") way, and especially if the video has a significant amount of views and comments, I can 100% guarantee you that you will find the word "autism" in the comments. Moreover, you will probably not find too many of those "older" insults (such as "nerd", or even "retard".)

Perhaps the word "retard" has lost its "potency" as an insult due to overuse, and perhaps people feel that "autism" is a much more powerful and offensive word, a word that's much more provocative and controversial. (Not to talk about the much older insults "nerd" and "geek" which, by now, have lost their negative connotations pretty much completely, especially the former.)

I wonder how this new insult got so widespread. It has essentially reached a meme status of trolling.

The actual "rape culture", part 3

I have written about what I consider to be the actual "rape culture" of our modern western society here and here. I'd like to add a third form of this to the mix:

This form of "rape culture" is that modern feminism has lowered the bar, the criteria, of what is considered "rape" more and more, and this has only been accelerating during the past few years. In other words, we have an actual "rape culture" in which more and more things are considered "rape", which oftentimes goes to completely ridiculous levels. We have also moved more and more away from technical definitions and physical evidence to subjective feelings. In other words, if the woman "feels" that she was "raped", then she was, completely regardless of what actually happened, and completely regardless of what the man was thinking, what his intent was, whether he crossed any lines, or whether there was any kind of coercion, forcing or manipulation involved. It's enough for the woman to "feel" that it was rape. And she can come up to that conclusion immediately after the act, or years later, it makes absolutely no difference.

(And I'm not even going, once again, into the fact that it's always, always, in that particular direction. In the other direction, ie. the man accusing the woman of "rape", it just doesn't work. Nobody takes that seriously, least of all those feminists. Equality my ass.)

This is not just theoretical hypothesizing. This mentality has actually real-life effects. There have been actual real-life cases where a woman was in a sexual relationship with a man for a relatively long time, then years later she had some conversations with other women who also had a relationship with that same man previously, and due to those conversations this woman came up with the conclusion that one of those sex acts was "rape". Years after the fact. And not even the last act they had, but an earlier one.

In one particular example the relationship continued for quite some time after the alleged "rape", with the woman often initiating the sex acts (as evidenced by messages sent by her to the man), and with no signs that she was in any way distressed by that one "rape". It was only years after the relationship had ended, and she had some conversations with friends, that she suddenly decided that one of those acts had been "rape".

In this particular case sanity prevailed and the man was found not guilty, based on all that evidence. That didn't stop the woman from defaming and outing the man (ie. making public his name, something that's actually illegal to do, especially when the accused is found not guilty) and going on and on for years with the victim act, gathering lots of attention. That man's life is pretty much ruined because not only feminists, but almost everybody else by default sides with the woman, no matter how much the evidence absolves the accused.

This is the current feminist zeitgeist. The actual "rape culture". A culture where women are told that if they "felt" that something was rape, then it was, completely regardless of the context, circumstances and evidence, and they should ruin the man's life. Women who do this are showered with attention, praise and fame. The accused men have no recourse against this; if a woman gets mad at them for any reason whatsoever, the woman has now a powerful weapon she can use to ruin the man's life (and get praise and attention as a bonus.)

There is another negative side-effect to this: It devalues the credibility of actual rape victims. When the definition of "rape" is broadened and broadened every passing year, when the criteria for "rape" are lowered and lowered, and when women are encouraged to, effectively, take revenge on men they don't like in this way, the credibility of all rape victims gets diminished and devalued. How can we distinguish between women who have been actually raped, and those who are just human scum playing the victim for the attention or revenge?

Steam Machines

Valve has in recent years launched a project that's effectively a "console-like" PC system. The entire system consists of a dedicated PC running SteamOS (which is a variant of Linux), a custom Steam controller (with very interesting technological innovations), and an optional streaming device. None of them is tied strictly to the others, so any component can be used on its own (if you eg. already own a gaming PC.) Especially the new Steam Controller is specifically designed to run on any PC (that can run Steam), and be extremely versatile and innovative. And from what people have reviewed, it looks extremely interesting.

There is one aspect of this project, however, that's badly marring it: The "Steam Machine". Or rather, the options available.

While the Steam Controller is funded and developed by Valve, and is fully their project (as far as I know), the "Steam Machines" are essentially just PC's by different manufacturers. Most of them may come in fancy boxes, but they are still just your regular old run-of-the-mill PCs.

And there lies the problem, albeit a bit indirectly: Because they are just normal PCs, made by PC manufacturers who build normal stock PCs as well, these "Steam Machines" are in no way cheaper than just a regular PC that you can buy anywhere (either pre-assembled, or in parts.) There is little incentive in buying a "Steam Machine" over a regular PC, because there is basically no price difference. In fact, many of these "Steam Machines" may actually be a bit more expensive than if you just bought all the exact same parts yourself or, sometimes, even if you bought an equivalent pre-assembled stock PC.

Moreover, by buying such a "Steam Machine" you are actually limiting yourself to a PC that has Steam OS (ie. a Linux variant) installed in it. It won't actually be able to play every single game available on Steam that's playable on Windows. So it is, essentially, a more limited PC that's no cheaper.

Note, however, that the "Steam Machine" project is still in development (as of writing this), and things may change in the near future. There may be some hiccups now with those machines and their pricing, but perhaps they will sort it out and optimize it in the future. (Although one could present the valid objection that they should be doing it right from the get-go.)

However, that's not the major problem with those machines (nor the main point of this post.) The major problem is the outright deceptive marketing that some of those "Steam Machine" manufacturers are using.

For example, consider this sales speech in one Steam Machine brand store page, about its graphics chip:
"Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics 5200
The BRIX Pro is one of the first devices to boast the cutting edge graphics capabilities of Intel® Iris™ Pro graphics. Based on the latest graphics architecture from Intel®, Iris™ Pro Graphics use an on-package 128M eDRAM cache that negates memory pipeline issues, greatly boosting overall performance in 3D applications."
This is absolutely deceptive marketing language. It deceives an unaware buyer into believing that the graphics chip (Intel Iris Pro 5200) is top-notch and highly efficient for gaming.

This is absolutely not so. The Intel graphics chips are integrated chips that are extremely modest in terms of efficiency, and intended mainly for very basic usage in laptops and non-gaming PCs.

In a current gaming PC, it's fair to assert that a GeForce GTX 680 (or any other card of similar efficiency) is pretty much the absolute minimum you ought to have in order to play modern video games with decent graphical quality. (The GTX 680 is getting older and older at a pretty fast rate, but it can still probably hold its own for a couple of years more, even for the newest games, as of writing this. Therefore if you are buying a new gaming PC, you should absolutely not be content with anything less.)

If we compare the Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 with a GeForce GTX 680 using a popular benchmarking tool, the former gets a rather pitiable result in comparison. You can see some results for example here.

In that benchmark, the GTX 680 got 5715 points, while the Intel Iris got 1191 points.

To better illustrate that difference, consider that a game that runs at about 60 frames per second on the GTX 680, will run at about 12 frames per second on the Intel Iris. (Of course the benchmark points do not necessarily translate exactly to equivalent framerates, but they probably are a good enough estimate.) 12 frames per second is beyond unacceptable. In practice you would have to lower the graphical quality level of the game to ridiculously low levels (and perhaps even then it would probably have problems running it smoothly.)

That machine, that gaming PC, is being sold, effectively, without a graphics card. It only has the default integrated graphics chip that comes with the CPU/motherboard (which nowadays comes by default with all CPUs/motherboards.) That chip may be able to run games made in 2005 at a decent speed, but it will most certainly not run games made in 2015.

That in itself is a disgrace for what's supposed to be a modern gaming platform. However, it's even worse than that because said machine is being marketed deceptively, giving the unaware buyer the impression that it's much more efficient than it really is.

Why is Valve allowing this to happen? They would have all the incentive in the world to stop both this kind of absurdly inefficient PCs being sold as "Steam Machines", and even more to stop that kind of deceptive marketing.