Friday, March 29, 2019

The bitter fruit of the 'Personal is Political'

Jeffrey Tucker writes that
"The attempt to turn every subjectively felt personal issue into a collective cause with a collective action has hatched a brutal form of identity politics that has generated no end to social conflict, with vast carnage along the way."

The 60's slogan has morphed into a profoundly divisive attitude, with the predictable result that 
"in practice .. to have as little human contact with others as possible, especially in a business environment. Literally, anyone can be accused and play-it-safe companies would rather toss out the targetted employee rather than risk bad public relations and an unwinnable lawsuit. The toll adds up daily."
How does it all end up?
The demand that we politicize every personal grievance presumes that people only exist as part of groups and those groups must be defined politically and such groupings can be infinitely complex as intersectionality theory demonstrates. One group’s winnings come at the expense of everyone else, and thus does every advance create the conditions for more oppression, disgust, outrage, condemnation, activism, and power grabbing, even as those groups are constantly changing in composition depending on political influence. There is no safety for anyone under this moral code; there is only fear and dread of exposure, and a miserable life overall.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The mathematical futility of long-term climate projections

The entire climate-prediction edifice as currently promoted, is founded on quicksand, as time-series research at LSE demonstrates - the Hawkmoth Effect rules. The issue comes down to several Inconvenient Modelling Facts:
  • Complex systems do not generally have the mathematical property of Structural stability. This leads to quite different projections, using the same initial conditions, even if two models differ to a minute degree - the poster at the link graphically illustrates this.
  • Models used for projections simplify real phyical processes (for tractability) and make assumptions (for tuning) - both of which cause structural inadequacy by incomplete description of the phenomena being modeled.
  • Turbulent/chaotic systems are pointless to model over long time series if accurate projections are expected: each time-slice depends on the output of the former slice as initial conditions and projections thus rapidly depart from sensible physical-result boundaries as model-time progresses
  • The real physical world, as best can be gleaned from observation of history, has close-to-absolute boundaries on temperature = +/- 2-3 degrees Centigrade, and two dominant Attractors: Ice Age and InterGlacial. There have been more than enough long-tail (extremely low- probability) perturbations in the past (vulcanism, comet strikes) to supply a record of any vast excursions from these boundaries. The bounds seem to hold, regardless
  • The 'Escape from Model-land' LSE paper suggests that consistency with the past, use of long-tail (very low probability) inputs and expert judgement as to model applicability and utility in the first place, is the only way out of Model-Land
  • "The utility and decision-relevance of these model simulations must be judged based on consistency with the past, and out-of-sample predictive performance and expert judgement, never based solely on the plausibility of their underlying principles or on the visual “realism” of outputs."
The two turbulent/chaotic systems which climateers attempt to model are, of course, Atmosphere and Ocean. 
Essentially, they are trying to predict the weather on 27 March, 2119, when predicting the weather on 27 April 2019 is clearly a nonsense: a coin-toss or a dartboard are more useful Models. Next weekend's weather - a reasonable prediction is likely. Tomorrow - the prediction will be close to spot-on. 
Models are always wrong, but mostly they are Useful.....except for the Far Future.  Mathematics rules.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Zoning Causes Commutes

 "We must strive to provide employment close to where people live” Parfitt (of Auckland Council) says. “Long commutes place a huge, unproductive strain on both people's quality of life and our transport infrastructure."

Well, the Plannerz insist on separating all sorts of uses by zonerating to the nth degree. No longer can the shopkeeper live in the flat above the store, the temporary construction crew live in a donga at the latest site, the mechanic trade from a three-bay garage at home, or the budding fashion designer sew and trade from the spare bedroom.

Well, at least not legally. In practice, good neighbours, high fences and quiet work habits mean that all this and more activity is happening anyway: people simply can't be arsed dealing with the Clueless Councils and their minionz.

Planning which enforces separation of uses causes Commuting. It's as sad and as simple as that. The RMA was designed to handle incompatible uses by examination of Effects. This doesn't need spatial Zoning to be present, but the Town and Country Planning Actorz simply could not conceive of a future without squiggles on maps.

So here we sit, locked into spatial use-mandates created by unelected bureaucrats, in our cars, mostly at idle, as we transport ourselves, slowly and expensively, to our Place of Work......

Christianity and Islam - the differences

The difference between the Christian and Islamic systems is that the former has had a Reformation, and the latter hasn't. During the course of the schism in Christianity (dating roughly from Luther in 1517 and Henry VIII in 1538 when the Dissolution was ordered) the texts were gradually re-examined over the next couple of centuries, and the Old Testament was largely consigned to the dustbin. Sam Harris (End of Faith) expounds upon this point with his usual enthusiasm.
Islam neither allows any such re-jigging of its texts (that's blasphemy), nor any withdrawal from the Ummah (that's Apostasy). Both have severe penalties. That's why most rational thinkers regard the whole edifice as an oubliette - easy to get down into, impossible to get out of, thus to be avoided. 
This then is the main root of the disquiet about things Islamic: it cuts right across Enlightenment values of self-determination, personal freedom within a polity, and rationality. To be sure, as long as adherents stay within the guardrails set by the wider non-Islamic society, no issues. But unfortunately for that happy prospect, there's the uncomfortable fact that the Islamic texts regard that wider society as infidels, to be converted if possible.
We've largely abandoned Christian evangelism because of its long history of abuses, mis-steps and ultimate futility. So we are not about to embrace a newer, evangelistic, and intensely patriarchic imperialism......