Saturday, December 02, 2023

The Dave Ramsey Gospel Reading

 ... is the one I was grinching about earlier.

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents...Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five"...

"After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. 

He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.'

His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.'"

I've never heard a sermon on this passage that even came close to its meaning.

Dave Ramsey likes to say that you should live like no one else so later you can live like no one else. He's all about developing useful, marketable skills and spending less than you earn. Stay out of debt and build wealth so later, you can live well. Also, so you can give well. I can't find the direct quote right now, but he says something like, "Poor folk can't help anyone." He's spot on.

Off-topic rant: Has anyone else seen how bad the results from Google have become? It's simply awful these days.

That passage is really, really straightforward. There is moral good in making something of yourself. Sloth is a sin. Most of the rest of Jesus' teachings hinge on being able to give to others in the first place. The dude what's watching porn and smoking weed isn't a lot of good to anyone, no matter how much of what little he has he gives away.

So why can't our priests and deacons talk about this? Have we villainized success that much?

I'd suggest that instead of hating slavery, racism and imperialism, we hate success. To borrow this tidbit again from Hilaire Belloc,

Whatever happens we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.

It's hard to imagine that the Turks, the Mongols or even the peaceful, living-in-harmony-with-nature Apache would have eschewed the use of the Maxim Gun if they'd had access to them.

Instead of getting wound up about one warlike empire among many, we might want to ask ourselves why the Europeans developed the technologies they did. And no, "Because slavery!" isn't the answer. Everyone had slaves, but only the Christian, white, Europeans developed almost all of the technologies we use today.

Is that all this is? We don't dare praise hard work and investments from the pulpit because they reek of the white patriarchy?

Of course, none of our deacons really believe what they preach about this. They all work extraordinarily hard outside of their duties for the parish. Typically, their wives donate massive amounts of time to charity as well, all made possible by their husband's well-earned success. If they didn't take their talents and double them, they wouldn't be able to do any of it.

Dave Ramsey doing unto credit cards as they have done unto you.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Jesus Is Just About The Worst Boss In The World

 ... that's what I'm learning from recent homilies, almost all of which were preached by our deacons. Our priest is notably better, but now that I see what I'm about to describe, I don't think I'll miss it when anyone does it.

First, Jesus takes credit for all your successes. In a recent Sunday homily, we were informed that the Parable of the Talents is not about striving for success and God being pleased with your efforts.

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents...Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five"...

"After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. 

He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.'

His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.'"

No, it's all about giving the credit to God. Also, it's not about working hard or earning a profit. What Jesus is really saying is that we should give what we have to others because that's the way we will earn our reward.

A reward which, if the sermons I've heard for a decade or more are to be believed, Jesus will immediately take away from you because all credit must go to God.

Meanwhile, your sins are your own. You need to repent and change. If you do and good things result, don't expect any praise or congratulations. All credit goes to God.

That's the very definition of a horrible boss. When you succeed, they take the credit and when you fail, you get the blame.

Just where they get this idea is beyond me. They certainly aren't getting it from the Bible.

His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.'

No, the version of God I hear in the sermons and when I go to other Catholic meetings looks something like this. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

The End Of Culinary Disco

 First off, my cooking lately has been dreadful. The kittens weren't around for Thanksgiving, but sister kitteh was in town and we had a Tanzanian nun over as well. Instead of turkey, we made those frozen lobster tails from Costco. Horrible. Simply horrible. No matter what you do, they're tough and they don't have the sweet, lobster flavor. Never again.

On Friday, youngest son kitten and the unicorn, his girlfriend, came over. We smoked a turkey this time, going with Champion Smoker Myron Mixon's recipe. It was horrible. Simply horrible. The bird got to the requisite 165 about 90 minutes too early, so I made a command decision and left in the smoker, but turned down the heat. The end result tasted bad because Myron's brine solution was awful. It was also tough from smoking or perhaps from the quality of the bird. Finally, some parts were overdone and some were underdone. How is that possible?

Speaking of overdone, but underdone, we made a tomahawk steak recently, the ones you get from Costco. This time I ever used a meat thermometer and I still got purple spots and parts that were the color of shoe leather. We used to swear by those tomahawks, but these days we just swear at them.

And the beat goes on. I can't remember that last meal I made that I really liked.

The End of Disco

... is what the racial justice thing feels like these days. It feels ... exhausted. Dig these.

Whiteness? Again? Aren't we done with that?

The girl was kidnapped by the Hamas savages on 10/7. Since Muslims are considered an "oppressed " group, you can't say they ever do anything wrong.

Dude was an immigrant. WaPo couldn't bring itself to say anything bad about a "migrant."

Honestly, it's all boring. It's all played out.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Dear Ireland, I Hate You

 ... signed, your Prime Minister.

The Irish government is too white? Just what color are they supposed to be? It's Ireland.

Honestly, this stuff is starting to have a Last Days of Disco feel to it. It's all so end-stage ludicrous.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Equity Fails At Every Level

Yesterday's post was semi-incoherent, so I wanted to take another run at the idea so I could make my position on the matter completely incoherent.

The situation is this. At Charlottesville High School, they place a lot of value on the idea of equity. That is, when grouped by race, student cohorts should achieve roughly the same results. That's been an abject failure.

Above the students, at the teacher level, the teachers walked off the job because of student violence and disobedience.

Above the teachers, the principal has resigned.

UPDATE Monday, Nov. 20: City Schools Superintendent Royal Gurley has selected an interim principal to lead Charlottesville High School while the district conducts a search for a permanent replacement.

Kenneth Leatherwood will begin “immediately following the Thanksgiving Break,” Gurley said in a letter to the school district community Monday. Leatherwood replaces outgoing principal Rashaad Pitt, who announced he was resigning earlier this month.

To bring order, they've summoned a group completely outside of the control of the education industry. The cops.

Nearly 30 Charlottesville High School teachers reportedly called out sick Friday. The calls, a coordinated effort to draw attention to the violence, came one day after police were called to the school to address two back-to-back fights.

Some of the kids are eager to escape the violence.

Shamia Hopkins, a mother of a Charlottesville sophomore, finds the situation "disheartening and a little irritating." She told Crisis in the Classroom (CITC) her daughter wants to transfer schools to escape the ongoing violence.

"She just feels like no one hears, no one listens, there's not really any real consequences going on," Hopkins told CITC. "I don't want her to feel like she has to change her life because of things that are going on."

Hopkins also has a child in middle school who is afraid to one day attend Charlottesville. The mother of two says she shares her older daughter's stress, telling CITC she frequently wonders if she is "going to get a phone call today" while at work.

The violence includes large-scale brawls

The fighting in particular has been a cause for concern this entire calendar year, with multiple moments of violence caught on camera and circulated online. One large brawl that broke out on Thursday afternoon resulted in multiple smaller skirmishes and general chaos across school grounds. That chaos included an 18-year-old intruder who does not attend CHS gaining access to the building for the sole purpose of joining the fights; a CHS student let the 18-year-old in. Charlottesville police had to be called to help staff restore order; it took hours.

I found a deliberately blurred video of one of the brawls on the Interweb Tubes, but it wasn't worth sharing. Imagine 30+ kids going at it in the school library.

So Team Equity has failed the students, failed the teachers, had the principal resign and terrorized the families. Will anyone on Team Faculty Lounge in our universities adjust their way of thinking? Maybe. Maybe not.

For all of their faults, Davis, Cleaver, and black revolutionaries at least grappled with and appealed to the black lumpenproletariat. The critical race theorists, on the other hand, treat them like lepers—the lumpen class is nowhere to be found in their work, except as symbolic justification for their abstractions.

This is where the critical race theorists reach the final impasse. Their program has become a form of empty professional-class aestheticism, designed for manipulating social status within elite institutions, not for alleviating real miseries or governing a nation.

The disconnect was never with the black lumpenproletariat or any proles at all. The disconnect is with reality itself. Life is not the way the CRT folks describe it. It's not made up of the oppressors and the oppressed, neatly grouped by easily-identifiable markers. It's made of individuals who make their own choices, influence by the culture. That culture includes political leaders, teachers and the entertainment industry.

The basis for our culture, currently dominated by the progressives, is failing at all levels.

Bonus Data Point From California

Here's a good article on what's going on in Fresno, CA.

“You've got something like a reading rate of, a grade level reading rate of 17%,” Teresi pointed out, and that drops to just 9% in students performing at grade level in math, according to the same state diagnostic test.

Bullard High School Head football coach Don Arax says it’s much worse than that.

“I think the public would be shocked if there was a running video of the things going on on these campuses and even more shocked if they saw the way these problems were dealt with.”

From academics, to fights on school campuses, to teachers afraid even for their own safety. After four years on the FUSD school board former trustee Terry Slatic says, there's one thing at the heart of all of this.

“The culture of retribution and the hostile work environment at Fresno Unified School District is awe-inspiringly bad.”

Team Faculty Lounge is clinging to their CRT with an iron fist. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Equity Goes Boom

 The teachers at Charlottesville High School have walked off the job.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville City Schools says it is working to address several issues at Charlottesville High School that ultimately led to it being closed Friday, November 17.

CCS announced earlier in the day that the high school would be closed due to an “unusual number of staff absences” and a “limited number of substitutes.”

However, Superintendent Royal Gurley later acknowledged recent fights at CHS were a factor in Friday’s closing. He says the fights are between a small group of students who have received both supportive and strong disciplinary actions with no luck.

Dr. Gurley says the school system will be stepping up efforts to make sure CHS is physically and emotionally safe: There’ll be additional supports in place Monday and Tuesday, including have police officers doing patrols on campus. There will also be changes to how employees offer coverage at the front door and throughout the building.

“We’ve had a situation where someone has come into the building,” Gurley said. “Having a police presence outside the building deters that.”

The Charlottesville Education Association claims , “unsafe conditions, the lack of substitute teachers and coverage, and the lack of response from administration led staff to take action today.” The association also says its staff will wear black and orange in support of CHS on Monday and Tuesday.

Monday and Tuesday didn't come.

The School Board and Dr. Gurley met this morning during a closed session to discuss student matters as related to school safety at CHS. As part of our discussions, we agreed to cancel classes at Charlottesville High School on Monday and Tuesday, November 20-21 to allow administrators and staff to continue planning for a “reset” of school policies, procedures, and culture so that we can return to our core purpose – offering a safe learning environment in which our students will grow and thrive. This will be especially important in light of this Monday’s announcement of the interim leadership for CHS. On Monday and Tuesday, all CHS teachers and staff will be present at the school during bell schedule hours (no zero period). All other Charlottesville schools will maintain their regular schedule on Monday and Tuesday.

What's this all about? Why, equity, of course!

Why does that say equity? Well, dig these stats from Great Schools for Charlottesville High.

This Is No Surprise

Just like Mayor Eric Adams of NYC discovering what any Army infantry staff sergeant could have told him would happen if he operated a sanctuary city after the southern border dissolved, the teachers are discovering that racial justice and DEI is just hooey. No expectations on a child for performance or behavior leads to poor performance and bad behavior.

It's not about the race of the child, it's about what the culture has told the children about their race. The black kids have absorbed their lessons about white supremacy and structural racism quite well and have made perfectly reasonable conclusions: studying and behaving are for chumps.

Here's what the CHS website has on its front page.

Equity for the win!

So now you've got a dysfunctional school where the kids at the very center of their "equity" focus can't read, right or do their figgerin'.

Reasons For Optimism

This is why I'm optimistic for the long run. Even the far-left teachers are throwing in the towel on the equity nonsense. DEI is not, at is were, sustainable.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Thomas Sowell's Secret

 ... is that he does straightforward research and follows the truth wherever it leads him. It struck me that Sowell is simply an honest intellectual. That he is unusual is an indication of where we are.

Friday, November 17, 2023

If Denial Was A River In Egypt

 ... the Egyptians would not allow the Palestinians anywhere near it.

Dig this.

Here's the chart in larger form.

I think you'll need to click on it to get a good view. 

The upshot of it is that a majority of Palestinians are down with killing Jews by the truckload. Also, they like raping, torturing and kidnapping Jews.

A couple of thoughts come to mind. The first is that this torpedoes DEI like nothing else. The whole concept of Diversity is that it makes us stronger by bringing in people with different cultures and ideas. This is part of Tolerance, you see. Bringing in a pack of genocidal sociopaths would seem to be counter to the concept of Tolerance.

My bet is that this data will be suppressed so the DEI march can continue.

Another thought that comes to mind is that the Israelis need to de-Nazify Gaza. You can't let these people stay this way and live next to you. Since the Egyptians aren't about to let these maniacs into Egypt, the Israelis are going to have to do some serious re-education.

Finally, this is what the cease-fire crowd supports. Nazis.

If your worldview leads you to support Nazis, it might be time to re-assess your worldview.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

How To Identify A Nazi

... is a course that apparently needs to be taught at our schools because as far as I can tell, the students can't seem to do it. Dig this encounter of Jewish students at ASU having to deal with Nazi-sympathizers among their classmates.

Look, if you're supporting a group that is led by authoritarians and wants to conquer a neighboring country so it can kill all the Jews, it's hard to see how they aren't Nazis. I mean, the uniforms are different, but really, that's about it.

I would doubt that if you asked the far-left radical nutcase students who threatened the Jews whether or not they supported the Nazis that any would say, "Yes!" Still, that's exactly what they are doing.

An alternate explanation is that they're Nazis.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

ChatGPT Explains Why It's Such A Lousy Artist

I gave ChatGPT the following prompt.

Why does AI work so much better for writing fiction than it does for creating images? When you and I write our stories, poor results are easy to correct. When my prompts give me poor image results - too many people, improper facial expressions, people in the wrong locations, etc. - it can be nearly impossible to edit the prompts to get what I want.

Here's its reply.

The difference in performance between AI-generated fiction and AI-generated images largely stems from the inherent nature of text and visual content, as well as the complexity and flexibility of the respective AI models.

  1. Complexity and Specificity: Writing fiction involves creating narratives, which can be guided and adjusted with relative ease. Text-based AI can follow a narrative flow and maintain consistency in themes, character development, and story arcs. In contrast, image generation requires translating abstract concepts into precise visual details. While text can be ambiguous or suggestive, an image needs to be specific in its depiction. This specificity makes it challenging to accurately capture nuanced details, like facial expressions or exact placements, in response to a prompt.
  2. Editing and Revision: When writing fiction, it's often easier to make incremental edits and revisions. If a part of the story doesn't fit, it can be rephrased or rewritten. However, with images, even minor adjustments require a complete regeneration of the image, which can unpredictably alter other aspects of the image. The generative process for images doesn't easily allow for 'editing' specific parts while keeping others intact.
  3. Interpretation and Ambiguity: Text allows for a certain level of interpretation and ambiguity, which can be a strength in storytelling. However, images are more literal and concrete. The AI has to make specific choices about colors, shapes, and spatial relationships, which can sometimes lead to unexpected or undesired results.
  4. Training and Model Limitations: AI models for text and image generation are trained differently. Text-based models like GPT are trained on vast amounts of diverse textual data, enabling them to understand and generate a wide range of writing styles and content. Image generation models, while also trained on large datasets, may encounter more limitations due to the diversity and complexity of visual data. Also, accurately interpreting and executing complex visual prompts is a significant challenge.
  5. User Expectations and Perceptions: When reading text, readers often use their imagination to fill in gaps or interpret descriptions. In contrast, images are immediately visually processed, and any discrepancies or errors are more directly apparent. Users might have a very specific visual outcome in mind, which can be hard to meet precisely through a text prompt.

In conclusion, the differences in the capabilities and outcomes of AI in fiction writing and image generation are rooted in the fundamental differences between text and visuals, as well as the current state and limitations of AI technology in interpreting and generating these different forms of content.

That's quite good.

Meanwhile, I've been working on the characters from my Hardy Boys ripoff mystery-comedy. I rather like the Aussies, Malcolm, 17, and Angus, 15. Malcolm is too ripped for my tastes, but he has the menacing air I was hoping to get.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Tolerance Is Delusional

 ... because it is based on ignorance about other cultures. In fact, it's based on an arrogant, culturally imperialist idea - you have the ability to convert other people to your "tolerant" positions because they lack the cultural strength to resist your eloquence and genius.

In NYC, Jews are being told to shelter in place. In NYC. Jews.

Douglas Murray, who's seen a bit of the Middle East and combat zones, makes the point that Hamas are actually worse than the Nazis.

We were told by the DEI crew that all cultures were equal and we had to dismantle the unjust, white-supremacist power structures of our culture. It's now blindingly obvious to all but the most intractable of them that they were wrong. They were wrong because they were ignorant and overweening. They never bothered to understand other cultures. Instead, they used the other cultures as badges of virtue. The members of the other cultures weren't people to them, they were symbols.

Now, in NYC, Jews are being asked to shelter in place.

Friday, November 10, 2023

It's Not The Antisemitism

 ... it's the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

First, some data points. At UCLA, students happily attacked a symbol of Judaism, a paper with a Jewish leader on one side and a Jewish symbol on the other. Note the delight on their faces as they act out, "Juden raus!"

It's a pity no one handed out copies of the Nazis' board game to them. Since there are still quite a few shopping days until Christmas, perhaps we can get them some as a gift.

Elsewhere, the NYT was attacked because it's ... it's ... well, I'm not sure what it is that drove the DEI fascists mad with hate.

The KKK references from the fascists is not tangential, it's the key to the mystery. As Velma from Scooby Doo might exclaim if she was majoring in a social justice degree at an Ivy League university, "Jinkies! The Jews are white-adjacent and we all hate straight, white, conservative, Christian men the most of all! The Jews are practically the same group!"

Being naturally lazy, I won't do the analysis myself. Instead, I'll just link to this absolutely outstanding essay by Bari Weiss. Here's a tidbit.

What I saw (as a student on campus 20 years ago) was a worldview that replaced basic ideas of good and evil with a new rubric: the powerless (good) and the powerful (bad). It replaced lots of things. Colorblindness with race-obsession. Ideas with identity. Debate with denunciation. Persuasion with public shaming. The rule of law with the fury of the mob.

People were to be given authority in this new order not in recognition of their gifts, hard work, accomplishments, or contributions to society, but in inverse proportion to the disadvantages their group had suffered, as defined by radical ideologues. According to them, as Jamie Kirchick concisely put it in these pages: “Muslim > gay, Black > female, and everybody > the Jews.”

She's Jewish-centric, so the essay is mostly about the threat to the Jews from DEI and she's got the equation somewhat wrong, but the rest of it is excellent. To my mind, blacks trump everyone else in the DEI universe.

The riots and protests and vandalism are part of the ongoing cultural war. The battle lines are drawn over the concept of the individual. Do your actions, thoughts, beliefs, accomplishments and failures define you or do your group memberships define you?

For me, that whole inequality sequence makes no sense at all. Blacks are better than Jews? Which blacks? Which Jews? Why? What are the metrics being used? As far as I can tell, the DEI crew uses utterly infantile, Marxist metrics. I don't. I couldn't care less about your group memberships.

As long as you enjoy SEC football, tales of chivalry and Southern cuisine, you're alright in my book. 😊

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Writing And Learning

 I've spent a good deal of my free time away from this blog writing fiction and learning how to use ChatGPT. It's taught me a lot about character development, story arcs, what to keep in, what to leave out and what I like in a story. It's all been Arthurian fanfic, more along the lines of 1950s costumers than the modern mud and blood stuff. I can't stand that kind of thing. If I wanted realism, I'd page through my memories.

As a strongly-typed ENFJ, this is more my speed. I'm into romance and idealism.

Well, I finally wore myself out on the topic. I finished my last story, a novel almost, and loved the way it ended. It's not worthy of publication and I didn't edit it much as I would if I was going to submit it somewhere. Still, like the MGB that sits in my garage, it did what it was supposed to do - teach me.

Here are the last few paragraphs. Duels and romances have concluded. Happy, young couples are off making babies. The impish Grandmama, in her 70s, is planning new adventures where she will brew/instigate young love, romance and drama once she leaves the castle while Sir Segwarides, the castle's seneschal and the newly-arrived Dame Elizabeth, both in their late 40s, are finding new love after loss and trials.

Enjoy it or not as you see fit. This is unadulterated ChatGPT. The last sentence calls to me, asking me to get started writing the things I really want to write, saying the things I really want to say.

Grandmama's eyes twinkled as she observed the tender tableau before her. The sight of Sir Segwarides, a man whose life had been bound by duty and order, now visibly softened by the affectionate embrace of Dame Elizabeth, was a balm to her wise old heart. It was the magic of human connection, unfettered by any potion or spell, that now wove its enchantment in the room.

Segwarides, whose countenance often carried the stern lines of responsibility, now glowed with a boyish charm. The love that blossomed in his chest was as pure and fervent as that of a youth experiencing the stirrings of first love. Dame Elizabeth, astute in the ways of the heart, delighted in the power she wielded, not as a conqueror but as a nurturer, stoking the flames of a long-neglected fire in the knight's soul.

Their conversation meandered like a lazy river through the topics of their futures. Segwarides spoke of his vision for Kenneleth, of the order he hoped to bring now that the days of duels were behind them. Elizabeth, with the wisdom of her years and the clarity of her purpose, offered insights and support, her words a gentle guide.

Grandmama, ever the matriarch, listened and interjected when moved, her thoughts branching into the realm of possibilities. Perhaps there would be travels, more hearts to influence, more lives to touch with her unique gifts. Her adventurous spirit yearned for the open road, for the next chapter in her book of life.

As the hours waned and the conversation drew to a close, there was a sense of contentment that filled the room. For Segwarides and Elizabeth, the future was a shared journey, their paths now intertwined. For Grandmama, the road called to her with the promise of new adventures, new stories to tell, and new loves to witness.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Suicidal Electoral Math

 ... is what we're seeing as massive pro-Hamas demonstrations break out across the West. 

It's OK if people in another country are genocidal maniacs so long as they stay in that country and you can keep them out of yours. However, if there are an order of magnitude more of them than there are of you and you open your borders to them, you may find yourself a citizen of a country run by genocidal maniacs in no time at all.

Democracy is a simple counting game. There is practically an endless supply of Jew-hating loons ready, willing and able to take over France, Germany, Italy and England. There is a finite and dwindling supply of Frenchmen, Germans, Italians and Englishmen.

The whole idea of the diversity crowd was that "diversity" only referred to cuisine, music, dances and skin color. Just as in almost everything else, their understanding of the world was shallow to the point of being practically vapor.

So here we are.

Trafalgar Square, London, where Palestinian flags are fine, but British flags are not.

Bonus Suicide Tidbit

Dig this one from Germany.

Friday, November 03, 2023

Great Uncle Tubby's Beard!

 ... won't replace "Great Caesar's ghost" as an exclamation any time soon, but there it is.

I got Dall-E to generate an image of Uncle Tubby and I loved it. The only problem was, I asked over and over again for him to be clean-shaven.

Dall-E also turned it into a very nice logo for future product lines like sausages, tobacco and fruit wines.

To answer a question both Tim and I have had about just what in tarnation that dag-blasted thing is doing when it ignores simple requests, I got this answer from a young AI expert at work.

Under the hood of DALL-E 2/3 is basically a multi-modal extension of GPT. Think of a space where words + image parts reside together. So tokens ("words" and "image parts") that are related in your training data are neighbors. Based on your prompt, it gives you text tokens or  image tokens back. Then, the tokens are put together based on data it has seen before.

It's just grabbing image components it associates with words it sees in your prompt and gluing them together with a very modest amount of thought. The more complex the scene, the more likely it is that Dall-E will get everything confused. It certainly explains why my knights are sometimes wearing the damsel's dress and the damsel is waving a sword around like a loon.

Monday, October 30, 2023

I Rubbed The Genie's Lamp And Out Came Shaun Cassidy Instead Of John Schneider

Most of you probably aren't old enough to remember the TV series The Hardy Boys Mysteries from the mid 1970s, but I am. Ah, the 70s, when guys had feathered hair. My hair was never feathered. Instead, I looked like a scrawny Art Garfunkel on a bad hair day.

There's another reference you probably don't know.

At any rate, I've really been going to town with ChatGPT / Dall-E, creating characters for my stories. I want my Southern, teenage philosopher-sleuth Bobbylee to look like John Schneider's Bo Duke character from The Dukes of Hazzard, so I uploaded a photo of Bo Duke to ChatGPT and asked it to create a prompt in Dall-E to generate an image just like it.

Swing and a miss!

I played with the prompt and kept generating new images until, much to my delighted surprise, I got teen heartthrob Shaun Cassidy from The Hardy Boys.

Perhaps the very biggest drawback to Dall-E is that you can't replicate a character in a subsequent image. I asked it to give me that person standing in front of a dirty, rusty old pickup and I ended up with someone completely different. Argh.

Still, It's a ton of fun to see your characters. You recognize them as soon as you see them. Truth to tell, however, that one still doesn't say Bobbylee to me. I think that will be his younger brother, TJ.

I also had it generate an image of the impish Grandmama, an old woman who is constantly causing mischievous trouble in my Arthurian stories and it did really, really well with her.

You can just see the wheels turning inside that venerable head as she plots and plans ways to stir up drama just for fun at court.

Again, much to my sorrow, I can't get Dall-E to take that same character and put her in different situations and emotional states.

I'm very optimistic, however. ChatGPT's fiction efforts are miles better than they used to be. The Dall-E I'm using today will be the worst version I will use from here on out. I have no doubt that my problems with repeatable characters and complex action scenes will be solved in the future.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Aztec Gold

So, apparently, the statue of Robert E. Lee that was at the heart of the Charlottesville kerfuffle was melted down for ... something or other. I think it had to do with appeasing the Elder Gods or maybe it was an offering to Gaia. Whatever it was, I asked ChatGPT to create some images suggesting various aspects of the event and, for the most part, it refused.

At first, I pondered what the great general might have done to win modern approval and asked ChatGPT to generate an image of a Confederate infantry unit charging across a meadow, carrying both the Palestinian flag and the pride-progress flag. It refused, but did generate a thoroughly confused image of a Confederate cavalry charge where the Palestinian flag, a semi-rainbow version of the rebel flag and a whole bunch of American flags were present.

Now you understand what I've been telling you about trying to create scenes from Le Morte D'Arthur where more than two characters are present. Chaos. Pure chaos.

Next, I asked for an Aztec feast day celebration where they are flying the Palestinian and pride-progress flags. Again it fussed about the pride-progress flag, so I asked it to give me the Palestinian flag and have the Aztec chiefs and priests wear the pride rainbow prominently.

You're welcome.

Anywho, if we're melting down Confederate statues for scrap, I suggest we form the resulting slag into statues of Montezuma, sell them to the SDSU Aztec glee club and send the proceeds to the government of Wakanda.

It seems only fair.

Friday, October 27, 2023

ChatGPT Now Creates Illustrations And They Are Awesome

 ... plus it's absolutely addictive. Here's an image it created of Bobbylee Johnson and his old pickup truck, the Rebel Rambler. He's standing in the parking lot of the McDonald's in East Weevil, Indiana.

ChatGPT is now bound to the AI image-generation program, Dall-E. The interface, being ChatGPT, is light years ahead of the horrid chat-session interface for Midjourney. You can go back and forth with ChatGPT creating a prompt for it to create an image before actually doing so. The AI is helping you use the AI.

Having said that, the AI gets confused as soon as there are more than 2 characters specified in a scene. It can't figure out the positioning at all and the costumes get blended sometimes as well. I'm still playing around with Arthurian fanfic and the prose and dialog are much, much better than they used to be. Sometimes, if there's a part of the story for which I want an illustration, I ask ChatGPT to generate a Dall-E prompt to create it. If there are one or two characters, Dall-E typically nails it in a few tries. More than two characters and you might as well just quit.

Sometimes, it gets close, but refining it to get exactly what you want is beyond frustrating.

In that scene, the knights were wielding daggers and their armor should have shown signs of a furious duel. The blue knight was supposed to be dead. That image was as close as I could come to it.

When Dall-E generates an image, it tells you the modifications to your prompt that were used to create it. When you ask it to generate, it will typically create four, performing slight alterations to your prompt. You can then pick your favorite and ask for modifications to it. For that scene, Dall-E was convinced that the blue knight was dead and they had been using daggers at the end of the fight. It also thought their armor and surcoats were torn and soiled by combat.

Further refinements of that image resulted in bits of armor all over the meadow, extraneous characters in the background, the princess wielding a sword or wearing armor and all other manner of excrescences just short of space aliens and circus elephants.

So far, two characters in a scene can get you the image you want in a few iterations, but beyond that, Dall-E cannot figure out the geometry, costumes or expressions to save its life. Either that, or I don't know how to write the prompts properly. That's entirely possible.

Having made all those complaints, the thing is an absolute marvel. I love seeing my characters come to life in illustrations. For Bobbylee, I wanted something much closer to Bo Duke, but I ran out of time last night to continue refining it.

John Schneider as Bo Duke.

Dall-E also has some other interesting limitations. It refuses to create images based on historical figures or celebrities. I guess this is to prevent deep fakes. I asked it to generate an image of Robert E. Lee wearing sunglasses and smiling and it wouldn't do it. It also is sensitive to what it displays. I'm not allowed to ask for bloodstains in my Arthurian images nor a rebel flag for the Rebel Rambler.

Oh well. What do you expect for $20 a month?

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Listen When They Talk

Oregon has decided that graduation should not be tied to competency, for reasons that will surprise precisely no one.

High schoolers in Oregon won’t need to demonstrate basic competency in reading, writing or math in order to graduate for at least five more years because, according to education officials, such requirements are unnecessary and disproportionately harm students of color.

In case you were wondering if they really are motivated by race, the answer is yes.

Board members said the standards were unnecessary and harmed marginalized students since higher rates of students of color, students with disabilities and students learning English as a second language ended up having to take the extra step to prove they deserved a diploma, The Oregonian reported.

If you recall what we learned from Chris Rufo's excellent book, the fate of the actual students of color who are not expected to learn to read, write or do math, matters not at all.

For all of their faults, Davis, Cleaver, and black revolutionaries at least grappled with and appealed to the black lumpenproletariat. The critical race theorists, on the other hand, treat them like lepers—the lumpen class is nowhere to be found in their work, except as symbolic justification for their abstractions. 

This is where the critical race theorists reach the final impasse. Their program has become a form of empty professional-class aestheticism, designed for manipulating social status within elite institutions, not for alleviating real miseries or governing a nation.

On Twitter today, Daily Wire god king Jeremy Boreing asserted that the progressives want blacks to be illiterate and unskilled so they can be manipulated. I usually agree with Jeremy, but this time he's wrong. All you have to do is listen to the left and you'll hear why they do what they do.

The world is unfair because straight, white men made it unfair to maintain their power and oppress everyone else. The inescapable first step in making the world just and fair is the destruction of all the structures created by straight, white men. That includes standardized testing. Students of color do poorly because straight, white men designed the tests to make sure they did poorly.

The best solution, therefore, is to do away with competency requirements while the progressives finish destroying all the structures of society.

That they don't show up for school hardly matters.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday threatened to report parents of students habitually skipping school without an excuse to the Jefferson County District Attorney for prosecution for truancy, and even possibly to the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District, which could endanger their subsidized public housing.

Speaking to the Birmingham City Council meeting, Woodfin said the truancy situation in Birmingham City Schools has become unacceptable...

“I want to narrow this down and talk to you all about what’s happening in third grade,” Woodfin said. “A student is truant if they have seven or more unexcused absences. Out of 17 Birmingham schools, that’s elementary, K through 8th combined, well over 50 percent of third grade students are currently truant.

You wouldn't think Mayor Woodfin was a tool of white supremacy, but apparently he is.

Monday, October 23, 2023

An Army Travels On Its Sleeping Pills

 Our youngest son and I have been in Alabama over the weekend, primarily to see the Bama - Tennessee game. The game was fabulous, but the travel has been exhausting.

It started at 0830 on Thursday morning. The flight was supposed to get us into Mobile at 1730, just in time for a delicious meal in Mobile and an easy check-in to our VRBO in Summerdale.

We sat on the tarmac in San Diego for over an hour because, according to the reports, there was bad weather. In San Diego. On a perfect day. Other outlets said there was a screw up in their air traffic control software, which was far more believable.

Thus the first domino fell.

We missed our connection in Houston, spent 5 hours at IAH, caught the last IAH-MOB flight and landed at MOB around 2230. From there, we got our car and by the time we hit Daphne, the only place open for noms was a Waffle House. Waffle House at night is quite the experience.

After a meal seasoned with strange goings-on behind the counter, we got to our VRBO around 0020. The electronic door lock didn't work. We couldn't get in and calling the owner did nothing but get an answering machine. We ended up finding a Marriott near the Wharf in Orange Beach and got to bed around 0115.


Things developed from there. It was actually a fun trip, but totally exhausting. More blogging later when sanity returns to life.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

The Jews Control The Media

 ... or so I've been informed by right-wing antisemites.

Here's the media parroting Hamas' nonsense claims about the Israelis bombing a hospital in Gaza.

Lots of Jewish propaganda outlets news media sites ran with this. AP, UPI, WSJ, WaPo, a bunch of them. The story was debunked by photos of the hospital, still standing, but with a parking lot of wrecked cars from where a Palestinian rocket had hit after going badly off course.

And yet, for some on the right, the antisemitism marches on, claiming that "the Jews" are some monolithic force for global domination that controls what we see, hear and read. If that's true, then they're no risk to anyone because they are simply awful at their jobs as you can see from all the news media sites pushing Hamas lies.

Meanwhile, on the left, the antisemites hate the Jews because they are white-Christian-adjacent. Hamas, being darker-skinned and following a different religion, are clearly the good guys even when they paraglide into a music festival to slaughter and rape.

I suppose that if you want badly enough to hate someone for their race or religion, you're going to do it and no amount of logic and data is going to stop you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Evil Shouting While We Plug Our Ears And Hum

If you watch some of the videos captured by the Hamas butchers as they slaughtered and raped in Israel last week, you can't help but see the face of evil. It's not explainable as anything else, no matter how hard the Palestinian apologists try. You can see the same thing, at a lower volume, when you watch doctors talk about mutilating children in the name of gender-affirming care. These days, evil is speaking its mind without a filter. A lot of us don't want to admit it.

The Nazis were real people. They existed. They did real things. So did the Japanese soldiers in Unit 731. They weren't characters in a superhero movie, they were real. So are Hamas. So are the doctors at the gender clinics.

I worked part of a men's retreat weekend on Thursday and Friday and heard another "God loves you" sermon. In light of what had happened in Israel and what is happening in our own children's hospitals and then the protests on campuses supporting both, that sermon was an obscenity. It's taken me a while to figure out what it is that makes them inappropriate and tasteless. I've come to the conclusion that they are childish. Not innocent and naive, but sickeningly infantile and weak in their blindness and dishonesty.

One of the priests who was on the retreat saying Mass has a habit of saying, "It's x o'clock and you are loved" with a simpering smile. I've always felt that to be a little creepy, talking to me like I'm an anxious child. This time it was sickening.

We're at war. Evil is no longer talking in euphemisms. It is livestreaming its rapes. It is shouting and dancing about its abortions. It is marching in the streets chanting, "Gas the Jews!" It is flashing swastikas from its cell phones at Jews in the streets. It is proudly talking about genital mutilation and mastectomies for children.

In this environment, prancing around and saying, "It's 11:30 and you are loved!" is an obscenity. It is a denial of the pain and loss of the innocent. There is no pain, there is no loss, there is just gooey goodness and love all around. There is no need to fight and argue and stand for what is good because there isn't any existential threat around us. Evil is nowhere to be seen, we can all go back to our soft beds and go back to sleep.

Those who pretend evil isn't ascendant and we can love love love our way to success make it harder for those of us who want to stand up against it. I had a conversation over the weekend with a good friend whose highly respected in our community. For him, things are all normal and relaxed. He'd been lulled into a sense of security by everything he was being told.

I have more to say, but it's incoherent right now.

Meanwhile, here's a professor from Cornell, one of our Ivy League universities. You can find his CV here. It's perfectly predictable in its vicious tribalism.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Calls For Genocide Are Coming From Inside The House

Those who do not learn history are condemned to be replaced by larger, faster-breeding populations of savages. 

Dig this.

All of this was perfectly predictable and, in fact, predicted by people like Mark Steyn. There are more of them than there are of you and they have more babies than you do. If you open your country to them, they will take over.

What we're learning the hard way here is that Team Faculty Lounge's historical illiteracy, where they closed their eyes to any atrocities save those committed by white men, led to self-destructive behavior on the parts of the Europeans and, to a lesser extent, Americans.

"Diversity is our strength" is based on the nonsense notion that diverse cultures are only revealed in skin color, music and cuisine. In fact, diverse cultures are more distinctly manifested in violence, hatred and the thirst for power.

Well, we've got the diversity we were told we should want if we didn't want to be racists. I'm at a loss as to how to get rid of it.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Hamas Does Not Compute

 A day or two ago, it came to light that the Hamas butchers, as they slaughtered all of the inhabitants of a Kibbutz, had beheaded some of the babies. Many people reacted with skepticism about the claim. It was jarring to see that reaction. There was no doubt that Hamas had paratrooped into a music festival where they massacred and gang-raped, but the idea of beheading babies was questioned. It didn't say anything about the morality of Hamas, but it spoke volumes about the civilized world's ability to comprehend evil.

Ben Shapiro, in his show open yesterday, captured it perfectly.

All of this is so far out of our ken that we struggle to process it. Dig this promo video from Hamas, showing how they scavenge pipes and old artillery shells to make rockets to attack Israeli civilians.

They can't even make metal pipes. Foreign aid organizations, including the Israelis, provide them with water pipes and Hamas digs them up and fashions them into rockets. It's an incomprehensible level of hate and evil.

So much of what we're seeing from Team Faculty Lounge and the Vatican under Pope Francis comes from an intellectual bubble where this sort of thing doesn't exist. They cannot understand the depravity of the pedophiles grooming our children, the cartels bringing in fentanyl and the homicidal mania of Hamas.

You can see that when, after admitting the gang rapes at the music festival, they balk at the idea of babies being beheaded.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Infinite Resources

Infinite money. Infinite cultural cohesion. Infinite capacity to absorb damage. Infinite moral strength. We have all of those things, at least that's what I think I'm hearing.

As I've watched the Israel - Hamas War begin and seen the reactions all while the Church is holding their Synod on Synodality, I'm struck by the utter inability of our leadership class to recognize that we do not have infinite resources. I'm not going to embed tweets on this post. I'm sure you have either seen the ones I'll reference or equivalent ones. The same data points are available in many different forms.

Hamas' attack was different from what we've already been experiencing only in degree. As Ben Shapiro said on his Monday show where he didn't spare his viewers from seeing the most hideous videos and images, it was the face of evil. He was absolutely right and he was right to insist we see it.

You can, like the Synod, deny the existence of evil so long as you live in a world of infinite thingies like those listed in the first paragraph. You can talk about the children in Gaza being bombed by the Israelis as long as you don't see an existential threat. Moral equivalence is easy when you're safe and fat.

Hamas' attack was raw evil, played at almost the loudest possible volume, but we've tuned out raw evil up to now, favoring inclusion and forgiveness instead, as our children have been sexualized and mutilated, as our nation has been bankrupted and our borders overrun. Don't judge! There's no reason for it when you have infinite resources.

I saw a post from Sweden where a journalist said they now have 61 no-go zones and are seeing the use of child soldiers in the country. It's the African migrants they imported doing this, of course. Here in San Diego, I tried to visit a microbrewery downtown this weekend, but ended up skipping it because all of the parking lots had drug addicts loitering around in them. Another 15,000 migrants dumped on the streets by DHS ought to help that.

There have been pro-Hamas protests across Europe, North America and Australia. One of the Aussie ones featured calls for the Jews to be gassed. 31 student organizations at Harvard have issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack.

We haven't yet reached the stage where all of this causes a sea change in our Elites, either Team Faculty Lounge or the Vatican. They still feel safe and secure enough to dismiss it all with a wave of their hands and go back to worrying about Global Warming Climate Change, migrants and white supremacists.

How much longer will that delusion continue?

Super Special Bonus Tidbit

Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard, issued a statement saying how disillusioned he was with Harvard that the statement blaming Israel was released. That says everything you need to know. The guy who ran the place while it was decaying is surprised to discover that even dear old Harvard doesn't have infinite moral resources to absorb the filth and hate that was spewed by its professors while he was president. Even now, it doesn't seem like he realizes what happened while he was there.

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Diversity Is Our Strength

 ... any data that contradicts this is thrown away. Dig this sequence of tweets and notice the complete detachment from reality in our Elites.

Meanwhile, this is what we get from Team Faculty Lounge.

Warfare in an era of drones is a bit dicey for infantry.

Fortunately, our southern border is completely under control. Nothing like what is happening in Israel could happen here.

Friday, October 06, 2023

The Wave Is Hitting San Diego

 Dig this from San Diego Supervisor Jim Desmond:

Migrant update: On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors will decide whether to open a migrant center and allocate $3 million for services. This potential allocation for non-U.S. citizens is County tax dollars – money that should be used to address pressing issues within our county. Our community faces challenges such as homelessness, deteriorating roads, and mental health crises that demand immediate attention and resources. These issues should be the focus of county tax dollars as they directly impact the lives of San Diego County residents.

How does this solve anything? We've picked up 13,000 illegals in the last 3 weeks. The border is hitting new records every month. That $3M will dissolve instantly as we hit 25,000 and then 40,000 and then ...

To use one of the progs' favorite words, this is not sustainable.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

What's The Point Of Having Laws If Trump Isn't Allowed To Break Them?

That seems to be the position of a bunch of law and order conservatives these days. Well, the MAGA crowd, at least.

Trump is going to NY to face fraud charges today. Because his current lawyer is a ditz and didn't check the box on the form asking for a jury trial, the case will be decided by the judge. All the good lawyers have bailed out on him because he's the worst client possible, never able to shut his mouth in public.

Anywho, one of the things at stake here is his control over his business properties in the state of New York. He is accused to mis-valuing them for his own gain. Again, plenty of reds are rallying to his defense, claiming it's all a political hit job. I don't get it.

We own rental property. It's been appraised for loan, insurance and tax purposes. The appraisals are done by independent, reliable firms. They are completely defensible in court. There's no way on Earth I would risk the penalties that come with fraudulent appraisals.

When I was going through my last divorce, I was living in a custom house I helped design and had built for my family. Everything about it was a work of art from the unique front door to the skylight dome in the center to the tree growing up through the middle of the house to the hand-blown glass sink in the downstairs bathroom. I will never see the like again.

At the time, I had a two-income mortgage I had to cover with one income. I also had to pay off my ex. I tried everything I could think of to afford the mortgage on my own, but no bank would lend to me until ...

Until I hooked up with a mortgage broker recommended by a family friend. This was before the 2008 real estate crash. He said he could write the loan documents and include a fantasy income property in Arizona on my income statement. "The banks won't look into it," he promised me.

It was tempting, but I knew it was fraud. I didn't do it and never worked with that crook again. Had I done so, I almost certainly would have gone bankrupt and the bank would have taken a loss. Getting a loan though fraudulent means is immoral. Period.

I guess it's moral if Trump does it. After all, he has Jesus on his side.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Size Matters

 I brought my churchwarden pipe with me to Italy, thinking I could find a tobacco shop that sold some interesting Mediterranean tobaccos. I had a vision of a store a lot like Liberty Tobacco in San Diego where they have 30 or so jars of different tobacco blends. Nope. Nothing like that at all.

In San Diego terms, Florence has a population equal to that of Chula Vista plus El Cajon. It's roughly 380,000 people. San Diego as a whole has a population of about 2,200,000. Liberty Tobacco is unusual. Searching for a comparable store here has made me realize how large a population you need to support a niche establishment like that.

There have been some promising places turning up in my Internet searches, but none of them have been close enough to visit. The ones I have visited have all been massive duds, so going an hour out of our way to visit one more roll of the dice doesn't seem to be worth it.

Oh well. Next time, I'll bring my own in my luggage.

The tobacco shops have all been like this - little hole-in-the-wall places that sell lottery tickets and other odds and ends along with cigarettes and a few cigars.

Bigger Issues

I'm finding it harder and harder to blog about the bigger issues of the day. The situation at the border is panic-inducing when you combine it with the fact that we're running a $2T deficit per year now to go with our $32T debt. Team Faculty Lounge capturing the culture makes it hard to face reality. If you do, you're called a racist and no one can handle that. Because Europeans were better imperialists than Africans and American Indians, we all have to pretend that we're evil and deserve to have our countries invaded and ruined.

The world is changing right before our eyes, but no one is allowed to notice it. You see it on social media and Fox News, but if you're not following the right accounts, you can easily avoid it. I did a search of the AP News website recently and found zero references to the American border crisis, but plenty of hits on the word "border" for other countries. Ukraine, for example.

The AP is about as middle-of-the-road American culture as you can get so it's a good bell weather for the effects of Team Faculty Lounge on our perception of reality.

It's A Good Thing Mathematics Is Racist

... because if it weren't, we'd do some back-of-the-envelope flow calculations and note that our largest city, NYC is past capacity for illegals, but the rate of intake at the border is hitting new records all the time.

The world is changing right before our eyes, but no one is allowed to notice it.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Hunt And Peck Typing

 ... performed by an expert.

This hen wanders around the compound where we're staying in Tuscany. There's a dog that tries to herd her, just out of instinct, but she does what she wants. There are also ten cats and four donkeys wandering about. We've met four of the cats. The donkeys are kept in a very large fenced-in enclosure with plenty of grazing. 

To be honest, I've always been afraid of horses and donkeys. I don't mind riding them, but I don't trust them not to bite me when we're face to face. The four that are here all ran to the fence and made motions that said they wanted petting or perhaps treats. I couldn't tell which, so I just left them alone.

Donkeys and horses aside, I could totally get used to the life of the gentleman farmer.