Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Doritos, NARAL, and Sci Fi

Posted: February 8, 2016 by ShortTimer in Culture, Philosophy, Science

In the last few weeks, I keep piling up stories that will probably be strung together in a few Field Day posts, but this story from HotAir I didn’t want to leave on the back burner and get to later.

The title is “I suppose we should talk about that Doritos ad“.

This is the ad:

And this was the response from NARAL:

And a screenshot in case it disappears:

naral superbowl 50 tweet humanizing fetuses

So they’re opposed to humanizing human offspring, because it’s some tactic of the anti-choice movement.  Humanizing fetuses is… bad?

NARAL’s twitter feed sounds like the hard leftist craziness it is, but as they’re not the kind of people I follow on twitter – Twitchy does a fine job of keeping up on that sort of thing anyway.

Not sure why they use the statue of liberty as their twitter avatar, seeing as how she’s in favor of accepting those poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free, not yearning to crush the lives from people who will never breathe, but I guess irony escapes them.

I’m a sci fi fan (and I don’t care that it’s become SF or “speculative fiction” to clean up the image of bug-eyed monsters from the 50s), and from the perspective of most humanist sci fi, I can’t see any way that NARAL doesn’t come across as utter monsters.

I just spent part of this morning watching SFDebris Star Trek reviews – I enjoy seeing what someone else has thought of classic (and not so classic) episodes of the past – and even if I don’t always agree with the takes that he has on them, I usually gain some greater understanding of the episode and story.  This morning one episode review I watched was his review of Star Trek: Enterprise Similitude.

Enterprise was the prequel spinoff series that aired in the late 90s early 2000s and fared poorly.  Especially compared to The Next Generation and Deep Space 9 (which was highly underrated), Enterprise was weak.

The story Similitude involves the chief engineer getting seriously injured after an engine mishap, the ship getting stuck in some kind of anomaly that was decaying the hull, and the need to save the engineer.  So the highly unethical ship’s doctor decided to make a clone of the engineer by using some alien critter larva, then force-grow the clone, and basically strip it for parts.

Thing is, the clone is recognized as a person.  Even though it was grown for the specific purpose of being harvested for organs, the clone is a copy down to neurological pathways of the original, so it has his memories and knowledge (dubious science, I know), and is fully self-aware and more than a little opposed to being used for parts.  In the end the clone cares more for the comatose engineer and the memories of trying to make things right for his/their lost sister and family, especially knowing it’s force-grown and will age and die in a few days.

Even in this mediocrely written sci fi, there’s some understanding that something is being done with life – that life isn’t something to casually throw away, and that a human life (or near-human life) is a valuable life – and that virtue of life is acknowledged even if it’s a force-grown clone created with a specific purpose.

Plenty of folks on twitter smacked NARAL around by pointing out the definition of a fetus is “a developing human”, but the whole thing strikes me as something both telling and sinister.  It shows the character of people who are in NARAL and those who support it, and it’s really disturbing.

From an alien perspective, an alien may or may not care for the idea of terminating gestating offspring, but denying that a gestating offspring is still a member of the parent race is just nonsensical.

If aliens from Zeta Reticuli said, “yeah, we kill our offspring when it’s inconvenient for us because we value the agency of full-grown Reticulans over those of our larva”, you might well find them offensive, especially depending on their history and culture.

If they said, “yeah, we kill our gestating fetuses when it’s inconvenient for us because those things aren’t Reticulans”, you’d probably find them to be poorly written or a race in absurd denial in order to justify their actions.

The problem for NARAL might be that saying you should be able to kill offspring – which is their position – then makes it solely a question of timing.  The argument I remember hearing in college philosophy courses was the “future like ours” theory, that means you could kill off the weak, crippled, or handicapped, but that you shouldn’t kill off the strong in the womb.  The same argument also began to apply to “future like ours” as in what can be provided for the offspring, thus it’s was okay to kill the strong if you were poor and couldn’t afford an ideal future for that offspring.  There was also an argument that human offspring aren’t capable of independent life before a certain time period, and that makes it okay to kill them because they’re not individual beings yet – this is intended to be a trimester argument, but its logical conclusion would include newborns and children up to a few years of age who couldn’t survive in nature without assistance (an argument that has been made before).

Those last parts become unpalatable and monstrous to most of society right now.  Using sci fi/speculative fiction to explore the concepts, there’s not necessarily a reason they couldn’t become or be considered acceptable, given the proper framework.  Maybe a warrior group kills the weakest of its offspring, or an overpopulated planet exterminates them, but even then there’s a reason.  The warrior race wants to be stronger, the overpopulated planet is concerned with its stability – they understand the offspring are theirs, but deny them life for a reason (albeit ones we may not agree with).  I still couldn’t see a writer coming up with any kind of logic to a race that would deny its own offspring, unless it were an intentional flaw in the race – like some kind of adherence to an obsolete philosophy from when they were warlike or too numerous to survive that they now take as gospel.  It might work for an group with a strict collectivist mentality that’s harshly enforced, or for a group that steadfastly believes in some throwback idea that they don’t realize they’ve outgrown.

Human cultures in the past have engaged in practices like those, but concern for our species and enlightened concern for all humanity has moved us past that… except for the people who want to drag us back.  NARAL denies the humanity of a developing offspring that even infanticidal cultures of the past would not – because the infanticidal cultures of the past acknowledged it as a decision, either an ugly one or one they simply choose to be willfully apathetic about due to circumstance – while NARAL is afraid of the moral bankruptcy or perception of callousness that comes from acknowledging what they’re advocating.

With Open Gates

Posted: November 25, 2015 by ShortTimer in Bill Whittle, Culture, Europe, islam, Middle East, Philosophy, Science

Via Jawa Report, from Breitbart:

‘With Open Gates: The forced collective suicide of European nations’, a slick, hard-hitting film about the European migrant crisis is going viral in Europe, already watched at least half a million times.

Although the 19-minute film may feel like a dispatch from the future, it is cut entirely from recent news reports, police camera footage, and interviews.

Breitbart notes that the original video was taken down by youtube.  It’s been copied and reposted (mirrored) several times now, as is the standard response to youtube censorship.  As noted in the story:

UPDATE 13/11/15: After gaining a million and a half views in less than five days, the Open Gates video was taken down by YouTube following a copyright infringement. Although the rights company involved in the claim has been named in allegedly spurious claims in the past, there is no reason to suggest that is the case with this video.

The video itself is made by somebody who claims to be from /pol/, which is the name for the politically incorrect board on a handful of popular message boards – most notably 4chan and 8chan – though relative popularity may be very different after the effects of censorship about Gamergate drove a lot of people from pol from the first site to the latter.

It should be noted that /pol/ is a place full of intentionally inflammatory, often racist, purposeless posts (shitposting), either seriously made or in jest.  While the intent of the maker certainly sets the tone, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily completely wrong or inaccurate, either.  The video is, after all, a collection of news reports, camera footage, and interviews that speak for themselves.  (Edit: Except the last minute or two, which is an interview that seems to be being used to a specific anti-semitic end, and is about 5 years out of date.  Edit2: I don’t care for whatever agenda is intended by that last bit – whether genuine anti-semitism or shitposting parody of it, but the rest of the video with news reports is again still visuals for reporting we’re not seeing stateside.)

The video is a sharp reminder that, as Mark Steyn says, demography is destiny, and that there are parts of the world that understand that r strategists can defeat K strategists.

Bill Whittle and Stefan Molyneux had a conversation about r vs K selection recently as well.  I do agree with Whittle’s contention at one point that r vs K is learned as humans can choose either reproductive strategy, and how they are a result of relative success or failure.

It’s long, but a very good conversation.

Thinking about how the r vs K that Whittle and Molyneux talk about as it applies to the Open Gates video is enlightening, but also tragic.

Solaris Games On The Horizon

Posted: December 22, 2013 by ShortTimer in Science


Washington: Scientists have developed a new robotic ‘muscle’, thousand times more powerful than a human muscle, which can catapult objects 50 times heavier than itself – faster than the blink of an eye.

Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in US demonstrated a micro-sized robotic torsional muscle/motor made from vanadium dioxide that is able to catapult very heavy objects over a distance five times its length within 60 milliseconds.

“We’ve created a micro-bimorph dual coil that functions as a powerful torsional muscle, driven thermally or electro-thermally by the phase transition of vanadium dioxide,” said study leader, Junqiao Wu.

Now just take it from very, very small to big and we’ll have myomers.

And soon:

atlas punch

Via FOX:

The Los Angeles Times is giving the cold shoulder to global warming skeptics.

Paul Thornton, editor of the paper’s letters section, recently wrote a letter of his own, stating flatly that he won’t publish some letters from those skeptical of man’s role in our planet’s warming climate. In Thornton’s eyes, those people are often wrong — and he doesn’t print obviously wrong statements.

“Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published,” Thornton wrote. “Saying ‘there’s no sign humans have caused climate change’ is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”

They’ve shown Andrew Klavan’s dissection of leftist debate to be correct again:

Anthropogenic global warming advocates and watermelon environmentalists pushing their own agenda lieIt happens over and over, and those who oppose “the consensus” are mocked and compared to holocaust deniers?

Manbearpig proven to be fake again and again?

MoS2 Template Master

The solution?  Muzzle dissent!  Block out all observations that are contrary!  It’s what science demands!  Observation that disproves the theory are heretical lies that go against science!  Death to the unbelieversDeath to those who question Manbearpig!

What amounts to a ban on discourse about climate change stirred outrage among scientists who have written exactly that sort of letter.

“In a word, the LA Times should be ashamed of itself,” William Happer, a physics professor at Princeton, told

“There was an effective embargo on alternative opinions, so making it official really does not change things,” said Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism at The Rockefeller University in New York.

“The free press in the U.S. is trying to move the likelihood of presenting evidence on this issue from very low to impossible,” J. Scott Armstrong, co-founder of the Journal of Forecasting and a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, told

In short: shut up.

All the arctic ice has melted!  Oh, wait, no, that’s totally wrong.  Manbearpig is totally not showing up in the arctic.

Because global warming anthropogenic climate change peddled by Al “Super Serial” Gore, the UN IPCC, and all the other watermelon environmentalists is a scam.

Via HotAir, from UK Daily Mail:

MoS2 Template Master

The 1970s were all about global cooling.  Wattsupwiththat has an extensive catalog of articles on global cooling from the 1970s.  For those who either weren’t alive yet or didn’t notice it, as Levar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow, don’t take my word for it.  Take Leonard Nimoy’s:

Keep in mind that the people who were telling you the ice is gone and the earth will melt are the same ones who want you to be forced to buy carbon offsets from the carbon exchange they set up – taxing you for your output, production, and existence as though your “carbon footprint” is original sin that can only be paid off with indulgences to the Church of Manbearpig.

Or it could be that plants like carbon dioxide, the earth is a very resilient system, and maybe we should just listen to Woodsy Owl and not outright pollute; rather than going to Al Gore for confessional and paying “sin” taxes to a global wealth and production destruction/redistribution scheme.

Manbearpig busted.  Again.

John Lott is famous for his book “More Guns, Less Crime”.  Its conclusions and point are summed up succintly with its title.

Now Harvard found the same thing, via HotAir:

The Harvard study attempts to answer the question of whether or not banning firearms would reduce murders and suicides.  Researchers looked at crime data from several European countries and found that countries with HIGHER gun ownership often had LOWER murder rates.

Russia, for example, enforces very strict gun control on its people, but its murder rate remains quite high.  In fact, the murder rate in Russia is four times higher than in the “gun-ridden” United States, cites the study. ”Homicide results suggest that where guns are scarce other weapons are substituted in killings.” In other words, the elimination of guns does not eliminate murder, and in the case of gun-controlled Russia, murder rates are quite high.

The study revealed several European countries with significant gun ownership, like Norway, Finland, Germany and France – had remarkably low murder rates. Contrast that with Luxembourg, “where handguns are totally banned and ownership of any kind of gun is minimal, had a murder rate nine times higher than Germany in 2002.

The study found no evidence to suggest that the availability of guns contributes to higher murder rates anywhere in the world.  ”Of course, it may be speculated that murder rates around the world would be higher if guns were more available. But there is simply no evidence to support this.”

And, as the study points out, where guns are banned, murderers still find weapons with which to do their dirty work.  The difference is that the victims potential means of self-defense.  With guns available, one would assume their deterrent effect if not outright effectiveness in the self-defense realm would predictably knock the murder rate down.  Criminals and murderers are less likely to attack if the possibility the potential victim is armed exists.  Common sense 101.

This is news only to people who refuse to accept it.

Heinlein said it well decades ago: An armed society is a polite society.

Link to the full Harvard study.

The study starts off noting that the former Soviet Union, with miniscule gun ownership, had a vastly higher murder rate.  And, of course, because they’re academics and it would radically change the study and obliterate counterarguments, they omit that the government of the Soviet Union committed millions of murders which would’ve been stopped by an armed populace.

Fists/A World Without Guns by Oleg Volk

woman defending oleg volk

government murder (photo by Oleg Volk)

More stuff has piled up in my “to blog about” folder.

Putin: West arming Syrian rebels who eat human flesh!

AMMAN/LONDON — Russian President Vladimir Putin, arriving in Britain ahead of an international summit set to be dominated by disagreement over the U.S. decision to send weapons to Syria’s rebels, said the West must not arm fighters who eat human flesh.  …

“One does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines in front of the public and cameras,” Putin said.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Putin has a point.

Liveleak has the video.  It’s blurry enough to not be as graphic as you’d think.  The audio is good, so the chorus of “Allahu akbar!” as he takes a bite is pretty clear.

putin with puppy

Considering Putin is a KGB thug who’s probably murdered several men by his own hand, that’s the cutest thing I could find to offset the Syrian wendigo-wannabe that would still kinda tie in with the story.  It’s Russian squee propaganda.

In Houston, a free gun initiative has kicked off:

Strain’s northwest Houston community of Oak Forest is the first neighborhood in the country being trained and equipped by the Armed Citizen Project, a Houston nonprofit that is giving away free shotguns to single women and residents of neighborhoods with high crime rates.


Actually, it’s 20 gauge shotguns.

And of course, some ivy league blueblood professor who knows how everyone else has to live has to chime in.  It’s almost parody:

David Hemenway, a professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health who has written about firearms and health, said studies suggesting gun ownership deters crime have been refuted by many others that say the opposite.

“Mostly what guns seem to do is make situations more lethal because most crime has nothing to do with guns,” he said. “When there is a gun in the mix, there is much more likely to be somebody dying or somebody incredibly hurt.”

Professor Hemenway, a professor of telling-you-how-to-live, would prefer that innocent people not be allowed to defend themselves and instead act as passive crime victims, which ultimately keeps violence down.  He’s that guy from the Road Warrior who tells the other members of the refinery to just give the Humungus what they want.

Armed victims tend to create a bigger threat to attackers, though.  They tend to make it so attackers might get incredibly hurt or die.

The omitted part is that some violence is justified and necessary, and ultimately violence to defend the innocent is righteous, while surrendering the innocent to predators is not.

In New Mexico, brain scans have replaced phrenology as predictors of criminal behavior:

ALBUQUERQUE — It began with a casual question that neuroscientist Kent Kiehl posed to a postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory who had been conducting brain scans on New Mexico prison inmates.

“I asked, ‘Does ACC activity predict the risk of reoffending?'” Kiehl recalls, using the scientific shorthand for the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain structure associated with error processing.

The postdoctoral fellow, Eyal Aharoni, decided to find out. When he compared 96 inmates whose brains had been monitored while they performed a test that measures impulsiveness, he discovered a stark contrast: Those with low ACC activity were about twice as likely to commit crimes within four years of being released as those with high ACC activity.

While this may prove to be more accurate than phrenology, brain scans to predict behavior ultimately ignore a lot of other factors.

“We cannot say with certainty that all who are in the high-risk category will reoffend — just that most will,” Kiehl says. “It has very big implications for how we think about treatment and rehabilitation.”

It also has very big implications if you want to reduce the sum of man to a chemical interaction, rather than look at external factors that lead to behavior, and decisions on the part of the individual.

Saying someone has a mental predisposition to impulsiveness or certain areas of the brain that are under or overdeveloped doesn’t mean that’s the sum of the person.

Abu Sakkar, the cannibal rebel (which sounds like a badass name for a Southern horrorbilly/horrorpunk/gothabilly band that would open for Ghoultown) warlord in Syria, probably isn’t eating the hearts of his dead foes because of a deficiency of gray matter.  His environment might have something to do with it.  Just maybe.

This one’s from today, from Gateway Pundit:

A photo from the Houston pro-Zimmerman counter-rally of the NBPP anti-Zimmerman rally picked up by the AP shows a woman holding a sign that read, “Racist & Proud.”

That looked incongruent with the other reports from the pro-Zimmerman side.
The Houston Chronicle identified her as Renee Vaughan:

One woman in the Zimmerman group held a sign that said, “We’re racist & proud.”

Austin resident Renee Vaughan echoed the sign’s ugly sentiments by yelling, “We’re racist. We’re proud. We’re better because we’re white,” at the Martin group as they passed, according to the Chronicle.

The act to smear the Zimmerman supporters as racists with a leftist plant worked as the photo and comment was picked up and spread worldwide.

Scanning the internet we found that a “Renee Vaughn” from Austin worked for a far left environmental group, the Texas Campaign for the Environment.

racist and proud fake leftistWell, that’s Austin leftists for you.

I can imagine her confronting some Martin supporters.  “No, really, I’m one of you!  I’m just carrying this sign that says I’m racist so you’ll attack those other people over there that I hate!  I’m not racist!  They are!  I’m just carrying the sign, but they really are!”

Really, if you’re carrying around a sign that says “racist and proud”, something has gone wrong at some point.  You’re not being ironic, you’re not being clever, you’re not impersonating anyone.  You’re just a failure at life.

Update:  Via Jawa Report: