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Sunday Thoughts: Our New God, Artificial Intelligence?



Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing how we interact with everything, from food to healthcare, travel, and also religion. A recent BBC report proclaimed that experts say major global faiths are discussing their relationship with AI, and some are starting to incorporate this technology into their worship. Robot priests can recite prayers, deliver sermons, and even comfort those experiencing a spiritual crisis. Check out the BBC video below.

For sure technology is changing many things in our lives, but could it replace humans or even God? Still, others might say that AI is a mere marketing scam. It is just a high-speed complicated machine that does a lot of “things.” It is not really a conscious entity and can’t think like us humans, much less a God. One supposes that it is all in your definition of AI. Wikipedia has AI as “intelligence demonstrated by machines, as opposed to the natural intelligence displayed by animals including humans.” With that definition, your desktop calculator is AI.

But when machines start having powers that exceed our abilities of ourselves, it takes on AI, or God-like powers, that go well beyond our ability to control it, we start to wonder. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert and author of Win Bigly (2017), in 2018, offered a curious analysis of where AI in politics is taking us: Adams worries that Donald Trump will be the “Last Human President” and that politics will be dominated by AI algorithms in the future (see more here).

“I’ve actually worried that Trump might be the last human president, and I mean that literally, in the sense that the algorithms and the social media companies will be able to control the thoughts and the feelings and the attitudes, and even the social policy preferences of the public to such a degree that the politicians will just have to do whatever the public is saying.

It’s pretty hard to be a president and do something that 70% of the public doesn’t want you to do. It’s very unusual. So the presidents will be captive to the public. As they are, except the public will not be independently thinking and they won’t be led by the presidents and vice-versa.

… In all likelihood, there is no human being at any of these companies, no single human, who understands how the algorithm works. And that means humans aren’t in charge anymore. It means the algorithm is going to do what it is going to do. And we can maybe say, if you change this variable, I’m pretty sure something will happen at this end.

But it is not a one-variable situation. There are many variables. It’s sort of like climate change; modeling it is insanely hard. So I think that complexity will mask the fact that the algorithms will start running the show with a little bit of correction from humans.”

But a complex algorithm is not a conscious entity, is it? In Scott Adam’s ideas, we are just being managed by machines we have already created. But what is consciousness? Again turning toward Wikipedia wisdom, it says, “at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence.” Hardly helpful, is it?

How do we know a machine is self-aware? A light turns on when we pass its motion detector? Remember IBM’s Watson – quite the headline story in its day. A supposed AI program to master a board game including advances in techniques for search algorithms and evaluation functions that proved machines could be smarter than mere mortals.

There have been other recent claims of AI. The European Patent Office recently turned down an application for a patent because it was created by artificial intelligence. By law, inventors need to be actual people – sad day for AI robots. Aside from this legal issue, the innovation was produced by what is called generative adversarial networks. As an example, consider a machine that is supposed to create a new picture of a person.

The first part is the generator, which produces new images starting from a random distribution of pixels. The second part is the discriminator, which tells the generator how close it came to actually producing a real-looking picture.

How does the discriminator know what a human looks like? Well, you feed it many examples of pictures of a real person before you start the task. Based on the feedback of the discriminator, the generator improves its algorithm and suggests a new picture. This process goes on and on until the discriminator decides that the pictures look close enough to the picture examples it has learned. But again, this is yet just another complex machine that is useful for humans to invent.

So what is “true” AI? One thought on AI is whether an entity (animal or machine) can innovate. AI systems need to be capable of imagination. Today AI cannot produce anything that is beyond what they are triggered or trained to do. Fundamentally, innovation is often based on needs we didn’t even know we had – imagination.

Merriam Webster defines imagination as the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality. This almost sounds metaphysical – not of this world. Ut oh … here we go down the religion rabbit hole in another Sunday Thoughts.

Many religions have professed that man is a special species of planet Earth, possessing a metaphysical soul – unlike the animals who do not. Obviously, evolutionists believe everything comes from the natural world, and somehow man merely evolved with these innovative skills, unlike other animals, though they may claim certain animals have minimal imagination skills.

The soul Biblically is sometimes referred to as the “Spirit in Man,” not to be confused with the “Holy Spirit” or “Spirit of God.” Suggesting yes, we are mortal, but there is some spirit or metaphysical aspect to being human. Consider these references.

Job 32:8: “But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” A conscious within the brain?

Ecclesiastes 12:7: “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Let’s not even get into near-death experiences – but here are some natural world explanations. For the more curious, check the video below.

Many scientists tell us that the main difference between humans and apes is the brain size and the number of neurons in the brain – in other words, the difference is of the natural world and NOT metaphysical. We soon may be able to test for this in the lab and potentially debunk the “Spirit in Man” Biblical idea of a metaphysical human soul.

Though a highly unethical experiment, what if we could genetically construct a brain that is larger with these additional neurons? Would one be able to create a new organism that has a consciousness and that is innovative just like, or heaven forbid even greater than humans? Chinese scientists have already started putting human brain genes in monkeys – see here.

We wonder which Scott Adams would fear more, social media algorithms controlling our politics, or Frankenstein monsters created out of some Chinese lab. The point is, we soon may be able to prove whether “true” AI can be created in a software program or a genetic engineering lab. Or will it remain elusive? Give your thoughts in the comment section below – do you believe in a human metaphysical soul?

See more in this series of Sunday Thoughts – click here.

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2nd Chance Movies :’A Day Which Will Live in Infamy’



“Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.”

These immortal words of then-President Franklin Roosevelt set the stage for our salute to a day that changed America’s course in history. We have chosen three selections that highlight the myriad of emotions connected to these historical events. The movies chosen provide context, perspective, and, yes even humor as they explore the serious cultural changes which unfolded post the attack on Pearl Harbor.

As always:

2nd Chance Movies is a reoccurring column dedicated to suggesting films you may have missed or overlooked when they originally were released but deserve another consideration.

We all have our reasons why we choose to pass on movies when they first hit the theaters.

Perhaps the movie lacked effective promotion and never got on your radar.
Maybe you had the film on your list, but buzz initially appeared to fizzle and lacked popularity, so you scratched it off your list.
And then there is the rationale that generated the primary reason this writer created the concept of 2nd Chance Movies –You were not even born yet when the movie was released.

So, Dim the lights, take a seat and grab those special treats and enjoy. Let’s jump right into our first movie recommendation:

#1. Tora! Tora! Tora!:

The 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! so named for the Japanese code to inform its fleet the attack was underway. It is the collaboration of American and Japanese filmmakers Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fujikasaku, Toshia Masuda.

The film has an all-star cast from that era who most likely remember that day personally and served in the military on both sides. The main actors are Martin Balsam, Jason Robards, and So Yamamura as Admiral Yamato.

The late film critic Roger Ebert said it was a well-made film but lacked the strong character formations to get the audience emotionally involved. I would argue with Mr. Ebert in that the gravitas of the event itself carries the emotive thread that binds all the characters to the viewer’s reactions to what they are watching up on the big screen. Although 51 years old, the movie should not be too difficult to find and stream for free or even pay for as it is well worth it despite being made before CGI and glorious special effects.


#2. The Final Countdown:

This 1979 sci-fi thriller is about a modern aircraft carrier and its crew being thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Why this film choice you ask? Because it stars some great actors who like the stars of Tora! Tora! Tora! are from the generation that fought in World War 2. Another aspect is how this film shows how in just forty years how mighty the USA military grew to become the domineering force in the world after such an eviscerating attack as Pearl Harbor. All the extras in the film are actual crew members of the USS Nimitz which only adds to the realism. The film stars Kirk Douglas, Charles Durning, Martin Sheen, James Farentino, Ron O’Neal. and Katherine Ross, and was directed by Ron Taylor. This is a very entertaining and underappreciated movie.

#3. 1941:

Our 3rd film is the 1981 comedy, 1941, directed by Steven Spielberg(who really despises he made this film and is rather embarrassed by it). It has become a sort of cult classic. This is a cultural examination of human nature and behaviors in crisis through a comedy lens. The premise takes place the following weekend after the attack on Pearl Harbor and is set in Los Angeles, USA. The theme is how paranoia gripped the nation in such grave uncertain times albeit with lots of humor. Again the film has an all-star cast Robert Stack, Slim Pickens, Christopher Lee, Dan Ackroyd, John Candy, and the late John Belushi. One can compare the use of humor in 1941 about the Pearl Harbor attack to the approach the film MASH also used with comedy to lay out the horrors of war. As a comedy vehicle, this movie delivers.

Many think 1941 gets the Christmas movie season kicked off since the action takes place right before Christmas. So, check back for the next additions of 2nd Chance Movies -Christmas.

If you found this article informative, please consider a small donation to our coffee cup to help support Conservative Journalism – or spread the word. Thank you.


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Is Biden Ready to Face Putin Over a Ukrainian Crisis?



Satellite images reveal new camps of Russian soldiers near Ukraine’s border as the US warns Moscow will be ready to invade with 175,000 troops within weeks. Learn more here and see a brief video report below.

Blinken urges Russia to ‘de-escalate’ on Ukraine: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Russian counterpart on Thursday to warn him face-to-face of the”serious consequences” Russia would suffer if it invaded Ukraine and to urge him to seek a diplomatic exit from the crisis

— World News 24 (@DailyWorld24) December 2, 2021

Tensions along Europe’s eastern border have been simmering since Putin annexed Crimea back in 2014 and have been threatening to boil over ever since Moscow began massing forces in the region starting in April this year. Here is a view of a recent history of the conflict. Russia now has 50 battalions comprising up to 94,000 troops stationed on the Ukrainian border with another 80,000 – 100,000 sitting in reserve and will be ready to invade within weeks, the US has warned. See below for a troop movement overview.

President Vladimir Putin said recently that Moscow would seek Western guarantees precluding any further NATO expansion and deployment of its weapons near his country’s borders, a stern demand that comes amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. But for now, this does not seem to be in the cards.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned Moscow of the “severe costs and consequences” it would pay if it invaded Ukraine, urging his Russian counterpart to seek a diplomatic exit from the crisis. A Putin-Biden summit would take place in the coming days, Interfax stated. See Blinken’s comments on the situation below.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that President Biden would “likely” speak directly with President Vladimir Putin “in the near future,” as part of a diplomatic effort to head off fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 3, 2021

The inevitable talk of US Russia sanctions abound. Blinken declined to spell out what economic sanctions Russia might face if it invaded its neighbor, saying only that “Moscow knows very well the universe of what’s possible.”

However, US officials are currently weighing a wide set of sanctions on Russia meant to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching an invasion into Ukraine, according to people familiar with the discussions. They include new actions against members of Putin’s inner circle and on Russian energy producers, and one potential “nuclear option” is to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT international payment system used by banks around the world.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has imposed sanctions on 28 employees of the Russian special services. Ukraine has already imposed sanctions on thousands of Russian entities since relations between Kyiv and Moscow collapsed in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea and backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Learn more here.

The Biden administration is trying to fend off efforts in Congress to impose sanctions on a Russian natural gas pipeline to Europe, putting it at odds with Eastern European allies and some Democratic lawmakers. For example, the German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will “weaken” US credibility and “ultimately damage transatlantic unity.” Learn more here.

But after the Democrat’s demonizing of Russia during the Trump administration, can Democrats resist this temptation by reflecting on the broader geopolitical concerns for America?

Russia appears not to be backing down.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warns of a return of the “nightmare scenario of a military confrontation” in Europe as tensions spike over Ukraine. Speaking at the OSCE meeting in Stockholm, Lavrov accuses NATO of bringing its military infrastructure “closer to the Russian borders.” Moscow will certainly react if the US imposes “high-impact” sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists.

Russia has long feared the eastward expansion of NATO closer to its borders. The expansion of NATO is nothing new. It involves the fundamental questions about the purpose of the alliance.

NATO has enlarged itself several times in the past. But the currently envisioned expansion is different from previous ones. Recent enlargements are primarily politically motivated, and it is about the future shape of Europe. Learn more here and here and see above this historical NATO expansion.

Is Biden Ready to Face Putin Over a Ukrainian Crisis?

The Biden administration is already handling another imminent geopolitical crisis with China and Taiwan. Any move by China to invade Taiwan would have “terrible consequences,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said, adding that he hoped Chinese leaders would think very carefully about “not precipitating a crisis” across the Taiwan Strait. The US just announced that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Of course, this is on top of all the other geopolitical concerns the US has – the Middle East, Iran nuclear deal, Kashmir, N. Korea – just to name a few. Then do not forget all the domestic issues of the culture war, climate change, immigration crisis, economics, and the interrelated political internal squabbling that inevitably come. Then there is ever-present Covid. See here, from Blackrock, their geopolitical risk indicator dashboard.

It is as if the world geopolitics and domestic issues are making multiple pincer movements against the US and the Biden administration.

There is no question that Biden’s health is failing (more here and here). We simply do not know the extent of its decline. Would Kamala Harris be capable of stepping in? Reports have swirled for months about Kamala Harris’ office environment and turnover. A former Harris staffer said that the Vice President was a highly critical boss. “With Kamala, you have to put up with a constant amount of soul-destroying criticism,” they said. Four key staffers have already recently left her office. Does a potential President, Kamala, sound as if she has a steady hand to guide America through these troubled waters?

The 2021-2022 winter is coming. Nefarious actors smell US weakness. If there were ever a time for these nefarious actors to make a significant move, now would be the time. Crises have always been clever ways to cover the mistakes of foolish politicians. For many, there is only one question to ponder.

Do we have bumbling fools leading our nation? Or, it has all been by design from the start with unthinkable consequences? Either way, it may not end well.


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Chart of the Day: Americans Taking to the Road on a RV Rampage



We reported earlier that the – Rich Are Fleeing. But it is not just the rich. Us regular folk are also fleeing. This has been part of the effects of the Covid pandemic and the stress many in America are seeing in terms of trends in the cultural divides we see today.

Although there was a slump in April 2020 (due to COVID-19), the second half of 2020 saw a significant rise in the manufacture and delivery of RVs (Recreational Vehicles) nationwide. There were 40,382 RV shipments in December 2020 which is a 46.8% increase from December 2019.  See the total RV shipments monthly vs. last year’s infographic (data compiled from RVIA) below and learn more here and here.

According to the RV Industry Association’s through May 2021, RV sales will continue at a record pace. See the infographic below.

There are about 40 million people who go RV camping each year. There are about 11.2 Million RV owners in America – many others rent. Roughly 1/3rd of these RVers are millennials, 1/3rd are from generation x, and 1/3rd are baby boomers. These statistics show that RV camping is a steady activity that spans many generations. Here are the different types of people roaming the highways of America in RVs.

Happy Campers (3%) love RVs and the adventures that they bring. Primarily snowbirds, this group uses their RV as an escape for half of the year from both the weather and their household budget. They simply could not imagine their lives without an RV. Learn more here.
Casual Campers (39%) only use their RV for a few weekends a year in the warmer months. Casual Campers have thoroughly enjoyed the RV lifestyle and its provision of relaxation and an escape in nature for years. In contrast, a large and satisfied group in total, their low usage, and interest in other travel options make them least committed to the lifestyle. Learn more here.
Adventure Seekers (1%) is a small but mighty group. This group of RV owners knows the world is for exploring. As outdoor enthusiasts that thrive on numerous hobbies, you can find them anywhere there is wilderness to tame – hiking one minute and skiing the next. Learn more here.
Avid RVers (6%) are committed to RVing every chance they have, using their RV for approximately a season. To this group, RVs provide both an opportunity for a romantic getaway and a chance to see the best nature has to offer. Learn more here.
Escapists (16%) are committed to the RV lifestyle. This group of owners enjoys the freedom of exploration camping provides. Traveling as a family for two months of the year, these owners thrive in water-based activities and anywhere with natural beauty to soak in. Learn more here.
Full Timers (1.5%) have adopted their RV as their home, living within the RV all year and embracing the lifestyle to its fullest. Traveling year-round, these nomad owners are set to see the world and appreciate the joys and freedom this lifestyle provides them. Learn more here.
Family Campers (33%) are most often growing up with an RV. Family Camper owners use camping to bond with family and spark the hobby for the next generation. Limited by their full-time employment, summer tends to provide brief periods of escape for these eager young owners.  Learn more here.

Want to dream a little? Take a look below at some of the world’s most luxury motor homes in the industry. If the luxury motorhomes are too expensive, consider renovation – see here.

Too rich for your taste? Take a look at the video below for some cool camping vans. Here, here and here are some resources to get an idea of what you can buy new and used RVs if you are thinking this is the life for you. Here and here are national campground registry resources.

One issue that many RVers are having since the boom in RVers is getting suitable campground settings to park their RV. Then the shortage of RV repair technicians. Perhaps some business ideas for those looking to get into a niche business. Check out the following video that discusses this issue. More here and here on – Why I Quite the Van Life.

Regardless of some of the downsides of RV life, the trend is growing. People are on the move. Covid fear, looking for financial relief, escaping the cities, and/or folks merely seeking adventure – RV life looks to continue upward for the time being. Is RV living ahead in your life? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below.

If you found this article informative, please consider a small donation to our coffee cup to help support Conservative Journalism – or spread the word. Thank you.

See more #chartoftheday posts.

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