Jan 052018

I’m switching all my texting and messaging to it as much as possible, and this is my urging that you do too. First and foremost, due to security, of course, but…

The user interface is slick and beautiful and just sooooo responsive.

There’s a destop app that integrates seemlessly and stays synced to your phone(s) and other computers, so you can type on a keyboard when near one, instead of tapping on a screen! Yet is still fully mobile when you aren’t near a legit computer.

My biggest fear was that setup would be a pain, with all sorts of tech knowledge needed, and passwords, and private keys, etc. No. Nothing like that. Just install the app and you’re good to go. It syncs your contact list from your phone and auto-fills it with anyone else who has Signal.

And, of course, the security. Fully encrypted end-to-end, so no one else can read your messages. Not the NSA, not Facebook, not Google, not the phone company, or any service provider. Your conversations actually remain your own.
And it’s free!

Very importantly, this is good to use AT ALL TIMES. If people only use Signal for illicit talk, that means it’s obvious that anyone using Signal is doing something shady. Once you use it for everything, all the time, out of a matter of principle because it ain’t nobody else’s business what the hell you’re saying to your mom or your bae or your boss, there is a normalization of using encryption all the time. Which is as it should be.

I know this sounds like an ad or some shit, but I’m just really excited and happy about this. 4 out of 5, would encrypt again!

Jan 012018

My Favorite Medieval Film Is A Knight’s Tale

“this film challenges the ideas of a medieval past as being so very different from the present. Spectators singing a rock and roll song by Queen at a medieval joust certainly raise the eyebrow of many, but the song certainly strikes a more familiar chord with a modern audience than the strumming of a lute. Does the modern song convey the enthusiasm and pageantry of such events to a modern audience more successfully than an authentic tune would have done?

… In other words, there is a truth of historical reality, and then there is a truth of historical relationship — a difference between knowing the actual physical feel of the past and the relative emotional feel of it.

…Because we don’t live in the fourteenth century, we don’t have the same context for a historically accurate jousting as a person would have had back then. A tournament back in the day was like the Super Bowl, but a wholly accurate representation of the event would not give us that same sense. Rather than pulling us into the moment, the full truth would push us out of it: rather than fostering the connection between the present and the past, it would have emphasized the separation. So Helgeland split the difference: he included tons of historical accuracies with non-historical familiarities.”


History is Written by the Losers
“Herodotus is one of two men who can claim to have invented history. Sima Qian is the other.

This is a rare feat. It was accomplished in exactly two places. Herodotus did it in Greece; Sima Qian did it in China. Of the other great civilizations—the Mesoamericans, the Egyptians, Summerians, and their descendants, the Andean kingdoms, the early rulers of the Eurasian steppe, the great empires that sprouted up along the Indus and Ganges rivers, along with their cultural satellites across South and Southeast Asia—history is nowhere to be found. I remember my shock when I discovered our knowledge of ancient India relies more on ancient Greek historians than ancient Indian historians. Traditional Indic civilization simply did not have any. In ancient India, playwrights, poets, lyricists, grammarians, philosophers, story-tellers, mathematicians, military strategists, religious authorities, and religious upstarts all put pen to palm frond, leaving a treasury of Sanskrit literature for the future. This literature is sophisticated. It is meaningful. Even in translation, much of it is beautiful. But search as you may, nowhere in this vast treasury will you ever find a work of history. That a great thinker could profitably spend his time sorting through evidence, trying to tie together cause and effect, distinguishing truth from legend, then present what is found in a written historical narrative—it is an idea that seems to have never occurred to anyone on the entire subcontinent. Only in Greece and in China did this notion catch hold. The work of every historian who ever lived finds its genesis in one of these two places—and with one of these two people.”

As to the thesis – “Those who rule do not have the time to write about it. … When high position is stolen from you, and access to the heights of wealth and power denied, there is little one can do about it—except write. History is thus rarely a “weapon of the weak.” The judgments of the historian do not serve the margins. They do not even serve the masses. They are a weapon in the hand of defeated elites, the voices of men and women who could be in power, but are not.”


The Tragedy of Jon Stewart

In short, nightly comedy news fell into the same trap as the 24-hour news channels. To keep their audience night after night they have to manufacture outrage.

I’ve been saying for a while that Cultural Segregation is bad, and I’ve lost some friends over it. I’m glad to see the view is finally starting to reassert itself in the wider culture. (well ok, the wider culture of my bubble, I realize there’s plenty of sane places that never went through this phase)
This is a link to an open Facebook post that went semi-viral. It starts with “As an Indian woman, I really appreciate Indian fashion being normalized in this way. Why should our clothes be relegated to Indian-only spaces? Why are only Western clothes allowed to be worn by mainstream society? This kind of generally well-meaning social segregation has the overall effect of holding White Western culture as a neutral norm all other cultures can and should draw from, while simultaneously telling us our cultures must be kept to ourselves.”


Iraq declares final victory over Islamic State. That was kinda anti-climactic for what was supposed to be the reestablishment of God’s Kingdom on Earth. “The only territory it still “controls” are a few scattered villages in Syria in the middle of nowhere.”


The host of this show set up a Trolley Problem. Subjects were convinced they were part of a focus group about commuter rail. They’re placed in a switching station, that mointors tracks remotely via CCTV, while waiting for the focus group to begin. A kindly old conductor shows them the ropes, and even has them switch a train coming down the tracks from one track to the other just for fun. Then he’s called away.

While he’s gone, convincing video footage is played of a 5-and-1 constructions workers stationing themselves on the two tracks. And then footage is played of an oncoming train that will hit the group of 5. The subject must choose to throw the switch or not, they don’t have a lot of time, maybe a minute?

Test was run 7 times. How many people do you predict flipped the switch to save net-4 lives IRL?


An interesting rescue of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” that shows how not knowing about the cultural context of something is a pretty big deal.

“Given a cursory glance and applying today’s worldview to the song, yes, you’re right, it absolutely *sounds* like a rape anthem.

BUT! Let’s look closer!

So it’s not actually a song about rape – in fact it’s a song about a woman finding a way to exercise sexual agency in a patriarchal society designed to stop her from doing so. ”

Most interesting comment was the observation that the line “At least I’m gonna say that I tried” is basically saying “It’ll be easier for both of us if people just think you raped me” which… fuck. The past was a horrifying place. :(


God I hate the FDA. Feds Prepare For A New War On Kratom, An Herbal Drug Many Swear By.


Another open Facebook post, this one on Jeremy Bentham.

“I’d like to talk a little bit about moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham, and why he has a weird level of celebrity status among people who think like I do.

…There is a sense in which Jeremy Bentham literally invented a lot of the concepts we take for granted as the founder of utilitarianism and a prolific Enlightenment thinker, but there is another sense in which, almost as a side-effect, he came to a variety of conclusions about the social order which wouldn’t gain widespread traction until decades or even centuries after his death.

…Jeremy Bentham, at a time when the morality of chattel-slavery was still a hotly-debated topic, was saying that It’s Okay to Be Gay and we shouldn’t slut-shame.

…Here is a radical proposition: Jeremy Bentham wasn’t just ahead of his time — he was ahead of *our* time.

…maybe you can’t have the visionary foresight without the eccentricity. Even among progressive people, who pay a lot of lip-service to celebrating diversity, there is a surprising amount of hostility to weird nerds re-deriving the social order from first principles. When we’re judging people for doing this, maybe we should remember Jeremy Bentham.”


How Evangelion Altered Anime Eternally.

OK, I knew it was one of the best pieces of art ever, I didn’t realize how much it altered a genre!

Navy apologizes after aircrew members draw a penis in the sky. Well color me impressed! It must take a ton of skill to be able to draw something like that with jet that’ll be recognizable from the ground! Good ol’ Kit Cloudkicker strikes again.


Russia organized 2 sides of a Texas protest and encouraged ‘both sides to battle in the streets’. “Russian actors organized both anti-Islam and pro-Islam protests in the same location at the same time on May 21, 2016, using separate Facebook pages operated from a so-called troll farm in St. Petersburg, the Senate Intelligence Committee disclosed on Wednesday.”


Pretty. This is the rare kind of poetry that I get.

“but now they tweet from Syria, and when our beautiful missiles crashed into their airbase Jared Kushner was listening to Hamilton

do you think bin Laden ever picked up the controller? maybe he did. maybe he slid into the skin of an American Marine and blew holes in his own country. high score. high score.”


What New Atheism Says “I’m not surprised when the New Atheists are characterized in ways which attempt to erase what they are saying or just get them to shut up. They’re forcing a conversation that most on the left really don’t want to have.”


People freaking out about Amazon Key are showing their “Living In A Neighborhood Where You Can Leave Packages Unattended Outside Your Door For Hours” privilege.


The Grand Unified Keanu Theory. O_O


Photographer Spends Eternity Waiting For Museum Visitors To Match Artworks And The Result Is Worth The Wait


Hah, Wired has an article about the Paperclipper game.

“Gaming, Lantz had realized, embodies the orthogonality thesis. When you enter a gameworld, you are a superintelligence aimed at a goal that is, by definition, kind of prosaic.

“When you play a game—really any game, but especially a game that is addictive and that you find yourself pulled into—it really does give you direct, first-hand experience of what it means to be fully compelled by an arbitrary goal,” Lantz says. Games don’t have a why, really. Why do you catch the ball? Why do want to surround the king, or box in your opponent’s counters? What’s so great about Candyland that you have to get there first? Nothing. It’s just the rules.”

Now whenever someone asks why an intelligent agent would turn the universe into paperclips, point them at this game. Then come back the next day, look them dead in the eyes, and ask them “Why. Did. You?”


So good! Now I want every visual story to do this. How David Fincher Hijacks Your Eyes

In Favor of Futurism Being About the Future “We are going to fight our hardest to end poverty, disease, death, and suffering, and we’re going to do it in spite of petty Boston Review articles telling us we should stop doing it so we can focus on hating each other for stupid reasons.”


Nov 212017

double edit! Should be fixed now, and looks like the problem was with a plug-in, so back to my home theme.

edit: nevermind, still broken I guess. /sigh. Getting tech support.

My old website theme has broken, which is sad, I kinda liked it. But for the past few days no one could click on anything, including old posts, previous pages, or leaving comments. So I’ve moved to good ol’ WordPress 2012 default, things should be working again.

Also, I’ve started a new job, and a lot of mental energy is going into learning the ropes, so posting will be sporadic for a while. I do have a new post up from a few hours ago though, please see below.

Nov 082017

In a new book, Eliezer discusses civilizational inadequacy. In one section, he first explains that hundreds of babies die every year because a formula used to feed premature children with certain birth defects is made from soybean oil rather than fish oil. Swapping one for the other would prevent all these deaths, and many other cases of brain damage in babies who don’t die. It’s known by enough people that this should be fixable, and has been known for years, and yet nothing is changed and hundreds of babies die every year. He then goes on to postulate why we, as a society, can’t be assed to save these lives.

>Suppose you want to sell a used car, and I’m looking for a car to buy. From my perspective, I have to worry that your car might be a “lemon”—that it has a serious mechanical problem that doesn’t appear every time you start the car, and is difficult or impossible to fix. Now, you know that your car isn’t a lemon. But if I ask you, “Hey, is this car a lemon?” and you answer “No,” I can’t trust your answer, because you’re incentivized to answer “No” either way. Hearing you say “No” isn’t much Bayesian evidence. Asymmetric information conditions can persist even in cases where, like an honest seller meeting an honest buyer, both parties have strong incentives for accurate information to be conveyed.

>A further problem is that if the fair value of a non-lemon car is $10,000, and the possibility that your car is a lemon causes me to only be willing to pay you $8,000, you might refuse to sell your car. So the honest sellers with reliable cars start to leave the market, which further shifts upward the probability that any given car for sale is a lemon, which makes me less willing to pay for a used car, which incentivizes more honest sellers to leave the market, and so on.

>In our world, there are a lot of people screaming, “Pay attention to this thing I’m indignant about over here!” In fact, there are enough people screaming that there’s an inexploitable market in indignation. The dead-babies problem can’t compete in that market; there’s no free energy left for it to eat, and it doesn’t have an optimal indignation profile. There’s no single individual villain. The business about competing omega-3 and omega-6 metabolic pathways is something that only a fraction of people would understand on a visceral level; and even if those people posted it to their Facebook walls, most of their readers wouldn’t understand and repost, so the dead-babies problem has relatively little virality. Being indignant about this particular thing doesn’t signal your moral superiority to anyone else in particular, so it’s not viscerally enjoyable to engage in the indignation. As for adding a further scream, “But wait, this matter really is important!”, that’s the part subject to the lemons problem. Even people who honestly know about a fixable case of dead babies can’t emit a trustworthy request for attention.

There a LOT more to Eliezer’s book, this is just one excerpt, but boy does this fill me with guilt. Because this section, in essence, can be reduced to “The Culture War Kills Babies.” Not in the mamby-pamby way that university students scream “You are killing me!” but in actual, literal corpses that one can count. Due to all the social outrage we pour into things like cultural appropriation and “cis is the new straight,” there is no room left for drawing attention to actual outrageous things, like babies dying by the hundreds unnecessarily.

I do talk about cultural issues a fair bit. I may be contributing to the killing of babies, and I don’t want to do that. I think it may be possible to talk about cultural issues in a way that doesn’t engage the outrage drive, and I will strive to do that. I think Scott Alexander does it very well, and often Eliezer as well. From now on, any time I want to really get incensed about something, I will first ask myself if it’s as big a deal as hundreds of dead babies. I’m sure it sometimes is. Much of our future hangs on how we deal with (for example) intellectual property and privacy rights. But man, that pile of babies is really appalling.

Maybe the worst part is that anytime someone throws a fit over people kneeling or choosing an unorthodox hairstyle I’m going to think “Man, you are killing babies right now, but I can’t say anything about that because it wouldn’t only make things even worse incredibly quickly.”

Well OK, not the worst, by a long shot. But it’ll be there. /sigh

Nov 012017

Thank god that the internet exists, allowing the best and most coherent views on a matter to rise to the top. Siderea post on New Atheism is perfect.

“I’m not surprised when the New Atheists are characterized in ways which attempt to erase what they are saying or just get them to shut up. They’re forcing a conversation that most on the left really don’t want to have.”


Unrelated – we should legit refer to the shows as “Star Trek: Orville” and “The Discovery” in the interest of greater accuracy. The Discovery is insultingly bad writing, forehead-smashingly-stupid science (yes, far moreso than normal Trek), and so visually ugly that it’s sandpaper for the eyes. ORV, on the other hand, is everything Trek was at its peak, with extra silliness thrown in. And yeah, a lame post-divorce thing you gotta overlook, but every Trek had something you had to bear through. It’s the true successor of the Trek line, I am seriously surprised by how good it is.

Oct 052017

Three months? Ack, I’ve fallen behind again.


An interesting take on the sabbath.
“On my first solo two-night camping trip, I forgot to bring a backup battery to charge my laptop or phone…I mostly kept my phone turned off. Very quickly, I started being able to think about aspects of my situation that had been too overwhelming, too in motion, to get leverage on the day before. Because I wasn’t dealing with them. I wasn’t keeping up with anything. I was just present, where I was. I wished I’d done this years ago.

And then I realized: if I had keeping a Sabbath, it wouldn’t have taken years to take a step back from social momentum. I’d have gotten a chance within seven days of noticing that there was a problem. And seven days later, another chance, and so on.

One more useful attribute of the Jewish Sabbath is the extent to which its rigid rules generate friction in emergency situations. If your community center is not within walking distance, if there is not enough slack in your schedule to prep things a day in advance, or you are too poor to go a day without work, or too locally isolated to last a day without broadcast entertainment, then things are not okay.”


To quote a friend: Trump is taking a harder line against NFL players kneeling during the national anthem than a neo-nazi driving a car into a crowd. >:(


This is so good it brought tears to my eyes. So much <3 for TNG

Oh shit, this is how Silicon Valley works? Can anyone I know in start-up culture corroborate? It sounds like a bad way to do business. But on the plus side, also sounds fun and exciting from my POV. :)

“everyone gets caught in a meta-reputational meta-signaling trap that allocates resources extremely poorly and forces founders to focus solely on activities that can help them raise funds until the point where they have to get ready to approach the actual stock market, and thus need to build a real company. Deviating from this plan gets you punished on multiple meta-levels.”


Holy Crap. This is powerful and amazing. Notes on an Imagined Plaque. Strongly recommend it, even tho I know listening to stuff is a pain.


No matter what the context, we sexualize male touch. We do it automatically.
As a result, it has become every man’s job to prove they can be trusted, in each and every interaction, day by day and case by case. In part, because so many men have behaved poorly. And so, we prove our trustworthiness by foregoing physical touch completely in any context in which even the slightest doubt about our intentions might arise. Which, sadly, is pretty much every context we encounter.”


This is admirable as hell! In Durham, crowds stood in line to turn themselves in for the crime of tearing down a Confederate statue


Me, listening to Hamilton: Wow, they did a great job making King George the abusive boyfriend. I hate him now.
Me, watching Hamilton: OMG, King George is the best, I see why people stay with abusive boyfriends now.


Zvi argues that value drift has estranged the movement from its Mission.

“The rationalists took on Berkeley, and Berkeley won. … This is taking many of the people most capable of saving the world, and putting them in a culture focused instead on better living.”


See screen cap on left. This goes for traitors and slavers as well. Tear down every monument to Confederate generals, rename every street, rededicated every building. No worship of inhumanity.
(via due process tho. Seriously, no vigilantism)


You know all those NFL owners standing side-by-side with their kneeling players? That is good, and I am happy to see it. But Colin Kaepernick, the courageous man who started this movement, still hasn’t been signed by any of those NFL owners. Time to start putting your money where your mouth is, guys.


Oh shit, shots fired. American Apparel is testing shoppers with identical “Made in America” vs. foreign-made clothes. I think American Apparel is making the wrong argument though. The “buy American” issue is a moral issue for those who make it, so even if most people decide not to pay extra to buy American, that only reveals that most people are immoral (again, to those who make this argument). For example, if most people would choose to reinstitute slavery, that doesn’t mean it isn’t immoral. Or substitute “burning carbon” or whatever.


The idea that children are individual human beings should not feel like a radical notion


Here’s what Time put in its headline: Charles Koch Says US Can Bomb Its Way to $100,000 Salaries. Here’s what Charles Koch actually said:

“I think we can have growth rates in excess of 4%. When I’m talking about growth rates, I’m not talking about that GDP, which counts poison gas the same as it counts penicillin. What a monstrous measure this is. If we make more bombs, the GDP goes up — particularly if we explode them.”

Even Time fucking Magazine?? >< Goddammit, there is already plenty of good reason to hate the Koch’s, why go out and fucking lie for no reason??


Outside of existential threats, this is the most important thing facing our society right now. It is the most disruptive technological change we’ve seen in our generation, and it’s wreaking havoc. This Is How Your Fear and Outrage Are Being Sold for Profit

“The knowledge of how to reliably hijack the human brain for attention is one of the most significant new trends of the 21st century. This discovery, like every large-scale invention in our history, has unexpected outcomes that are difficult to predict.

If we wish to continue to live in a common reality, we must be willing to look at these outcomes with a clear head. Addressing our biggest issues as a species — from climate change, to pandemics, to poverty — requires us to have a common narrative of the honest problems we face: Real threats. Real reasons for outrage.

Without this, we are undermining our greatest strength — our unique ability to cooperate and share the careful and important burdens of being human.”


After eight years, I finally opened the owner’s manual and made my car’s auto-unlock feature unlock ALL the doors when I put it in park. Shoulda done this years ago. Procrastination will damn us all!


The birth of meta-fiction :)


“Eco-consumerism may expiate your guilt. But it’s only mass movements that have the power to alter the trajectory of the climate crisis.” “Neoliberalism has not merely ensured this agenda is politically unrealistic: it has also tried to make it culturally unthinkable.”

The headline is Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals. I disagree that it’s neoliberalism to blame, but it’s certainly a thing that’s happening. I wince whenever I see one of my friends beating themselves up for not washing out and recycling every tiny damn jar. Their attention is being misdirected so the real levers are completely ignored.


How A Reader’s Feminist Critique Changed My Sci-Fi Novel. So heartwarming that I got shivers of frisson at the end.


Corvids continue their ascension! Ravens Are So Smart, One Hacked This Researcher’s Experiment. Still unsure if we should be encouraging this or wiping them out preemptively. I hope to live long enough to see this become an actual issue ^^

Jul 282017

As setup for the uninitiated: Trump recently tweeted that transgender people wouldn’t be allowed in the military because their medical care is too expensive. (Though, as has been noted by others, it obviously was not him tweeting. The tweets are far too coherent and grammatically correct. Pence got a hold of his phone, maybe?)

It’s classic Trump bullshit. I noticed something weird about one of the common responses though. I’m not sure if it’s for humor value or because sex sells or whatever, but there was a lot of focus on Viagra. Lots of “The Pentagon spends 5 times more on Viagra than transgender services“-type headlines. This sort of thing happens every now and then, when a medical cost is brought up people will sometimes respond with “But look at how much we spend on Viagra!” And, OK, but Viagra is also a legitimate medicine. It helps with the side-effects of many psychoactive drugs, such as anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. Things which soldiers with PTSD often need.

I don’t dispute the facts. But there’s lots of things that cost 5x more than medical care for trans people, as it’s such a small cost. The focus on Viagra specifically seems to be along the lines of “If we can spend money on something as ridiculous as Viagra…” like it’s a party drug. Its the same attitude about sex that leads to “trans people don’t really need medical care either, its a private perversion” sentiments. It’s a harmful attitude to spread.

Jul 082017

From The New Yorker. Even they are getting in on it.

THE “EFFECT IS TOO LARGE” HEURISTIC – “a Radiolab episode…mentioned a famous study on judges handing out harsher sentences before lunch than after lunch. …the percentage of favorable decisions drops from 65% to 0% over the number of cases that are decided upon. This sounded unlikely.”


In Defense of Individualist Culture – A strong counter to the current pro-communitarian trend. Still don’t know if this is great or awful.

“The idea of mankind as arbitrarily malleable is an appealing one to marketers, governments, therapists, or anyone who hopes that it’s easy to shift people’s behavior. But this doesn’t seem to be true. It might be worth rehabilitating the notion that people pretty much do what they’re going to do.
…Once you’re aware that you can pick your favorite way of life, you’re a modern. Sorry. You’ve got options now.
Which means that you can’t possibly go back to a premodern mindset unless you are brutally repressive about information about the outside world, and usually not even then.”

((I’m assuming a bit of background knowledge, based on what’s been floating around the Rationalist Sphere lately, but it does have a good summary:
“The behaviorist or sociological view of the world would say that individualist cultures are gravely deficient because they don’t put any attention into setting up healthy defaults in environment or culture. If you don’t have rules or expectations or traditions about food, or a health-optimized cafeteria, you “can” choose whatever you want, but in practice a lot of people will default to junk. If you don’t have much in the way of enforcement of social expectations, in practice a lot of people will default to isolation or antisocial behavior. If you don’t craft an environment or uphold a culture that rewards diligence, in practice a lot of people will default to laziness. “Leaving people alone”, says this argument, leaves them in a pretty bad place. It may not even be best described as “leaving people alone” — it might be more like “ripping out the protections and traditions they started out with.””))


This is goddamn poetry!! Seriously good writing.  ‘Glow’ Star Betty Gilpin: What It’s Like to Have Pea-Sized Confidence With Watermelon-Sized Boobs
I feel it does it injustice to quote only a small snippet, but here’s a tiny bit: “at some point I realized the obvious truth that I was a hideous goblin under a bridge, that the sound of my voice was like audible feces, and the presence of my body in a room was like bringing a moose carcass to brunch. […] And then puberty was like, WA-BAM.”


Fascinating perspective. And unusually short for an SSC article!
ordinary conversations are hard to predict because they’re designed to be so.
There was some interesting discussion about this on Autistic Tumblr, which centered around: why would someone do this? Why can’t people just say what they mean?
And the best answer I saw …explained that people were trying to spare their friends the burden of rejecting them.
But if there are people who are unusually bad at understanding social cues, like autistic people, then any cue calibrated to be on the exact border of neurotypical understanding is likely to fail for them more often than not.”


Sheep want to die?


Living Ohio man Donald Miller ruled ‘legally dead’


Surprising! “You are wrong about Adam West’s Batman” I am revising my opinion on the 60s Batman. Might even check out an episode or two when I have time. It’s strange how many opinions we simply inherit from our culture.


It’s a decent start, and I’m glad Colorado is leading the way. :) Gov. Hickenlooper signs controversial civil asset forfeiture bill, calls it “important first step” in addressing problems with practice.
I still surprised people are willing to go on the record being FOR forfeiture… which I think just speaks to my stupid naive optimism about humans, given the entire political landscape we currently inhabit. :/


Interesting bits from a flyer regarding police training on Phone Forensics Tools:
* Before an officer views or extracts cell phone or tablet data during the course of a criminal or administrative investigation, he or she will obtain a search warrant or “signed written consent” <— Remember this part and don’t give consent, so you can maybe get the case thrown out afterwards if they do it anyway.
Data that can be extracted includes:
 Text and Picture Messages
 Videos and Pictures (in some cases with GeoTag-location info) and creation date and time
 Audio Files
 Emails and Web Browsing Information (in some devices)
 GPS and Location Information (in some devices)
 Social Networking messages and contacts (in some devices)
 Deleted Data – Call Logs, Messages, Emails (in some devices)
 PIN Locked and Pattern Locked Bypass & Data Extraction – (on some devices – not all phones bypassed)


YES!!! The future is *slightly* less dystopian!! Supreme Court Rules Patent Laws Can’t Be Used to Prevent Reselling
“This was one of those fundamental-right-altering cases of which your average American tends not to be aware.”


The Social Justice Warriors are right – “the fight over Confederate symbols is just a thinly-veiled proxy for the biggest moral question that’s faced the United States through its history, and also the most urgent question facing it in 2017. Namely: Did the Union actually win the Civil War? Were the anti-Enlightenment forces—the slavers, the worshippers of blood and land and race and hierarchy—truly defeated? Do those forces acknowledge the finality and the rightness of their defeat”


A fantastic review of Logan. It’s more a video about how genre evolves, using Logan as a case study, and stating that we are right at the cusp of one such evolution right now. So good, must recommend! Plus NerdWriter is generally awesome.

Donald Trump supported me when I was wrongly accused of murder. What do I owe him? – “I owe my freedom to those people who saw reason beyond loyalty.”


“Let’s be honest: the recent success of Catholicism is the ultimate sign of our inability to deal with the world through anything other than a late capitalist lens of standardizaton, corporatism, and carefully-packaged pablum. It’s the perfect religion for the Age of Trump.
(yes, it’s satire)


A Brief History of Goths. So neat to learn the word’s history!


People Around The World Throw “American” Theme Parties


An actual transcript of an actual interview with the actual president.
“Look at those very nicely dressed people. It’s religious liberty out there.”
(ending his answer to the question “Do you need to get Democratic support to get this tax plan passed?”)


Doing Business In Japan – ” “Most people want to become wealthy so they can consume social status. Japanese employers believe this is inefficient, and simply award social status directly.” The best employees aren’t compensated with large option grants or eye popping bonuses — they’re simply anointed as “princes”, given their pick of projects to work on, receive plum assignments, and get their status acknowledged (in ways great and small) by the other employees.”

” It is socially mandatory that your boss, in fulfillment of his duties to you, sees that you are set up with a young lady appropriate to your station. He is likely to attempt to do this first by matching you with a young lady in your office. There are, at all times, a number of unattached young ladies in your office. Most of them choose to quit right about when they get married or have children.

You might imagine that you heard a supervisor tell a young lady in the office “Hey, you’re 30 and aging out of the marriage market, plus I hear you’re dating someone who is not one of my employees, so you might want to think about moving on soon.”, but that would be radioactively illegal, since Japanese employment discrimination laws are approximately equivalent to those in the US. A first-rate Japanese company would certainly never do anything illegal, and a proper Japanese salaryman would never bring his company into disrepute by saying obviously untrue things like the company is systematically engaged in illegal practices. So your ears must be deceiving you. Pesky ears.”

(In contrast, the entirety of “The Personal Touch” section (just over halfway down) is rather heart-warming.)


“In late March, Hypatia, a feminist-philosophy journal, published an article titled “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, as part of its spring 2017 issue.
…Tuvel is now bearing the brunt of a massive internet witch-hunt..The biggest vehicle of misinformation about Tuvel’s articles comes from the “open letter to Hypatia” that has done a great deal to help spark the controversy.

It’s remarkable how many basic facts this letter gets wrong about Tuvel’s paper. Either the authors simply lied about the article’s contents, or they didn’t read it at all. Every single one of the hundreds of signatories on the open letter now has their name on a document that severely (and arguably maliciously) mischaracterizes the work of one of their colleagues. ”


This is just a text post on facebook, link here, but I’ve pasted it below for those without the FB. It’s the most depressing thing ever.

> “The Endless September has ended and we’re in some kind of other state of internet discourse. The lack of reliable information and discussion means the open internet isn’t really a usable tool as a communication platform. Things have gotten weaponized very quickly – far faster than people seem to be capable of defending against. The Endless September was a coarsening of discourse, whereas what we have now is a directed corruption of communication tools, as well as the corruption of search and matching. Multiple actors (including state actors) pushing as much noise and propaganda into view that usability plummets. It does feel like a new era of internet trust/usability/identity crises that we haven’t actually pointed at and named.
> If I look at any article my default reaction is “I have no idea if this is real.” and often “No, really, I can’t tell if this is real or illusion.” If look at any science reporting my default reaction is “this is probably not what the paper actually claims, also the effect may not be reproducible, also whoever wrote this may have a political or social objective.” Forum comments are all suspect, analysis is questioned. The underlying theme is to ask “who wins if I were to believe this”? Sure, these are all good threads to run in any information environment but it is taxing and the answer is negative more often than positive.
> Tools that should enable us to reach out and observe beyond our immediate capacity are now suspect, as we have no way of ensuring the source of the observations are reliable and the number of unreliable signals has significantly grown. The problem here aren’t the obviously unreliable sources of information, it’s the persistence and ubiquity of just-reliable-enough-to-influence-beliefs and unreliable-in-increasingly-non-obvious-ways.”

— Brandon Reinhart (quoted w/ permission)


From Eliezer Yudkowsky – “I was just browsing Hacker News, and somebody called the Ethereum currency (one of the first genuinely different successors to Bitcoin, in which ether pays for arbitrary computing services) a “cult”.

So here’s my bad idea of the week: Let’s just call everything we don’t like a cult, and see how far we can spread the habit on Tumblr. If the Internet calls everything that exists a cult, people will be used to hearing themselves called a “cult” for the crime of voting Democratic or eating meat, and distrust it when others are called a cult; the word will become meaningless through sheer overuse and people will be allowed to be odd again, since the English language will no longer have a handy derogation that means “weird people” as opposed to generically “people I don’t like”. I mean, English will still have words like “weirdo” but it won’t come with the scare-factor of “cult” whereby all weirdos are tarred with the brush of Scientologists.”


Also another from Eliezer Yudkowsky on Markets as Post-Human Optimizers that can be broken very easily if you Disrupt The Ritual.  Too long to quote, sadly.

Jun 062017

I knew I was going to see Wonder Woman as soon as I saw the first stills. Say what you want about DC’s current grimdark aesthetic, it does have one major thing going for it — the dark, muted colors makes Wonder Woman’s costume look like the Xena costume. I was drawn by the visual aesthetic, and was kinda hoping for a reprise of my Xena upbringing.

That was a silly thing to expect. Xena is world-weary and tormented. Wonder Woman is optimistic and almost childishly naive in the beginning, having been sheltered by her mother all her life. However I had a great time anyway and I’m very glad I went.

The movie is very clunky in the first part on the island (~12 min). There were a bunch of problems with it, and I was particularly annoyed that apparently someone high up thinks American audiences cannot comprehend a pantheon theistic structure, and so they presented Greek mythology as the standard Jesus v Satan story with the names changed (yes, really). But once we get off the island the movie is alternately Hilarious and Epic As Fuck. Everything a superhero movie should be. :)