Enough Already!

There is rising angst these days on Facebook about the internment of Japanese-American citizens right after Pearl Harbor.
It was done by a liberal president (FDR) and the very liberal Governor of California — the soon-to-be liberal Chief Justice of the United States, Earl Warren.

That said, the overreaction was of its time, and the Untied States had just had the Pacific Fleet had almost completely been sunk!

I lived through Dec. 7 as a young child, and felt the palpable terror deep in our mainland. You can’t place today’s morales, and ethics, on those in the past.

It was terrible. The Japanese-Americans were badly treated and their property seized. They deserve reparations, perhaps even their children deserve reparations — but at some point reparations as a concept must end. The Italians do not owe the Greeks because the Romans enslaved the Greeks.

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Sorry, Anti-Vaxers

As a Libertarian, I am more than just a bit sympathetic with the anti-vax people but I also recognize the value of the herd effect of vaccinations in a civil society.

I know the anti-vax people believe their cause, but we live in a society into which hundreds of thousands of low-income illegal aliens flood our nation annually from Third World countries, and we no longer have Ellis Island to check them for disease.

I sympathize with the anti-vaxers, but that’s about as far as it goes. If there were a sufficient number of the in a geographic location, I could see establishing a Charter School for them so that they could exchange diseases among themselves (and there may be in Marin County and Orange County), but that’s about it for accommodation.

The standard public school system is so bad that such a solution might benefit everyone.

Waiting for Leadership

Yemen is a mess, but it is Saudi Arabia’s problem — the Saudi’s oil fields are vulnerable and the Saudis and the ISIL oriented fighters in Yemen know it. The Saudis have a decent fence between the two nations, but that was only sufficient if Yemen had a relatively friendly government, and today it decidedly does not. The Yemeni rebels simply don’t have the muscle to take on the Saudis.

Now that the UAE is back in the fray through Jordanian airfields (token, to be sure), and the U.S. is still in the sky, SOMEONE has to field that famous “boots on the ground” — and while that should be Iraq, we have already seen how quickly they can run. It is reported that Delta Force is active on the ground.

ISIL was reputed to have 30,000 fighters when they rolled down that two lane “highway” from Syria, and the number appears to be 50,000 today. The Kurds have held ISIL at bay, and neither the promised German or US guns have arrived, but the armies that exist in the area. The well trained 80,000 man Jordanian Army could do it, and we don’t know if they have either decided or brought up reserves to do it, but they could.

Turkey could, but they won’t. They have a Muslim nation, politically secular but under a Muslim leader who appears to be more in league with ISIL. To be perfectly honest, there is no one until the “”new” Iraqi Army — which is more likely to be similar to the “Old” Iraqi Army — is ready…about 18 months.

We theoretically have a coalition, but it is AWOL. I understand that the president hates to “project American power” — and that is a deeply held American feeling as well, but once in awhile it needs to be done. FDR recognized that before our forced entry into WWII. Of course his interest was European, Washington D. C. being on the East Coast virtually guarantees that we have been and will continue to be Eurocentric, so he was delivering war goods to Britain long before there was a declared war.

But FDR was prepared to take leadership.

Obama is not.

Lying By Omission of Facts

The president’s declaration that Christians should get off their high horse should have been placed in historical perspective…but it wasn’t!

Heaven knows, a a Non-Believer it is not up to me to defend Christianity, but I am a Non-Believer, not Anti-Christian, so I’ll take a view more Christian than did the president.

The president surely knows that the Crusades were designed, at least in theory, to re-Conquer Jerusalem, the most sacred of Christian sites which had been seized by the Muslims. Certainly the Crusaders, at least some of them raped and pillaged on the way to recapture the “Holiest of Cities.”

Now exactly why the Crusaders wanted Jerusalem is not clear, since the Romans had reduced it to ruins in the First Century, but I look on the Crusades as sort of a Tulip Craze, and I lump Japan’s Attack on the U.S. IN 1941 in the same boat — sort of mass insanity that becomes even more contagious as it rolls.

Anyway, I put little blame on the Crusaders because they were of their time, and readers of this blog know that I am very much an anti-Presentism, Presentism being the belief that you can place todays morals and ethics upon people who never had those morals and ethics.

History is absolutely filled with wars, plots, poisoning, incest, rape, murder,,,in fact that is the way we study history…the French and Indian Wars, the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Civil War…

So the Crusades were history by men of their time, as was the Inquisition of the 15th Century, and US slavery, which had a history going back into pre-history.

To the credit of Christians, they have evolved. While they no longer rape and pillage in the name of their faith, no longer support slavery, no longer burn Heretics at the stake, ISIL does. Not only do they do 12th Century atrocities here, more than a Millennium later, they relish in their inability to conform to 21st Century norms.

Yes, Christians once did terrible things. Even our early generations treated Heretics, Witches, and Indians badly, but they too were of their day. The president made no attempt to place his remarks about Christians in their proper historical light. I suspect he did that purposely because he wants to bring his heritage — both his American and his Christian heritage down a peg or two, because he wants to normalize if not equalize everyone and everything.

It is not quite Socialism, but it moves in that direction.

Why I Support the Concept of Common Core

Let me tell you why I support at least the concept of Common Core. I want national standards, because I lived the problem on no standards.

Now I admit that the implementation of those standards has left a lot to be desire.

I graduated from a tiny school in Texas, and I was fairy smart. I went to Trinity University as a Math Major. I went to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and found out that I was among men (and they were all men at that time) whose slide rule (if you are old enough to remember those) I was not qualified to carry!

The only way that the academies get geographical representation, is to let Congress Critters appoint four nominations in each academy at any one time — or else every Cadet or Midshipman would come from Massachusetts. No one from MISSISSIPPI, Louisiana, California or Hawaii could ever enter an Academy!

There are certain common pieces of knowledge that all educated people need to know. As a Professor of Computer Science, I was dismayed by the lack of knowledge of my students, so I devised my own “Common Knowledge” test 88 questions) on which my wife and Editor each scored 77 correct.

The test was administered only to those who wished to take it, and one would think that would be those who thought they could do well. The AVERAGE was SEVEN! The HIGHEST, was TWELVE!

I support, not cookie cutters, but everyone knowing the basics. How we get there can be under local control, but Common Core was devised by STATES, not the federal government as some would infer. Yes, the Feds have tried to co-opt those standards, but they did not write them!

“Beware The Greeks….”

The newly elected Greek president, Alexis Tsipras, has said the he intends to end austerity, and renegotiate the debt. Brussels and Berlin are not amused.

(Alexis Tsipras was elected from a political party called “The Party Of The Radical Left.)

Margaret Thatcher’s brilliant observation that, ” The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money” is that, in the case of Greece, there is no one else’s money.

And, without the EU lending them more money, they will not in the future.

Apparently, Alexis Tsipras has not heard of Christina Kirchner, the president of Argentina. Her nation has delayed and delayed billions owed to hedge funds in New York, but.a Federal Judge hearing the elongated case has ordered them to pay up!

Their refusal has caused Standard and Poor to call Argentina in “Sovereign Default,” and the day of reckoning is nigh.

The European Union was wondering if the Euro would survive Greece leaving the EU, but more recently the Brussels/Berlin axis has decided the EU would be better off without Greece.

The problem that Alexis Tsipras has is exactly what happened to President Obama –indeed EVERY president of every country discovers on the first morning of his presidency, best described by the term, “Holy Crap! I had no idea it was that bad!”

There follows a dance to hide, dissemble, delay the problems, trying to keep the balls in the air — hoping the problems will either solve themselves, get solved by other nations, magically disappear, or can be nuanced sufficiently to be passed on to the new president.

Greece has its problems, but the reflected problems impact the EU and, since the EU is our main trading partner, to a minor extent, the US.

The Fear of AI

The advances since I wrote one of the Navy’s first Artificial Intelligence programs — probably the very first such program — have been exponential.

Today, my program would only qualify as “weighted values” program, because it had no Feedback Loop or an AI Engine (Inference Engine). It was designed to take all of the usual data — training, armament, fuel load, overhaul schedule, etc. and tell a Destroyer Squadron Commander which ship to deploy on short notice if one of his ships had a problem in Vietnam. (As if he didn’t already know, intuitively!)

By the time I was a Core Adjunct Professor of Computer Science teaching Artificial Intelligence, the craft had vaulted into something special, like a program at La Guardian Airport the told Controllers which runways to close or open as storms rolled across that huge airport, I real time.

Modern AI is so much better still, and people like Bill Gates, Stephen Hawkins, and Elon Musk are expressing concern about the future of AI. They have a much better view of the situation, and they would say problem, and I have no opinion on their opinion but I just think it is inevitable.

If it is inevitable — and it is like nuclear proliferation and cloning, in fact all technology. Once identified and developed it will proliferate. My concern is much less technology, which is the concern of the above mention scions of technology, than the social impact which is much more immediate — the rapid loss of jobs and the potential for social unrest the could result.

A hotel in Japan has announced that upon opening, 90 % of employees will be Robots. Said Robots will check in the guests, take bags to the room, clean the rooms, deliver the Room Service meals…the hotel hopes to exceed the reported 90%. Here at home, hospitals are using food and medicine by Robots.

As this replacement of workers increases in an effort to get labor costs under control, a modern approximation of the Luddites will appear, in the form of Labor Unions trying to protect wages and benefits. At some point in each industry, the increasing manual labor cost curve crosses the decreasing Robot cost curve.

Workers usually equate their wages with their labor cost, but, depending on the business, total labor costs can be 140% of the wages. Medical benefits, retirement, replacements for sick leave and vacations, Workman’s Comp….the list of costs in addition to the wages just keep adding up.

Before we get to the fear about AI taking over the world, we may have awful social unrest as governments wrestle with fewer workers supporting growing unemployed.as I have remarked before, the Greeks had their own Robots — called “slaves” and few people actually worked, so they gathered at the Forum to discuss whatever Greeks discussed. (They then repaired to some neighbors home, where they lay on couches and drank wine mixed with water and were entertained by women of suspect repute. Actually they were more like Geisha. Who were more conversationalists than prostitutes…though some may have been both.)

Sounds like a winner to me!