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California’s 2018 Wildfires Should Be a Turning Point on Climate Change

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Mat Honan, writing at BuzzFeed:

2018 is the year when everyone, everyone, in the state ran from the fires or choked on the fumes. It is a before-and-after moment. In California, in mid-November of 2018, it became as clear as it did in New York in mid-September of 2001 that what was a once-distant threat has now arrived.

Climate change denialists — and this the entire Republican party — have blood on their hands.

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jkevmoses
18 days ago
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So do the sham artists that sold the Paris Agreement as something that would help. Empty promises from countries that have no desire to actually do anything are worthless. Just gives people false hope that somewhere governments are doing something when none actually are.
McKinney, Texas
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mxm23
16 days ago
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I recently attended a small conference on climate change. The major message (new for me) is that the focus on mitigation, while still important, should now take second place to adaptation. That is, it's mostly too late to stem the worst of climate change. Now we must learn to adapt to the new reality over time. Sobering.
San Rafael, CA
tingham
18 days ago
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Every one of us has this blood on our hands John. It's not just "them."
Cary, NC

‘The Bigs Are Starting to Accept the Unimaginable’

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Josh Marshall, writing at TPM:

Sometimes it’s specific, some kind of corrupt alliance; other times it’s amorphous, some kind of inexplicable hold Putin has over Trump by force of personality. But the kind of people who never said this kind of thing are saying it now. Somehow the President is compromised. Putin has something on him; or he has tempted his avarice with something. But there’s simply no innocent explanation for what we’re seeing.

That’s the shift. The Monday press conference made cautious, prominent people start to come to grips with the reality that Donald Trump, as crazy as it sounds and as difficult as it may be to believe, is under some kind of influence or control by a foreign adversary power, whether by fear or avarice or some other factor.

As yet, there’s little difference of behavior from elected Republicans. And I don’t expect any. What veteran foreign policy or diplomatic hands say on CNN is not the most important thing. But I think they are indicators of a change, a change of perception I expect is occurring among many who can’t yet speak.

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jkevmoses
148 days ago
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Isn't Gruber also the guy who doesn't like conspiracy theories. This is twilight zone rhetoric. Ridiculous. Notice these types of articles never point to any actual policy. Just vague "feelings". I think Trump's personality has a lot of issues but to be an agent of a foreign power. ooohhh!!! Spooky.
McKinney, Texas
bronzehedwick
148 days ago
Policy is far from the only measure of impact. Repeatedly siding with a hostile dictator over his own intelligence community? That’s a big deal. There could be another reason why he did it other than collusion/coercion/etc, but it gets harder and harder to think what they might be.
codesujal
148 days ago
Policy is being impacted. More obviously, PROCESS is being impacted. Process is how policy gets made, and Trump is making agreements without letting his government and staff know what he's agreeing to. If you think that's just a conspiracy theory, you're not reading the news. This isn't normal, nor is it a sign of a healthy policy environment.
jkevmoses
148 days ago
Again. No concrete data. You "think" policy "may" be impacted. Is it? I don't see any policy being impacted. Just because you "imagine" policy "could" be impacted doesn't make it show. I'll give you one policy that wasn't impacted as an example. Trump authorized the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine. That is in spite of what Putin would want. I'll post the link next from the WaPo which is NOT a Trump supporting news source. There I have 100% more data than you.
jkevmoses
148 days ago
https://www.google.com/search?q=trump+sale+of+deadly+weapons+to+ukraine&rlz=1C1GGRV_enUS751US752&oq=trump+sale+of+deadly+weapons+to+ukraine&aqs=chrome..69i57.6679j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
jkevmoses
148 days ago
Sorry previous link was search results: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/12/20/trump-administration-approves-lethal-arms-sales-to-ukraine/
jkevmoses
148 days ago
Same story from Chicago Tribune. Notice the headline: Angers Russia. Is this a double blind trick by Russia? http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-trump-weapons-ukraine-20171222-story.html#
jkevmoses
148 days ago
Please don't misunderstand me. I am NOT saying Trump is great or anything like that. I am simply saying the idea that he is an agent of a foreign power is an ignorant idea not based in fact but "feelings".
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The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity #5: Are Questions More Important than Answers?

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I continue to work my way through a series entitled “The 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity.”  It’s an examination of 10 core tenets of progressive (or liberal) Christianity offered by Richard Rohr, but really based on the book by Philip Gulley.

Now we come to the fifth commandment and it is a genuine classic: “Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.”

There is perhaps no commandment in the series that better captures the ethos of modern liberalism.  Position yourself as humble and inquisitive, merely on a journey of discovery. And position the other side as less-than-humble dispensers of dogma.  Brilliant.

Indeed, this is Gulley’s complaint about the church.  He argues the church has been “committed to propaganda” and “towing the party line” instead of the “vigorous exploration of the truth” (93).

Ok, so what shall we make of this fifth “commandment”? A few thoughts.

A Caricature of Christianity

We begin by noting (as we have in other installments), that there is an element of truth here. No doubt there are some, even many, who come from a more fundamentalist background where a quick (and rather unsatisfying) answer to questions was always in ready supply, but any serious intellectual engagement with those questions was frowned upon.

In such contexts, questions were not encouraged.  You were merely to accept the answer you were given.  No discussion allowed.

If the commandment above is designed merely to correct this particular version of Christianity, then point taken.  Such a correction is needed.

But, it would be a caricature to portray Christians (or Christianity) as a whole as anti-intellectual propaganda-dispensers.  Indeed, most Christians have pressed very hard on the Bible and asked it the toughest of questions–intellectual, historical, and personal.

And they have found that it has provided solid and compelling answers.  Why should this be the cause for ridicule?

Which Position is Intellectually Irresponsible?

I suspect that part of the issue in play is that progressives think it is intellectually irresponsible to make the kind of truth claims that Christians have historically made.  It sounds arrogant.  Even cocksure.  How could anyone know such a thing?

The better course of action, they argue, is to say, “I don’t know.”

While this approach gives off an air of humility, there are problems with it.  For one, “I don’t know” is only the right answer if in fact that there is no epistemological basis by which a person could know something.

But, what if a person does, in fact, have a basis for knowing?  If he does, then saying “I don’t know” would actually be the irresponsible thing to do.

In other words, “I don’t know” is not always the right answer.  Sometimes its the wrong answer.

Let’s imagine you just took a class on the Civil War.  If at a later point your friend asks, “Did Abraham Lincoln sign the Emancipation Proclamation?,” and you answer, “yes,” you could hardly be chided as an arrogant know-it-all.

Indeed, if you were asked that question and you said, “I don’t know” (out of some mistaken notion of intellectual humility) then you ought to be chided for rejecting a clear historical truth.

Of course, progressives will argue this is a false comparison because we know Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but we don’t know that, say, Jesus was raised from the dead.

But, that is the very thing in dispute!  If the Bible is, in fact, the inspired Word of God, then arguably we can be more certain about the resurrection than about Abraham Lincoln.

The only way the progressive argument works is if he already knows the Bible is not the Word of God and therefore can declare all its truth claims to be dubious.  But, how does the progressive know this?  I thought it was off limits to claim absolute knowledge about such things?

To put it another way, the progressive has to know that you can’t know about the resurrection.  But that would require a high level of intellectual certainty, something that the progressive has just claimed that one cannot have.

Smuggling Certainty Through the Back Door

This leads to real problem with the progressive position, namely that its inconsistent.

On the one hand, Gulley laments the dogmatism and certainty of biblical Christianity.  All would be much better, he argues, if everyone would just admit their uncertainty.

But then, on the other hand, Gulley is quite certain about his views.  In fact, so certainty that he is quick to condemn other positions.  On one occasion he describes another person’s view of conversion as a “childish point of view” and that he was clearly “stuck” in a bad theological position.

In other words, he just smuggles his certainty through the back door.

And it is not just Gulley who does this.  Progressives are quick to condemn all sorts of behavior they see in the world around them, while insisting Bible-believing Christians are wrong when they do so.

So in the debate over same-sex marriage, for example, notice that we hear very few progressives say things like, “Well, we just don’t know the answer here. We can’t be certain about what to think about it.”

No, instead we get absolutism. We get certainty.  We get dogmatism.

Thus, one gets the impression that the real issue is not really certainty at all.  It is what one is certain about.  Progressives have simply swapped one set of certain beliefs for another.

In the end, we all have things we are certain about.  Things we believe are true and real.  The real question is the basis for our certainty.  Christians base their certainty on God’s Word.

While that will be mocked by the world, that is the place Jesus himself stood.  He declared, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17).

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jkevmoses
158 days ago
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McKinney, Texas
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Apple Machine Learning Journal on How ‘Hey Siri’ Works

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Deep dive into how “Hey Siri” actually works. I’m really enjoying these layman’s explanations of how these things work. The Machine Learning Journal is the new “open” Apple at its best.

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jkevmoses
421 days ago
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Yeah! The layman's explanation that includes layman gems like:

"The “Hey Siri” detector uses a Deep Neural Network (DNN) to convert the acoustic pattern of your voice at each instant into a probability distribution over speech sounds."

Very layman-like layman-ness.
McKinney, Texas
internetionals
421 days ago
Explaining something in laymens terms doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't call something by its proper name. But I agree that it's not really laymen's terms. If you know a few basics than its a very approachable article.
jkevmoses
421 days ago
Agreed. I just thought Gruber's comment was somewhat amusing at first glance and my snarkiness got the best of me :)
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Things More Heavily Regulated Than Buying a Gun in the United States

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I can’t even today.

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jkevmoses
438 days ago
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That list is not true. Just more muddying of the waters such that real change will never happen as both sides try to score points against the other rather than talking using real facts. Sigh.
McKinney, Texas
Cacotopos
437 days ago
Fair comment, but McSweeny's is a comedy site, so don't take it too seriously.
jkevmoses
437 days ago
Agreed. It's just dis-heartening to see all the people talking past each other. Unfortunately I am guilty of that at times too.
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Facebook Enabled Advertisers to Target ‘Jew Haters’

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ProPublica:

Last week, acting on a tip, we logged into Facebook’s automated ad system to see if “Jew hater” was really an ad category. We found it, but discovered that the category — with only 2,274 people in it — was too small for Facebook to allow us to buy an ad pegged only to Jew haters.

Facebook’s automated system suggested “Second Amendment” as an additional category that would boost our audience size to 119,000 people, presumably because its system had correlated gun enthusiasts with anti-Semites.

One: Facebook is a morally corrupt company. They’re just bad people.

Two: as David Simon noted, “I kind of love that ‘Jew hater’ aligns cleanly with the Second Amendment demographic. The algorithms don’t lie, do they.”

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jkevmoses
456 days ago
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It's stuff like this why I hate it when Gruber goes off on politics. He's a political no-nothing. The 2nd Amendment crowd is most likely the ones who show a lot of support for Israel. Hence many 2nd Amendment fans love of the IWI Tavor.
McKinney, Texas
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jhamill
456 days ago
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No, Gruber, no. Just no. Don't equate the actions of a company to all of it's emplyoees.
California
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