Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Let's Fix It: Lets End Human Driving!"

Behold, the real push behind robot cars. Liberals with a tech fetish. Sam Shank is the CEO and Co-Founder of HotelTonight, and obviously an uber tech geek and liberal.

I've long been fascinated by the idea of technology replacing human drivers.

Let's be honest: people aren't always great drivers. They get distracted, tired and make mistakes. Technology can simply do a better job. This is a subject I've thought about deeply for the past 20 years. I believe it will have as much impact on the world as the switch from horse transport to automobiles.

The consensus opinion is that safe and reliable driverless cars will be available within a few years. Tesla just announced "Autopilot," which will be available soon via a software update, and will allow for autonomous driving on freeways – an amazing first step.

Here's what I think will happen next: the initial use of drive-anywhere autonomous cars (I call them AutoCars) will be with companies like Uber or Lyft rather than individually owned. They will rapidly gain acceptance because they'll save people time (imagine all you could do with that time currently spent behind the wheel), will lower the costs of getting from one place to another, and will be way faster while also being safer than human driving.

Here's what I think will happen. A bunch of big tech companies like Google and Apple etc. will get their buddies in the various legislatures to get them a Special Deal indemnifying them against fault when robot cars inevitably crash and kill people.

Which the robot cars will then do, a lot. Because, among other things, every cabbie, truck driver, delivery guy and union thug alive will be out to kill those things like you won't believe.

Also because the technology these things run on is extremely complicated and not particularly well understood. Similar to the situation at the beginning of the last century, when automobiles were cranky, unpredictable and dangerous machines no one understood. Just for comparison, by the year 1900 automobile technology had been around almost a hundred years. It does give one pause to think of it.

 It's 1896 and Mr. Shank would like to replace all the horses out there with Benz Motorwagens. Surely nothing bad could happen, right?

But Mr. Phantom sir, what about the consensus opinion?!!!!  Who are you, a mere schlub, to question the consensus opinion? Hmmm?

Well, lets talk about the consensus opinion. When faced with a consensus opinion, where experts tell you "Trust us, we know what we're talking about, we're the experts", it is always useful to do what I like to call the External Reality Check.

In External Reality, as in the big wide world, you know what I don't see these days? I don't see robot wheelchairs. I do not see commonly available, reasonably affordable self-guided machines being used to scoot sick people around hospitals, nursing homes, or on their own errands out in the outdoors. I see very expensive Human nurses pushing those people around in manual chairs, at who knows how many billions a year in lost productivity.

You know what else I don't see? Robot forklifts. I do not see self-guided, driverless forklifts whipping around in lumber yards, factories and warehouses. I see normal forklifts driven by very expensive union thugs, at a cost of who knows how many billions a year.

If there was an affordable technology available to drive a 2000lb car with four people in it down a road at 50 mph with zero failures, don't you think there'd be technology to drive a 200lb wheelchair with one person in it at 5 mph down the straight, flat, smooth hallway of an office building or a hospital?

Thus do I question consensus.

The Questioning Phantom

Monday, October 20, 2014

Your Mac is still Phoning Home. So is your PC.

Big Data still hasn't learned that people generally don't like eavesdroppers. Max OSX Yosemite is phoning home lots of data back to Apple, and it doesn't matter how you configure your Mac, apparently.

DuckDuckGo for Privacy

Having read DuckDuckGo's privacy statements, you might decide to switch Safari's default search to DuckDuckGo. If we enter a new search in Safari, we can then search the logged data to see who the search terms are actually sent to.

The logs show that a copy of your Safari searches are still sent to Apple, even when selecting DuckDuckGo as your search provider, and 'Spotlight Suggestions' are disabled in System Preferences > Spotlight.

Non-Cloud Mail Account

When setting up a new Mail.app account for the address admin@fix-macosx.com, which is hosted locally, searching the logs for "fix-macosx.com" shows that Mail quietly sends the domain entered by the user to Apple, too.

Tres uncool, Apple droids.

However if you think you're going to escape by using a PC, Slashdot says y'ain't.

From WinBeta: "One of the more interesting bits of data the company is collecting is text entered. Some are calling this a keylogger within the Windows 10 Technical Preview, which isn't good news. Taking a closer look at the Privacy Policy for the Windows Insider Program, it looks like Microsoft may be collecting a lot more feedback from you behind the scenes. Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage." This isn't the only thing Microsoft is collecting from Insider Program participants. According to the Privacy Policy, the company is collecting things like text inputted into the operating system, the details of any/all files on your system, voice input and program information.

This means they are collecting what you type into your own PC. Like, your passwords. Which I really don't think is a "service" I want to pay for, right?

Definitely worth looking at Linux if Apple and Microsoft keep doing this crap. Or just re-installing that old copy of XP we all have kicking around in the closet. It still works. According to my experience, using XP on this exact box I'm running Win 8 on right now doesn't slow down what I do every day. I'm sure some things are faster with Win 8, but I don't -notice- them being faster and so I don't really care. If I need FAST I can stick an off-line compute server in a corner and feed it by sneakernet with thumb drives.
Dear Apple and Microsoft, my files, my keystrokes, my stuff generally is none of your business. If I have to finally bite the bullet and learn Linux to keep your sticky fingers out of my PC, I will. And if I will, millions of other will too. Anything you corporate wankers can make, we users collectively will jailbreak, hack, pervert, fold, spindle and mutilate.

And if you piss me off I'll switch my phone back to a Blackberry. If for no other reason than RIM is Canadian.

The Phantom

Here's something you don't see every day.

White kids rioting.

Students who participated in riots near the Keene State College campus Saturday night could face serious consequences, including expulsion for the worst offenders, according to a statement from the college president.

We see kids rioting all the time lately. Not a new thing. What you don't see every day is the words "expulsion" and "offenders" used in the same sentence by a university official. Hell, she even threw in the word "consequences". We never see that. Normally we see something like "working with the community to reduce violence" or "more sensitivity training for staff".

I speculate that this case is different because these are WHITE kids, and are therefore supposed to know better. Otherwise known as the "soft racism of low expectations". Except this is the flip-side, where the book gets thrown at them because they's White and there's no political reason not to kick their asses like they deserve.

Dear Commie Pinko educators: maybe if you stopped giving certain groups a Special Deal and throw the book at -everybody- who riots, they'd all do better, hmmm? Just a thought.

The Phantom

Sunday, October 19, 2014

NY Safe Act: 34,000 New Yorkers dangerously insane.

What happens when you set bureaucrats to decide who is sane in a society? They err on the side of caution, obviously. Because  they're bureaucrats. Ass covering isn't second nature to them, it DEFINES their nature.

The NY SAFE Act, part of it banned "Assault Murder/Death/Kill Weapons!!!", but the other part created a board who decides who's too crazy to own a gun in NY state.

So far, 34,000 people are too crazy.

A newly created database of New Yorkers deemed too mentally unstable to carry firearms has grown to roughly 34,500 names, a previously undisclosed figure that has raised concerns among some mental health advocates that too many people have been categorized as dangerous.

The database, established in the aftermath of the mass shooting in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, is the result of the Safe Act. It is an expansive package of gun control measures pushed through by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The law, better known for its ban on assault weapons, compels licensed mental health professionals in New York to report to the authorities any patient "likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others."

But the number of entries in the database highlights the difficulty of America's complicated balancing act between public safety and the right to bear arms when it comes to people with mental health issues. "That seems extraordinarily high to me," said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City's involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, which provides housing to the mentally ill. "Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness."

Take home quote is "That seems extraordinarily high to me" from a mental health expert and government guy.

But that's because the point was not to make New York safer. The point was to get the mental health camel with his nose in the tent. Now the nose is in there, and as we can see the rest of the camel is coming in behind it. What they really want is a regulation that brands you insane if you apply for a gun license, and as we can see from this 34,000 number they are well on their way. By next year they'll be up over 200,000. Anyone who has so much as said the words "I feel kinda depressed" to a physician will eventually be on this list.

See, the people who campaigned for this law consider ALL gun owners to be dangerously insane. Just wanting to own a gun makes you a potential killer in their book. These people are liberals. One of their most fundamental beliefs about people is that everyone in the world is only one bad day away from becoming the Long Island Train Killer. Or the Son of Sam, or Ted Bundy. Liberals think human beings are dangerous, murderous animals one thinning synapse away from snapping and killing everybody they can reach.

Those are the honest liberals. The dishonest ones who MADE the law just want to make sure you can't shoot back when they finally come for you at 3AM. Because they're not liberals, really. They're fascists.

The Phantom

Monday, October 13, 2014

"If you build it, they will come."

Via Small Dead Animals, a Breitbart story reports that:

On October 9, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) released a revised report showing that 92% of mass public shootings between January 2009 and July 2014 took place in gun-free zones.

Imagine my surprise.

In other startling news, bank robber Willie Sutton reveals he robs banks "because that's where the money is."

The Phantom

Friday, October 10, 2014

Suicide by doctor: the counter argument.

I don't get involved much in arguments about "assisted suicide", because I think there's more important things to worry about than some sick person's desire to off themselves.

However, I saw this article written in rebuttal to the "death with dignity"/killing yourself crowd, and I like it. Its worth spreading around.

Leaving aside the Scriptural arguments, which the author obviously finds more compelling than I do, there is one remaining argument she makes almost in passing that is far more powerful in my estimation:

It's not about you.

Suicides for the most part are people who are, in the final analysis, selfish. (Yes, exceptions exist, don't get your hair up.) However they at least have the grace to jump off a bridge or take pills -themselves-. They restrict their revenge on the rest of us to making us feel bad that they died.

People who demand the assistance of others in their suicides take selfish another whole order of magnitude. They make everyone in their lives COMPLICIT in their selfish act, they make us accomplice killers. The ultimate and final act of self absorption and betrayal, if you will.

Otherwise know as being a dick.

You're born, you live and then at the end, you die. Its nothing special, we all do it. Try not to be a dick about it.

The Phantom

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Panel of experts decides Home Schooling is to blame for Sandy Hook massacre. That's sensible, right?

Cross posted from Small Dead Animals, my comment on why Canada keeps getting more totalitarian and what to do about it.

You want to know why no one ever speaks in favor of smaller government? There's a reason, and it isn't just naked self interest.

This story illustrates the reason. I found it mentioned on Kathy Shaidle's Five Feet of Fury and followed the linkage chain to (I hope) the original news story.

"Gov. Dannel P. Malloy created the group more than a year and a half ago in response to the murders of 20 school children and six educators at an elementary school in Newtown. He charged the panel— made up of experts in education, mental health, law enforcement, and emergency response — with making recommendations to reduce the risk of future tragedies.

The commission expects to have a final report within the next few weeks. On Tuesday its members reviewed their likely recommendations on mental health during a meeting in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The draft proposals include requirements for individual plans for students with significant emotional or behavioral problems. The group is backing extending those requirements to troubled youths, whose parents have chosen to homeschool.

“Continuation of homeschooling should be contingent upon approval of [individualized education plans] and adequate progress as documented” in progress reports, Susan Schmeiser, a professor of mental health law at the University of Connecticut Law School, said as she summarized the proposal."

That right there is the machinery for what makes North America, both Canada and the USA, less free and more regulated every single day.

1-Something bad happens.
2-A panel of "experts" is created to explain/prevent said Bad Thing. The "experts" are obviously friends of whoever is in power that year. They may or may not have to brain cells to rub together.
3-The panel releases a report, said report represents an opportunity to gain resources and credibility for whatever hobby horses or pet projects the panel members may have, so obviously the report features those prominently.
4-The panel report gets taken up by whatever organ of the government is concerned with the type of Bad Thing in question. They create a regulation
5-Our taxes go up to pay for the regulation and its administration.

That's how they do it.

Rinse and repeat for every "crisis" team, Blue Ribbon panel and Grand Jury in the land. Its machinery. It eats money and grows. The more money, the faster the growth.

Solution? Tax cut. Starve the machine, it shrinks.
The Phantom

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oklahoma "beheading" story actually armed citizen story.

Yes, some guy went nuts and killed a woman in Oklahoma. Cut off her head, started ion stabbing another one.

Real story? How they -stopped- him from killing the second woman:

A man fired from an Oklahoma food processing plant beheaded a woman with a knife and was attacking another worker when he was shot and wounded by a company official, police said Friday.

In other words, some guy in the office who had his gun on him. Probably against company regulations too.

And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.

The Phantom