November 8, 2017

Vikings activate Teddy Bridgewater, move Sam Bradford to injured reserve

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:03

One quarterback in, one out. That’s been the story for Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford over the last season. Bridgewater suffered a terrible injury just before the start of the 2016 season, and the team moved him to injured reserve for the year. Bradford was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, and was starting for the Vikings by week 2 of the season. This season, Bridgewater started the season on the PUP list, while Bradford had a career game to open the season against the New Orleans Saints. Bradford suffered what appeared to be a mild knee injury in the game, so Case Keenum got the start the following week. Bradford didn’t see the field again until the game against the Chicago Bears, where it became quickly apparent that his knee hadn’t fully recovered and he was mercifully benched for the second half, allowing Keenum to get the Vikings back into position to win the game and has been the starter since then.

Bridgewater was eligible to practice with the team after the sixth game of the season, and the team had a three week window to decide whether to put him back on the 53-man roster, or shut him down for the remainder of the year by moving him back onto injured reserve. Today was the final day for the Vikings to make that decision. In the meantime, Sam Bradford got arthroscopic surgery on his ailing knee yesterday and was looking at a minimum six-week recovery time, so it makes sense for the team to put him on the injured reserve list, where he could be brought back onto the roster if the Vikings make the playoffs (teams can bring up to two players back from IR after a minimum of eight weeks).

Teddy Bridgewater, according to all the media reports, has been looking good in practice and his team-mates have been quite enthusiastic to get him back, but he hasn’t played any football since August 2016 and it’s probably unreasonable to expect him to pick up where he left off at that point without at least a few weeks of re-familiarization and actual game reps. If he has no set-backs and looks comfortable on the field, he could take over for Keenum in a few weeks, or it might take longer and Keenum will be the starter for much of the second half of the season. Nobody knows until Bridgewater gets onto the field.

Teddy Bridgewater at Vikings training camp, 2014.
Photo by Matthew Deery via Wikipedia.

Debunking the “we’re going to run out of mineral x” hysteria

Filed under: Business, Economics, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Tim Worstall explains why you need to ignore reports that we’re going to run short of this or that critical metal or other mined resource:

But let’s return to their greater misunderstanding: that there’s some shortage of metals out there. It’s true that there is a limitation, of course it is. There is a number of nickel and or cobalt atoms on the planet and that’s a hard limit to the number we can use. But what we want to know is how close we are to it.

As I point out in that linked (and free!) book: we’re nowhere near any limit that need bother us. We’ve some 800,000 years of nickel left (assuming no recycling) and 34 million of cobalt – enough to be getting along with, given the average lifespan of a species is three million years.

So why the worrying that we are? Mainly, it’s because people misunderstand the technical jargon used in the industry. They talk about mineral reserves and mineral resources without realising that these are not a fair indication of useable resource. No, not even a guide, not an estimation, there simply is no link at all.

A mineral reserve is something that we have drilled, tested, dug up a bit and processed, and we have now proven that we can extract this at current prices, using current technology, and make a profit doing so. This is an economic definition: roughly speaking, the stock at already existing mines.

A mineral resource is where we’re pretty sure all of that is true – we’ve just not proved it yet. And then there’s the stuff we’ve not got around to looking at – which is true of the bulk of the planet and the bulk of all minerals.

It costs millions, sometimes hundreds of millions, to prove a resource into a reserve. It also costs millions to tens of millions to qualify a resource in the first place. So we don’t do this for things which we’re likely to use 30 years hence. Why spend all that money now to then wait for decades?

That’s why, if you go and look at mineral reserves, you’ll find we’re going to run out of everything in 30 – 50 years. And that’s because the best definition of a reserve is what we’ve prepared for us all to use in the next 30 – 50 years. To complain about this is like complaining that the food in the fridge is about to run out – without referring to the supermarkets and food production system which exists to fill up our fridges again.

It’s this mistake which leads to the insistence that we must recycle everything for we’re going to run out. We’re not. That underlying contention is simply wrong.

Just look at that famed Club of Rome report, Limits to Growth. They, entirely correctly, note that mineral reserves are going to last 30 – 50 years. They then, again entirely correctly, note that mineral resources can and will be converted into reserves by the application of time and money. But they then simply assume that resources out there are only 10 times current reserves. Hmm, 10 x 30 – 50 years is 300 to 500, isn’t it? So it’s not all that much of a surprise that they tell us that society is doomed, doomed, in only a couple of centuries when they add a bit of exponential growth in usage. Their prediction comes from their assumption, that wholly incorrect one, that current reserves are an indication of the total amount available to us.

All too many predictions of this sort are based on entirely and totally wrong assumptions. The truth is we simply do not have a shortage of any mineral, over any human timescale, that we might want to use. Any policy based upon the assumption that we do is provably wrong. So we’d better revisit those policies based upon this incorrect assumption pretty sharpish, shouldn’t we?

Self-Driving Cars Will Make Most Auto Safety Regulations Unnecessary

Filed under: Business, Economics, Government, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 6 Nov 2017

Cars are becoming computers on wheels, meaning software, not hardware, will soon be paramount for safety. This will eliminate the need for most federal vehicular safety regulations.

Federal auto safety regulations fill nearly 900 pages with standards that determine everything from rear-view mirror and steering wheel placement to the shape of vehicles and the exact placement of seats. Many of the rules don’t make sense in the coming era of self-driving cars. Autonomous vehicles don’t need rear-view mirrors, or (eventually) steering wheels. Their ideal physical form is still a work in progress.

But an even bigger rethink is in order. As motor vehicles become essentially computers on wheels, software, not hardware, will soon be paramount for safety. This will make most government regulation unnecessary, and, to the extent that it slows innovation, could even cost lives on the highway.

“Basically, the entire vehicle code can be boiled down to be safe and don’t unfairly get in the way of other people,” says Brad Templeton, an entrepreneur and software architect, who has worked as a consultant with Google on its self-driving car project. (He also blogs regularly on the topic.)

One difference between self-driving cars and traditional automobiles is that companies will have every incentive to fix safety problems immediately. With today’s cars, that hasn’t always been the case. Templeton cites General Motors’ 2014 recall of 800,000 cars with faulty ignition switches. The company knew about the safety flaw over a decade prior, but didn’t act on the information because recalls are so costly. The companies actions had dire consequences: One-hundred-and-twenty-four deaths were linked to the ignition defect.

But the safety problems of the future will primarily be bugs in software not hardware, so they’ll be fixed by sending ones and zeros over the internet without the need for customers to return hundreds of thousands of vehicles to the manufacturer. “Replacing software is free,” Templeton says, “so there’s no reason to hold back on fixing something.”

Another difference is that when hardware was all that mattered for safety, regulators could inspect a car and determine if it met safety standards. With software, scrutiny of this sort may be impossible because the leading self-driving car companies (including Waymo and Tesla) are developing their systems through a process called machine learning that “doesn’t mesh in with traditional methods of regulation,” Templeton says.

Machine learning is developed organically, so humans have limited understanding of how the system actually works. And that makes governments nervous. Regulations passed by the European Union last year ban so-called unknowable artificial intelligence. Templeton fears that our desire to understand and control the underlying system could lead regulators to prohibit the use of machine learning technologies.

“If it turns out that [machine learning systems] do a better job [on safety] but we don’t know why,” says Templeton, “we’ll be in a situation of deliberately deploying the thing that’s worse because we feel a little more comfortable that we understand it.”

For full text and links, go to: https://reason.com/archives/2017/11/06/self-driving-autonomous-regulation

Shot, written, edited, and produced by Jim Epstein. Filmed at the 2017 Automated Vehicles Symposium.

Nancy Friday, RIP

Filed under: Books, Health, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In the 1970s, one of the most controversial books was Nancy Friday’s My Secret Garden, drawn from interviews with a large number of women about their sexual fantasies:

My Secret Garden exploded on to bestseller lists around the globe in 1973. The work was shocking, deeply sexy in parts and proved that women had erotic imaginations just as men did, and that they, too, masturbated just as men did. It heralded the innocent dawning of what later became known as the sex-positive feminist movement. My Secret Garden came at the beginning of a wave of overtly sexual content written by women. Also in 1973, Betty Dodson penned what was to become the world’s bestseller on masturbation, Sex for One. My Secret Garden didn’t have the gravitas and respectability of say, Shulamith Firestone, but as author Susie Bright, the original “Sexpert” in the 1980s and 90s, says, “it sold millions and millions of copies and was a big wake-up for America’s puritanical, sheltered girls and young women”.

Of course, Friday was attacked by many. Like Dodson, her work was dismissed for being not scientific enough or for being too personal, or too much like soft porn. But an even bigger issue was that she wasn’t, Bright recalls with glee, “the tiniest bit politically correct”.

There is something quite secret about My Secret Garden. All Friday’s interviewees, who talk about fantasies ranging from being sex workers to being urinated on, talk anonymously. One interviewee explains how, when she has sex with her husband, her fantasy is imagining “the bed practically torn apart and us ending up on the floor wet and sticky and happy”. The reality though is that, “All he’s really doing is lying on top of me and thrusting away.

In 1996, Friday told Salon: “I would no more go to a consciousness-raising group and talk about my intimate life with my husband than fly to the moon.” In that same year, while discussing sexual harassment in the office on Bill Maher’s Comedy Central talk show Politically Incorrect, she claimed that men suffered from harassment as much as women.

H/T to Kathy Shaidle, who commented:

This was a very important book, although some will scoff at the idea. I was always struck by the fact that the only two male fantasy “objects” who were named (possibly for overly cautious “legal” reasons; one is clearly Leonard Cohen but not called that) were Mr. Spock and Sherlock Holmes…

The wide-spread (and I believe disingenuous) surprise that greeted the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey was no surprise at all to me. Friday was denounced as “no feminist” for revealing women’s rape fantasies, and she was decidedly non-p.c. in other respects. Whenever anyone dismisses this or that “evidence” as “simply anecdotal,” I think of this book in which anecdote is all, and more revealing and true than any “experiment” or “survey.”

Why Don’t Country Flags Use The Color Purple?

Filed under: Economics, History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

After Skool
Published on 17 Oct 2017

For centuries purple dye was worth more than gold. The dye used to produce purple fabric came from a sea snail that only lived off the shores of modern day Lebanon. Because it was so rare, purple became associated with royalty. This is the reason you don’t see purple on country flags. It was just too expensive to produce.

Sometimes the simplest questions have extraordinary answers.

QotD: The second coming of SF’s depressing and neurotic “New Wave”

Filed under: Books, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Back in the mid to late 70’s the “New Wave” was in full force. Downbeat endings, “black and gray morality” (which can be good if handled well, at least as a change-up from more clear cut items) or worse “black and black.” Those were the tone of Science Fiction.

Then, fairly close to each other, two movies came out which took an entirely different approach: Lucas’ Star Wars and Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The rogue was given back his heart of gold. The callow youth could be the hero of the piece, not ground down by the world weary cynics. Heroes who are actually heroes fighting bad guys who weren’t so “sympathetic” that you couldn’t tell hero from villain.

It was a refreshing change. And the result was that, for a time, it became OK to have good guys who were good guys. Bad guys who were actually bad and not just “oppressed” or “victims of their backgrounds”. You didn’t have to wonder who to root for.

Today we’re kind of in a similar position. One of the best selling series, for young people is The Hunger Games. Black and Very-Dark-Gray morality, little really to choose from in the sides, and (no spoilers) that’s shown pretty clearly in the ending. And in printed SF? So much “humanity is a plague” stuff. Bleah.

David L. Burkhead, “Star Wars and the Human Wave”, The Writer in Black, 2015-10-21.

Powered by WordPress