Friday, November 27, 2020

US Elections and the Fight for Democracy

It doesn't seem that the US people have lost faith in democracy. It appears distinctly that a great number of them do not trust (a) mail-in ballots and (b) machines. Whether this public call get respect from the judiciary is the question. Ultimately, people must not lose faith in the judiciary; for where the measuring limb of the government is compromised, injustice prevails and people return to a state of nature...

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

SOLVED: Webex Webcam video doesn't go through

 If you find that your video appears on your screen, but other participants inform you that your video doesn't appear, then try unchecking the Hardware Acceleration for Video. 

  • Go to Audio & Video in the meeting screen
  • Select Camera and then Advanced Settings
  • Uncheck Hardware Acceleration for Video

If the webcam is not functioning at all, you may need to perhaps 

  • Check if the camera is connected (if external)
  • Check if it is working in other apps
  • Update the drivers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Lichtman's Predictions, Benford's Law, and Voter Fraud

Quick reflections:

While some are turning to "prophets" and "prophecies" for some clue or answer (Nostradamus included), other's are turning to science (or quasi-science) and maths. Prof. Lichtman's prediction that Biden would win seems almost to have come true, while some are now turning to Benford's Law for forensic evidence to whether voter fraud has really occurred. 

But, how fool-proof are any of these?

  1. Not all "prophecies" can be 100% true for we see through a dark glass as Apostle Paul said. That also can mean that prophetic consonance cannot be treated as proof.
  2. Lichtman's prediction assumes a pattern of mass psychology and behavior. But, does it appropriately incorporate factors such as fraud and mediacracy? Needs check. 
  3. Benford's Law proves successful in detecting fraud in several areas; however, experts are skeptical if it applies to election results due to population variances involved. At the same time, application of the mathematical law to human decision-making raises the issue of freewill and determination. 
  4. Some have also turned to answer in the stars (astrology). It seems to them to be quite mathematical and deterministic. But, that raises even more complicated questions as to how historical events can be causally connected with starry movements. [The Magi saw a star and followed it to Bethlehem; but, the star did not cause the birth of Christ - that's the difference].

Deckert, Joseph, et al. “Benford's Law and the Detection of Election Fraud.” Political Analysis, vol. 19, no. 3, 2011, pp. 245–268. JSTOR, Accessed 11 Nov. 2020.

Democracy Should Refuse to be Overrun by Mediacracy

Tweets, likes, and shares

Brainwashing masses unawares

As post-postmodernity thrives

On virtual reality vibes.

They feared effect-domino

During the Cold-war you know?

Now, they begin to realize

That anybody can believe in lies.

Where mediacracy reigns

Through ideocracy's reins,

Democracy is shamed

And, liberty is baned.

Democracy should refuse to be overrun by mediacracy.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Voter Fraud: What are the counter-arguments and Could the Premises be Wrong?


As the US elections 2020 wraps up, allegations of voter fraud are being raised by the GOP. A number of defensive arguments use the following premises:

  1. Voter fraud rarely happens (historical evidence)
  2. The instances are so low that they cannot affect the election outcomes (historical evidence)
  3. The cost of committing the fraud outweighs the benefit from it that people would avoid it (tight laws, time-consuming procedures - psychological evidence)
  4. Biden got more mail-in votes because he encouraged it as part of the social-distancing commitment. Trump didn't do that so got what the walk-ins could bring. (logical evidence)
  • Just because it happened rarely in the past cannot guarantee it cannot happen massively in the future
  • If the benefit could be greater and the act made securer through loop-hole exploitation and strategic coordination, why wouldn't massive and systemic power-abuse become possible?
  • How is it possible that all or almost all of mail-in ballots favored the same party?

Let' see if the US is able to assure the world that its elections have been totally corruption-free.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Zoom Teaching and Cameras Off


from Zoom blog

Educational institutions have turned to Zoom, WebEx, Teams and several other applications to keep teaching alive amidst this raging pandemic. Teachers are now contending with a new problem: classroom without eye-contact (as students usually prefer to turn their cameras off). Though it might pose an increased challenge to the teacher, I don't think it poses any problem to the student, unless s/he has got distracted with other things in her/his surrounding. That could be resolved by revisiting the class video, in case it was recorded. Where class attendance is not mandatory, the very fact that a student is attending the online class is a positive factor - which assures of at least some 30-60% of attention (adjusted to mind-wandering every now and then). Participation and learning experience can be enhanced by quizzes, google docs team work, games, and other interesting activities. I suspect if breakout rooms will efficiently work without someone with a leader role in the room. 

Respect for all the teachers around the world who are innovating and coming up with new ideas and strategies to enhance the teaching-learning experience.

If you have any ideas, please feel free to comment.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Practical-Logical Anomaly in the Pro-Choice Argument

 Pro-Life Protestors (wiki)

The Pro-Choice argument usually goes something like this:

(a) The fetus at or before a certain point is not a human invested with human rights (is subhuman)

(b) Therefore, abortion at or before that point is not an ethical question

(c) At that point, the mother has the priority of right to decide whether to keep or abort the pregnancy

Problematic Case: In India, abortion is illegal, so is determination of sex by ultrasound, especially due to the high risk of female feticide.

Moral Logic: Abortion on the basis of sex determination is evil. (which can be determined as early as 7 weeks)

Anomaly: How can it be evil if the fetus is subhuman? OR How can a human/female rights issue apply to the fetus? 

Possible response: Abortion based on sex determination violates not the ethics of life, but the ethics of sexual equality.

Counter: How can equality be possible without life in the first place?

Conclusion: The Pro-Choice argument suffers from practical-logical inconsistency