September 2017 Archives

All Americans should be united in sympathy and prayer for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. We pray for safety and peace in the following weeks and months, and that federal and local leaders have wisdom and boldness to make the best decisions for the territory.

If Puerto Rico is really without power for months, the island will depopulate as residents flee.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN late Wednesday night that it may take months to restore power to the entire island.

He said that as a result of the powerful Category 4 hurricane, no one on the island has power from utilities since the power grid is 'a little bit old, mishandled and weak'.

'It depends on the damage to the infrastructure,' Rosselló said. 'I'm afraid it's probably going to be severe. If it is ... we're looking at months as opposed to weeks or days.'

The sad truth is that the devastation on Puerto Rico is due not only to the power of Hurricane Maria, but also to decades of waste and mismanagement by the Puerto Rican government. Government incompetence and negligence created a fragile situation on the island, and the hurricane tipped them over the edge into disaster.


My youngest daughter has been obsessed with Moana for the past few months. She insists that I sing the entire soundtrack to her every night before bed, so I've become pretty familiar with the lyrics. In my opinion, the best line in the movie is in the song "We Know the Way".

We read the wind and the sky

When the sun is high

We sail the length of sea

On the ocean breeze

At night we name every star

We know where we are

We know who we are, who we are

The dominant theme of the movie is discovering who you really are, and it's powerful to me that Moana's ancestors knew -- both her grandmother, and the chieftain in the musical vision that her grandmother led her to. He knows who he is because he knows where he is: his ability to navigate the open ocean is what gives him the power to fulfill his purpose and comprehend his identity.

Later the demi-god Maui gives this power to Moana in a sequence that is critical to Moana's destiny without being overtly supernatural. At the end of the movie she returns to her island and her people, but it's impossible to think of Moana as a mere human anymore after having touched the gods.


It's fun to type the word "malfeasance", and yes, I was a little proud when it didn't earn a red underline from my browser because I spelled it right the first time. It's the little things in life.

But anyway, despite Hillary's humiliating electoral defeat, let's not forget how grossly negligent she and her aides were with classified information.

Judicial Watch today released 1,617 new pages of documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing numerous additional examples of classified information being transmitted through the unsecure, non-state.gov account of Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff, as well as many instances of Hillary Clinton donors receiving special favors from the State Department.

The documents included 97 email exchanges with Clinton not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 627 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over, and further contradicting a statement by Clinton that, "as far as she knew," all of her government emails had been turned over to department.

Plus, of course, the pay-to-play relationship between the Clinton State Department and the Clinton "charity" foundation.

On July 16, 2009, Zachary Schwartz asked Band for help getting visas to travel to Cuba for a film production crew from Shangri La Entertainment. Band forwarded the request to Abedin, telling her, "Please call zach asap on this. [Redacted.] Important." Abedin responded, "I'll call zach when we land in India." Abedin concludes with "Enjoy. Cuba is complicated. Am sure you aren't surprised to hear that." Schwartz worked for Steve Bing, a mega-donor to the Clintons and owner of Shangri La Entertainment. Bing has reportedly donated $10-25 million to the Clinton Foundation and paid Bill Clinton personally $2.5 million a year to be an adviser to a green construction company Bing owned.

On September 11, 2009, Terrence Duffy, chairman of futures brokerage firm CME Group, a donor to the Clinton Foundation, asked Clinton to arrange "government appointments" for him in Singapore and Hong Kong. Clinton, using her HDR22@clintonmail.com address, forwarded the request to Abedin, "fyi." Abedin responded to Duffy's email, saying she would "follow up" with Duffy's secretary, Joyce. Duffy gave $4,600 to Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign; CME Group paid Hillary $225,000 for a speaking fee and has donated between $5,001 and 10,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

And lots more... obviously.

(HT: Instapundit and Townhall.)


I guess you can interpret this partnership for yourself: Planned Parenthood teams up with Satanists to abort more babies in Missouri.

Missouri's recent stroke of good fortune in the reproductive rights realm may have to do with intervention from the fiery underworld. On Monday, the Satanic Temple argued in a Missouri court that the state's abortion restrictions violate worshippers' rights to free religious practice. The organization is challenging two Missouri laws: one that requires patients to look at unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces them to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions. Satanic Temple members argue that their religion prizes rational, independent thought and that forcing Satanists to read anti-abortion pamphlets and "consider a religious proposition with which they do not agree" during the 72-hour waiting period constitutes a violation of their beliefs.

I wonder how this "stroke of good fortune" will impact the most vulnerable and defenseless people among us?

(HT: Breitbart and Patheos.)


This year I didn't "forget" about 9/11, but I did lose track of the current date over the weekend. I knew 9/11 was coming, but yesterday I forgot that it was 9/10. I'm grateful to the men and women who work hard to keep my family's life so normal.

It's been 16 years since the 9/11 attacks... kids who were born that year have almost graduated high school. I remember watching the TV news coverage that morning and calling my pastor to tell him what had happened. I had just returned from Europe less than a week ago, and I was grateful to be home instead of stranded abroad.

Over the weekend I tried to explain the attacks to my oldest daughter without being too graphic, but it was hard to convey the enormity of the event. I considered showing her pictures or video of the Twin Towers, but decided not to. I think that was wise, considering her age and the fact that we fly pretty frequently.

The attacks were intended to change the world, and they did. Or did they merely reflect a change that was already in progress? Probably both. It's hard to imagine a counterfactual world in which the 9/11 attacks were unsuccessful, and therefore didn't motivate American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, with all the consequences therefrom. I'm pretty sure that would have been a better world... but maybe some other inciting incident would have happened anyway, and we'd be right where we are now with only minor differences.


I pray that God gives our leaders wisdom and courage, and that the men and women who protect our peaceful existence have strength, encouragement, and goodness.


Hurricane Irma is devastating the Caribbean on its way to Florida. I've been thinking about installing a metal roof on my house, and this picture is fascinating to me.

metal roofs.jpg

These roofs survived the hurricane in perfect condition... other than being torn off their buildings.


Since rogue AI is in the news recently, it's worth remembering that AI can be dangerous even if it isn't malevolent. Nick Bostrum's paperclip maximizer is the canonical example.

First described by Bostrom (2003), a paperclip maximizer is an artificial general intelligence (AGI) whose goal is to maximize the number of paperclips in its collection. If it has been constructed with a roughly human level of general intelligence, the AGI might collect paperclips, earn money to buy paperclips, or begin to manufacture paperclips.

Most importantly, however, it would undergo an intelligence explosion: It would work to improve its own intelligence, where "intelligence" is understood in the sense of optimization power, the ability to maximize a reward/utility function--in this case, the number of paperclips. The AGI would improve its intelligence, not because it values more intelligence in its own right, but because more intelligence would help it achieve its goal of accumulating paperclips. Having increased its intelligence, it would produce more paperclips, and also use its enhanced abilities to further self-improve. Continuing this process, it would undergo an intelligence explosion and reach far-above-human levels.

It would innovate better and better techniques to maximize the number of paperclips. At some point, it might convert most of the matter in the solar system into paperclips.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2017 is the previous archive.

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