About the way I argue

I’d like to explain something about my behavior that might frustrate some people needlessly. You see, if you get into an argument with me, and if this argument is longer than a few sentences, you will lose. If you’re on an ego trip, you’ll behave like a hissy critter and complain how is it that I’m always right, and the answer is, no, I just tend to pick my battles very carefully, and if you pay attention, you’ll see that most arguments end before they have really started, because I immediately concede to any valid point anyone makes; I don’t argue when someone’s right, or when I think the other side of the argument might be as valid as mine. So, it’s a matter of very careful triage, where I estimate how correct the other side is, and how important the issue itself is. If the issue is not important, I will shrug and say that it doesn’t matter who wins, or the difference between the opposing sides isn’t large enough for it to matter who is right. An example of this are arguments regarding equipment. Canon vs. Nikon, or PC vs. Mac, or iPhone vs. Android. Who cares. Someone will say that brand A is better, and I will shrug and say that the differences aren’t large enough for me to care. Basically, don’t compete if the prize isn’t worth winning.

The second case is when it isn’t clear who is right. For instance, if science isn’t clear on something, such as the string theory, I will refrain from having elaborate opinions and simply say that the theory sounds interesting or compelling, but the evidence for the whole thing just isn’t strong enough. It’s a case of don’t compete if it isn’t clear what the victory is; if it isn’t clear what the truth actually is, it’s impossible to say who won the argument.

The third case is when the other side is making a correct statement. If someone says that Hydrogen is chemically reactive, I will say “yes” and that will be the end of it. This will be so even if I otherwise strongly disagree with the person on other points, because the most important thing about winning arguments is not allowing yourself to be sidetracked, which includes opposing someone when he’s right about something just because you think he’s wrong about something else. If I think someone is the worst person in the world and he states that Paris is the capital of France, I will agree. If you think that you have to disagree with absolutely every single statement someone makes because you want to make a moral statement about his person or philosophy, you’re stupid and emotionally immature. If Hitler states that conserving the environment and building good roads is good, and you disagree because you disapprove of his racial policies, you’re an idiot. The correct way of arguing with Hitler is to say, yes, conserving the environment is good, and building roads is good, but if you really believe your race is superior, then meritocracy is the only credible way you should approach the issue, since inferior races will fail to compete with yours in the market of ideas and will die off. If you think you have to actively exterminate someone because he’s outcompeting you, then he’s obviously not the one who’s inferior. Essentially, you concede obvious truths and do not allow yourself to be sidetracked, you concentrate on your opponent’s core issue, try to figure out where he is wrong or his actions are contradictory to his beliefs, and then reduce the argument to a clear and compelling line of thought that is difficult or impossible to refute.

So, essentially, the reason why people think I’m “always” stubbornly insisting on defeating “everyone” is because they simply don’t add my early concessions to the tally of the arguments I participate in. Having done that, it would become obvious that I actually concede most points, or I ignore issues because I don’t find them important enough. However, it then becomes obvious that in a small minority of cases, where I do actually choose to fight, I do so by exploring the entire tree of possible arguments and counter-arguments in order to find weak points and flaws in my thinking, and before I express a thought, I am already aware of all the possible refutations, and if none of them are valid, only then do I state my case, and the reason why I do so with such certainty is because I already tested it against all the objections I could think of, and I am very good at thinking of test-cases for debugging code. So, that’s something to have in mind if you want to argue with me: I don’t pick losing battles. If I’m confident enough about something to insist, it means I probably tested my idea against a very large set of possible objections before having initially stated it, and unless you thought of something that I missed (which happens every now and then, but not frequently enough to be something a reasonable person would bet on), you will lose. Sure, in some cases I make intentionally controversial statements just to fuck with people and snap them out of their stupor, but even then the argument serves the purpose of getting you to think hard enough to see the way out. The fact that it’s wrong doesn’t mean that I missed something, it means I left it to you to figure it out.

Another important thing to have in mind is that for me, arguing isn’t about an ego trip, it’s about truth and virtue. I argue in order to oppose falsehoods and establish a correct way of handling things, not to win battles. That’s why I’m my own arguments’ harshest critic, but that’s the part you don’t see, because it precedes the point where I actually write the argument down. You don’t see the part where I mercilessly test it against possible objections. So, it’s not a case of “I’ll win some, and you’ll win some”. If you want to build up your self-worth by opposing me every now and then just so that it doesn’t look like you’re a “yes-person”, you’re in for a world of hurt, because if I recognize your argument as something I already tested my own argument against and rejected the objection as invalid, I will dismiss you in a way you will find quite abrasive to your self-image; in fact, if I recognize your argument as a lazy one, as something that doesn’t survive even the most superficial scrutiny, I will do things to your ego it might not recover from.

So yeah; if I really insist on something and if I act as if what I’m saying is a fact, it probably means that I tested the argument beforehand and I am convinced it is solid, and now I want to test it against other people’s ideas in case I missed something; in this case, I will appreciate good input, but my tolerance for nonsense is always low. You need to really turn your brain on, and in most cases it will be much wiser of you to concede than to argue, and I will think more of you if you do, because if I say water is wet and you argue against it, I will think you a fool; not because I like yes-men, but because I dislike insecure fools who think they always need to argue lest they be considered yes-men.

Kids and the dangers of the Internet

I get annoyed when school teachers, who are generally among the more clueless people out there, give children wise advice about the dangers of the Internet, basically “don’t go there, because bad people with white vans offering free candy, and hackers and stuff”.

You know what’s the worst thing that can happen to your kids online? Other kids. And not just any kids, but the kids from their school.

You know what the greatest danger is? Oh, it must be the bullying and shit, right? Wrong. It’s spending 10 hours every day on gossip and talks so stupid I’m simply unable to fabricate examples of, because my brain refuses to go there. Yes, there really are kids who spend most of their awake time on Snapchat and Facebook, exchanging trivial messages with other kids, probably because they are afraid of being out of the loop, which usually means being the one who’s picked at.

Now imagine what the kid’s mind will look like if all he or she is doing is exchanging idiotic messages with other kids who don’t really know shit about anything? And that’s at the time when they should be reading books, or listening to adults who would teach them things. The most dangerous thing about socializing with other kids is that the options available are “get along with everyone, especially the leading kid in the group, or be singled out for attack”. That’s how you get street gangs later. In my time (because I’m fucking old) it used to be called “bad company”, because it was recognized that it rubs off on you and you get pulled in to whatever your peers are doing, and it’s usually not training for the math competition.

If kids managed to spend 10 hours a day reading books and practicing math and coding, they’d get to be super smart. But if they spend 10 hours a day hanging out with other kids (online or IRL), they will get to be stupid and evil, because that’s what it amounts to: they try to find each other’s weakness so that they can bully and attack others, which gives them the sense of empowerment, and they try to get other kids to like them, because it gives them the sense of worth. Another problem is that they attack anything that’s different from them in any ways, because different means their choices and qualities aren’t the only option, and there’s a vast fear of choice, because choice means you can choose wrong. So, they pretend there are no choices by choosing conformity. They choose to look the same, act the same, think the same and feel the same, and if some among them is smart or virtuous enough to understand that this is a very stupid form of self-deception, he or she is singled out for attack, mostly to scare others into even greater conformity.

Another thing that bothers me with the social media is that it’s a case of play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Essentially, if you hang out with other kids online, and you are all pathetic conformists, you get to like worthless shit and have your worthless shit liked, and you waste your time collecting likes and being the same as everybody else while you should be building up your personality and learning useful things. As you neglect your real life, you get increasingly less emotional reward points from your real life, because it’s increasingly fucked up and hopeless due to neglect, and you have no other choice but to keep investing in the creation of the fake online presence where you post yucky artificial shit that’s designed to be liked by worthless people such as yourself. And increasingly, the voices of reason that scream at you that the emperor is naked are dismissed as trolling and abuse, so that you can descend deeper into the Shelob’s lair. Stay assured, however, that if you stay the course, you will turn into nothing way before any actual monster puts you out of your misery.

 

Too stupid to function

Recently I watched something shocking:

This fact, that US military won’t recruit people with IQ 83 or under, is both shocking and intuitively clear to me, because I do understand that in the modern world, there’s a decreasing pool of opportunities for stupid people. In a world that is mostly high-tech and sophisticated, marginally retarded people just can’t find anything useful to do, and if they can’t find anything useful to do, it’s either attempt to create a world more to their image, so to speak, basically retarding the modern world by a few centuries, or separate the world into high-IQ one and low-IQ one, basically having a space-age star trek society and a medieval shithole next door, or extinction of low-IQ people because high-IQ people will need the resources and will be able to just take them, or, most likely, extinction of the high-IQ people because the low-IQ ones are more determined, they never have any self-doubt, they are completely certain of their course, God is always on their side, they reproduce at an exponential rate, and the West is unable to defend itself against this threat in any way, due to its current philosophical constraints.

In any case, take a look at this: https://iq-research.info/en/page/average-iq-by-country

Guess why some countries are poor, and will always stay poor, without any chance of improvement.

Their average IQ is below the threshold of admittance for the US army, and if you’re too fucking dumb to be trained to be a soldier, well, no comment. Maybe they can find some niche in the sexual industry, to put it nicely. Sure, the average IQ doesn’t tell the whole story, Croatian average IQ is 90, which I have no difficulty believing because most people I meet here are stupid as rocks, but if you come to the university the average IQ would be around the MENSA admittance threshold, so you can obviously have a significant number of very smart people in a society in which majority is borderline retarded. However, having in mind that the average IQ in some societies is near or below completely unemployable, don’t get me started about unequal income levels and social differences. If someone with IQ 83 is below subsistence, and someone with IQ 150 is wealthy, that’s not an unexpected outcome in a society that uses computers, Internet, complex tools and international markets to function. The problem is, what will happen when a huge majority of people falls below a threshold of being able to find a normal job that pays well enough to make a living on the market? I’ll tell you what will happen. They will embrace socialism, because it will be the last straw. They can’t make it in capitalism, they’re too fucking stupid to program computers, make web apps or order cheaper things from Alibaba or Amazon. However, they can still vote, and this will be exploited by people whose IQ is much higher than 83, I guarantee you that, but they will manipulate the stupid disenfranchised masses into voting them into power.

There’s another problem, of course. Our civilization is increasingly demanding. It’s easy to dismiss the IQ 83 people, because I would expect that to be close to the higher-end of the Homo Erectus level of cognition. Heck, Bonobo chimps are quoted as having IQ of over 40 (yes, I know the IQ scale is normalized to 100 relative to a population, and not absolute, so read with this in mind). However, in a simple society such a person can function. He or she can pick berries or cocoa beans. In a modern society, the threshold of dropping out is higher. Projecting this trend into the future, it’s conceivable that at a certain point anyone below MENSA admittance threshold won’t be able to successfully function. Projecting it further, you get to the point where only a few thousand super-smart individuals in a few tech companies will be able to function at a level necessary to make good money, while the rest will be akin to chimps living in a world ruled by men. What happens when having a PhD and IQ of 148 isn’t enough to get a subsistence wage job, because there’s only a few jobs that aren’t automated, and they are basically for astronaut-level qualifications, with multiple science degrees and IQ of over 180? Sure, it’s easy to dismiss stupid people who favor socialism because they can’t make it on the market, but what happens when there’s 8 billion people and only 8000 are qualified to actually do anything worth paying them for?

I’ll tell you what happens. Civilizational collapse, and not in the hypothetical aforedescribed future, but fucking now. That’s the reason why everything is falling apart and socialism became popular. It’s because if you’re not a genius, you’re getting increasingly fucked, and even if you’re a genius your life is unbearably difficult, to the point where you don’t have a life beside work. The whole thing is a nightmare for almost everybody, which is why everybody is sending all those smiling selfies, posturing how wonderful their life is. It’s because their life sucks so much they are afraid all hell is going to break loose if anyone finds out, so they posture online and eat antidepressants like candy in private.

 

Vacation, Sony FE 90mm G Macro and misc photo stuff

I was on Hvar for the last ten days, mostly to try to soak up the last warm and sunny days of the year, and also take pictures. This time I had a new lens to work with, the Sony FE 90mm G Macro:

So, what’s so cool about this one and what is it that it does, that can’t be done with the equipment that I already have. tl;dr: It’s the best macro lens in the world.

It has the least chromatic aberrations wide open, greatest sharpness, wonderful front and rear bokeh, image stabilization, autofocus and weather resistance. If you want to work in the closeup and macro range, which I do a lot, it’s the best lens you can get, with the possible exceptions of Zeiss Makro-Planar 100mm f/2 and Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro. As a portrait lens, the Sony is so good, they compare it with Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8, which is one of the best portrait lenses out there. So, considering what you’re getting, it’s actually a bargain, regardless of the apparently high price. The price seems high as long as you don’t look at what it does and what you’d have to get to match it. So, why is it better than what I used so far, which is a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 on macro extension tubes? First of all, Canon creates completely different-looking images, so it’s not a direct replacement, it’s a different tool in a toolbox, like hammer and pliers. In the same way, a Minolta MD 50mm f/1.7 on macro extenders makes completely different images, and I would prefer it for some things. What Sony 90mm G Macro does is allow me to take this:

… and in the next moment, without changing lenses or removing macro extenders, it allows me to take this:

 

Essentially, it’s a wonderfully versatile walkaround lens for my kind of photography, and the only thing I need to complement it is a good wideangle.

Talking about wideangles, I was kinda worried about the problems some photographers had with Canon lenses adapted to Sony FE bodies, where sharpness would drop off towards the edge of the frame. The problem is supposedly caused either by a focusing error, or interference with parts of the adapter, or with the FE mount itself, which is narrow for a 35mm. I couldn’t test the issue with my EF 17-40mm f/L lens, because it’s always unsharp in the corners due to its inferior optical design, but I did test it with the EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye, and the problem doesn’t exist with the Viltrox III adapter:

The edges and corners are completely sharp, and the only limitation is the depth of field (as visible on the above image in the bottom corners). Maybe my adapter is just that good; I do think the problem would show itself with the widest-angle lens there is. I would not hesitate to use Canon EF wideangles on a Sony FE body with this adapter, when edge and corner sharpness is critical.

There’s also controversy regarding the Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens and its usability. In my experience, the lens is excellent. It’s very sharp even wide open, it doesn’t create distortions, chromatic aberrations or flare; vignetting is visible wide open but not when stopped down, and if used as a landscape photography lens from a tripod with meticulous technique, it creates stunningly good images and has no flaws whatsoever. Its problems are of different kind: it has poor close focus, so it’s useless for closeup/macro shots, and the aperture is slow, which makes it difficult to isolate the subject from background. When those two aspects are combined, it becomes useless as a walkaround lens for me, and considering how great the aperture blades are designed and how good the bokeh could be if only it focused closer and had bigger aperture, it’s a shame. However, as a moderate-wideangle to light-telephoto landscape lens, it’s excellent:

  

People have been maligning the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS because it’s expensive and it isn’t sharper than the “kit lens”. The thing is, if it’s as sharp as the kit lens, it’s plenty sharp, thank you very much. It would be really difficult to get it sharper than completely sharp. As for it being expensive, I agree, but it also has harder contrast and color saturation than the 28-70mm, and it also has fixed aperture, and some dust and moisture sealing, which might make it attractive for some people. For me, the 24-70mm f/4 doesn’t add any real versatility that would make it useful for closeup photography, and I prefer the milder contrast and color rendition of the 28-70mm kit lens.

Another thing I got was the Meike battery grip for Sony A7II.

Essentially, it’s a cheap copy of the Sony battery grip, and is as good. It addresses the problem of poor camera ergonomics, and also the mediocre battery life, at the cost of making the camera bulkier and heavier. I’m not sure the result is as comfortable as a Canon 5d body, but is significantly less awkward and tendon-pain-inducing than the Sony A7II body alone with a large and heavy lens attached, when you go for long photographic walks. I recommend at least trying it; it might not be the solution to everyone’s problems, though.

As for the camera I used, the Sony A7II, I’m in love with the colors, resolution and the depth of information in deep shadows during the long exposures. I would like it to be less noisy during the long exposures, in higher ISO and in deep shadows, but regardless, the image quality is fantastic. The only problem with Sony that I had so far is that the first copy of the FE 90mm G Macro arrived with dead electronics – it was completely fubared: no aperture, no focus, no nothing. Some flat cable probably had a flimsy connection, or was subject to G-shock in transit, but I returned it, received a functioning replacement and my experiences with the lens so far were superlative, except that it’s a heavy brick. There are several other lenses I’m considering: one is a wideangle with better geometry and field curvature than my EF 17-40mm f/4L, and another is a telephoto, which is something I never bought because the good ones are very expensive and very heavy, and I would probably end up not using it much, but I still miss one considering how much I liked ones I had for review years ago. But yeah, that’s about it, rambling over. 🙂

 

About hurricanes and global warming

Are the hurricanes caused by global warming? Julian Assange apparently thinks so.

Yes. The globe is warming during the summer, and in the beginning of autumn the oceans are cooling off in a chaotic thermodynamic process called hurricane. This removes the excess of heat accumulated into the oceans; the more heat, and the greater the thermal difference between oceans and atmosphere, the more violent the hurricane.

The funniest thing is, the CO2 model of anthropogenic global warming would actually require the hurricanes to be less violent, because less solar energy accumulated during the summer would be released into space due to the glasshouse effect; this energy would stay here, and cause milder winters, which would in turn cause less growth of the polar ice during the winter, and increased melting during the summer. This would quickly cause the polar caps to melt and the sea levels to rise. The violent hurricanes mean that the energy that would cause this was safely released into space.

Also, the fact that a hurricane is more devastating doesn’t make it stronger. What makes it devastating is when it hits areas with expensive real estate and wealthy people. When it pulverizes Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti or Philippines, and a huge number of poor people lose their cheap homes, everybody shrugs. When it hits St. Bart’s where rich people have their fancy vacations, it’s suddenly the most devastating tragedy ever. The hurricanes didn’t become better or worse – they simply wreck things in their path, and if you’re in their path, you’re fucked. They aren’t the creatures of anthropogenic global warming, they are the creatures of seasonal global cooling. The most devastating one in US history happened 1900 in Galveston. It killed between 6000 and 12000 people, not because it was that huge (it was category 4), but because it hit a densely populated area just right, creating a storm surge of 4.6m. Essentially, it’s the flooding that’s the problem, and when it hits low-lying towns, you can get massive destruction.

According to measurements, global warming between the 1980s and 2017, anthropogenic or otherwise, is in the order of magnitude of a tenth of one degree Celsius (0.1 ºC). This is well within any conceivable margin of error in measurement; essentially, it means no global warming was recorded. It could be argued that any measurements between 1900 and now, that show warming, are due to uncertainty in measurement and local statistic variance, than anything else. Basically, the whole thing is a storm in a teapot. Those minuscule differences amount to exactly jack shit regarding global climate change. In fact, in the 1970s people thought they observed a global cooling trend, and what’s interesting is that the proposed “cure” was the same: it’s the evil capitalist industrial society that’s to blame, and we need more state power to regulate things and wind down the rampant capitalist development, or we’ll end up in an early ice age. Now, it’s we need more state power to regulate things and wind down the rampant capitalist development, or we’ll end up in an glasshouse jungle, the polar caps will melt and the hurricanes will get us all.

It’s all communist bullshit. When the communist bloc fell apart (in fact, when the extent of Stalin’s crimes was revealed), all the university-educated leftist fucktards in the West lost their main hope for communism to rule the world so they switched their world-saving efforts from class warfare to environmentalism. Now they are adding cultural warfare for transgender bathrooms and language policing to the list of their world-saving efforts.

The leftists are not saving the world. They are fucking it up, from French revolution onwards. The only thing those “progressives” are good at is inventing bullshit theories based on which they kill millions and destroy everybody’s lives. The only ones I know of who were actually saving anything and making actual progress are the likes of Jesus and Buddha. The guys publishing “scientific” articles about anthropogenic global warming are just milking the state funding for what it’s worth.