Deus ex Machina, on steroids

…is the tagline I’d use to describe Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds’ The Medusa Chronicles, the startling sequel to Arthur C. Clarke’s short story “A Meeting with Medusa.”

TheMedusaChronicles

Baxter and Reynolds are up to their usual tricks of piling wonder atop wonder in their usual over-the-top scenarios, while cleverly maintaining Clarke’s style and tone, AND sneaking in episodes strongly reminiscent of 2001, A Space Odyssey.  An added bonus is the introduction of a “new physics” based on the Mach Principle, which is still puzzling serious researchers today.

…local physical laws must be shaped by the large-scale structures of the universe.  And it is meaningless to talk of the behaviour of an object in isolation, without relation to the rest of the universe.  This was 90’s insight.  From that beginning, 90, and a group of others, developed a new kind of physics–from first principles, based only on observation and philosophy.  (The Medusa Chronicles, p. 99)

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Bad Choice, Pop

Spurs coach Greg Popovich continues to lecture us about President Trump’s shortcomings.  Nice try, Pop, but you’re getting tuned out with all the other pro sports and Hollywood folks who’ve squandered what little moral authority they ever had.

Victor Davis Hanson recent wrote

Pollsters, pundits, and the media have vastly underestimated how many in America loathe multimillionaire celebrities, pampered athletes, and triangulating politicians—the usual targets of Trump’s invective.

And Christian Toto nails Hollywood:

For a while one message rang out from Team Hollywood in the Age of Trump. The industry didn’t want you as a customer if you wear a red MAGA hat.

Oh, celebrities didn’t actually mouth those words. Instead, they embedded their disgust for both President Donald Trump and his admirers in nearly everything they did.

It’s either Trump … or us might be the next “resistance” meme for celebrities. Only stars might not like the results. Nor will their accountants.

Tip from Stephen Green at the Instapundit.

ICAN gets Nobel Peace Prize. BFD.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, another international gang of virtue signallers, has just received the Nobel Peace Prize.  So far, they have motivated fewer than 50 pipsqueak countries to sign a UN treaty banning nuclear weapons (122 have “adopted” it, but signing off?  Don’t hold your breath) .  BUT, they do have Yoko Ono onboard.  So far, North Korea is not impressed.

Somehow, I don’t think these folks rise to the standard set by Norm Borlaug.

OK, so I’m just a little “fabulous.”

“Plus sized” is out, “fabulously sized” is in.  This is the latest spin from K-Mart:

Now, in a push to move beyond labels, Kmart is calling their line of plus-size fashions “Fabulously Sized.” This comes at a time when body-positivity and inclusivity is on the rise with fashion shows adding curvier models and celebs fighting back against body shaming.

Curvier models?  Curvier?  Only if they’re trying to hook up with one of these guys:

BibendumMichelinpillsbury-doughboystay-puft

 

 

 

Tip from the ever-skeptical Sarah Hoyt at the Instapundit.

Houston, We Have a Solution

heb-disaster

Long-time south Texas residents swear by the H-E-B grocery chain for value, selection, quality, and always being well-stocked.  These guys are supply-chain ninjas; we see groceries, they see a logistics network.  And they always step up in emergencies; Houston may be their finest hour to date.

Tip from American Digest.

Stanford Invents AI Gaydar, Flubs Write-Up

Yilun Wang and Michal Kosinsksi, researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, have developed a neural-net classifier that purportedly detects sexual orientation (in caucasians).
FacialRecognition
The authors report an avalanche of experimental results, and claim the classifier can “correctly distinguish between gay and straight men 81% of the time, and 74% for women.”  OK, that’s the sensitivity of the gadget.  What about specificity, i.e. how well does it correctly distinguish folks who are not-so-gay?  Without that second number (as well as an estimate of prevalance), it’s not possible to estimate the false positive and false negative rates for this thing.  Very important, if some of the more Orwellian applications mentioned by the authors come to pass.
I give the authors a “C,” for incomplete work.
Update: Dan Simmons, writing at the Andrew Gelman blog, writes a rambling, fascinating takedown of this “research,” from both the scientific and MSM points of view.  Based on just the statistical problems, I’m changing the grade to a “D-.”

You can see a lot just by looking*

Any lawyer or successful bureacrat will tell you to never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.  Some folks aren’t that smart:

It was a strange moment of triumph against racism: The gun-slinging white supremacist Craig Cobb, dressed up for daytime TV in a dark suit and red tie, hearing that his DNA testing revealed his ancestry to be only “86% European, and … 14% Sub-Saharan African.”

The studio audience whooped and laughed and cheered. And Cobb — who was, in 2013, charged with terrorizing people while trying to create an all-white enclave in North Dakota — reacted like a sore loser in the schoolyard.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on, just wait a minute,” he said, trying to put on an all-knowing smile. “This is called statistical noise.”

Does this make Cobb–to use a white nationalist phrase–a “self-hating race traitor?”

I’m reminded of Holmes in “A Scandal in Bohemia” saying “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.”

Tip from Tom Knighton at PJ Media, by way of Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit.

*the Yogi never disappoints.

UpdateThis cuts both ways.

I found out I was White. Not just 13% White, my husband’s percentage when he too completed the ancestry composition report. Not just 25% White, since the average amount of DNA in an African American’s genome traced back to West Africa is about 75%. I was damn near 1/3 White. That’s significant.

Of course, this nice lady fellow**can always fall back on the “one drop” principle, that standard promoted by 19th century white slavers and 21st century African Americans.

Tip straight from the Instapundit himself.

**Speed reading is one of my more egregious faults.