Hefner spoke with reporters and stated that he knows that the issue would be one of the biggest sellers in the publication’s history.
He noted that Thorning-Schmidt is a very attractive woman who also happens to be a blonde and a world leader on top of that.
Hefner noted that in that regard Helle is batting 3 for 3.
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John Shiffman and Andrea Shalal-Esa – WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon repeatedly waived laws banning Chinese-built components on U.S. weapons in order to keep the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter program on track in 2012 and 2013, even as U.S. officials were voicing concern about China’s espionage and military buildup.
According to Pentagon documents reviewed by Reuters, chief U.S. arms buyer Frank Kendall allowed two F-35 suppliers, Northrop Grumman Corp and Honeywell International Inc, to use Chinese magnets for the new warplane’s radar system, landing gears and other hardware. Without the waivers, both companies could have faced sanctions for violating federal law and the F-35 program could have faced further delays.
“It was a pretty big deal and an unusual situation because there’s a prohibition on doing defense work in China, even if it’s inadvertent,” said Frank Kenlon, who recently retired as a senior Pentagon procurement official and now teaches at American University. “I’d never seen this happen before.”
The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, is examining three such cases involving the F-35, the U.S. military’s next generation fighter, the documents show.
The GAO report, due March 1, was ordered by U.S. lawmakers, who say they are concerned that Americans firms are being shut out of the specialty metals market, and that a U.S. weapon system may become dependent on parts made by a potential future adversary.
Zhang Shuxia, a locally respected and soon-to-retire obstetrician, stood trial on Monday in northern Shaanxi province‘s Fuping county, according to online postings from the court.
Zhang told parents their newborns had congenital problems and persuaded them to “sign and give the babies up,” the court postings said. Calls to the WeinanIntermediate People’s Court and the local Communist Party propaganda department went unanswered.
The case exposed the operations of a baby trafficking ring that operated across several provinces centering on Zhang, who delivered babies at the Fuping County Maternal and Child Hospital.
Child trafficking is a big problem in China, despite severe legal punishments that include the death penalty. Families who buy trafficked children are driven partly…
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Gary Marcus writes: According to the Times, true artificial intelligence is just around the corner. A year ago, the paper ran a front-page story about the wonders of new technologies, including deep learning, a neurally-inspired A.I. technique for statistical analysis. Then, among others, came an article about how I.B.M.’s Watson had been repurposed into a chef, followed by an upbeat post about quantum computation. On Sunday, the paper ran a front-page story about “biologically inspired processors,” “brainlike computers” that learn from experience.
This past Sunday’s story, by John Markoff, announced that “computers have entered the age when they are able to learn from their own mistakes, a development that is about to turn the digital world on its head.” The deep-learning story, from a year ago, also by Markoff, told us of “advances in an artificial intelligence technology that can recognize patterns offer the possibility of machines that perform human activities like seeing, listening and thinking.” For fans of “Battlestar Galactica,” it sounds like exciting stuff.
But, examined carefully, the articles seem more enthusiastic than substantive. As I wrote before, the story about Watson was off the mark factually. The deep-learning piece had problems, too. Sunday’s story is confused at best; there is nothing new in teaching computers to learn from their mistakes. Instead, the article seems to be about building computer chips that use “brainlike” algorithms, but the algorithms themselves aren’t new, either. As the author notes in passing, “the new computing approach” is “already in use by some large technology companies.” Mostly, the article seems to be about neuromorphic processors—computer processors that are organized to be somewhat brainlike—though, as the piece points out, they have been around since the nineteen-eighties. In fact, the core idea of Sunday’s article—nets based “on large groups of neuron-like elements … that learn from experience”—goes back over fifty years, to the well-known Perceptron, built by Frank Rosenblatt in 1957. (If you check the archives, the Times billed it as a revolution, with the headline “NEW NAVY DEVICE LEARNS BY DOING.” The New Yorker similarly gushed about the advancement.) The only new thing mentioned is a computer chip, as yet unproven but scheduled to be released this year, along with the claim that it can “potentially [make] the term ‘computer crash’ obsolete.” Steven Pinker wrote me an e-mail after reading the Times story, saying “We’re back in 1985!”—the last time there was huge hype in the mainstream media about neural networks.
Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, by James Barrat, St. Martin’s Press, 322 pages, $26.99.
Ronald Bailey writes: In the new Spike Jonze movie Her, an operating system called Samantha evolves into an enchanting self-directed intelligence with a will of her own. Not to spoil this visually and intellectually dazzling movie for anyone, but Samantha makes choices that do not harm humanity, though they do leave us feeling a bit sadder.
In his terrific new book, Our Final Invention, the documentarian James Barrat argues that hopes for the development of an essentially benign artificial general intelligence (AGI) like Samantha amount to a silly pipe dream. Barrat believes artificial intelligence is coming, but he thinks it will be more like Skynet. In theTerminator movies, Skynet is an automated defense system that becomes self-aware, decides that human beings are a danger to it, and seeks to destroy us with nuclear weapons and terminator robots.
Barrat doesn’t just think that Skynet is likely. He thinks it’s practically inevitable.
Barrat has talked to all the significant American players in the effort to create recursively self-improving artificial general intelligence in machines. He makes a strong case that AGI with human-level intelligence will be developed in the next couple of decades. Once an AGI comes into existence, it will seek to improve itself in order to more effectively pursue its goals. AI researcher Steve Omohundro, president of the company Self-Aware Systems, explains that goal-driven systems necessarily develop drives for increased efficiency, creativity, self-preservation, and resource acquisition. At machine computation speeds, the AGI will soon bootstrap itself into becoming millions of times more intelligent than a human being. It would thus transform itself into an artificial super-intelligence (ASI)—or, as Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies chief James Hughes calls it, “a god in a box.” And the new god will not want to stay in the box.
St. Martin’s PressThe emergence of super-intelligent machines has been dubbed the technological Singularity. Once machines take over, the argument goes, scientific and technological progress will turn exponential, thus making predictions about the shape of the future impossible. Barrat believes the Singularity will spell the end of humanity, since the ASI, like Skynet, is liable to conclude that it is vulnerable to being harmed by people. And even if the ASI feels safe, it might well decide that humans constitute a resource that could be put to better use. “The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you,” remarks the AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky, “But you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.”
Barrat analyzes various suggestions for how to avoid Skynet. The first is to try to keep the AI god in his box. The new ASI could be guarded by gatekeepers, who would make sure that it is never attached to any networks out in the real world. Barrat convincingly argues that an intelligence millions of times smarter than people would be able to persuade its gatekeepers to let it out.
John Hawyard writes: One of the most disturbing things about Barack Obama’s reign of lawless executive power is that it has people fantasizing about outright totalitarian dictatorship, and not in a faculty-lounge-B.S. kind of way. We’ve always had to put up with the likes of Thomas Friedman at the New York Times rhapsodizing about the joys of Chinese authoritarianism – provided a duly accredited Democrat gets to be America’s temporary dictator, of course – but now we’ve got Jesse Myerson at Rolling Stone daydreaming about hard-core communism as the solution to America’s ills.
He’s not fooling around, either. He wants the government to guarantee a job and income for every single person, and seize all private property to overthrow capitalism, although he would generously allow the Glorious Peoples’ Republic of America to rent the land back to private individuals… as long as everyone is clear that the dictatorship of the proletariat is the ultimate landlord:
Ever noticed how much landlords blow? They don’t really do anything to earn their money. They just claim ownership of buildings and charge people who actually work for a living the majority of our incomes for the privilege of staying in boxes that these owners often didn’t build and rarely if ever improve. In a few years, my landlord will probably sell my building to another landlord and make off with the appreciated value of the land s/he also claims to own – which won’t even get taxed, as long as s/he ploughs it right back into more real estate.
Think about how stupid that is. The value of the land has nothing to do with my idle, remote landlord; it reflects the nearby parks and subways and shops, which I have access to thanks to the community and the public. So why don’t the community and the public derive the value and put it toward uses that benefit everyone? Because capitalism, is why.
And the wise and loving State will fix all of that because it really cares about the people, man. Politicians are completely devoid of greed or ambition, and their brilliant plans always work perfectly. Just ask the doctor who spent two hours on hold with the ObamaCare commissars on Friday waiting for approval to perform surgery.
This is a dense, maddening, challenging essay, I don’t agree with all of it. But the questions it raises are hard to ignore. Relevant stuff, merits further examination…
David Gelernter writes: The huge cultural authority science has acquired over the past century imposes large duties on every scientist. Scientists have acquired the power to impress and intimidate every time they open their mouths, and it is their responsibility to keep this power in mind no matter what they say or do. Too many have forgotten their obligation to approach with due respect the scholarly, artistic, religious,humanistic work that has always been mankind’s main spiritual support. Scientists are (on average) no more likely to understand this work than the man in the street is to understand quantum physics. But science used to know enough to approach cautiously and admire from outside, and to build its own work on a deep belief in human dignity. No longer.
Today science and the “philosophy of mind”—its thoughtful assistant, which is sometimes smarter than the boss—are threatening Western culture with the exact opposite of humanism. Call it roboticism. Man is the measure of all things, Protagoras said. Today we add, and computers are the measure of all men.
Many scientists are proud of having booted man off his throne at the center of the universe and reduced him to just one more creature—an especially annoying one—in the great intergalactic zoo. That is their right. But when scientists use this locker-room braggadocio to belittle the human viewpoint, to belittle human life and values and virtues and civilization and moral, spiritual, and religious discoveries, which is all we human beings possess or ever will, they have outrun their own empiricism. They are abusing their cultural standing. Science has become an international bully.
Nowhere is its bullying more outrageous than in its assault on the phenomenon known as subjectivity.
Your subjective, conscious experience is just as real as the tree outside your window or the photons striking your retina—even though you alone feel it. Many philosophers and scientists today tend to dismiss the subjective and focus wholly on an objective, third-person reality—a reality that would be just the same if men had no minds. They treat subjective reality as a footnote, or they ignore it, or they announce that, actually, it doesn’t even exist.
If scientists were rat-catchers, it wouldn’t matter. But right now, their views are threatening all sorts of intellectual and spiritual fields. The present problem originated at the intersection of artificial intelligence and philosophy of mind—in the question of what consciousness and mental states are all about, how they work, and what it would mean for a robot to have them. It has roots that stretch back to the behaviorism of the early 20th century, but the advent of computing lit the fuse of an intellectual crisis that blasted off in the 1960s and has been gaining altitude ever since.
The modern “mind fields” encompass artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of mind. Researchers in these fields are profoundly split, and the chaos was on display in the ugliness occasioned by the publication of Thomas Nagel’s Mind & Cosmos in 2012. Nagel is an eminent philosopher and professor at NYU. In Mind & Cosmos, he shows with terse, meticulous thoroughness why mainstream thought on the workings of the mind is intellectually bankrupt. He explains why Darwinian evolution is insufficient to explain the emergence of consciousness—the capacity to feel or experience the world. He then offers his own ideas on consciousness, which are speculative, incomplete, tentative, and provocative—in the tradition of science and philosophy.
As the Arab Spring enters its third year, events in the region remain fluid. Still, enough time has now passed that some preliminary conclusions can be reached.
Zachary Keck writes: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is one institution certainly drawing lessons from the Arab Spring. It is well known that the CCP studies political unrest in other parts of the world in search of lessons it can use to maintain stability at home. The most notable instance of this was the massive study the CCP undertook into the causes of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The lessons the CCP drew from its more than decade-long study into the Soviet bloc have since been incorporated into the curriculum at party schools, and are regularly referred to by senior Chinese officials.
Although the CCP’s study of the Arab Spring won’t be nearly as massive, the events in the Arab world are of significant interest to the party for a number of reasons. The first is simply their size and magnitude. Additionally, in its early days the Arab Spring inspired some Chinese to call for a Jasmine Revolution in China. Although nothing much came from these calls, there were a tense couple of weeks in China that saw the CCP on high alert.
Finally, Chinese leaders should be particularly interested in the Arab Spring simply because it provides an excellent case study. Although the protests seemed to be motivated by similar causes, they quickly diverged in terms of how each government responded, as well as their ultimate outcomes. Thus, the protests offer valuable lessons for how the CCP can maintain power in China. Four points from the Arab Spring seem particularly pertinent:
1) Get Ahead of Events
The regimes that have best weathered the Arab Spring have gotten ahead of events on the ground. At the first sight of unrest in Egypt, Saudi Arabia sought to preempt protests by significantly increasing subsides. The Gulf Cooperation Council contained unrest in Bahrain by using overwhelming force to smother the then-nascent protests. Only after order had been restored did the government begin offering small concessions. In other countries like Morocco and Jordan, governments quickly appeased protesters by offering at least cosmetic concessions, such as removing especially unpopular leaders. The new Chinese leadership seems to be pursuing a similar course by initiating highly publicized anti-graft and mass line campaigns that are partly aimed at reducing public anger over the party’s excesses.
Raquel Okyay reports: Federal court judge Dec. 31 struck down parts of New York Secure Ammunition Firearm Act of 2013, including seven-round ammunition limitation yet upholds majority of legislation deciding the law withstands constitutional scrutiny.
“Western district court in Buffalo was the first step on the way to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Thomas H. King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association first-named plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that questions the constitutionality of New York’s anti-gun SAFE Act.
While there are many items in the decision that NYSRPA disagrees with, King said he is extremely happy with parts of the decision. “While this was not a total victory it was not a total loss.”
NYSRPA is the state’s largest and the nation’s oldest firearms advocacy organization.
Plaintiffs intend on filing a motion to appeal the parts of the decision that were unfavorable to them within seven to 10 days, and it is expected that New York State will also appeal the portions of the decision unfavorable to them placing this matter in the 2nd circuit court of appeals in New York City, said King.
Robert Wilde reports: Barry Baldwin, a 35-year old Brooklyn, NY resident, was arrested by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force for at least seven alleged “knockout” attacks. The “game” has been rampant in cities throughout the nation, played predominantly by black male teens attempting to knock out unsuspecting victims with a punch to the face or head.
The alleged assaults took place between November 9th and December 27th, and all the reported victims were white women, most of them Jewish.
Baldwin allegedly attacked a 78-year old woman while she was pushing her great-granddaughter in a stroller. Because when she was assaulted she fell on the small girl, prosecutors added menacing charges and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.
Via The Daily Caller, Ken Jorgensen: Ruger Expands the Popular Line of Lightweight Compact Revolvers with the Addition of the LCRx Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. announces the introduction of the LCRx™, the newest variation of the revolutionary Lightweight Compact Revolver (LCR®). Chambered in .38 Special +P, the LCRx™ features an external hammer that allows it to be fired in single-action mode.
“Since its introduction in 2009, the LCR® has become extremely popular with conceal carry customers seeking the simplicity of a revolver,” said Chris Killoy, Ruger Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Customers have been asking for a traditional double-action version of the LCR® with an external hammer for optional single-action shooting. We were listening and have added a crisp single-action mode to the already smooth double-action LCR®,” he concluded.
The newest LCR® maintains all the features of the critically acclaimed original LCR®. Its double-action-only trigger pull is uniquely engineered with a patented Ruger® friction reducing cam fire control system. The trigger pull force on the LCR® builds gradually and peaks later in the trigger stroke, resulting in a trigger pull that feels much lighter than it actually is. This results in more controllable double-action shooting, even among those who find traditional double-action-only triggers difficult to operate.
Nitpicking over which jihadists did what lets the Obama administration evade the real questions
Andrew C. McCarthy writes: What was the commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces doing through the night of September 11, 2012, while he knew Americans were under jihadist siege in Libya? You won’t learn the answer to that question by reading the mini-book-length, six-“chapter” revisionist history of the Benghazi massacre cooked up by David D. Kirkpatrick and the New York Times.
The Times report is a labor of love in the service of President Obama and, in particular, the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign ramp-up. Former secretary of state Clinton, of course, was a key architect of Obama’s Libya policy. She was also chiefly responsible for the protection of American personnel in that country, including our murdered ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and the three other Americans killed by Muslim terrorists — State Department technician Sean Smith and a pair of former Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Still, the Times is banking on your not noticing that in its laborious 7,500 words, Kirkpatrick’s account utters the word “Clinton” exactly . . . wait for it . . . zero times.
The word “Obama” comes in for a mere six mentions, four of which are impersonal references to the current administration. The other two are telling, though fleeting.
One is a rehearsal of the president’s vow to exact “justice” against anyone found responsible for this “terrible act” of killing four Americans, including the formal representative of our nation. As it happens, the only person on the planet to have felt the lash of Obama’s justice is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the California-based “producer” who filmed the infamous “anti-Mohammed” movie trailer, Innocence of Muslims. In a despicable violation of constitutional free-speech principles, and a bow to sharia blasphemy rules that forbid criticism of Islam, Obama and Clinton publicly portrayed Nakoula and his “film” as the Benghazi culprits — implicitly accepting the Islamic-supremacist premise that verbal insults, no matter how obscure and trifling, justify mass-murder attacks.
John Nolte writes: Just this week we had dozens of Global Warming-believing scientists, who specialize in researching ice melt in Antarctica, run into a helluva lot more Antarctic ice than their research told them would be there. So much more ice that their ship and three ice-breaking rescue vessels were stuck in ten feet of it for days (two of the vessels are still stuck). As I write this, the big news of the weekend is a cold snap across much of the country with temperatures reaching 20 and 30-year lows. And yet, despite all of what should be good news, the
Global Cooling Global Warming Climate Change community is not celebrating.
Not only are Climate Change Truthers not celebrating, they are hysterical with worry that unexpected Antarctic ice discoveries and American winters returning to the normalcy those of us of a certain age remember, might hurt their
religioncrusade. The media is so worried they have coordinated a cover-up of the news from Antarctica and those of us pointing to what one might call the “science” of colder temperatures and increased Arctic ice are being mocked for doing so.
Granted, more ice in one area of a vast South Pole is not empirical proof that all is well in the Antarctic, but it is a great way to call attention to the fact that according to NASA, “In late September 2013, the ice surrounding Antarctica reached its annual winter maximum and set a new record.”
Who is anti-science now?
Kevin D. Williamson writes: A viral video making the rounds in December bore the very descriptive title “Ten Germans Try to Say the Word ‘Squirrel’” — and nobody seemed to think that it was racist or xenophobic, even though our Teutonic friends were being held up as figures of fun for something that is deeply embedded in their culture. Indeed, the Germans seemed to be as much amused as anybody else. The phenomenon is nothing new to students of linguistics: Not every phoneme exists in every language, and it is extraordinarily difficult for adults to process phonemes that are not part of their linguistic patrimony. Anglophone adults learning Sanskrit have a desperately hard time with the difference between aspirated and non-aspirated “d” sounds, just as somebody who had been raised hearing nothing but Japanese would find it difficult or impossible to distinguish between “r” and “l” sounds in English. Native speakers of non-tonal languages have a rough time with Chinese. Welsh, Romanian, and Dutch all contain sounds that are famous for being unpronounceable by the Anglophone. A “burro” is an ass, and a “burrow” is a hole in the ground, but your typical English-speaking person can’t tell one from the other.
This sort of thing is terribly distressing to c, fiction editor at The Good Men Project, an online magazine, who published a hilariously self-parodic essay titled “Racism in the Classroom: When Even Our Names Are Not Our Own.” He began with this tale of pearl-clutching terror, his soul pierced by the unsettling childhood recollections of a classmate:
He described how, when he was a boy, he couldn’t figure out what a certain newscaster’s name was. The student complained that because the newscaster pronounced his name with a “Mexican” accent, he couldn’t understand it.
There are many possible explanations for this episode. But, racism?
Setting aside the sneer quotes around “Mexican” — as though there were no such thing as a Mexican accent — it is very likely that the boy complained that he could not understand the pronunciation of the broadcaster’s name not because he was a budding ethnolinguistic chauvinist but because he could not understand the pronunciation of the broadcaster’s name, any more than the typical English-speaking man walking the streets of Bakersfield can tell the शूर from the सुर. The story calls to mind a pained book chapter in which linguistic anthropologist Harriet Joseph Ottenheimer considers the famous Saturday Night Live skit in which a bunch of painfully correct Anglos in conversation with Jimmy Smits’s “Antonio Mendoza” use ever more lamely Hispanic-ish pronunciations of common English words and phrases — “Loh-HANG-ee-less” for Los Angeles, “kah-MAHRRR-oh” for the Chevy sports car, etc. Professor Ottenheimer writes that the skit expresses “the extreme ambivalence and complexity of ideologies about Spanish in the United States,” and she worries that under some interpretations Mr. Smits might be seen as “playing into the hands of anti-Spanish sentiment.” This discussion takes place under the heading “Mock Spanish: A Site for the Indexical Reproduction of Racism in American English.” Calvin and Hobbes takes a beating, too, when the racially insensitive stuffed tiger imagines himself as a fearsome potentate called “El Tigre Numero Uno.”
We have set the bar for racism pretty low.
Joshua Kotin on The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Vol. 2 : 1923-1925
Joshua Kotin writes: Ernest Hemingway’s from the summer and fall of 1925 are especially thrilling. “I’ve written six chapters on a novel and am going great about 15,000 words already,” he tells Sylvia Beach in August. Two weeks later, in a letter to Ezra Pound, he declares, “48,000 words writ. […] If novel not suppressed sh’d sell 8 million copies.” “It is a hell of a fine novel,” he tells Jane Heap a few days later; “Written very simply and full of things happening and people and places and exciting as hell and no autobiographical 1st novel stuff.” Then in a letter to his father in September, he triumphantly announces, “I have finished my novel — 85,000 words — and am very tired inside and out.”
The completion of The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway’s first novel, is the denouement of the second volume of his letters, which collects his correspondence from 1923 to 1925. (The first volume, published in 2011, includes letters from 1907 to 1922.) The letters document his development as a writer, his life in Paris and Toronto (where he worked as a reporter for the Toronto Star), his travels across Europe (including to Pamplona and Schruns), his marriage to Hadley Richardson and the birth of their son, and his friendships and quarrels with Pound, Gertrude Stein, Ford Madox Ford, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many others. The letters are a real time version of A Moveable Feast, combining the memoir’s romantic and gossipy depiction of expatriate life with a powerful sense of precarity. Hemingway describes his life as a struggling writer without knowledge of his future success.