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Belmont Club


April 26th, 2013 - 9:36 pm

When Tom Brokaw’s denounced the dumbing-down of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he was unintentionally talking about one of the underlying reasons for the FBI’s inability to see the threat of the Tsarnaev brothers, even when it was pointed out to them.  ”The dinner has been a tradition since 1920 for journalists who cover the White House and the President … in 1975 … Saturday Night Live stars Chevy Chase and Jim Belushi made appearances. However, Brokaw said that standards of the red-carpet fete have now fallen so low that his ‘daughter’s junior prom has more dignity‘.”

“The breaking point for me was Lindsay Lohan,” Brokaw told POLITICO during a recent interview in his office in the NBC News Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York. “She became a big star at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Give me a break.”

A break was what the FBI gave Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Despite an abundance of suggestive information, the FBI seemed singularly unable to see Tsarnaev as a threat. Part of the reason, according to the Washington Examiner, was that blindness was engineered into the system. The agents were trained not to see it.

It is quite possible, though, the FBI agents who interviewed Tsarnaev on both occasions failed to understand what they saw and heard because that’s what they were trained to do. As The Washington Examiner’s Mark Flatten reported last year, FBI training manuals were systematically purged in 2011 of all references to Islam that were judged offensive by a specially created five-member panel. Three of the panel members were Muslim advocates from outside the FBI, which still refuses to make public their identities. Nearly 900 pages were removed from the manuals as a result of that review. Several congressmen were allowed to review the removed materials in 2012, on condition that they not disclose what they read to their staffs, the media, or the general public.

The process which has dumbed down the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and blinded the FBI is essentially the same: that of removing information from the system in order to make it predictable, manageable, and nonthreatening.  To make it consistent with the internal ideology of the human institution. Institutions do not always seek to find the truth. More often than not they seek to find the approved solution.

But to really learn you have to be prepared to listen to what you don’t want to hear. The future only contains new information if it tells you something you don’t know. But bureaucracies want to make all new knowledge predictable, consistent with the existing narrative. And homogenization destroys information.

The measure of how much information a message can contain is represented by the amount of uncertainty that can be resolved by a new measurement — each character it contains. This is called information entropy. Here’s an example that illustrates the point.

consider the example of a coin toss. When the coin is fair, that is, when the probability of heads is the same as the probability of tails, then the entropy of the coin toss is as high as it could be. This is because there is no way to predict the outcome of the coin toss ahead of time – the best we can do is predict that the coin will come up heads, and our prediction will be correct with probability 1/2. Such a coin toss has one bit of entropy since there are two possible outcomes that occur with equal probability, and learning the actual outcome contains one bit of information. Contrarily, a coin toss with a coin that has two heads and no tails has zero entropy since the coin will always come up heads, and the outcome can be predicted perfectly.

The amount of uncertainty to be resolved is the metric of knowledge. There’s no point to tossing a two-headed coin repeatedly. All subsequent measurements will be exactly the same as the first. The amount of information a message can carry is proportional to the richness of the alphabet in which it is written and the freedom to assume a value which represents the content. When we limit the alphabet or limit the allowable values, we limit the information.

The problem with both the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and the FBI Islamic investigation procedures is that the conclusions were foreordained. It’s just like a two-headed coin. Both institutions are constructed to reach predictable outcomes. No wonder Brokaw said he would be better off watching it on C-Span. And no wonder the FBI could do anything but find the Tsarnaevs’ Islamic connections suspicious. They knew they were going to look away even before they looked.

What creates sameness is ideology.  Ideology by definition reduces the range of responses to situations and limits the ways in which we can decode and encode messages to politically correct outcomes. It creates a box you can’t escape. Thus it’s Lindsay Lohan or nothing.

And the effects of “boxing” people are interesting to consider in the light of a new paper by Harvard physicist and computer scientist Dr. Alex Wissner-Gross. He conjectures that intelligence arises from the exercise of freedom, “that intelligent behavior in general spontaneously emerges from an agent’s effort to ensure its freedom of action in the future. According to this theory, intelligent systems move towards those configurations which maximize their ability to respond and adapt to future changes.”

His idea comes from a paper from Raphael Bousso of Cornell who argues that the probability of intelligent life emerging in a universe is proportional to the amount of entropy — information — it contains. Intelligence is more likely to emerge in a universe of choices. It is less likely to emerge where the alphabets and the options are severely limited. A universe of freedom is one where intelligence comes into being.  A restricted society, like North Korea where everyone claps in unison, is a dumb universe.

Thus we arrive at theoretical explanation for why the White House Correspondents’ Dinner gets stupider each year. It’s the Washington, D.C., version of Pyongyang, “a court of Versailles” in Brokaw’s memorable phrase.

Wissner-Gross called this relationship between freedom and intelligence the “Causal Entropic Force — a drive for the system to make as many futures accessible as possible”. The richest future is the one which hasn’t been written yet;  it the one we are creating — if we are allowed to create it — right now. The poorest future is the one in which the Life of Julia must be lived, marked out by almost mechanical signposts, characterized by a drab sameness, political correctness, organized ignorance and total denial of the possibility that any narrative may exist except the official one.

As noted, Wissner-Gross’s work has serious implications for AI. And in fact, he says it turns conventional notions of a world-dominating artificial intelligence on its head.

“It has long been implicitly speculated that at some point in the future we will develop an ultrapowerful computer and that it will pass some critical threshold of intelligence, and then after passing that threshold it will suddenly turn megalomaniacal and try to take over the world,” he said.

He argues the true process is the reverse: only if you try to maximize your freedom can you manifest the attributes of intelligence. He and his MIT collaborator have written software based on those principles and it displays some of the characteristics of intelligence.

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Top Rated Comments   

Let us take the case if one Jamie Gorelick.

She started her career under William Clinton, and in 1994 was made Deputy Attorney General. In that capacity, she created the Gorelick Rule, which forbade cooperation and communication between law enforcement and intelligence agencies in matters of counter-terrorism. Literally, it prevented the blocking of the 9/11 attacks and the interrogation of one of the hijackers who was in custody before the attack and whose computer [with the plans] was in Federal hands. She was also known for blocking investigations of the flow of foreign funds to the Clinton election campaign. There are places where one is not allowed to look, lest it conflict with the narrative.

Her next post was Vice Chairman of Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) from 1997 to 2003. Note that from 2001-2003 was under President Bush. During that time, she, the Chairman Franklin Raines, and Congressman Barney Frank created and covered up the $10 billion accounting and bogus loan scandal that helped bring down the economy in Bush’s second term. Emphasis on covered up.

After she left government, she went to work defending Duke University after the lacrosse team rape scandal. For those who do not remember, a woman accused the Duke lacrosse team of gang raping her. The university institutionally and collectively punished the team members before the trial. At the trial it was shown that the entire charge had been deliberately falsified by the woman and by the District Attorney trying to gain political notoriety. Gorelick worked to cover it up.

We have two decades of Jamie Gorelicks running the government infrastructure. We have entire families brought here who are on the terrorist watch lists. And that is ignored. We have received multiple warnings from foreign countries with specific intelligence as to terrorist activity. And it is ignored. The Federal government watches the online activity of everyone to the right of Trotsky as a deadly threat to the Republic; they ignore people on the terrorist watch list making pro-terrorist posts. The elder Tsarnaev brother leaves the country and goes to a terrorist training camp [while technically a refugee from the same area], and they ignore it. The Joint Terrorism Task Force issues a specific warning about the elder Tsarnaev, and it is passed to a Customs Officer who ignores it.

And they are desperate to find some connection to the TEA Party to the bombings, in violation of all reality.

The blindness is incurable, deliberate, and enforced by the power of the State. The encounter with reality is going to be akin to a bug on a windshield.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Many of us have always known that Obama is hostile to traditional things and to America as we have received it. We've also seen sides of him that are cruel and taunting. In particular he delights in special behaviors that would otherwise be condemned but, due to his unique circumstances, he can get take pass on. His deplorable Palin "Lipstick Joke" during the initial campaign was early harbinger of this cruelty he relishes. Other examples include but are not limited to his never ending golfing and vacation adventures.

Now this with his on-again, off-again Planned Parenthood fundraising. He announced he would go make the speech, got some predictable backlash, then announced he would not go, but then he showed up anyway by surprise and called upon God's blessing for that group's demonic work. This behavior exhibits total consciousness of what he is doing, complete awareness of the beliefs and sensitivities he's stomping on, and also complete delight in tweaking them. He's a monstrous little imp, this Obama.

It's a bridge too far and a glaring insult that angers me. Not that there's anything I can seemingly do about it (or any of his previous serial, hostile acts). Nothing to do but pray that someday Americans will catch on to what a complete jerk this guy is.

But about this stultifying sameness, this thermal death that our betters have designed for us, here Wretchard has his finger on the pulse of the true horror of our days. Every expansion of government, every activity of government bears within it the seed of this doom. It's always bugged me even since I was a kid, even by walking into a public school, boarding a bus, going into a rec center, and feeling a tinge of something stale and noxious about these environments. There's a tradeoff of freedom and vigor for security and order, and this should never be done lightly. Security and order, once driven to the fore, produce decrepitude and ruin by inertia.

Most in our culture today adore it, though. Little creeping ways present everyday. Ashley Judd was taken seriously last month as a senatorial candidate, offices were bugged a la Watergate, all because she had the 'courage' to see rape in everything on all sides. Yesterday the University of Connecticut unveiled its new mascot, a cartoon dog, but one who appeared menacingly enough to evoke themes of patriarchy, oppression and rape among the feminists on campus.

And now this from Obama, a rededication of the notion that it is right to snuff out generations in order to secure our personal choices. That to appropriate this violence by force is, in fact, a holy exercise.

We can pray for the Lord to help us, but why would he lift a finger for a society dead set on self destruction anyway? One that trades its birthrights for a pot of beans?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (53)
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Subotai Bahadur

"The one alternative will never happen, but would slam sphincters shut worldwide." et al.

And the ripples of side-effects, behavioral modifications, etc. worldwide that would flow from that action COULD be wonderfully salubrious, geopolitically speaking, if only we had some genuine leadership in charge.

"No, still not a nice person."

In light of what is coming, those of us who survive to reflect and comment may come to consider you as downright warm and cuddly... /grin
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sgian Dubh,
CBDR, exactly. You got it.

Small adjustments can be made with a reliable flow of information. When the information is deliberately suppressed then a looming danger will only be perceived when nothing but a radical and in itself dangerous change of course has any hope of avoiding disaster.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One of the more recent theories of the development of human intelligence is that rapid climate change in the rift valley (shown in the geological record) favoured the specie of primates with the highest intelligence - eventually becoming man - because although not adapted best to any specific climate higher intelligence copes best in a changing environment.

A large brain is an expensive bit of gear to sustain, so it doesn't happen without such an external kick, and probably won't hang around in an unchanging environment - which explains leftits.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In other news, al-Qaeda is close to gaining control of a major chemical weapons plant.

If al-Qaeda takes over that plant, what should be done?

1. Nothing
2. Wring hands, convene international conferences, pass UN resolutions, and do nothing
3. Stand on one's head, gesticulate wildly, and do nothing
4. Militarily intervene in favor of al-Qaeda (John McCain's favorite strategy...)
5. Militarily intervene against al-Qaeda
6. Send an esoteric computer virus to Syria to delay the production of sarin for two weeks
7. Help the Chinese complete a corporate takeover of the chemical weapons plant
8. Ask the Russians on what to do
9. Scrap treaties against chemical weapons and turn it into a major export industry
10. Destroy the chemical weapons plant

I probably haven't thought of the best – or least bad – strategy, but this is serious. Once al-Nusra takes over that chemical weapons plant, its weapons WILL be used on American civilians.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Y'all know exactly what we are going to do. Nothing. And with one alternative, that is all that is left for American policy. For us to just wait to see what fresh hell Obama has left to be unleashed on us. The one alternative will never happen, but would slam sphincters shut worldwide.

The alternate process would include delineating the exact footprint of the plant and associated storage capacity. Draw the minimal circle whose circumference encompasses that footprint completely. Figure the nuclear yield to include the circle in the area that is subject to a peak overpressure of 20 psi with a surface burst [which will also destroy anything short of a hardened missile silo underground and incinerate any chemicals in that circle]. Apply a W-80 Mod 1 variable yield warhead set to the above parameters to the center of the circle. Immediately repeat pro re nata if initial effort does not give satisfactory results.

Real estate values in the Aleppo area will suffer.

No, still not a nice person.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For those of you who want to expand your knowledge, and see an example of how your perceptions have been manipulated by the Obama Administration and their lapdog media, you might find this article interesting and "mind expanding"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I fear that for all we complain about Obama today, his reign will not be over with the next election. If we thought that Geo. W Bush and his father acted
gracefully by removing themselves from the public eye, this is not what Obama will do. As a political mentor he has Clinton as an example. The proof of this is his Organizing for America that he has begun to fund.
It's a worry that society and culture will be roiled into constant political battles that have no meaning other than to create other opportunities for Obama to insert himself into the public arena.
He is a relatively young man and this means he has at least another twenty years of political agitation ahead of him. And believe me, a lot can happen in twenty years. I think that even if he were forced out of office by impeachment, there are enough liberal toadies around to rehabilitate him. All one has to do is look to Nixon for that. And I happened to admire Nixon.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The fourth Doctor once beat the Daleks by inserting flaws into perfectly matched war plans. Their side, however, not the Daleks' who were resorting to suicide bombers.

There is supposedly a wall somewhere that you're supposed to beat your head against. I wonder what they're trying to teach people...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Off topic, but of interest to Belmont thanks to attention given Detroit: There have been some signs of economic life in Detroit after all, namely coming from the Marathon oil refinery that recently expanded operations to refine products from the tar sands, ie., Keystone-like crude, over riotous objections from Detroit activists. 30 minutes ago an enormous explosion ripped through the facility. Leftist websites have already dutifully mapped a connection from the refinery to one of the buyers of the site's petcoke: Koch Industries. It's another seemingly tailor-made petroleum tragedy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It was a fire that was put out in 2 hours. The Left always lies for their own ends.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Buraq takes flight...
And seeks the other side...
Of his rhetorical Mobius loop...
An edgeless performance, to be sure...
Recursion to cant...
And can't....

His Odessy of the desert, pink...
Has the entire polity waiting, waiting...
For Godot....

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.”

Right there lies the difference between the Jewish/Christian religions and Islam. Islam believes in a God who compels, there is no free will in Islam. Allah is a totalitarian god.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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