Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Autonomous Cars and Cities


 With autonomous or even semi autonomous cars in 120mph+ pelotons on existing freeways and Musk 120mph skates in tunnels in LA, whole metro areas are sprawlsville.  The American life style will not be changed to urban living.  Ford, General Motors, and all the rest will still be around in 2100 promoting sprawl. 


 Freeways will evolve to narrower lanes restricted to autonomous vehicles, with high speed lanes running in pelotons for efficiency and throughput.  Current freeways of three lanes or more with a breakdown lane in the center can in the near future convert to two or more high speed lanes, one transition lane and leave one wide lane with a breakdown lane for non- autonomous cars at existing speed limits and entrance and exit. Transition lanes would have restricted access and egress and would be separated from the conventional lane by a Jersey Barrier those shaped concrete vehicle diverters used in construction zones.  All that would be required to facilitate this transition would be to improve the roadbed in the high speed and transition lanes.  Autonomous cars exist today capable of 120-150 mph and transit vehicles soon will be once the need for them exists.    

 Autonomous cars can park in high density parking lots on floors limited to small SUVs by floor spacing, served by elevators.  Garages for autonomous vehicles only may be constructed over a major intersection with an existing freeway which is already served by transit and close to developed commercial centers.  The garage may be built over the freeway.  The passenger access floor will have bus clearance for larger vehicles also at high density enabled by autonomous control.  Pedestrian and bicycle access is over the existing sidewalk space on the cross street and transit access over a lane of the cross street.  Cars will enter from freeway access ramps to car lanes inside the garage next to the pedestrian/bikeway. Once passengers exit the car for local transportation and tell the car computer their expected departure time the car will join a cue to an elevator, tandem or more, at the far end of the garage to access parking floors. Exiting cars would use the same elevator with circulation on all floors in the same direction.  Driverless autonomous cabs would be available at the freeway nodes for those needing them. 

 Existing densities are adequate for those choosing urban living. It is an unpopular life style

 The Upper middle class will commute from their tract mansions to suburban commercial campuses, or to the city for work on the high speed freeways, using the existing freeway access and local streets for last few mile access as necessary.  

  Service workers and others with minimum wage employment will commute from now remote suburbs, car or vanpooling as needed where high speed transit is unavailable.  

  Depending on what happens with UBI and "Medicare for All" the workers displaced by robotics and the existing poor will die or move to now dead rural communities.  Assuming UBI and Medicare, the revived rural communities will become vibrant villages of local commerce and art most of which will generate excess funds for local amenities.  

Saturday, May 6, 2017

On Grief


May 5 2017 ~4pm.
Peter our dog died peacefully late this afternoon. He has been dealing with neuropathy for a month and apparently his heart just couldn't deal with it any longer. Prednisone made him comfortable but apparently the strain was too great. A wonderful pet. Happy to have him a part of the family for these nearly 8 years. RIP Peter,you earned it beautifully.

Grief is ones immediate reaction to the fact that the person or animal that has been an important part of ones emotional support team is no longer an active part of that team.  It is the sudden realization that those little continuous indications of mutual love and support, have ceased and can no longer be relied on and new substitutes must be found.  They are not the big things, a hug in a happy situation can always be found as will sympathetic tears in a sad one.  

It is the "Hi you are back" whether verbal or a tail wag, the food or treat that will no longer be provided as a recognition of all the emotional support provided.  The quick stopping by "just because."  The vetting of visitors to the property and to the house as known friend, unknown person, or possible foe.  "Never trust anyone your dog doesn't like."  But part of the recovery is the realization that those things aren't lost, just not active any more.  That unlicked bowl now needs to be rinsed for the dishwasher, but you still remember the patient waiting begging only with the eyes that you taught with the service provided as the reward.  And you still put the bowl on the floor instead of the table to remind yourself that hesh is still waiting patiently begging only with his eyes in his death dreams; or yours for herm.

Atheists and others have a beautiful ceremony celebrating the life of a deceased love one in part to keep those death dreams of the deceased alive in the real dreams of the survivors.  We call them memories, but what is a memory but the reliving of an event in a dream like state that may be a reflection of the loved one's presence.  


The House Dog's Grave : Robinson Jeffers.

The House Dog's Grave (Haig, an English bulldog)

I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read--and I fear often grieving for me--
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope than when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dear, that's too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been.

And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.


Robinson Jeffers, 1941


A Friend's tribute to his late wife

An atheist friend of mine lost his wife of 33 years recently. The following tribute is his beautiful response:

When someone has sweetened your existence with a strong “sense of life,” transforming every dark and shaded place around you to warmth, even the grief one feels in the hours of separation appears out-of-place in the brightness of her after-glow. It is easy to see her mark upon the Earth, etched forever in the hearts and minds of those that she loved and those that couldn't help but love her, too.

When a life-thread so vibrant is unexpectedly snapped, this awful circumstance comes upon us like a dark cloud; for some time we feel we cannot find our way without her guidance. Look carefully and you will still see a trail lined with candles that she left for each of us, to help us find the path to joy, to take up those candles, to light them and to share them with another person trying to find their way through life. 

On Atheist Priests.

beliefnet

I was part of a Requiem sung for a good Catholic friend. There was no hypocrisy there, for the duration of the requiem I was a believer helping other believers send their loved one to herm Lord Jesus Christ. My beliefs or lack of them had absolutely nothing to do with the performance. I was a human being helping other human beings deal with their grief.

A very good Catholic friend asked me to pray with him in a bereavement situation. He knew I was an atheist, but he also knew that I knew his God. We were on our knees together in a chapel praying for the gift of strength for him to deal with the situation. Was I being a hypocrite or was I helping a friend in a difficult situation? He was the one that told me that atheist prayers are more valuable to God as they are always sincere.

I see no problem with an atheist priest suspending disbelief to perform his offices for the benefit of his parishioners. Since there is no God to care anyway, what is the difference if the priest complies sincerely with the rituals for the believers in his parish. If their belief in the myth helps them get through the week, what is the problem with an atheist facilitating that belief? He is simply a human being helping other human beings, not judging them. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cultural Immune Systems.

Notes from Phædrus

Rober M. Pirsig
Lila
An Inquiry into Morals
Bantam Books 1991
(KXXX - pages in Kindle edition.
Notes from
Michael Shermer.
The Believing Brain
Henry Holt and Company, 2011
Page references from
Advance Readers edition

Phædrus

 What it always means is that you have hit an invisible wall of prejudice. Nobody on the inside of that wall is ever going to listen to you; not because what you say isn't true, but solely because you have been identified as outside that wall. A cultural immune system.  K58 
It was classical nineteenth-century science and its insistence that science is only a method for determining what is true and not a body of beliefs in itself.  K59 

Patterns of culture do not operate in accordance with the laws of physics .   How are you going to prove in terms of the laws of physics that a certain attitude exists within a culture? K60

The trouble was that man ins't suited to this kind of scentifec pbjective study.  Objects of scientific study are supposed to hold still. ...Man doesn't do this. Not even savages.61
Shermer
As a fiscal conservative and a social liberal ...I have close friends in both camps, and over the years I have observed the following: no matter what the issue is under discussion, both sides are equally convenced that the evidence overwhelmingly supports their position.  I am sure it does because of the confirmation bias, or the tendency to seek and find vonfirmatory evidence in support o already existing beliefs and ignore or reinterpret disconfirming evidence.  AR259

A work in progress.  I am in the process of reading Lila.  More quotes and finally analysis and commentary to follow.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Freedom of Speech Collection Post


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There is actually an argument that Religious Extremists are not covered by the First Amendment in the USA which specifies freedom of religion, all religions including Nones. It was in part enacted to prevent the Calvinist extremists from requiring an Oath to God meaning the Calvinist God as a requirement of holding office. 

 George Washington added "So Help me God." to the official oath required by the constitution as a political sop to the Black Regiment of politically active Calvinist extremists pending further efforts by Jefferson and others to keep religious freedom (from Calvinism) in the US . See the Treaty of Tripoli forced on John Adams the most religious of the Founders, although not fundamentalist anything.

Game Theory Collection Post


http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/02/23/in-favor-of-niceness-community-and-civilization/

TL;DR So a useful excerpt:

So let’s derive why violence is not in fact The One True Best Way To Solve All Our Problems. You can get most of this from Hobbes, but this blog post will be shorter.
Suppose I am a radical Catholic who believes all Protestants deserve to die, and therefore go around killing Protestants. So far, so good.
Unfortunately, there might be some radical Protestants around who believe all Catholics deserve to die. If there weren’t before, there probably are now. So they go around killing Catholics, we’re both unhappy and/or dead, our economy tanks, hundreds of innocent people end up as collateral damage, and our country goes down the toilet.
So we make an agreement: I won’t kill any more Catholics, you don’t kill any more Protestants. The specific Irish example was called the Good Friday Agreement and the general case is called “civilization”.

So let’s talk about how beneficial game-theoretic equilibria can come to exist even in the absence of centralized enforcers. I know of two main ways: reciprocal communitarianism and tit-for-two-tats.

Reciprocal communitarianism is probably how altruism evolved. Some mammal started running TIT-FOR-TAT, the program where you cooperate with anyone whom you expect to cooperate with you. Gradually you form a successful community of cooperators. The defectors either join your community and agree to play by your rules or get outcompeted.  

The most useful strategy for a community seems to be a variety of tit-for-two-tats. Some forgiveness for transgressions but recognition of the fact that consecutive transgressions are socially dysfunctional.  This is particularly useful in social situations where communication is possible between the “players” and the first transgression can be identified as such and some sort of counselling available as to community standards.

This strategy is inherent in the UU First Principle of Radical respect. The first transgression is attributed to ignorance of social standards and not malice. The second transgression especially after the reciprocal “tit” even without counseling can be attributed to malice and appropriate action taken.

A 40 Minute Hotel Room Workout.

 Actually 60 minutes from rolling out of bed, to dressed for work.

 I hate running.  Even on an interesting parkway.  Running in airport hotel parking lot is self inflicted torture.  But exercise is a necessity.  When I was travelling a lot and working too many hours a day to fit in a decent walk I had to make do.  

 I adapted a gymnastics warm up and cool down plus a bit of the RCAF 10 minute workout, added 23 minutes of high intensity Aerobics I learned as a part of a study run by the Physiology Prof and gymnastics coach at Stanford Wes Ruff.  

 The gym team among others were volunteers to determine the optimum level of aerobics to maintain peak Cardiovascular health.  That study is the reason for the universal recommendation for 20 minutes of aerobics in any exercise program.  We were divided into groups with varying levels of time and intensity and monitored monthly on a EKG bicycle with a breathing mask.  (The worst part of the study.)  Intensity mattered less in maintenance of existing levels of CVH, if you could do it at all 20 minutes kept you where you were and more didn't help at all.  It didn't hurt of course, and strangely pushing the intensity didn't help either. You were stronger and had more endurance but the basic level of CVH didn't change (for the College Varsity level athletes in the study.)

In any event the workout:
Two minutes of limbering and stretching I use the usual six point strech, the first six limbering, the last full 30 second stretches.  
Two minutes 4 position Yoga position bicepts work
Thirty second supine planche,  feet on the floor now. 
Thirty second seated toe touch stretch
One minute supine bicycle ab work
Fifteen seconds of push ups, as hard as you can make them Chest slaps originally, lucky to stay off knees now. 
Back arches as needed for tone.  Too many may overpower core and cause back issues.  
Two minutes of back stretches (Pretzel) for back issues
One minute of crunches as hard as possible.

 That should put you at about 9 minutes for a minute breather and drink and "Exercise pulse rate." 

 Twenty three minutes (nominal) run in place intervals.  18 sets of a minute run + 20 sec .Jumping Jacks or sprint as able. I know that is 24 minutes but you can run and jump faster than that can't you? If you get much below 23 jack up the intensity. I count steps and jumps rather than watch a clock.

The clock comes at the end of the 23 minutes.  Hit the lap timer, find a Jugular pulse in ten seconds, and count 10 seconds X6  for your intense rate.  That was the study protocol which I have stayed with all these years to track a reliable baseline.  I assume modern gadgets are better but I can't be bothered.  

Cooldown 
30 Sec wide leg, straight foot wall stretch
One min. light exercise, I use a in place mogul run.
30 second each one leg stretch
30 sec each one leg knee bends, balance and mild exercise
30 sec wide leg, splay foot deep wall stretch to end.  

Another pulse check, S.S.S. and 20 minutes later a recovery pulse check (optional it doesn't change much except when you slack off for a while.)


Bicycle Stories.

 I was the "Businessman on a bicycle." in New York City in the '70s who used a full lane I memorized the Vehicle Code number from circa 1900 that established the bicycle as equivalent to a horse drawn carriage and horses, entitled to the use of a full traffic lane. I always used one. The law was for the occasional cop who shouted at me to move to the parking lane and I shouted back NYVC 10-25 or whatever it was. For cabs more aggressive measures were needed. I had a huge master lock on a fairly long hardened chain, which hung on the traffic side handlebar and occasionally slid off forcing me to catch it before it swung too close to an encroaching cab. Even cabs intent on forcing me into the parked cars got the message. I never had to make contact but the word spread rapidly and soon editorials began to appear that bike lanes on the Avenues were needed. I got some "help" from bike messengers in establishing the need for bike lanes South of Central Park. They not only used traffic lanes, but all available space on streets and sidewalks. Bike lanes came relatively quickly and established the unfortunate precedent of being located on the traffic side of the parking lane. Much better than none, but I still carried the lock when prudence dictated leaving the bike lane for the traffic lane.

 An amusing aside, I was riding down 5th Ave. past Rockefeller Center spring break and a class of kids saw me about 51st and screamed Look a Businessman on a Bicycle which was picked up by class after class all the way to about 46th. I at least smiled and waved.

 Most of my bike commuting was downwind and down hill going to work so a suit and tie was OK if I took it easy. Clean bike gear was in the saddlebags. Coming home involved a change at work, a long steep hill upwind, a shower in bike gear after the strength workout, and a cool dryer. Even strong tourers rode my wheel up Geneva in SF into a 40 mph wind after belittling my "easy commute of only 6 mi. My favorite however, was a 15 miler from Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge through Sausalito to Mill valley. No sweat at all to work in the morning if I took it easy up a couple of hills and the bridge. Home was an easy warm up to the Bridgeway Hill where the tourists dropped out and the work out began for the rest of the way home.

When I moved to Silicon Valley a bicycle as transportation didn't provide efficient exercise, but I would occasionally ride up to the City to sneer at the van riders on Sunday's weekly closure of 4 miles of Cañada Road. A nice warm up, but why the van to get there?

 Then there are the real bicycle pros.  Nephew Nick missed the 7-11 team only by an admission to UCB.  He lived in Carmichael east of Sacramento, rode to the Davis Double, rode the double and rode home. All in a day's work(out.) 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Patient Perspective on Perfusion Chemotherapy


 I was diagnosed with Stage IV HPV+Squamous Throat and tongue cancer early May, and the tumor board recommended Chemo + Radiation.  I am a lifelong advanced level avocational symphonic choir singer with important concerts imminent and elected to forgo radiation as damage to the vocal instrument was certain and rehab to singing level was unlikely.
   
 The tumor board suggested a very aggressive and dangerous Perfusion Chemo as an alternative with the warning that it was potentially life threatening but would not damage the vocal instrument.  For me the risk/benefit equation of certain loss of singing ability vs a dangerous regimin of Chemo made the Chemo the best choice.  As a singer friend noted priorities are 1. Don't die if possible. 2. Keep singing, 3. Manage the cancer.  I was in excellent health, with a athlete's level of fitness, and decided I could deal with the aggressive Chemo and live through it to deal with any remaining cancer at a later date if necessary.  The tumor board assumed that later meant radiation and more Chemo. I did not.  See 2 above.

  But most important I didn't buy into the belief unfortunately promoted by the medical profession that Cancer is a terrible monster that must be eradicated from the patient at whatever cost.

  IT.  IS. NOT.

  Cancer like heart disease, strokes, and many other infirmities of age, are things that need medical attention and may affect life style, but if they are not fatal are issues that must be dealt with in the context of doing things that are important to the patient, even if lifestyle choices may affect the treatment and even the outcome of the disease.  These diseases of age are analagous to joint damage, broken bones even spinal injuries and concussions.  They may kill you outright, we all die someday, but if not life style changes to fix the problem should not be the primary form of treatment.  A friend of mine was paraplegic as a result of a ski accident on KT-22.  Instead of gently learning to use a wheelchair to avoid further damage to his injury he was organizing wheelie races in the rehab center.  Skiing might have killed him but it wasn't about to change his life style dead legs notwithstanding.

 It is important for the patient to understand all of the side effects of the chosen procedures and be prepared to enlist the help of the procedure specialists ahead of time in dealing with ER and attending physicians that may not be aware of some of the less common side effects.  One that I found out the hard way was that perfusion can totally shut down the GI system so that no food is processed even if it can be forced down.   Another is the tongue can be totally disabled by sores and thrush so that even liquid nutrition ingestion is difficult without aggressive treatment of the thrush. A popular Chinese folk medicine called Watermelon Frost in English was helpful once the GI system was able to process food. It is unknown to most physicians as it is not an officially recognized treatment of tongue sores.  Ask a Chinese friend who will probably have it at home or can get it for you at a Chinese ethnic market.  Professionals on the Oncology staff should know about this folk healer and suggest it as "maybe helpful." They have suggested Culturelle and L=Glutamine as "maybe helpful" and they have been "maybe very helpful."   



Thursday, April 20, 2017

US Politics Invade the Blue Roads


Damn.


 I was a political activist for ObamaForAmerica Obama's grass roots group in the 2008 primary for the first time since the Vietnam protests as he clearly was or at least pretended to be a different Democrat.  To this day a waffle on that matter.  I would like to think he was real and fucked by the Neolibs who might well have moved to McCain without his cooperation just like they fucked Sanders after the primary even knowing it would cost them the election. 

 The 2016 election was going to a populist even one who lied about it.  Clinton could have lied convincingly about supporting the progressive parts of the platform and walked away with a Popular and Electoral Mandate with no third party mumblings or Bernie-or-Bust blaring and appointed the Trump Cabinet anyway.  It would have been much more effective for the Neolibs since they had the House at least and enough Neolibs in the Senate behind them to ram anything through they wanted.  Maybe even a slaop to the poor, like $15.

 Prior to Obama it was not clear that TweedledyDem or TweedledyRep was the lesser evil. Or, why Boomers and Gen X essentially left politics to ALEC who supported both. We had no voice in either. Or perhaps no voice at all. All we could do was protect our backsides and assets (NIMBY anyone?) as best we could, and think long and hard about whether the USA was the proper place for children and grandchildren.  Most of us seriously considered whether it was fair to grandchildren to even have them if the USA was the only choice. In 1989 I had a life changing summer and it was a toss-up between Silicon Valley and Denmark to start over.  (I had recently read Friday and even Warwhoop Tumbril made California look better than anyplace else in NA.)   

 It is no accident that many millennials are childless.  Unless you or your estate can afford to pay for their education, it is best to adopt a pet.  



 The 2010 bloodbath happened because Obama and his Neoliberal Clinton gang fucked his 2 million small $ supporters and activists that got him the nomination in 2008.  It was clear that he had done so during the campaign and if McCain had had the courage to take on the radical right to choose a decent VP, he might just have swayed enough of us to give ALEC a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.  It probably wouldn't have made any more difference than Obama's bullshit Organizing For America in Washington, but it would have been enough to bury the Clintons and open the door for the progressives.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

The History of Dog Food

From a facebook post, edited.
Feed your dog good food, not dry food every meal. Even canned dog food is chopped up throwaway parts, fat, gristle.  A good meal for a dog is meat, brown rice and a vegetable. Milk and egg. They really like vegetables, especially cooked broccoli, carrots, sweet potato. You want to baby them? Put a little butter on the veggies.

 Don't forget the fat, gristle, and skin you throw "under the table". Dogs lived on that and other human garbage ever since they quit hunting as wolves.  At some point in history, a subset  of wolves, found it easier to live off the garbage of humans, a pretty messy bunch, who even then left offal, gristle, bones, and half eaten meals in their dumps which were the on the edges of their settlements on non-arable land.  These "follower" wolves lost the ability to hunt with a pack, and avoided humans by barking instead of howling.  They barked to alert the herd, no longer a pack, to intruders for mutual protection, but also alerted the smart, well-armed humans to dangerous intruders animal and human.  The follower wolves kept dangerous wild animals away from the dump and therefore the settlements, lived off of and cleaned up the human leftover food to the mutual benefit of both species.  In the beginning the follower wolves were still vicious wild animals, but learned to avoid the well-armed humans and were tolerated for their garbage collection and warning behaviors. 

 Hat tip to Jon Franklin for much of the above.   From there to The Wolf in the Parlor and under the table you will have to read his book of the same name.  Available at https://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Parlor-Came-Share-Brain/dp/0312662645 and elsewhere.
  T
 Animal food is the invention of the white flour industry to use the nutritious parts of the grain they throw "under the table."  

 In the late 19th century the big flour mills in the Midwest had a shelf life problem for their traditional whole grain flour.  The shelf life was too short to get the product to the population centers on the East Coast. Their solution was to separate the germ which was the spoilable part before final milling to create the standard American "White bread" flour.  

Once separated from the whole grain the germ spoils rapidly unless processed and the flour mills had trainloads of the stuff to get rid of.  Dumping was not an option as rotten grain germ is a smelly nuisance. Animal food processors and cereal producers had the ability to steam process the germ into stable pellets and flakes for later consumption and white flour became economical to produce. 

 An amusing industry sprung up arbitraging trainloads of short lived germ as they went from the mills to the germ processors.  Neither the mills nor the germ users could afford an interruption in the supply chain, but of course wanted the best price at their end of the chain.  The arbitrage involved the timing of the trains.  Guess right and the processors bought high, guess really wrong and you had a trainload of garbage to clean up.
 


Thursday, April 13, 2017

On Humor

 Another guest post to begin an essay I have been thinking about for a couple of years now.
 
Nyah Wynne
Somehow we have gotten this notion in the culture that humor is value-neutral. That something being a joke means it doesn't mean anything, it doesn't affect anything. But it's absurd. Humor has a powerful social function. Several in fact. It can help people bind over shared adversity. It can smooth over feelings of social discomfort around uncomfortable or uncertain events and ideas. In this last, a message about how to think about something is often included implicitly. But it also plays a very large role in social censure and definition of in/out group. As social censure it acts as an attack against people -doing- things that are culturally deemed unacceptable but not so bad that they warrant punishment(or where social systems don't exist to enact punishment). This can be very useful, as mocking those acting rudely or engaging in petty cruelty can help to correct those actions, or can be destructive if the taboos they enforce/reinforce are unjust.

But this same social censure can end up targeting whole groups of people along utterly arbitrary lines. And when they do they tend to create/reinforce and recreate in each new generation systems of social advantage/oppression. Humor is possibly The Strongest Inculcation Tool for teaching prejudice. Because it is a set of social cues we are primed to respond to without thinking. Because humor has such a strong group-bonding component, the social incentive to laugh along with the joke is high. And when you see others laugh with the joke, the incentive to tell similar jokes is high. And the group bonds over it, and the message sinks in without really ever being critically appraised. And eventually that message forms a baseline subconscious assumption about the world unless you run into a strong reason to actively work to weed it out.

It ends up playing a part in defining on a deep level who is and isn't fully worthy of empathy. Who 'deserves' abuse. Who should automatically be respected and who shouldn't. And these same things end up coloring how we see the world. How we respond to what people in various groups say and how they act. Who is given the benefit of the doubt and who is suspect. Who is assumed to be competent or worth listening to. What sorts of ideas are even worth consideration, because humor is extremely good at painting whole ideas as beneath contemplation and therefor dismissed -without ever being consciously evaluated-. Whose ideas are worthy of such thought.

Because the same mechanism involved in many of these sorts of jokes is the social tool we use to single out rude people, or liars, or people who cheat. It's never just a joke. It's a bit of prejudice you learned at some point that you never even noticed yourself learning, which you are passing on without realizing you are doing it. No one joke is going to just make a person prejudiced, but each little bit adds up. Because as rational and introspective as we might think we are, as humans we are all pretty impressionable, and worse we tend to be very blind to how we are being affected.

Think about your humor. What you laugh at. What jokes you pass along. And if you get called on a joke, instead of getting defensive, consider questioning the joke itself. Why you found it funny, but also what sort of messages it's conveying. You telling this kind of joke doesn't make you a bad person, you just picked up somewhere that it was funny. But it still has an effect, even if you don't see it.
Mel Brooks/Groucho Marks:

Tragedy is when I cut my finger.  Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.
 All humor is ultimately a pratfall, but most important the pratfall happens to "them" not "us."  Think of any ethnic joke.  OK you got one don't you?  Now name your most important in-group.  Your church, your school, your community.  Now tell the joke with the ethnic group replaced by the in-group name preferably aloud in the in-group.  Is it still comedy or does it become a tragic comment on the failing of the group, or worse it makes you rude to point it out.  

 The truth of the pratfall is irrelevant to the designation.  You may claim it is ironic, or if it is perceived to be on them, satire but the message is clear: This is what they are/do and we must be careful that it never happens to us.  

 One of my favorite religious jokes is the poem 
We are the world's sweet chosen few.
The rest of you be damned!
There is room enough in Hell for you,
We won't have Heaven crammed.
Note the open sewer there.  It may be simply a mud hole if you don't believe in Hell, but nevertheless if one of "us" fell into that mud hole all would rally around to rescue the victim, and the joke falls flat.  The message for apostates is unmistakable and the message for non-believers is that you deserve the open sewer preferably sooner rather later, and "we" will be glad to help. 

"It's a joke, son." is a way of defusing criticism of behavior that is not consistent with the mores of our tribe by associating it with another tribe, preferably one that is not too dissimilar but clearly not one of us.  Interstate jokes being the most benign as the neighboring state is clearly a lot like us and only the worst of them indulge as the butt of the joke. The sharp edge remains however to remind "son" that we don't do things like that.  If the cutting edge of the humor doesn't cause a bit of discomfort in the audience of the comic it probably was wasted and unsuccessful.  

Humans laugh because they are uncomfortable but either unsure of the source of the discomfort or because the source of the discomfort is a trusted figure of some sort.  Consider tickling.  Tickling is a serious invasion of personal space.  But only someone that has permission to invade personal space can be in a position to tickle.  It is a restrained aggressive act, but protest would be inappropriate so we express our discomfort with laughter. 

Da Capo. 
 
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-brain-can-distinguish-between-real-and-fake-laughter/?WT.mc_id=SA_FB_MB_FEAT
“Laughter is really interesting because we observe it across all human cultures and in other species,” says Carolyn McGettigan, a cognitive neuroscientist at Royal Holloway, University of London. “It's an incredibly important social signal.” ...
Subjects whose medial prefrontal cortex “lit up” more when hearing the posed laughter were better at detecting whether laughs were genuine or not in a subsequent test. (This brain region is involved in understanding the viewpoint of others.) “If you hear a laugh that seems ambiguous in terms of what the person means,” McGettigan explains, “it makes sense that you're going to try to work out why this person sounds like this.”

 There is a lesson in this for those who persist in telling jokes that are offensive to some.  They can tell that some are "laughing to be a part of the crowd" or to be polite.  How they deal with that knowledge is an important social signal that can in an extreme situation be a reason for calling them out as an asshole that does not belong in the social circle they pretend to be in. If it is yours, kick herm the hell out. No Platform the asshole.