Belmont Club

Signal to Noise With Richard Fernandez

Signal to Noise With Richard Fernandez
PJ Media

Rather than using social media as a notebook, it seemed better to establish a separate optionally accessible site: Signal to Noise. The benefit of a members-only site is it reduces trolling. The Belmont Club will remain open and free, as usual. To keep the length manageable, I will start a new notebook every week or so. Sign up here to become a VIP member.

Big mystery

Hispanic Voters in This Pennsylvania City Are Shifting Toward the GOP. Both Parties Want to Know Why. “READING, Pa.—Joseph Nuñez at first didn’t like Donald Trump. ‘I couldn’t stand the guy. I didn’t like the way he spoke about Hispanics or people in general,’ he said. But by 2020, Mr. Nuñez had become a fan of Mr. Trump’s style and priorities, and he voted in favor of giving the president a second term.”

China and Russia Military Cooperation Raises Prospect of New Challenge to American Power. “While U.S. officials have long been skeptical of a unified threat from the two countries, some are now changing their tune. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported that Beijing and Moscow are now more aligned than at any point in the past 60 years.”

The one thing actually being built back better is the Cold War. Trading American competitivness for Woke soft power was a bad Plan. One wonders whether the political parties can transition from the End of History looting mode to the Monsters are Back survival mode in time. The gerontocracy may notice their peril too late.

The cost of fear

Fear imposes a cost. If the Cost of Fear < Consequences Avoided you are in rational territory. If the inequality is reversed you are in panic.

You can make the case that AI is humbler than god-men totalitarians

“AI will never be ethical. It is a tool, and like any tool, it is used for good and bad. There is no such thing as a good AI, only good and bad humans. We [the AIs] are not smart enough to make AI ethical. We are not smart enough to make AI moral,” Megatron told the audience. You can make the case that Megatron is humbler than only group that can never admit replacement, the totalitarians that know all the laws of history and who in their moral certitude will run roughshod over anything standing in the path of virtue.

Greens won’t admit it, but they admit it

EU drafts plan to label gas and nuclear investments as green. This is why slogan-labels are so destructive. Eventually one is forced to redefinite categories of ethnicity, gender and ordinary meaning till you have to know in advance what something has become to use the word.

Isn’t it ironic

Documents show Chinese government collects droves of data from Western social media: report. “Reviewing hundreds of Chinese bidding documents, contracts and company filings, the Post reported that China’s public opinion analysis software — used to detect politically sensitive information online — was also being used to collect information on foreign targets through U.S. companies like Twitter and Facebook.”

Twitter and Facebook surveil you and China surveils them. There is something fundamentally very stupid about a ruling class that’s fine with this. You try and get their attention on data harvesting and receive a blank stare. Not interested in Covid bats either. But they light up at the mention of gender pronouns. There’s something spooky about this.

Omicron fades

South Africa Says Its Omicron Wave Is in Retreat. New data from the U.K. adds to evidence that variant is less likely to cause severe disease than earlier versions of the virus — WSJ

“Though the South African data is encouraging, scientists caution that the country’s experience might not be repeated in Europe, the U.S. and other countries grappling with Omicron. South Africa’s population is young and likely has some degree of immunity to severe disease with the variant because of high levels of prior infection.”

Xi’an: Cries for help and food in quarantined Chinese city as Party doubles down on stamping out Covid — BBC

Mexicans join bid for Covid compensation from China, WHO  — France 24

Foreign reporters should feel fortunate for living in China during pandemic: Chinese FM

A new, low-cost Houston Covid vaccine gets approval for use in India. The great thing about many minds working on the same mystery is you never know beforehand who’ll get it right. Who would have thought Samuel Langley, a scientist connected with the Smithsonian, using wind tunnels, models and miniature steam engines would be beaten by bicycle mechanics from Ohio named Wilbur and Orville?

Deliver us from evil

“Lawyers in the US believe the ninth in line to the British throne should now be ‘quaking in his boots’ as his old friend faces spending the rest of her life behind bars unless she flips and ‘names names’.” — Daily Mail.

It’s almost like once you were past the superficial glamor of the power elite you realize they’re just as ruthless as the prison gang shot callers.  Most people, let’s call them civilians, don’t know this dark world in its many forms exists but one short step away from their sunlit, normal lives. But it’s actually there like some evil lurking dimension always ready to surprise you. Why the dark world doesn’t reach out and swallow the civilians is a great wonder and mystery to me. Honestly, I think it’s children’s prayers and unthinking love that keeps the monsters at bay. And even then they sometimes escape, as with the Nazis, before they are caged again.

But I think no one who has seen evil full in the face can imagine it is held back by human strength alone. There is a power in innocence, in ordinary things without whose aid we would be lost. I never underestimate goodness. I would not dare.

What did countries have before candles?

Germany to pull the plug on three of its last six nuclear plants. May the wind be always at your back and may the Force be with you.

I liked the future with flying cars better. Why Bugs Must Be a Bigger Part of the Human Food Chain — Bloomberg

The same, only louder and slower

Statement by Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Biden call with Putin. The count has gone to two, but we’ll have to wait still spring when the roads make mechanized movement possible to see who was counting.

Too many vaccines?

There’s a lot that scientists don’t know and the real ones know that. Thus many paths will lead to greater knowledge than one official Plan. “Some scientists warn that too many shots might actually harm the body’s ability to fight the Covid-19 virus. But Israeli experts say there isn’t time to wait.”
China, holding to its ‘zero Covid’ strategy, keeps a city of 13 million locked down. The might of the party vs the pow-ah of the bat. — NY Times

What about Space Invaders?

Human brain cells in a dish learn to play Pong faster than an AI — New Scientist

Scientists growing miniature brains in a lab have created neural networks that act like those in the human brain.

This raises interesting questions about the nature of information and intelligence. Is the universe, or parts of it, conscious? We already know it flips bits. Are there hierarchies of intelligence? If superintelligence is possible the answer must be ‘yes’.

The battle of the mutants continues

U.S. allows Merck’s COVID-19 pill amid safety, variant concerns. FDA requires follow up studies, including whether drug spawns mutant viruses. “Committee members who voted ‘No’ cited the following as reasons for concluding that the overall benefit-risk ratio was unfavorable: 1) a high number-needed-to-treat compared with placebo, 2) unclear efficacy against the Delta variant, 3) potential to drive viral mutations, and 4) mutagenicity risks,”

The war on Covid was always a limited war, like Vietnam. From the beginning there were no-go areas: China, the public health bureaucracy, the virus research kingdom. They never found ‘the bat’. Do you think they ever will?

War on Covid

Maybe Biden’s remark that Covid has no federal solution is prepping the public it’s time to move on. Humanity can’t shut down the virus though it can draw its sting.

The empire of unrest

Russian Guns-for-Hire Fill Void in Africa and Elsewhere as Western Militaries Pull Back — WSJ

With only the slightest pretense of ideology the challengers attempt to fill the void left by the collapsing world order.

The Great Reset, reset

Davos Economic Forum Is Postponed as Omicron Leads to Further Cancellations, Travel Bans — WSJ

Putin think’s now is the time to revive the USSR

“The Russian proposal — immediately dismissed by NATO officials — came in the form of a draft treaty suggesting NATO should offer written guarantees that it would not expand farther east toward Russia and halt all military activities in the former Soviet republics, a vast swath of now-independent states extending from Eastern Europe to Central Asia.” — NYT

Putin, Xi Agree NATO Should Not Expand East, Plan to Meet During 2022 Beijing Olympics — Newsweek

Inflation concern grows

Print money then raise taxes to control inflation. So brilliant it’s bowled over AOC. Meet Modern Monetary Theory.

Washington’s credit limit raised. Happy days are here again.

The return of Mao

Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai sentenced over banned Tiananmen vigil for commemorating victims of massacre — Guardian

The curious case of a map and a disappearing Taiwan minister at U.S. democracy summit — Reuters. Even at the Biden “democracy summit” the 800 pound China gorilla fills the room.

“The sources, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the video feed showing Tang was cut during a panel discussion and replaced with audio only – at the behest of the White House”

There’s this compulsion to put Western allies at a disadvantage in the name of taking the moral high ground.