Pyrrhic defeat for Social Conservatives in NY 23

Pyrrhic defeat for Social Conservatives in NY 23

In House District 23 Social Conservatives have just handed a whopping defeat to the GOP. They ran an out of district cypher named Douglas Hoffman under their usual fiscal conservative cloaking device as a third party candidate spoiler, and that he did.

Hoffman’s only clear stances on issues even late in the race revolved around traditional marriage and pro life issues. He was completely unfamiliar with the district issues as evidenced in the local affiliate interview in Watertown, and at his big intro pre-election he spoke a full … get this.. four minutes. He ran from debates with the real Republican candidate, who bowed out late in the race. Even though she wasn’t running enough of her constituents couldn’t stomach Doug that they voted a democrat into office in a district where portions haven’t seen a Democrat butt in their seat for almost a hundred and forty years. (1871 / 1851 depending on the part you live in.)

With the press Hoffman got from the right wing blogosphere you would have thought he was the greatest thing since whitewall tires and wonder bread. He had ringing endorsement from all of the “True Conservatives”, even the Bircher, Nativist, 9/12 Tea Partier, and Paleocon wings. Fred Thompson stumped for him, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty endorsed him. Everyone of them thought he was a sure bet in their press for party purity and litmus tests, after all he cooed that Glen Beck was his mentor.

Club for Growth invested heavily in Hoffman from their war on RINOs chest, and got a supreme smack down from the voters of New York 23. He received funding from all of the major SoCon PACs, including the MinuteMan PAC, FRC, NOM, Susan B. Anthony list, and others. The Republican in the race, Diedre Scozzafava, was pretty much self funded coupled with the standard Republican pac money. All told 4.5 million was spent on this election, with the Democrat winning and only spending about 1.6 million of that amount.

The crazy Socon right will not learn a lesson here however; they will continue to make rationalizations. The Socon shills will try to tell us a loss is a win. They are all about noise and hysteria. Just like the aforementioned carny barkers they paint word pictures of a monstrous beast and when you buy their hyperbole ticket and you walk into their miniscule side tent you find a deformed, pickled puppy in a jar.

As long as Republicans at large think that the freak show and their insane barkers are the main attraction we will continue to take losses like this. One other lesson learned from NY-23: the right wing Kookosphere holds as little sway in moderate Republican districts as DKOS held in Joe Lieberman’s district the last cycle there. Greater Wingnutia backed a fossil horse and lost the big race. The final election tally is really:

  • +1 vote for public option
  • +1 vote for cap and trade
  • +1 vote for immigration reform
  • +1 vote for Speaker Pelosi.

Really brilliant Socons, you folks are just genius!

Also note that since we’ve had five years of RINO hunting without much reply, I’m declaring OPEN SEASON ON SOCONs. There’s a lot of ugliness I’ll be dragging out of closets the next few months, so stay tuned.

One more thing: Where we run Local leaders respected by their constituents and supported by local interests, it seems that yes we can win. Republican Renaissance.

Signal to Noise and the Future of the Net

Signal to Noise and the Future of the Net


Tired of Wall of Mud Search returns?

As we gain more people on the network, more content on the network, and more raw data on the network we have to get smarter about how we use it and our tool-kits are going to grow in ability; but can the tools keep up with the pace?

One attempt at this is Wolfram Alpha, a tool designed to answer natural language questions approximately intelligently with an assemblage of pertinent data in a page, somewhat like a mash-up of data filtered by your parameters from what I have seen. Think of it as a rosetta stone for types of factual data accessable on the internet since it does conversions, comparisons, and charts.

After watching one demo video it does appear exciting, but I fully expect WA to run into some of the same problems that Natural language Interactive Voice Response units have (NL-IVRs,) along with the problems that Google and Wikipedia both have.

You’ve probably met one of these NL IVRs over the phone, they generally go into their spiel and along the way tell you to  “just ask” for what you want.

Taking away the voice recognition faults and dictionary tuning tasks, using a natural language dictionary for even limited applications like directing customers between the billing department or the customer service department does take some skill because you can’t guess all combinations of  how the customer might ask for billing or for customer service. One might say bill, another billing, another pay, another the name of the product and collections, etc. etc. There’s also that question of what you do when someone asks for something outside the standard menu.

Wolfram’s advantage is that it doesn’t have to deal with interpreting language and dialects from sound, but on the other hand it does have it’s own “mispronunciations” in the form of typos and colloquialisms.

Wolfram also has greater advantage over NL-IVR’s in that the entire language is out there on the network and defined, and Wolfram will have access to all of that. On the other hand it wouldn’t hurt Wolfram’s success chances to have a chat with some of the NL-IVR industry leaders to see what they are struggling with in practice every day. Like some of the first natural language sound dictionaries (University of Oregon and their 800 number survey collection of dialects comes to mind,) and the major search engines, I suspect that Wolfram will use some crowd-sourcing to iteratively tune itself.

As the net grows millions of more people are added annually, new sources of raw data come online, and the content is becoming much richer. That said, the poor signal to noise ratio from those additions is quickly becoming alarming. When I was a roadie it was very important to keep the signal strong at the starting point, and as you amplified it was important to keep each amp in the chain leading to the last mixer at maximum strength without distortion if you wanted clean pure sound ( let’s forgive the distortionists and their wall of mud sound for the moment, it was interesting as a primitive artistic experiment, but when the day is done you want to hear the expression of the individual instruments and voices woven together cleanly – and those are the songs that will truly last.)

For a search on any specific you have to wade through a morass of sites, some using keywords and Search Engine Optimization to just get you to eat their search of links rather than the one you first chose. Some are not information sites, but instead splogger, retread, and disinformation sites – they have all the right words but they are telling lies or redirecting to nonsense and away from the original or actual content. They are the distortion and the noise in the net. How do we get to authority, how do we get to relevant searches, how do we get to trusted and genesis sources?

The major search engines have made sorting signal from noise into their business – but they are beginning to fail under the load. Merely cataloguing data and ranking through keywords, links, and page hits as authority measures and popping that stack when searched for just isn’t enough. Indeed it’s rather a simplex approach as the protagonist found out in Samuel Delany’s “Empire Star/Babel 17” upon meeting the simplex culture of the Galactic Encyclopedia the first time. (That pair of linked novellettes also explore linguistics, their nature, and how they shape culture and so are an interesting and entertaining read in their own right.)

Back to the subject at hand: the tools we have for transforming raw data to usable information are improving, and you can see that Wolfram is taking advantage of those – whole databases have been put online and places like and others are working on methods to take that data and turn it into useful information in the form of tweakable charts. That is to the good, but as more data comes how do we get from simple line graphs to the search that pops up the right control chart for a specific question? How do we insure that the right data set is chosen? Therein lies the rub in taking data from raw to information form. The next step in the chain is taking that information and converting it to usable intelligence and we really haven’t quite got there anywhere that I’ve seen yet, perhaps Wolfram is the first reach to crack open that door.

In the meantime we are saddled with the growing babel of search optimization as commercial interests compete with social networks to steal the search mojo. In that open environment what tools can be used to get to factual pertinent content and genesis sources where required? There are various means in practice, but right now they amount to measuring popularity through a few means, and popularity does not usually equate to trustworthy or authoritative sources. Few of us have 100 years to live and poking through three pages of links to get to the pertinent sites needed is a waste of valuable time. The novelty of noodling through the net is also wearing off in the general public, they want what they want now, not yesterday – they are growing tired of distortion and wall of mud searches.

Both Commercial and Social ranking sites have created another phenomenon of the web, something I’ll call “yellow searchalism” for now. The snarkier and the more sensational that your headline, excerpt, and tags are the more chance that your article will get higher ranked. It’s like the yellow journalism of the past – the more alluring the headline sold more papers, the more obnoxious or sensational tagline also gets more hits.

There are also problems in communities that ding up and ding down, such as Digg and Little Green Footballs. While having completely different political bases each has “thought leaders” who if they plus something up are more likely to be followed by others who plus things up. Yellow searchalism and time of day also affect ratings at these sites. An article posted at right time of day with a snarky headline is more likely to go up in rank than the same article posted off-peak with mundane, factual headline. Each community is attracted to specific interests and you are more likely to find technology, entertainment, and humor on digg while LGF is more news, politics, science, and technology.

To Charles Johson’s credit Little Green Footballs is also pioneering with a filter system in the form of “monitor lizards” who  remove links to non-factual sources, kookspiracy or hate sources, and they also clean out some of the hysterical and hyperbolic, while Digg doesn’t appear to have any similar mechanism in place.

One of the means of search ranking is through a mix several methods: number of hits, links to that page, number of times your terms appear, and similar quotes and citations. Most search engines will not divulge their full means since that allows you to “hack the stack..” But as seen with Google bombs and search page ranking races that’s not working effectively more than half of the time. People who were once attacted to the salacious and attractive are getting frustrated now because they aren’t getting exactly what they asked for – distortion and walls of mud searches are going out of style.

We have to get better at honing in to what is truly asked for versus what’s popular or what’s highly pimped, and some are trying through tailoring to stated individual preferences and past preferences. Some examples of this are Itune’s Genius, Youtube’s “recommended for you,” and other examples are in this article. The negative with “tailored for you” approaches to ranking is that it boxes individuals into a room of the same and they can lose all sight of the new. When wanting a new view of new things coloring that with past bias is not really a good thing, and it can stultify creativity.

The other factor that weighs heavy on the net: search engines can’t tell when you are looking for empircal fact or when you are looking for entertainment or fantasy, and there are no dotted lines between the information and disinformation. So when searching for the empirical you might end up at a speculative entertainment site, a political site with bias, or others. One example: if you type in “carbon dating accuracy” five of the top ten links will take you to young earth creationist pseudo-science sites that will tell you that carbon dating is bunk when it’s really a proven method.

So what means are there for trust and authority? Here are a few, some in use, some not:

  • First mention of terms: Is “genesis” and authorship really ranked or given credence by most?
  • Number of links back – (a traditional but last century approach to authority which sometimes confuses popularity with authority)
  • Number of “updings” at a mix of social sites (popularity)
  • Length of time spent on page vs. length of content (authority)
  • Links from authoritative sites with authority measured in scholasticism instead of number of link backs (authority/trust)
  • ratio of facts / data (one that I haven’t a clue about how to measure)
  • Think tank links (authority)
  • .edu links (authority)
  • Entertainment vs. Informaton: numbers of links from categories of sites. (entertainment, news, sports, humor, e.g. traditional classification.)
  • Past preferences of the individual
  • filters: what’s in place to stop disinformation? (authority, and I haven’t a clue how to do this without human watchers who will have bias, ala the wiki page reversion wars we’ve seen)

Now if you mix those all together and drive it with pseudo AI in a well mannered way, you might improve the system. The first ones to do this well have a great chance to displace Google.  Also keep in mind that with the “get your raw data online and accessable” movement well underway, similar tools will be needed for authority of databases and as we move to a full rich media world, how do you mine a video for tags? Will natural language voice recognition be woven into search engines for audio and video content that right now relies on users and others to hand tag it with text?

Finally: What other means are there to classifying, codifying, and sorting the net? What are your ideas on it?

Renewed Sense of Wonder

The thought of the cosmos as a “holgram” projected from a thin veneer of “quanta” atmosphere around a massive black hole at the center of the universe is just astounding

sensitivity-graphA Holographic Cosmos and Slicing Time

Every now and again my innate optimism deserts me and I find it best to crawl into a hole in those periods and read a smorgasboard of books, generally shutting out most of the normal worldly inputs. Such has been my life the past two weeks, and in these periods the books around the house pile up atop each other, half-splined to a particular passage or just to where I left off last. It’s a search for a new view, a different prism, a fresh wind amongst the chaos of life – and what’s driven me most of my existence is the unknown; that vast gulf of all the things we do not know. It’s thrilling when I find something new we do not know.

Sometimes I forget that yawning gulf or misplace it, I lose my  immense sense of wonder. Is it under the stairs, or did I leave it in the fridge behind the mayonaise the last time I made lunch? These periods of Felicitus absentium usually get displaced by something found in a book, but today the thanks goes to Allahpundit at Hot Air for a pointer to an article at New Scientist.

The thought of the cosmos as a quantum holgram projected from a thin veneer of quanta atmosphere around a massive black hole at the center of the universe like a giant planetarium projector is just astounding, and I will follow this with interest. The interference at GEO600 is also interesting, is it from the index of refraction of the thin layer of glass in the mirror, or defects in the mirror? Is it trace atmosphere in the tunnel? Is it something as yet unknown but only speculated upon? Regardless it’s truly amazing how finely we can now slice time, which leads to many new technological possibilities. (e.g. How much data we can pack on a DVD is a function of how finely we are able to accurately slice time…)

Update: Reading further it appears that they have the issue of refraction well covered with nano-structured diffraction gates.

The Democrats are Burning Down the House and Wallstreet

We must fix or rollback the securitization provisions of the Community Reinvestment Act or we will simply be back here in ten or fifteen years wailing about another near Trillion dollar bailout. This must stop, neither housing nor credit is a right, and neither banks nor Government Sponsored Agencies like Fannie and Freddie should be required by congress to carry ridicoulously large percentages of SUBPRIME loans. They are called subprime for a reason.

Any candidate for any office who does not make reform of draconian CRA requirements on Fannie and Freddie and banking in general part of their platform should be receiving letters now, and I am including McCain in that.

Morton Sobell and the Rosenburgs Gave the Soviets the Bomb

A communist* makes an admission after all these years. From the New York Times:

But on Thursday, Mr. Sobell, 91, dramatically reversed himself, shedding new light on a case that still fans smoldering political passions. In an interview, he admitted for the first time that he had been a Soviet spy.

And he implicated his fellow defendant Julius Rosenberg, in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets classified military and industrial information and what the American government described as the secret to the atomic bomb.

What will all the moonbats and Democrat politicians who have defended the Rosenburgs all these years since say now?

* Nowadays they are called “Greens” and “Progressives” — everytime the American people figure out what these groups are really about they reform and change their names. Currently their vanguard groups are ANSWER, World Can’t Wait, and Code Pink.