Thursday, February 20, 2014

Compters That Outthink Their Programmers (Us)

In response to the following post: A computer has composed a math proof bigger than Wikipedia. The problem is, humans are incapable of checking it.
So computers have finally produced a proof which is beyond human capacity to check. Exciting and disturbing. It opens up the potential for all manner of new knowledge, yet at the same time it means that we may never really understand that knowledge and be forced to accept or reject it on (dare I say it?) faith.

All in all, I'm not terribly worried about computers taking over from the human race. I'm a lot more concerned about human computer cyborgs becoming the new superior humans.  The wealthy will be able to afford better implants…You get the idea.

Still, once computers begin designing the next generation of computers, and so on and so on; natural selection should step in.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

War on Women, or Gang Rape?

Rand Paul, Reince Preibus, Fox News, and the GOP have a new message to America's women.  "Hillary Clinton may run for president.  She is therefore totally irrelevant to the campaign.  After all, she's only a woman.  The actual issue is, her husband!"  

Question, How do they think this is going to appeal to American women?  Do they actually think women want to be told that they are nothing but wives, even if they are running for President of the United States?  That they are of no importance because of their sex?

I predict that if the Radical Republicans keep this as the focus of their campaign, it will energize millions of women to vote..against the GOP.

Idle Thoughts -- The Media Strikes Again!

In response to a request for homework help regarding the following article: I responded:

Check the following excerpts from a blog with very different findings also coming from the New York Times. Quick summary:

One.  -- A team of researchers from Norway, Harvard and Boston College, examining the varied research that sporadically associates an increase in hours in day care with increased behavior problems, noted that three. the work was all based on child-care studies done in the United States.--

Two. The old headlines read: --  “Does day care harm children?” battle here in the United States: “Does Day Care Make Kids Behave Badly? Study Says Yes” (ABC). “Child Care Leads to More Behavior Problems” (Fox). “Day-Care Kids Have Problems Later in Life” (NBC). “Poor Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care” (The New York Times). “Bad Mommies” (Slate). --

Three.  --All that (and more) from a single, small finding, published in 2007, -- so it's unlikely that a small study would produce accurate results. Many studies that are extensive and larger required to get dependable data.

Four. Clearly,  can't be your 2003 study, but it seems to have been a very similar one.

Five.  Note the headlines are busy blaming working moms for the problem. They are not blaming working fathers.

Six. -- A more recent study, -- suggests otherwise, indicating that poor quality day care is -- primarily responsible for any association between unruly behavior and time spent in day care. In Norway, where day care is subsidized, of a reasonably consistent quality, and an expected part of childhood (in 2009, 79 percent of all 1- to 2-year-olds, and 97 percent of all 3- to 5-year-olds attended publicly subsidized center care there), researchers found little evidence that more time in day care could be associated with “externalizing problems” like defiance and restlessness, in 3-year-olds (a result they hope to confirm in older children). --  This didn't go beyond the three-year-olds like the other study did but it is a study that finds the opposite conclusion. But the team found that conclusion in a well regulated environment where most children go to daycare.

Seven.  So kids who attend the poorly regulated, very erratic in quality, who knows if there are any good?, daycare in United States don't do very well according to a pair of studies. Who's surprised? The well-regulated, part of every kid's natural upbringing and intended to be really good for the kids because they're very good day care centers, work very well in other countries. Who's surprised?

Eight.  --That’s consistent with the U.S. research as well. In 2007, Slate’s Emily Bazelon contacted the author of that much-publicized earlier study, and asked her to examine the quality of care received by the children who spent more time in day care, and who had a higher-than-average incidence of bad behavior. “The kids with more reported behavior problems in elementary school were the ones who spent three or four years in day care and whose care was, on average, of lower quality.”   --  So the author of the 2007 study says that looked at carefully her data does not show that day care causes problems. It shows that poor quality day care causes the problem.

Nine. So if the problem was with poor quality day care and the 2007 study actually shows that.  Why didn't the headlines report it that way? Answer: because it's much better to blame daycare and the parents. Why is that better? It sells more newspapers, magazines and gets higher ratings for TV shows. The study was badly reported and the conclusions are clearly wrong. Now this is a 2007 study but the author of that study is the one who says that the headlines got it wrong and daycare does not hurt kids. Good quality day care doesn't hurt kids. Poor quality day care does hurt them.

My summary answer is the last sentence of number eight and a statement that attention grabbing media distortions caused the misunderstanding and gullible viewers who didn't bother to check things out were so gullible they believed it. Day care does not hurt children. Poor quality day care hurts children.

Imagine if we did a study in which we checked what happened when children go to incompetent, bad doctors. The study would show that doctors are bad for children. At least that's the way the news media would report it.  They would somehow miss the fact that bad doctors are bad for children, and good doctors are good for children.

Okay I just read your original article. Even it shows --  the mother's sensitivity and the family's socioeconomic status had a greater influence on children's behavior than did the amount of time spent in child care. Greater maternal sensitivity and higher level of family income and education correlated with better behavior in the children, the study found. --  

It was a better study than the 2007 study, but I'll stand on things I said about it. Once again it studied a wide variety of daycares and, as far as the article indicates, there seems to have been no attempt to separate the effects of good  daycare from the effects of bad daycare. I stand by all the statements I made about the 2007 study. They seem to apply here except that one of these two 2003 studies was more extensive, but once again it occurred only in United States and looked at a very poorly regulated daycare environment.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Eyeless in Gaza or Clueless in Texas? I Report, You Decide!

In a conversation regarding a photo of the founder of the Texas Tea party holding up a sign with blatant racist references, a man who bitterly denied ever seeing anything racist in the tea party, I added: 

Susan, what constantly amazes me is how totally tone deaf Republicans are. They say the most blatantly egregious and racist things, and then are genuinely offended when someone calls them on it. They say that we are playing the race card when we point out their shocking behavior.

Well, as the Bible doesn't say, “None (are) so blind as those that will not see.” 

   --  Matthew Henry (1662-1714).  English Presbyterian minister and writer, used in his Commentary on the Whole Bible (1708).  Contrary to common belief, this is not a quote from the Bible. It was probably inspired by Bible verses, possibly Matthew 13:13 (“Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not…”) or Jeremiah 5:21 (“Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not…”).

Rephrased from

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bible Facts vs Bible Forgeries

Susan and Joyce, interesting Bible issues, aren't they? 

In response to your questions: Ecclesiastes. Why would I like that book? There are a number of reasons. First, note the common thread in many of my favorite Bible quotes:  the endless efforts to be make perfectly fine distinctions between good and evil, right and wrong, lawful and not lawful, clean and unclean, etc. etc. etc. are all put down very hard.  Here is an Old Testament book which is as critical of the Pharisees and their endless arguments over minutia and their ignoring of the true heart and meaning of law as is Matthew.

Second, it's a very realistic view of life. It doesn't make promises that can't be kept.

Third, in the end it declares what we have is really enough if we relax and enjoy the life we have, it can be a good one to live.

So, if you read the entire thing you'll find out that, while it's reputation for being hopeless and dreary isn't entirely undeserved, the author does end up concluding that it is best to live your life to the fullest. It is good to have friends, it's good to have a good reputation, it is good to live with the one you love, enjoy life as best you can is the ultimate message, just keep God in mind while you do so.

It is a waste of time to seek great powerful meanings and to imagine yourself a critical player in a huge, vast battle. Better to live your life as best you can and to be fulfilled by that.  The entire theme of my story God's Wolf.

Why do I like King James?  The language is so out of date and it's difficult to comprehend, but the images are beautiful and it is truly the Bible as poetry, something not commonly found in other translations.

St. Paul on homosexuality and putting down women is really interesting!

First, the actual word used was arsenokoitai. The word at the time for homosexuality was paiderasste.  Why use a different word?  The word used is translated as "them that defile themselves with mankind".

Does that mean homosexuals? If it does, why not just say homosexuals? It seems much more likely that it means a particular sexual act rather than homosexuality in general. It was accepted as meaning masturbation throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, an even well past the time of Martin Luther. It only changed into homosexuality after masturbation became accepted by society.

So what's the justification for changing the interpretation of this very ambiguous and unclear word? There really isn't any. At least, not from a scholarly viewpoint.

Even worse, those who look at the Bible in a scholarly way, whether they are believers and nonbelievers, regard this entire passage as part of a forgery added at least 100 years after the rest of Paul's works were written.

 In short, Paul didn't write it. 

The evidence is really very compelling that he didn't. Only those who refuse to let evidence influence their faith believe this passage belongs in the Bible.

Much the same thing to be said about the passages that are attacking women. Remember that Paul said. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."  Why should he say that and then later add on, ..."except of course, I was wrong; so ignore everything I already said..."? Why not just remove the offending passages?

 There's good reason for believing this also is pure forgery. A later addendum by someone who didn't like the morality laid down the Bible, so he decided to add on a few of his own prohibitions.


Anyway you look at it even if we accept the interpretation that Paul, if it was Paul, is condemning homosexuality; it is very clear that only male homosexuality is covered by the term. It is clearly not applicable to females or lesbianism. Shades of Queen Victoria!


While the Victorians bitterly condemned homosexuality and threw homosexuals in prison (Oscar Wilde), lesbianism was not against the law. It is reported that this is because Queen Victoria would not permit it. Women would never think of such a dirty thing!   She thought it was insulting to have a law against something that wasn't possible.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Liquid Corruption Within

It has just been reported that the Kansas State House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a law preventing discrimination against Christians by allowing them to discriminate against homosexuals -- you know, sometimes you have to wonder if the right wing ever takes time to think about what they say and do before they say and do it or even after they say and do it --  this would allow any business to refuse to serve homosexuals. In other words it's Jim Crow for gays.

I responded:

At last the Puritan dream is coming true. The right of one religious group to suppress and brutalize other religious groups, or those who are different in any way, is finally being restored.  There is no discrimination worse than being told that you are no longer allowed to discriminate against people you don't like. Soon, Kansas will be burning witches at the stake again.  For far too long witches have been allowed to discriminate against Christians by not letting themselves be burned.

Or to phrase it in another way:  Attention all who claim to be Christians. Read the following, think carefully, and repent.

Matthew 23: 23-27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith:these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nice Guys Finish the Job

This is my advice to a newly minted administrator who is too much of a nice guy to enjoy the power.  I would give the same advice to anyone, although this particular administrator is dear unto my heart.

Essentially, he's wondering what to do about a subordinate who just doesn't want to do what he's told to do and what is required of him. I know a lot of people would have no problem with that. In fact, they'd enjoy it. "Great!, a chance to push someone around!"  But in this case, we're dealing with a personality that likes cooperation and sees an administrator's job as primarily making things work smoothly. That pleases me. However, it doesn't deal with the important point: what do you do about an employee or subordinate who just won't cooperate?

Speaking as a longtime administrator, even longer time retired, I have to advise that, first and foremost, don't try to be something or someone you aren't.  You would be playing a role and you're not a trained actor. Trying to be or do things in a way that is unnatural to you means that you will do them poorly.

The best thing is to approach the situation as it is. That is to say, you have a duty to perform. That duty includes ensuring that this individual performs HIS duty. You don't want to force him to do so, but it is your duty and therefore you will. Explain that to him clearly and simply and follow-up on what results. 

If this is enough to convince him to do his duty, problem solved. If it is not, then speak to them again and say, look, my duty requires me to take negative action against you if this continues. I don't want to do that. However, I will do my duty, however reluctantly. So get working and get the job done. Then we will both be happy.

If this fails to convince him, do what the regulations require you to do.

Consider the following two points:

Matthew 8:9
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

There was once a very bright young man at my school. He was a good kid who came from a troubled family and home. Unfortunately his background lead him to make some very bad decisions. His teacher was very supportive of him, believing that there was a good center to this youngster and that, given time, she could bring it to the fore.  I supported her, but the school counselor and I had a long talk with him. Essentially, I pointed out to him that I also knew he was a good kid. But I added there was no way I could tolerate his excessive behaviors.

I told him I had no desire to see him expelled from school. I thought it would be bad for him and I would think it as a failure of my own ability to reach him. I pointed out how much his teacher cared about him and how hard she worked to try to put up with his behavior while still improving it.

I pointed out to him that I had a duty to perform and a job to do. I told him parts of that job were wonderful and I loved them. I also pointed out the parts of my jobs were unpleasant and I wished that I did not need to do them.  But, I concluded, if it comes down to doing my job or not doing my job, I will do my job.

I asked him not to make me choose between doing my job by expelling him from school or failing to do my duty, because, if he forced that choice on me, I would do my duty however much I disliked doing so.

This worked surprisingly well. He didn't magically get better, but his behavior did steadily improve. Until one day he broke a rule so basic that it could not be ignored or tolerated.  I made no secret of the fact that I believed that kids belonged in school and that they should not be expelled unless it was absolutely necessary, and that in this case it was absolutely necessary.

Oddly, he even agreed with me. Sometimes I wonder if he did it deliberately, but then I wonder why he would do that. I suppose I'll never know. The point is, I warned him that I would do my duty however reluctantly. For a while that worked, but in the end he pushed me beyond the edge and I did what had to be done.

I was true to myself. I did not pretend to be somebody I was not. But in the end, I did what had to be done.

My advice is, do the same.

  Acknowledge that you are a nice guy type who doesn't like being heavy handed, but add that you will be just as tough as your duty and his attitude force you to be.  The choice is his, let him make it and live with the consequences.