Friday, 31 August 2018

Failed Bayesian Statistics Forever

Admit it: You wish I was making porn here, instead of talking about it, right now.


Consider, if you will, these two links:

All Men Watch Porn (spoiler alert: from when they are 10 onward, on average - bummer, I thought I was a precocious sod).   

Boys who watch porn think sexual harassment is acceptable

Now, raise his hand who, on the light of the first article, thinks that the authors of the second failed Bayesian statistics forever.

All of you? You are not as daft as them, then.

If the first statement/article is true, then it segues that

Every Boy That Thinks That Sexual Harassment Is Unacceptable Watches Porn.

and

[Some] Boys who watch porn do not think that sexual harassment is at all acceptable, in any circumstance. 

Or, in other words,

Watching porn is hardly much meaningful, when talking about men's views on sexuality. 

It is, really, just background noise.

Note that the same "reversed" statistic inference has been used to "prove" that anything with serious mass appeal was dangerous/damaging youths - almost every single kid in the 30s read comics, then they grew up and as some became criminals, Harry Wertham arrived and "discovered" that comics had a nefarious influence. Comes the '90s, it's videogames.


To be honest, I kind of suspected it.

We may still wish that porn was done better and more intelligently, possibly with more women and "minorities" (LGBTQSM) in directing/producing stuff because - being honest - the "heterosexual white man's gaze" prevalent in it at times feel a bit monomaniacal and boring. 

But it's exactly as we wish Sci-fi flicks were done better and more intelligently, possibly with more women and "minorities" (LGBTQSM, black, Asian, French and physicists) in directing/producing stuff because - being honest - the "white man's navel gaze" prevalent in it at times feel a bit monomaniacal and boring.

And I am back at equating porn and science fiction...  

Monday, 20 August 2018

Fred Rogers



For reasons known to no one but the squirrels in my head that spin the wheels and gears of my subconscious, I cry a couple of days like a 12 years old girl - one whose 13 years old cat has just died - every time I make the mistake of re-reading the page of Tvtropes.org about Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

It is a mystery to me as, being an Italian that has never gone outside the EU, I also have never seen the program.

I suspect that it's that: - "I'm proud of you, just the way you are" - that he used to say, that punches me under the belt.

OK, I found my emergency stash of Kleenex - production of possibly under-age extreme gorn porn will resume momentarily.

I hope.

(Nope - it took a week more)

Sunday, 19 August 2018

85%

OK, this is going to be just a fun little wank.

Do you know how speed limits are set, in civilized countries? Of course you do.

Traffic authorities place an "informal" speed detector, that measures the number and speeds of vehicles that passes on a given road.

Why did I write "informal"? For a number of reasons.

This detectors sensors are not invisible radars or infra-red beams, but usually  just two tubes laid on the road's mantel, in plain sight.

While their distance is set pretty much accurately, there is not need for it to be certified and checked by external authorities in cases of contested results, as they are not - can not - be used to issue tickets or the like. 

No matter what speed they may read, the sensors are not designed to record the vehicle that was running it - they have no cameras, nor do they have any mean to inform authorities of the fact.

They only read, and store in an internal memory of some type, the speed at which the two tubes are stepped-on by the first axle, and the number of vehicles.

(kind of... pretty sure there are plenty of technical details I do not know enough about).

The fact that these recorders are "informal" is important, as otherwise they would influence the behaviour of drivers on that road, which is what they are intended to record.

Once the recorder has accumulated enough data, this is examined and the speed limit of that road stretch is set as the one that is "respected" by a given percentage of the drivers.

In the U.S. and other countries where this system is used, the percentage chosen is usually 85%.

Long and windy preamble, I know - bear with me.

Seeing things as they go, here in Spain, I would say that the locally used threshold seems to be well-chosen: I have seen few places where the speed limit was ludicrously low (when I used to live and drive in the North of Italy, there were a lot more places with oddily low limits, as they were selected pretty randomly and often lowered in response to a single accident, as a way to "placate the populace").

However, here is the funny part:

Once the vast majority of cars will have adaptive cruise controls able to read speed limits cartels (and maybe check their readings against Google maps or something, just to stay safe; a DMV-MOT service for this would be pretty nice), and most people will use them (limiter function on by default? why not... who wants a speeding ticket if it can be easily avoided?), will this system still have a meaning?

What when - if - autonomous drive will become the normal one?

Probably not (unless the threshold climbs to, say, 95%), yet I can clearly see some authorities take their sweet time recognizing it, and pretty much arbitrarily lowering limits more and more till reaching "arbitrarily absurd" values, and grumbling protests will start.

I forecast funnily annoying times for drivers in, say, 15 years.


  

Saturday, 4 August 2018

What Trump does not get... is that I can't take any more of his crap.


When I draw this, he still hadn't worn me down.

 I think that the biggest problem for Trump is his very experience as an entrepreneur...
He is used to operate in a big market, with thousands of operators, where news of his bad habits can get lost in the noise, and in a structured society with rule of the law, where using superior lawyers firepower can effectively intimidate most counterparts.
He seems to think that the same tactics and strategies that he used in his career as a real estate mogul can be translated effectively in international diplomacy.
He misses some fundamental differences between the two markets...
On Earth, there are less than 200 sovereign nations.

The "big ones" that counts for most of, well, everything and anything are a maybe a quarter of that number, and each has a professional community dedicated to track what the others do.
Trinidad y Tobago may get away with something, Iceland would already have problems, and every fart of the U.S. is analyzed, dissected and extrapolated by every other government on the planet.
In his private and professional life, Trump has always used lawyers and lawsuits as threats, especially to control the narrative about his endeavors. Needless to say, nothing even remotely similar is possible for the president of the U.S. - the other international players have their own information systems which routinely flaunt little details like the treasonous behaviors required to their sources, and decades worth of information on any associate of a target government.
Also, lawyers are not really that much of a threat in and by themselves - the result of trials must be enforced, and in a rule of law state there is a whole sector of the government that is dedicated to this.
Now, imagine to live in a society that had no police forces whatsoever.Would suing and winning in courts of law mean much? No, right.
While the U.S. may have prided themselves to act as the world's policeman, there is really no such thing as a world's policeman.
Imagine a village populated by two or three hundred thugs, each one more than willing to cut someone else throat at the smallest slight, and many of them organized in small crime families, more or less secret.
Now, take a breath, and consider this - that is the world, seen at the level of governments and other international policies actors.
A village of thugs, each knowing to the number of panties in the closet the affairs of the other, each ready to cut the necessary throats for reasons of "national security" that, by the way, they devise themselves.
If the "thugs" images seems excessive to someone, consider that here is virtually no government on the planet that does not disregard some individual rights of their own citizens when it suits its needs, starting with the usual host of discrimination policies against this or that undesired minority, and up to the occasional secret assassination. As for the non-citizens, they are usually seen as non-entities whose extermination is avoided just because they usually are citizens of other thugs, and bad P.R. is bad P.R..
It is a far cry from the Manhattan where Trump grew up, and a lot more akin to Corleone or Casal di Principe... (famous Italian mafia towns).
In the last 70 years, the U.S. has tried to inject a bit of rationality in this otherwise deplorable state of affairs, fostering a host of international organizations created to act as mediators among the various thugs - pardon, governments - so that there was some intermediate steps to try, before cutting each other's throat - go to war.
Contrarily to Donal's vision of things, the U.S. has managed to steer the rules of these organizations so that they were slightly favorable to them, and thus rip their share of benefits - not an excessive one, of course, as that would have provoked the widespread resistance of the other thugs.
Let's say, the "right" one - organizing things costs effort and produce value, so it is only right that it is rewarded, even though a number of players have gone along rather grudgingly.
Of course, a disproportionate part of said profits has been gobbled up by the country's ruling class, leaving the underclasses more or less destitute, but that is mostly a problem of internal policies of the U.S. being excessively biased toward the improvement of The Weatlhy's lot in life. 
But it rests that the US profited of the erstwhile world order that it had built - any other government on Earth would likely have crumbled by now, under a spiraling exterior debt, for example.
In little more than a year, Trump has more or less undone it.
And he is not going to replace it with any "new system", simply because he has thrown away an awful lot of political capital and demonstrated that he is not a reliable partner.
From now on, even when the U.S.A. will manage to get to some kind of negotiating table, it is going to be for show - because tomorrow the Dude can wake up and undo everything. Al the while, the thugs are going back to their old habits... which include chronic backstabbing disorder, trade war, war war and other fun pastimes.    
The question is now not whether China will overtake the U.S. as hegemonic super-power before crumbling under the burden of its own set of internal problems (not the least of which is Xi Jinping's authoritarian instincts already schlerotizing its policy discourse - Xi, China needs good ideas, not more censors), but when it will do.

Chances are the world is going to be stupendously interesting and exciting, when I'll be old.

I love boredom... please, world, let me be bored to my heart's content.

You know what? I do not care about the guy any more.

I just hope that the "deep state" manages to keep it [sic] from tumbling the world fully into 1932-like chaos.