Oct 112016
 

14444609_1023189497793238_8003052628749934835_o
Quoted directly from Eliezer Yudkowsky
“For so long as the voting system works the way it does, there will always be 2 parties in American democracy, no more, no less. For reasons that include e.g. the Median Voter Theorem, the votes will always drift back to around 50/50 for each party. The Republican Party *will* be back in 2020, and Hillary seems more likely than usual to be a one-term President.
So this would be a very good time to praise the #NotAllRepublicans who were first to say #NeverTrump. The Republicans who never compromised with visible evil from the start, not for the sake of power, nor party, nor fear of Hillary Clinton. The #NeverTrumpers deserve that praise, and you *will not like* what happens in 2020 if those honorable Republicans do *not* get to be the ones to rebuild the Republican Party.
A list of refusers, including time of first break, appears here.

Oh shit. No more excuses. Seriously, someone loved the poem enough to buy the domain and host just that poem, forever. That is awesome.

Twitter reveals How God Created Animals. It is hilarious.

California passes poorly-thought-out regulations which destroy small businesses? Who’da thunk it?
Forgers can’t sell Mark Hamil’s autograph easily anymore, but now *neither can Mark Hamil*. If you sell stuff at SDCC, don’t sign it anymore. Unless you bring along a stack of paperwork.
“The law requires that any autographed item sold for more than $5 must include a certificate of authenticity including information about the dealer, where and how the item was signed, and the name and address of any third party from whom it was purchased. The law was undoubtedly aimed at shutting down forgery mills, but it was written so broadly that it will make things a lot harder for anyone dealing in autographed goods.

second-hand booksellers, some of whom carry hundreds or thousands of autographed copies of books … must either create individual certificates of authenticity for each book, or else discard thousands of dollars in inventory that is no longer salable.”

“Whether we like it or not, we all need some kind of objective standard against which to measure our work. […] most of the great art the world has ever seen came about not through a single stroke of genius but by the continual effort of a community.”

A great short piece by Yudkowsky, from the writing prompt: “Write a romantic comedy. Difficulty: both lovers are emotionally mature and have excellent communication skills.” Here’s a small taste:
“WOMAN: Is this really… dating? I captured you. I now own you. You’re my harem slave, not a, a…
MAN: We’re seated at a nice marble table waiting for a chef to cook our food. I am reasonably sure this is a date.
The WOMAN covers her face in her hands.
WOMAN: It is, isn’t it. Oh, god, I’m on a date.”

25 years ago today (Sept 24th when I posted) Nevermind was released, and saved us all from CockRock. Very few albums can be said to have spearheaded a movement that significantly altered the music ecosphere, and this was one of them. HT to awesome music.

13754380_10153636581221512_4996851253414833391_nOh snap!! (also props for correct use of “ironic”)
“This image is really ironic, actually. Because it is meant to shame the young people looking at their phones and seemingly ignoring the beautiful Rembrandt painting titled, ‘The Night Watch’, which is on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
“In fact, the kids are using the museum’s fantastic free downloadable multimedia app to learn more about the artist and the painting. This photo was just one of a larger set of photos, most of which show the students engrossed in the art and its history.
“But the internet doesn’t care about the truth. Not even enough to do a small amount of searching before sharing something. It gets a small amount of information, a simple image, a snapshot in time, and it draws ridiculous conclusions, especially if it means they get to be superior and judgemental of others.
“How’s that for wisdom?”

Humans never cease to amuse. From Michael Blume:
“Snowden: Hey WaPo, I found out about this thing; you could tell people about it. Or not. Really, just do whatever you think is best.
WaPo: Hey everybody, Snowden just told us about this thing, we thought you should know.
WaPo: Hey, Pulitzer committee, remember when we told everybody about the thing? That was excellent reporting, and it served the public interest. You should give us a prize for it.
Pulitzer committee: Yeah, sure.



WaPo: Hey everybody, we really think Snowden ought to be prosecuted for telling people the thing, it was completely irresponsible of him, he should’ve kept it to himself.”

Another proposed name for those of us that spent our teens getting shoved into Gen X, are now tacked onto Millennials, and don’t really fit in either. I thought this was a good idea for 5 minutes, before I started seeing everyone claiming it, esp those outside the date-range, because they also liked Oregon Trail. /sigh. Back to the naming-board.
“Gen X individuals were already fully-formed teens or young adults when computers became mainstream, and Millennials can’t even remember a time before computers.”

VAGINAS ARE MYTHS, WHISPERED QUIETLY IN SECRET AMONG ONLY THE BRAVEST OF MEN

Companies Can’t Legally Void the Warranty for Jailbreaking or Rooting Your Phone. This is the opposite of what I thought was the case, and it makes me a little happier about the world.

Now this… this is an idea worth trying! Start splitting all Culture War movements into High and Low, to distinguish good actors from bad. (Rabid Puppies = Low as Fuuuuuuuuuck)
“The benefits of using low vs. high:
You get to be immune to fights over naxalt etc.; if someone says “feminists are doing evil things like erasing male rape victims” you just add “low feminists, yes, they do suck indeed” and judo their categorical attack to the ground. If they respond to this category-splitting dodge with “no, all feminists” the existence of a single counterexample is enough to pwn the pathetic attempt once things have been expliticized.
Similarly, you get to use this same phenomenon to whine about nasty people who have hurt you. If you say that low feminists do bad stuff, there’s nothing I can do about it because you’ve inb4′d the naxalt and according to the rules of the internets that means you win. But there’s nothing I need to do about it because yalxalt. It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about them out there. Every ideology has its share of utterly repugnant assholes and everyone deserves a chance to whine about them without being naxalted, and everyone deserves to not have their ideas discredited by weakmanning superweapons to existence.
[…]
everyone (high) prefers everyone splitting, and by using this distinction we can force people who want to maintain credibility with us highs to split too. We can still disagree for all we want, and fight over shit, but we should be able to coordinate to try to enforce this one civilizing rule on everyone we interact with. We can now actually define something as kind of a geneva convention of culture wars in a way which should actually be win-win and in the participants’ incentives”

I have discovered a new website to take all my hours! Bad-ass Of The Week. Here’s one sample, courtesy of Charles Stross.
“Julie D’Aubigny was a 17th-century bisexual French opera singer and fencing master who killed or wounded at least ten men in life-or-death duels, performed nightly shows on the biggest and most highly-respected opera stage in the world, and once took the Holy Orders just so that she could sneak into a convent and bang a nun. If nothing in that sentence at least marginally interests you, I have no idea why you’re visiting this website.”

How Studying Mnemonics Changed the Way I Learn
“At this point, I have explained control systems to the parts of my brain (and yours!) that actually matter for real learning. [note: yup, she did!] … I have built inside my mind a structure that directly supports further understanding of anything and everything about control systems.
If it turns out that there’s something wrong with my understanding of control systems, I’ll be able to notice because my control system will fail to behave the way it’s supposed to, and then I’ll adjust the structure.”

Warner Brothers reports own site as illegal.
“A good approach would be to white-list non-infringing sources such as warnerbros.com and amazon.com”
No, a good approach would be to repeal this clusterfuck of a law, and jail/fine/flay everyone who’s despoiling the creative commons so wantonly. ><

This review of Star Trek Beyond is soooo much more than just a review. And it puts into words why I avoid nostalgia as much as possible. Not good for mental health!!
“These memories. They are just that. Memories. They are part of me, and what I’ve enjoyed. Part of what makes me who I am. They live inside me. I can’t relive them. Making new things won’t take away the pain that this ever ended.”

A two-year-old’s solution to the trolley problem.

“Being unconditionally polite, kind, and compassionate in a society that values and finds “deeper meaning” in aloofness and cynicism is subversive and thus punk”
hufflepunk
(seen on tumblr)

Julith VS Kerubim

We really are living in the CapitalPunk universe!
Legalist is a Silicon Valley startup […] offering “data-backed litigation financing” using algorithms to “analyze millions of court cases to source, vet, and finance commercial litigation.” It’s the latest in a series of companies that allow third parties to “invest” in the success of a lawsuit, by funding said lawsuit.”

A rationalist in the Zombie Apocalypse. Short, fun, and includes a great in-universe explanation. :)

This Is Why There Are So Many Ties In Swimming. The timing can’t be made more sensitive because then it would be more sensitive than the lane lengths are:
“In a 50 meter Olympic pool, at the current men’s world record 50m pace, a thousandth-of-a-second constitutes 2.39 millimeters of travel. FINA pool dimension regulations allow a tolerance of 3 centimeters in each lane, more than ten times that amount. Could you time swimmers to a thousandth-of-a-second? Sure, but you couldn’t guarantee the winning swimmer didn’t have a thousandth-of-a-second-shorter course to swim. (Attempting to construct a concrete pool to any tighter a tolerance is nearly impossible; the effective length of a pool can change depending on the ambient temperature, the water temperature, and even whether or not there are people in the pool itself.)”

This short story by Alexis Hunter is exactly my sort of thing!! /heartflutter

The most ridiculous patch notes from 10 years of Dwarf Fortress. :) Animal breeding is prevented if animals aren’t “willing to marry”.

Aug 082016
 

13895232_1363555407006280_7036367322075833613_n15 Stats That Show Americans Are Drowning in ‘Stuff’ “Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items”
!! Based on survey results finding average of 10 min a day looking for misplaced items. Seems unreasonably high to me, likely people are overestimating how long they spend looking for stuff on a daily basis, cuz it’s so frustrating it seems like a long time. I can’t imagine anyone would blow 10 min a day looking for things for more than a week or two before altering their lifestyle to fix that!
Still, this article confirms my personal prejudices, so I choose to share it!

Donald Trump quotes make a lot more sense when you imagine Zapp Brannigan saying them…

Two more things about The Great Wall:

First, MovieBob puts into words pretty much all my thoughts. As ususal, he is a voice of sanity. :)

Second, a few days later the Chinese director of this Chinese movie said it’s not racist. I dunno tho, that’s exactly what you’d *expect* a racist to say.

Y’all saw that Trump asked, three times in one hour, why we don’t just use nukes, since we have them, right?

UNNECESSARIAT:
“In 2011, economist Guy Standing coined the term “precariat” to refer to workers whose jobs were insecure, underpaid, and mobile, who had to engage in substantial “work for labor” to remain employed, whose survival could, at any time, be compromised by employers (who, for instance held their visas) and who therefore could do nothing to improve their lot.
… from where I live, the world has drifted away. We aren’t precarious, we’re unnecessary. The money has gone to the top. The wages have gone to the top. The recovery has gone to the top. And what’s worst of all, everybody who matters seems basically pretty okay with that.
…The bottom line, repeated just below the surface of every speech, is this: those people are in the way, and its all their fault. The world of self-driving cars and global outsourcing doesn’t want or need them. Someday it won’t want you either. They can either self-rescue with unicorns and rainbows or they can sell us their land and wait for death in an apartment somewhere. You’ll get there too.”

What This Feminist Sees in Harley Quinn
“I’ll come out and say it, she is my favorite female comic book character. Not because I admire her, but because I understand her.
She’s every negative female stereotype you can think of and then some. But there’s more to good storytelling than characters who are good role models.
She wants to live for fun and mischief and sex without responsibilities. She wants to screw a charismatic badboy (literally) without getting screwed by him (figuratively), and she refuses to accept that life doesn’t work that way.
No one’s halfheartedly dressing up the things she does for Joker as some kind of progressive, liberated forwardness like Catwoman’s ill-advised flirtations. She’s a comic book version of someone we’ve all met, of self-destructive feelings we’re all capable of. Her weaknesses and lunacy aren’t implanted in her to make her conveniently rescueable and compliant with a nonsensical plot. They’re lifelike. Human.
And that is what is missing from the majority of women in today’s fiction, far more than strength, intelligence, and independence:
Honesty. Thought. Depth.
That is how we will know when we’ve achieved equality in fiction. Not only by the number of female characters or even by what they do but by why they do it.”

Western civilization is taking over the globe. … Given a choice, young people choose Western consumerism, gender norms, and entertainment. Anti-Western governments from Beijing to Tehran know this this to be true: Without draconian censorship and social regulation, “Westoxification” will win.
A big part of the West’s strength, I hasten to add, is its openness to awesomeness. When it encounters competing cultures, it gleefully identifies competitors’ best traits – then adopts them as its own. By the time Western culture commands the globe, it will have appropriated the best features of Asian and Islamic culture. Even its nominal detractors will be Westernized in all but name. Picture how contemporary Christian fundamentalists’ consumerism and gender roles would have horrified Luther or Calvin. Western civ is a good winner. It doesn’t demand total surrender. It doesn’t make fans of competing cultures formally recant their errors. It just tempts them in a hundred different ways until they tacitly convert.

Scott Alexander rebuts withboth Chinese people and traditional Americans assimilating into universal culture in order to share a common ground – with this being invisible to people who are already assimilated into universal culture, to whom it just looks “normal”. […] the incorrect model of “foreign cultures being Westernized” casts Western culture as the aggressor, whereas the model of “every culture is being universalized” finds Western culture to be as much a victim as anywhere else.

My friends are quite talented. :) “Pokemon Go Yellow”: A Coldplay Parody by JessoLaurus Rex

Photographer Visits Famous Landmarks, Faces The Wrong Direction. Great pics!

Huh. The Green Party supports Homeopathy as an official plank of their platform(!). And they have a sizable enough anti-vax wing that Jill Stein felt she had to pander to them with circuitous hemming about the “medical-industrial establishment” when asked about vaccines, even though she has a doctorate from Harvard Medical!

“like Friedrich Nietzsche said: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not start trying to capture monsters.” (Or something like that.)” – AV. Club

Oof. Right in the gut. :( I Am A Transwoman. I Am In The Closet. I Am Not Coming Out.
“I am a girl who has been through a lot of shit and who has grown into symbiosis with her boy suit. But what else I know is that my point is my fucking point. Do I even want to convince someone who will only listen to me when they find out I’m a girl?
Do I have to out myself to be treated like a person worth listening to? To stop my cis classmates laughing at someone who’s reckoned with the boundaries and the dimensions of masculinity and femininity in ways they never had to? Do I need their permission to speak?

I hate that the only effective response I can give to “boys are shit” is “well I’m not a boy.” I feel like I am selling out the boy in baseball pajamas that sat with me on the bed while I tried to figure out which one I was supposed to be, and the boys who I have met and loved from inside my boy suit—who believed they were talking to a boy. I feel like I am burning the history of the naked body that sits on the floor of my shower. ”

My basic problem with Trolley Problems. Sacred Values Are How Ethical Injunctions Feel From The Inside
“A perfectly rational being, of course, would have no need for ethical injunctions. But we’re monkeys with pretensions. We’re self-interested and prone to rationalization. If we say “it’s okay to torture people in very extreme cases that are never going to happen”, then you can talk yourself into thinking that this is a very extreme case, even though the actual reason you want to torture the guy is that he’s a horrible person and you want to see him suffer, and next thing you know you’re the U S Government.”

We built voice modulation to mask gender in technical interviews. Here’s what happened. (quoting FoF) – I hate clickbaity titles, but in this case the fact that the title describes an experiment but not its result is an opportunity to try predicting the outcome before reading about it.
also, fun lines from article: “programming is like sex — one mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life.”
“you might want to do what any reasonable person would do in the face of an existential or moral quandary, i.e. fit the data to a curve.”

Fight the power! Chatbot lawyer overturns 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York

Holy crap, this deleted scene in ZooTopia would have been *amazing*!!

“the Hall of Presidents … as a representation of how America understands itself and its history, is absolutely correct. … the national mythos rests in the hands of a publicly traded corporation.
[…] We live in the capitalpunk AU.”
(also: “They say American copyright terms keep getting extended under pressure from Disney who wants to keep hold of all their founding properties, I almost wonder if it wouldn’t be less of a corruption of the civic system to just carve out special protections for Disney in recognition of their distinct role in America.”)

Powerful stuff.
“9. When I turned twenty-one, I could go to the clubs. Get dressed up, wear a coat to hide the outfit, pile into a car with friends, roll down the windows in the summer, sure, blare the music, sing along, roll the windows up when a car or truck pulled up alongside and shouted threats, hope they don’t follow, drive to the club, look around before parking to make sure no-one is staking out the street or parking lot, hide anything valuable in the car, lock it, walk to the club. Wait in the line to get in, all laughter and flirting and nervous grins and nervous shuffling and happy nervous everything, be grateful for the door-minder who was watching the sidewalk, pay, walk in.
Walk in.
Walk, strut, ease on in, breathe, breathe deep and happy and smell the smoke and beer and sweat and none of that matters because here, here no-one waits to catch you in the act of being gay.
Put vigilance down.
Put vigilance down, and dance.
[…]
14. The shooter went to a place of refuge, of joy, of celebration. He went to a place where queers go when we are told we are too queer to be seen anywhere else. He went to the place where all the shoving and flaunting of queer would have been hidden away from him.
[…]
I cannot stop anyone from murdering anyone else. I don’t have that power. But I am … done. I am done with letting the jokes and remarks slide by. I cannot continue to passively agree that I am a punchline, a threat, a bogeyman, a cautionary tale. I just, … I am done.
I can’t stop the Orlando murders, or any other murders of queers.
But I am done being complicit.”
(and yes, I dislike the use of the term “microaggression” here, but whatevs, it’s just a word and this essay is awesome)

Spoilery: The Quicksilver scene from X-men:Apocalypse. It is awesome! And only available on Facebook, for some reason?

On Taste. “it is a good idea not to develop taste in anything where developing taste will cost you more money. For instance, I would strongly advise against developing taste in chocolate. […] You should absolutely not develop taste about anything that is necessary for your life.”

I half suspect this is the most epic trolling of all time. “In line with our expectations, P [for “Psychoticism”] (positively related to tough-mindedness and authoritarianism) is associated with social conservatism and conservative military attitudes.”
You know where this is going, right? Spoilers below, I’d read the article if I were you cuz it’s short and sweet, but if you’d rather just get to the monkey:
“The authors regret that there is an error in the published version […]The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed.”

13327557_10153569326205965_2804770090938365614_n

Fandom is Broken. “Back in high school I had a great religion teacher. He used to have us bring in quotes from pop culture that could be applied to religion because he wanted us to understand how pervasive religion was to people a thousand years ago, as pervasive as music or movies are to us today. He believed that the future would see people no longer killing each other over interpretations of God but over bands…
I think he was on the right track when it comes to the way pop culture has replaced other things that used to give us meaning, but I don’t think he could have ever guessed it would be comic book characters and Ghostbusters that would motivate the 21st century’s holy popcult warriors.”

Jun 012016
 

Star Wars Princess Bride quotesFandom is Broken. “Back in high school I had a great religion teacher. He used to have us bring in quotes from pop culture that could be applied to religion because he wanted us to understand how pervasive religion was to people a thousand years ago, as pervasive as music or movies are to us today. He believed that the future would see people no longer killing each other over interpretations of God but over bands…
I think he was on the right track when it comes to the way pop culture has replaced other things that used to give us meaning, but I don’t think he could have ever guessed it would be comic book characters and Ghostbusters that would motivate the 21st century’s holy popcult warriors.”

Why Modern Fight Scenes Put You To Sleep

I hope this sort of thing gets more traction. I love fictional violence, but violence is very rarely about the *actual violence*. case in point: aside from the awful choreography, why else did last season’s Dorne fight scene suck so much?

Yesterday I learned that most people don’t feel any pain when drinking carbonated beverages! WTF? I thought drinking fizzy drinks was like using habaneros or other super-spicy things in your food – it was a thing crazy people did because they liked pain. How much of my life has been a lie?? (no actual link)

Latest round in the ongoing court case between Google and Oracle goes to Google! Yaaaay!
The reason for the fight explained:

“Google wanted people who wrote programs in the popular programming language Java to be able to reuse their code in Android apps. To do that, Google had to ensure that Java code written for other purposes ran exactly the same on Android. But negotiations with the company behind Java, Sun Microsystems (which was later acquired by Oracle), broke down, so Google decided to create its own version of Java from scratch.

Google’s version of Java didn’t reuse any code from Oracle’s version. But to ensure compatibility, Google’s version used functions with the same names and functionality.

This practice was widely viewed as legal within the software world at the time Google did it, but Oracle sued, arguing that this was copyright infringement.
[…] a landmark 1995 ruling in which an appeals court held that the software company Borland had not infringed copyright when it created a spreadsheet program whose menus were organized in the same way as the menus in the more popular spreadsheet Lotus 1-2-3.

The court held that the order of Lotus 1-2-3 menu items was an uncopyrightable “method of operation.” And it concluded that giving Lotus exclusive ownership over its menu structure would harm the public”

Oh shit. This is incredible. But trigger warnings for sexual violence.

Star Trek + Nine Inch Nails = Closer

How to Take ‘Political Correctness’ Away From Donald Trump
“A Martian following election coverage via GoGo in-flight WIFI would never know that Trump’s pledge to revenge-kill family members of terrorists—a war crime—violated more important Earth-taboos than his calling a campaign rival “a pussy.” Watching CBS or NBC or ABC, the Martian would likewise conclude that Trump calling Ted Cruz “a pussy” was worse than calling Mexican migrants rapists. Only the former comment was censored.
[…]
And Trump benefits from their dearth of discernment. It frees him from the burden of carefully deciding which taboos ought to be challenged and which safeguard life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Instead of careful critiques, he rants off-the-cuff, knowing that the bad press will look basically the same regardless of whether he attacks Rosie O’Donnell or the taboo against torture. His supporters are as inclined as the press to treat every utterance as an undifferentiated instance of political correctness”

Google’s AI is writing eerie post-modern poetry (when given a starting and ending sentence and told to fill in the gaps)

I *had* always wondered why there was no AmericaPox the Europeans contracted! Now I know.

Adidas to make shoes in Germany again – but using robots. There is no more unethical treatment of laborers.

How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist
If you want to maximize addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user’s action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable. But here’s the unfortunate truth — several billion people have a slot machine their pocket:
When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.
When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.
(etc)

And here I had no idea Subaru’s are loved by lesbians!
“For their first Subaru ads, Mulryan/Nash hired women to portray lesbian couples. But the ads didn’t get good reactions from lesbian audiences.

What worked were winks and nudges. One ad campaign showed Subaru cars that had license plates that said “Xena LVR” (a reference to Xena: Warrior Princess, a TV show whose female protagonists seemed to be lovers) or “P-TOWN” (a moniker for Provincetown, Massachusetts, a popular LGBT vacation spot). Many ads had taglines with double meanings. “Get Out. And Stay Out” could refer to exploring the outdoors in a Subaru—or coming out as gay. “It’s Not a Choice. It’s the Way We’re Built” could refer to all Subarus coming with all-wheel-drive—or LGBT identity.
[…]
The delight among niche audience groups in “uncoding” the hints in Subaru ads surprised the marketing team—and in the case of its gay-friendly ads, so did straight audiences’ ignorance. While gay and lesbian consumers loved the shout outs in the license plates, straight people would only notice features like a bike rack.”

Also – oh, right. I remember the early 90s. Damn, that feels like a long time ago.

“the attitude of most businesses toward LGBT advertising was: “Why would you do something like that? You’d be known as a gay company.”
In the 1990s, Poux worked at Mulryan/Nash, an agency that specialized in the gay market. Early in his career, he made cold calls to ask companies for their business. “All the rules of marketing went out the window at this fear” of marketing to gays and lesbians, he says. “People would choke up on the phone. It was tough.” ”

The Tingler strikes again :)

LOL! Every fight anime ever!


If UNO Was an Anime

Bizarre situation in which I find Glenn Beck saying things rationally and self-consistently. Did he recover from the crazy or something?

“I sat there looking around and heard things like:
1) Facebook has a very liberal workforce. Has Facebook considered diversity in their hiring practice? The country is 2% Mormon. Maybe Facebook’s company should better reflect that reality.
2) Maybe Facebook should consider a six-month training program to help their biased and liberal workforce understand and respect conservative opinions and values.
3) We need to see strong and specific steps to right this wrong.

It was like affirmative action for conservatives. When did conservatives start demanding quotas AND diversity training AND less people from Ivy League Colleges.

I sat there, looking around the room at ‘our side’ wondering, ‘Who are we?’ Who am I? […]
What happened to us? When did we become them?”

I didn’t even know we were supposed to wash reusable bags! If you factor in the environmental impact of washing a bag after each use, is it actually better at all?
“97 percent of consumers don’t regularly wash their bags, according to a report from the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University. Their researchers swabbed 84 bags for bacteria, and the findings were outright nasty: coliform bacteria in half, E. coli in 12 percent.
When San Francisco banned plastic bags, the number of E. coli infections spiked. Even worse, the number of foodborne-illness deaths rose a whopping 46 percent in the three months after the bag ban began.”

Oh god I hate them all so much. >< FOX ‘STOLE’ A GAME CLIP, USED IT IN FAMILY GUY & DMCA’D THE ORIGINAL
“It’s most likely that this is just another example of YouTube’s Content ID system automatically taking down a video without regard to actual copyright ownership and fair use. As soon as FOX broadcast that Family Guy episode, their robots started taking down any footage that appeared to be reposted from the show — and in this case they took down the footage they stole from an independent creator,” Lyon says. (sign the petition from TakeDownAbuse.orghttps://www.takedownabuse.org/familyguy/ )

It begins! :) Uber tests self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

 

Fantastic essay on The Iliad.

“The puzzle the Iliad poses in the persons of Achilles and Hector is, How do we train selfish men to be violent killers, and then convince them not to fight each other, but to die for their nation?

The answer is clever. […] the Iliad invented self-interested, libertarian, civic virtue.

They should fight, the Iliad argues (though not directly), because life is overrated. Life is an endless cycle of flailing about helplessly in a universe that doesn’t care. Life is being the plaything of the gods. The best thing for you, personally, is to win glory for yourself; that’s more valuable than more of this life stuff. It doesn’t last anyway.

This was a very interesting pivot point in the history of the West. […] The obvious choice was for Homer to say that a man should fight for his people because he loves them and he loves his family and wants to defend them. The obvious choice would be to say civilization should be based on morality.

Homer didn’t do that. He said civilization should be based on selfishness.

And that’s when Western civilization was created.

Selfish civic virtue was eventually diluted by morality, but the West still honors selfishness and individuality more than other civilizations. This is a large part of why the West has been so successful.”

I’d heard of aphantasia* before, but this article really brought a lot of it home. The “Twenty most common questions I get” was especially interesting. I’m still not sure I can imagine what this must be like.
(*unable to visualize things in one’s mind)

Tingle Trolley Problem
“Benedict Cumberbatch legitimately looks like he’s never jumped before.” GIF of pre-CGI superhero jumps

My life will not be complete until I have participated in the running of the balls.

MIKA’s “Grace Kelly” song is delightful!

Why the FDA’s new e-cigarette regulations are a gift to Big Tobacco (and could actually harm public health)
“The most significant part of the FDA’s rule is a requirement for government approval […] this means that just about all e-cigs must go through a new approval process if they are to continue to be sold. This is a costly process — an estimated $1 million or more per product — and must be done for each and every model, flavor, etc. For tobacco giants such as Reynolds and Altria, this is no big deal. For smaller e-cig makers, however, these rules could be the kiss of death. […] the e-cig market will shrink, and Big Tobacco will be in a better position to dominate what’s left. A vibrant competitive market will be replaced with a cartel, much like the one we see in the cigarette market.”

Snowden is the president we need, but not, it seems, the president we deserve. :(
“As someone who works in the intelligence community, you’ve given up a lot to do this work. You’ve happily committed yourself to tyrannical restrictions. You voluntarily undergo polygraphs; you tell the government everything about your life. You waive a lot of rights because you believe the fundamental goodness of your mission justifies the sacrifice of even the sacred. It’s a just cause.
And when you’re confronted with evidence — not in an edge case, not in a peculiarity, but as a core consequence of the program — that the government is subverting the Constitution and violating the ideals you so fervently believe in, you have to make a decision. When you see that the program or policy is inconsistent with the oaths and obligations that you’ve sworn to your society and yourself, then that oath and that obligation cannot be reconciled with the program. To which do you owe a greater loyalty?

Perhaps today’s culture wars can be viewed largely as the continuing clash of America’s earliest settlers in the 17th century. Kinda feels like humans are simply a substrate that a larger process (a “civilization”) runs on.
“If America is best explained as a Puritan-Quaker culture locked in a death-match with a Cavalier-Borderer culture, with all of the appeals to freedom and equality and order and justice being just so many epiphenomena – well, I’m not sure what to do with that information. Push it under the rug?”

‘Star Trek’ Lawsuit: The Debate Over Klingon Language Heats Up
Oh ho! When I was a young geek, an online-friend related a story of how he got lost while visiting Russia, and cursed in Klingon on the bus. A fellow Klingon-speaker asked him what was wrong, and though he spoke no Russian, and the Russian dude spoke no English, they communicated very well in Klingon and he was soon back on his proper way.
“This argument is absurd since a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate,” stated a plaintiffs’ brief

Now, with 250,000 copies of a Klingon dictionary said to have been sold, Klingon language certification programs being offered, the Microsoft search engine Bing presenting English-to-Klingon translations, one Swedish couple performing their marriage vows in Klingon, foreign governments providing official statements in Klingon and so on, the Language Creation Society is holding up Klingon as having freed the “bounds of its textual chains.”

no court has ever addressed the issue of whether a constructed spoken language is entitled to copyright protection.

The best explanation for the 10 Commandments yet! Head Canon accepted. :)
“I PERFORM SERVER MAINTENANCE ON SATURDAYS. THIS MEANS LOWER CAPACITY. SO PLEASE AVOID HIGH-LOAD ACTIVITIES LIKE BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS, AGRICULTURAL WORK, AND ELECTRICITY USE DURING THAT TIME. SO YES. THAT IS A LAW.”

Neurons Gone Wild. Expanding on Society of Mind – this post proposes that neurons compete for biological resources by being useful to the organism, and are “motivated” to be productive, likening the brain to an economy.
“agency isn’t intrinsic to a system, but rather something we ascribe to it. It’s a way of describing a system at the level of abstraction that includes goals, obstacles, motivations, etc. If you look too closely (at a sufficiently low level of abstraction), the agency might seem to disappear. A plant, for example, is ‘merely’ growing its stem according to the concentration of auxin, just like we (humans) are often ‘merely’ acting on our drives and instincts. But zoom back out, and once again it will be productive to describe the system at the agent-level of abstraction. Thus explanatory power, not free will, is the hallmark of agency.

agency is a fundamental property of the brain. Not only is agency the function of the brain — and thus it’s very reason for existence — but it’s also built into the brain’s fabric and architecture. Because even neurons have agency, in the form of (metabolic) selfishness, higher-order brain systems don’t need to create agency ‘from scratch’ out of mindless robotic slaves. They inherit agency pretty much for free.
The brain is thus uniquely hospitable to agents, who can be said to take root and grow in the brain quite readily.
There’s actually a more general principle here, namely, that rich substrates are more fertile, more conducive to growth. […] Computers, though technically capable of supporting agency, aren’t particularly hospitable to it. The brain, in contrast, is already teeming with agency (in the form of billions of selfish neurons), and is thus uniquely fertile.”

Non-Places destroy cities.
“Non-Places are areas of the city where nothing happens. If we look at the Traditional City, we see that it is mostly Places. […]To the degree that we can eliminate cars, the Traditional City can become almost 100% places.

A pedestrian street is a Place. When it becomes dominated by cars — to the point where a person is not comfortable walking down the middle of the street — it becomes a Non-Place.

Green Space was invented to make our other Non-Places less horrible. It basically doesn’t exist in the Traditional City. The Traditional City doesn’t need Green Space because it doesn’t suck to begin with. There is no problem we are trying to solve through the introduction of acres of mowed lawns.

It is difficult to explain, to someone who has never experienced it, that the Traditional City is actually a very quiet, lovely sort of place — even the largest Traditional Cities, with the Tokyo population well over 30 million. […] The residential university campus is about the closest experience most Americans have to a no-car urban place.”

Just in case you need another reason not use KU (Kindle Unlimited) (except for the one-month free trial to read a dozen Chuck Tingle shorts) Much of the money goes to scammers, and Amazon doesn’t care.

Life Is Pain. The numb are the lucky ones. What It’s Like to ‘Wake Up’ From Autism After Magnetic Stimulation. “I’d fantasized about really understanding other people’s emotional world. I imagined a world of sweetness and light — emotions I’d been missing all my life. But when it happened, the reality showed me what a fool I’d been. Now, I could look at a person and sense all their emotions. And most were downers. […] I realized that I’d deluded myself all this time. The world is not a wonderful, happy place. ”
His recollection of working for KISS and Pink Floyd on the road is fascinating as well. I can’t recommend this article enough.

 

As I’ve been watching this gash in my hand heal over the past few weeks I keep thinking “Holy crap. I am made out of a vast amount of biological nano-bots!” And none of them have any idea I exist (which I realize is crazy anthropomorphizing, but I can’t help thinking it). I, likewise, have no way to directly control them. And yet here we are. WTF, reality? (again, no link)

I linked this in an earlier post, but – “almost no pop celebrities write their own hits. Too much is on the line for that, and being a global celebrity is a full-time job. It would be like Will Smith writing the next Independence Day.”

Smashmouth’s Allstar, but everyone’s playing at slightly different tempos. Actually not stressful, and sorta weirdly hypnotic.

The best succinct explanation of culture I’ve seen yet. Includes the first coherent explanation of what “cultural appropriation” is that I’ve ever seen! (in an interesting twist, one of the examples explaining cultural appropriation argues that the “Fake Gamer Girl” trope is basically a complaint of cultural appropriation) This is long, yes. But extremely worth it.

A small taste –
“… So imagine you’re an evangelical Christian. All the people you like are also evangelical Christians. Most of your social life happens at church. Most of your good memories involve things like Sunday school and Easter celebrations, and even your bittersweet memories are things like your pastor speaking at your parents’ funeral. Most of your hopes and dreams involve marrying someone and having kids and then sharing similarly good times with them. When you try to hang out with people who aren’t evangelical Christians, they seem to think really differently than you do, and not at all in a good way. A lot of your happiest intellectual experiences involve geeking out over different Bible verses and the minutiae of different Christian denominations.
Then somebody points out to you that God probably doesn’t exist. And even if He does, it’s probably in some vague and complicated way, and not the way that means that the Thrice-Reformed Meta-Baptist Church and only the Thrice-Reformed Meta-Baptist Church has the correct interpretation of the Bible and everyone else is wrong.
On the one hand, their argument might be convincing. On the other, you are pretty sure that if everyone agreed on this, your culture would be destroyed.”

For fans, this is basically a “yeah, I remember that, soooo good!” video. :) For people who haven’t seen it yet, consider it a teaser, and another endorsement to check it out. Note that *MAJOR* spoilers appear at 4:08 and are rife thereafter, so stop before then if you’re not familiar!

The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Reddit’s warrant canary is gone. Odds are very high that they have been served a national security letter.

I’ll just leave this here…

does it move

May 082016
 

More Brienne liveblogging Tingle poundings. :) Her post is public, so you can probably search it in Facebook if you want, and keep up with them as she reads the rest and liveblogs them.

Brienne 1

Brienne 2

Brienne 3

Brienne 4

Brienne 5

Brienne 6

Brienne 7

Mar 312016
 

Cant Believe its NotWhy did Apple push back so hard against the FBI?
“When you’re making $50-100Bn a year in profit, you can’t put the money in a bank: you have to *become* a bank. And that’s what Apple Pay is about

The FBI thought they were asking for a way to unlock a mobile phone, because the FBI is myopically focussed on past criminal investigations, not the future of the technology industry, and the FBI did not understand that they were actually asking for a way to tracelessly unlock and mess with every ATM and credit card on the planet circa 2030”

Aaron Burr wasn’t that bad, and Hamilton wasn’t that great.
Serious question that I’m having trouble with: Is Burr hurt by this? He’s been dead for two centuries, it’s hard to claim harm. And the “Hamilton” story is so good, that I feel it’s worth sacrificing historical accuracy for a great mythological narrative.
But I would hate to have my own legacy distorted in such a way.
“It was the Federalists who pressed for a constitutional amendment barring naturalized foreigners from elected offices, and it was that supposed villain Burr, in the New York Assembly at the time, who gave an eloquent speech defending the liberal promise of the young republic. “America stood with open arms and presented an asylum to the oppressed of every nation,” he said. “Shall we deprive these persons of an important right derived from so sacred a source as our Constitution?”

Burr and his wife Theodosia educated their daughter as they might have a son: She could read and write by the age of 3, then mastered French, Italian, Latin, Greek, mathematics, history and geography. The idea that women were the intellectual equals of men was a radical one, and Hamilton attacked Burr for supporting it.”

A rare positive Dawn of Justice Review.
This is exactly what I was hoping SvB *would* be. This is the story I want to see!! It’s unfortunate that, based on everything I’ve heard, it does an awful job of conveying it — basically becoming a muddled mess. But I’ll see for myself and make my own opinions.
“it is no coincidence that the official release date of the film coincides with Good Friday… Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is nothing short of the greatest telling of the Greatest Story Ever Told. It’s the best superhero movie since The Dark Knight and a better Easter movie than Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. It is Miltonic in its message and scope, seeking “to justify the ways of God to men,” doing so with drama on a truly epic scale.”

This is depressing. :( About Female Genital Mutilation, but never graphic or triggering. On “I can’t condemn FGM because of my colonialist past”–A critical discussion of what drives the Regressive Left, and how progressive allies can help.
“a representative of the Goldsmiths LGBT society responded that as a white person, she “cannot condemn FGM because of my colonial past.”

there are indeed ways to critique a harmful cultural practice without simultaneously enabling bigotry against those who practice it or are subject to it. The ability, the social and linguistic tools to undertake this type of critique are present. So why is that critique not happening?

The truth is that there are not in fact unified narratives for people from a particular Other culture, and narrative hegemony does occur virtually everywhere, whereby some narratives are elevated at the expense of others, and it is often the case that it is the proponents of a misunderstood cultural practice whose voices are heard.”

A *fantastic* piece about subverting a game to shake up an unconsciously-biased system. If you’ve only heard about the debate-team story from the other side, getting to hear about it from the instigator’s POV is fascinating.
And it’s RadioLab, so of course it’s entertaining as all hell. I still have mixed feelings, but it’s emotionally compelling.

Basically everything about cryo laid out in an easy-to-understand format. It’s long though, cuz there’s a lot. But if you’re interested, well, it changed the author’s mind as he was writing it…

Huh. “a Chinese person working for Foxxcon is more than nine times less likely to commit suicide than a Chinese person that doesn’t work for Foxconn.
“Although the number of workplace suicides at the company in 2010 was large in absolute terms, the rate is low when compared to the rest of China.[6] (The country has a high suicide rate with over 20 deaths per 100,000 persons.[7]) In 2010, the worst year for workplace suicides at Foxconn with a total of 14 deaths, its employee count was a reported 930,000 people.[8]”
Also lower than each of the 50 US states.
The availability heuristic strikes again

Hooooooooly shit. In response to questions about the growing AIDS epidemic, Reagan press secretary said “I don’t have it. Do you?” to laughter. (so a majority of the room found this hilarious) More reminders that the past was a horrible place, and it’s closer than we remember.

How Paul Ryan Will Pick the Next President. A bit out-there scenario, but damned if this wouldn’t be fascinating! And would make a perfect jumping-off point for sooooo many alt-history SF books written in the future.
(tldr: if Trump gets the R nomination, Republicans could run a solidly center-right 3rd party candidate. Unlikely to win, but if he pulls enough votes to prevent Trump or Hillary/Sanders from getting the 50.1% majority in general election, the House of Reps chooses the next president (as per 12th amendment))

Hugh Howey on the birth of AI (after AlphaGo’s victory) “Each headline you read is us — as collective parents — gasping to our spouse at what our baby girl just did for the first time.
Google has already taught our daughter to drive a car. Amazon is doing amazing things with their Alexa device, creating the beginnings of the virtual assistant seen in Her. IBM is building the best medical mind the field has ever known. In the last five years, AI has taken strides that even the optimistic find startling. The next five years will see similar advances.”

If the 2008 Financial Crisis really does usher out Neoliberal Economics, then it will have had a bigger effect on American history than 9/11.
Not sure Left Egalitarianism is the best replacement, but it looks to be the only alternative to Nationalism that we have right now…
“when an economic ideology catches on in America, it tends to capture both major parties at once. During the 50’s, 60’s, and early 70’s, even republicans like Eisenhower and Nixon reduced economic inequality. Post-1976, even democrats like Carter, Clinton, and Obama raised inequality. Economic ideologies change when there is an economic disaster that is seen to discredit the prevailing ideology. The Great Depression discredited the classical economics practiced by right wingers like Calvin Coolidge, allowing for left wing policies that in the 1920’s would have sounded insane to ordinary people. The stagflation in the 70’s discredited the Keynesian egalitarianism of FDR and LBJ, allowing Ronald Reagan to implement right wing policies that would have been totally unthinkable to people living in the 1960’s. I submit to you that the 2008 economic crisis and the stagnation that has followed have discredited the neoliberal economic ideology of Reagan and Clinton not just among democrats, but for supporters of both parties, and that new policies and candidates are possible now that would have been totally unthinkable to people as recently as 10 years ago.

What this means is that if this is the year when the voting public decides that it’s done with neoliberalism, the party that nominates a neoliberal candidate will likely lose. If democrats don’t nominate and support the left egalitarian political movement, if they instead continue to nominate neoliberals who continue to allow incomes to stagnate, they are ensuring that sooner or later (and probably sooner) disaffected poor and working Americans will choose right nationalism as the next dominant economic ideology for potentially decades to come.

if we keep nominating neoliberals, allowing incomes to stagnate, and letting people lose hope in the system, we will lose to a right nationalist and that right nationalist will take our country to a place you don’t want to see.”

 


Economics + Tongue Twisters = Comedy! (a lot of his other ones are good too)

This is great. :) Teens React to Windows95. Faith in humanity’s ability to comprehend each other despite vast initial gulfs in experience: restored.

10 Female Revolutionaries That You Probably Didn’t Learn About In History class

The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism
“the fascist and communist movements in Europe in the 1930s “… recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who had never before appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents […] This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with either parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”
“Donald Trump, [has] been pulling in voters, especially new voters, while the Democrats are well below the voter turnouts for 2008. In the voting Tuesday, 5.6 million votes were cast for the Democrats while 8.3 million went to the Republicans. Those numbers were virtually reversed in 2008—8.2 million for the Democrats and about 5 million for the Republicans.”

Ha! Google Cars are learning that humans subscribe to Newtonian Ethics. In this case, that things with more physical mass also have more moral weight.
The Google Car was merging back into a lane and expected the bus to yield to it. The bus did not, resulting in a collision.
“From now on, our cars will more deeply understand that buses (and other large vehicles) are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles”
(Collision was minor – “at around 2 mph [it] made contact with the side of a passing bus traveling at 15 mph”)
(Although a less-fun interpretation could be that large vehicles have more trouble stopping/slowing than smaller ones)

I’m still undecided as to whether Clinton or Sanders would be worse. I can’t even believe the alternatives on the R side.
From Article: “My worry about Sanders, watching him in this campaign, is that he isn’t very interested in learning the weak points in his ideas, that he hasn’t surrounded himself with people who police the limits between what they wish were true and what the best evidence says is true, that he doesn’t seek out counterarguments to his instincts, that he’s attracted to strategies that align with his hopes for American politics rather than what we know about American politics. And these tendencies, if they persist, can turn good values into bad policies and an inspiring candidate into a bad president.
… The reason Sanders’s persistently superficial answers on foreign policy matter to me is that they’re a test of his ability to learn on the fly about topics he’s not terribly interested in. … A President Sanders could surround himself with experts who know the shortcomings of his ideas, but would he listen to them?
… I think the baseline competence of [the Obama] administration has begun to dim memories of how important presidential management really is.
The Bush administration was, from this perspective, a genuine disaster — a festival of tax cuts that didn’t make sense and wars that were ill-planned, and all of it run by a man who clearly couldn’t separate experts from hacks (“Heckuva job, Brownie!”) and good advice from ideological fantasies.”
From Fyfe: “I simply cannot see anything in Sanders’ history where he expressed curiosity about something and a desire to learn.
Just like Tea Party members, his views on scientific matters are driven by political considerations, not an understanding of the science. He agrees with the scientific consensus on climate change and evolution, but disagrees with it on nuclear power and genetically modified organisms. This strongly indicates that he does not trust or respect the science, but he uses his political biases as a filter for distinguishing good science from bad science.”

Pennies: so worthless that it isn’t even worth talking about how worthless they are. :)

Minimum Viable Superorganism. A bit long-winded, but some interesting concepts I’m glad I have now.
In short – human superorganisms function in large part due to a Prestige Economy, and “Nature, has endowed us with the instinct to celebrate heroes because it ultimately benefits us to do so.”

Money Growth Does Not Cause Inflation. A perspective I hadn’t heard before, and now I really think I should have. I’m glad I saw this.
Personal note – it pointed out that loan defaults cause the supply of money to contract. I had all the information I needed to deduce this by myself, but it NEVER occurred to me. I had to have it pointed out. I feel like I have failed

Feb 242016
 

thecaldera_by_rationalparadox-itunesBecause projects seem to multiply over time, I am now part of a new podcast on Rationality! It’s a conversational podcast for people familiar with Less Wrong/SSC and the new Rationalist movement, but who don’t consider themselves Black-Belt Bayesians.

I expect the few first episodes to be a bit rough, but give it a listen if you’re interested. We’ll be smoothing out the rough edges and getting better as we figure out how to drive this thing. :)

Home or iTunes

Feb 082016
 

Cant Believe its NotUntil today the whole “spirit animal” thing seemed bizarre to me. Just one more thing kids these days do that I don’t get. Then I read “Crystal Society” (by Max Harms) and OMG!!!!! FACE IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL!! I finally get what that term means, and it’s perfect! :D
The book applies Society of Mind theory to AI development. The story uses social manipulation/interaction as the primary plot drivers and conflict-resolution mechanisms!
It’s $5 on Amazon, or free online here.
(I would recommend just skipping the prologue entirely though. But that’s just me, others like it.)

I’ve found a fascinating new blog – The First Principle – a blog for commentary on the political landscape from the perspective of those engaged in the business of changing public policy.

Ayn Rand’s Firefly. “Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not rescue your sister from torture school. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without rescuing her from torture school.”

It turns out that cultural technology is so basic to my idea of human-ness that a group of humans without the most fundamental technology (the concept of numbers) literally feel like aliens to me. I didn’t realize that before. But very rarely do I read about alien species in science fiction that feel as alien as this group.

Dammit! Who’s been revealing all our secrets??

Wow, technology really does get a lot better. A small 2009 car demolishes a 1959 Chevy in a crash test. Hilarious in several places due to sheer understatement.

A fun flash fic. Altho, also accurately depicts factory farming (if briefly) so, don’t read if that’ll ruin your day.
“This is kind of going to be a weird question,” I said, “but are you a Buddhist god?”
“Hindu, actually,” said Mahaksuryana, “but I’m not offended. I like the Buddhists. They’re pretty chill.”

A guy was illegally demoted for supporting a candidate – supporting a candidate is projected 1st Amendment speech. BUT! He wasn’t actually supporting the candidate, he was just getting a sign for his sick mom. The argument is that since he wasn’t “exercising his rights” (he didn’t actually support the candidate) his demotion was entirely legal.
So if his boss had been right in his assumptions about what the employee was doing, the demotion would have been illegal. Fortunately he was wrong, so it’s all kosher? The Supreme Court will weigh in. I’m ready to be disappointed.

We like our disasters in black and white,” but a combination of arrogance and incompetence caused the Flint water tragedy. And despite his disclaimer at the top, this is not long at all. Under 1500 words.

How Well the Economy is Doing Depends on Your Party, and $1
“The paper by Mr. Bullock, Alan S. Gerber, Seth J. Hill and Gregory A. Huber found that offering a $1 payment for a correct response and a 33-cent payment for an answer of “Don’t know” eliminated the entire partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans on questions about the economy.”

“Yes, people are less deluded about objective conditions than we imagined, but that also implies that peoples’ belief about objective conditions matters less for how they vote than we thought,” he said. “We’ve always thought that how people vote depended a lot on the state of the economy and the state of war. But maybe those objective realities matter less than we thought.”

While I thought the new Star Wars movie was boring, I am against people being dicks about popular things just to be dicks. The recent HuffPo article was horseshit, and this is a great breakdown of why, and response.
“As some of you may be able to see, the ‘plot holes’ outlined in the Huffington Post‘s article are not plot holes at all. They’re simply things to which the reviewer willingly turned a blind eye due to the fact that he went in with a prepossessed notion of what he was going to write. His notion was so strong in fact, that he was able to completely overlook clear and obvious parts of the movie in order to back up the ‘facts’ of his dumb-shit, preconceived article. ”

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2016, if Corporate Dragons Weren’t Devouring our Cultural Myths.

I note that this is exactly what I want to hear, and therefore I should be extra-doubtful. But here’s a quick summary of Jacobs on the importance of cities in economies, making the argument that the primary unit of economic development is the city.
“Empires are built by cities; but they inevitably siphon off the wealth of their cities in these unproductive ways, till stagnation and decline set in.”

An anti-aging startup hopes to elude the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and death at the same time. I’ve already started on my first year’s supply. I’ll let y’all know how it’s going every decade or so. :) Also the SciAm take here.

Anyone into Ponies – give Steven Universe a try. It’s *really* good, and it builds!

Alexander Wales tackles the impossible task of writing an exciting short story about project management. Success!
Instruments of Destruction” – Admiral Tian Jerjerrod tackles the impossible task of building the second Death Star.

I finally listened to Hamilton after absolutely everyone was raving about how great it was. I gotta stop coming to these things late. It is FANTASTIC. If you haven’t reached the critical mass of jumping in yet, consider me one more vote towards doing so.

In a society where the real laws aren’t the same as the pretend laws, and it’s impossible to unilaterally obey the pretend laws, what do you do when you have to explicitly program robots about the speed limit?
“One approach is to teach the vehicles when it’s OK to break the rules, such as crossing a double yellow line to avoid a bicyclist or road workers.
“It’s a sticky area,” Schoettle said. “If you program them to not follow the law, how much do you let them break the law?””

Are Americans losing faith in democracy?

Hey, you want nonprofits to act more like businesses? Then treat us like businesses. “For some reason, it’s OK to invest millions into Google Glass, or the Amazon phone, or the various buy-outs of smaller companies, or whatever, only for them to fail, lose a ton of money, and then chalk it up as a normal part of business. And yet, society invests much smaller amounts to solve complex entrenched social problems, expects miracles, and gets disappointed when we don’t meet outcomes. It’s going to take a while, and significant resources, and the acceptance of failure if we have any hope of solving serious issues like homelessness and human trafficking.”

The radicalization of Luke Skywalker – a Jedi’s path to jihad

I didn’t know this until I was in my late 20s. Because American Sex Ed is really just Reproduction & STI Ed, which DOES NOT CUT IT.
“Physically speaking, virginity doesn’t exist. It’s just something we made up to be mean to women.”

“Trump did not bring his supporters into the GOP. They were already there. … The GOP’s problem is that Trump is the distillation of every political strategy they’ve honed over the last several decades, and particularly ramped up over the last two. … the race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigots he’s currently energizing will still be there if and when he goes.”

OMGOMGOMG! NBC Boss on ‘Xena’ Reboot: “We’re Looking for a Writer” Can I do it? I’LL SO DO IT!

UHF Microwave Gun, made from a standard microwave oven. This makes me miss cyberpunk.

Dec 012015
 

Cats are AssholesIf you want to say Thank You, don’t say Sorry

The Beggar CEO and Sucker Culture “We wear our unpaid, uncompensated overtime as a badge of honor. We sleep less, brag about our caffeine intake, and are available for calls and emails 18 hours per day. We measure our importance by how many half hour slots during the day are double or triple booked, and we perversely consider it honorable to do this for free.”

Beyond Gun Control
In 2012, 90 people were killed in mass shootings. Nearly 6,000 black men were murdered with guns.
Ceasefire dropped youth homicides by 63 percent in the two years after it was launched
assessment from a White House staffer: There was no political will in the country to address inner-city violence.
“These are men who do not trust the police to keep them safe, so “they take matters into their own hands,” It’s long-running feuds, Crandall said, that drive most murders in Oakland.
Men involved in these conflicts may want a safer life, but it’s hard for them to put their guns down. “The challenge is that there is no graceful way to bow out of the game,”

The media has no idea how to deal with Donald Trump’s constant lying – “this dynamic is generally why liars and conspiracy theorists aren’t allowed on respectable news programs.”

Fast-Talking High-Trousers! I love the way that accent sounds (or sounded, I guess) Why Do People In Old Movies Talk Weird?

Hardball Questions For The Next Debate includes a very convincing narrative relating how Bush’s grandfather stole a holy relic from the defeated Nazi government at the end of WWII and used it gain political power(!) (In the question to Rubio)

The Modern Workplace Is Designed To Make You Sick. My fellow office workers know what he’s talking about.

How Facebook is Stealing Billions of Views >< I know, I know – we’re not the customer, we’re the product. But outright theft is really a step beyond the pale.

Jim’s rule of buts – Reverse your but. For serious guys. “what follows ‘but’ always dominates what precedes it. Compare, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but what you said made me really angry.” and “What you said made me really angry, but I’m sorry I yelled at you.”

If you have Facebook M, you have a free, human personal assistant. I can’t imagine Facebook will be subsidizing free assistants for all of us for very long… what’s the end-game here?

Hang The Jedi
“when Anakin Skywalker turns to mass murder – he isn’t even so much as censured, let alone removed from the Council and brought to justice.”
“The Jedi only seem to protest chattel slavery of humans when it inconveniences them personally, and themselves casually keep mechanical sentients … that can be sold, destroyed, or even mind-wiped at the whim of their owners.”

(and if the payload delivered in the last paragraph of the article interests you, I highly recommend the related links:
The Hobbit: How the ‘clomping foot of nerdism’ destroyed Tolkien’s dream – and the fantasy genre
&
very afraid (Worldbuilding is dull) )

Over Half the Student Body of One Colorado High School Facing Felony Charges. For sexting. Thank god they broke up that crime ring. What other crimes can you be both the victim and the perpetrator?

MLP vs Your Civics Textbook
“My Little Pony Friendship is Magic presents a bitterly cynical portrayal of democratic elections. Pip is a silent pawn of the organized minority special interest group, the Cutie Mark Crusaders. They control every aspect of his election, handle his marketing and stir up support among the rationally ignorant and ideologically motivated electorate.”
“Pip did what politicians do best: smile and wave. He kept his mouth shut and presumed not to know anything about actual electioneering.”

According to Alex Irvine on Twitter, Ted Chaing has a new anthology coming out from Knopf! According to google “Ted Chiang’s second collection, gathering together seven stories and one novella…” and the rest is behind a paywall. I’m wondering how many will be new! /excited

Just in case anyone missed it when it went around – Best Star Wars theory since “you need to die in front of Luke to get a ghost body”. Jar Jar Binks was a trained Force user, knowing Sith collaborator, and will play a central role in The Force Awakens. Trolling level = Epic
How Do You Paint 10,000 Paintings a Month?
“A painter with rows and rows of the same half-finished canvasses scooped up paint and went down the row. He painted an identical brushstroke on each painting, and then repeated the process. One brushstroke at a time, the paintings made their way toward completion.”
“the painters did not have set hours, and they did not clock in and out every day. In most cases, the owners let the painters fulfill orders on their own and, after checking the quality, paid the artists per painting.”
“Although painters will work together, assembly-line-style, to meet large orders, Wong writes that these situations are “intermittent.” The norm is for painters to work individually.”

“Republicans in Congress has given Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) – the head of the House science committee – authority to demand any document he wants for whatever reason.
He uses this power to create huge financial and logistical burdens on any scientist who reports conclusions he does not like – demanding years of emails and document not only from them but from anybody they may talk to.”

Trolley problem answers measured in relation to how drunk the subject is. Either “drunk people are emotionally steeled rationalists who are willing to do whatever it takes to save lives” or “drunk people are more willing to “just go with it” when a random graduate student asks them to participate in a thought experiment about killing people.” :D

I know I just linked to it a few days back, but: Over the past few years I’ve come to accept that News, like Politics, is primarily about keeping the American middle-class entertained and has little to do with the Public Good. This article confirms my biases, so I will share it.
“there turns out to be a huge market for thoughtless inflammatory contrarianism, and much less of one for anything reflective or nuanced.”
“the real problem is that these blossomings of controversy are (1) manufactured for consumption and (2) totally disconnected from any kind of meaningful action in the real world. As to point (1), it’s odd that I can get paid to think of ways to poke the internet hornets’ nest, because if I can get a bunch of people to shout about a thing, a company makes money.”
“Clickbait gets clicks. I click on it. I mean, I would have read my own article, even if I would have been bored by it and then fumed about how petty and humorless the author was.”
“It’s not that editors are bad gatekeepers, then. In fact, I’m astonished by how perceptive they are. They know exactly what succeeds.”
“there’s something brain-deadening about “current” affairs, because remaining current precludes getting in-depth background knowledge. The more time you spend trying to “stay informed,” the less informed you actually become compared with someone who doesn’t stay informed but goes and learns things.”

“Human beings are not in general Colour-blind.  The law is not Colour-blind.  It makes a difference not only what bits you have, but where they came from.”
Huge bonus points for making something understandable by extensive reference to Paranoia.
“The US Naval Observatory Web site provides information on that site about when the Sun rises and sets and so on… but they also provide it under a disclaimer saying that this information is not suitable for use in court. If you need to know when the Sun rose or set for use in a court case, then you need an expert witness – because you don’t actually just need the bits that say when the Sun rose. You need those bits to be Coloured with the Colour that allows them to be admissible in court, and the USNO doesn’t provide that.”

From Jai, who blogs rarely because he only posts when it’s perfect: Foes Without Faces.
“The enemy is out there. The enemy does not know love, or hope, or anything of what it is to be human. The enemy does not mourn its countless victims.”
“The “Mayhem” series has won over 80 advertising awards, Since launching in mid-2010, Allstate’s stock has more than doubled.”
“The US spends $16.6 billion on counterterrorism efforts every year. Terrorism, in turn, kills fewer than 10 people in the US most years. That comes out to about a bit over five million dollars per life saved. What makes us so much more determined to fight terrorism than traffic accidents?”
“Enemies are fun.”

Chivalry Isn’t Dead, You Just Don’t Know What the Fuck it is.
“See, the word “chivalry” comes from the French word “chevalier,” which comes from “cheval,” which means “horse.” Chivalry is literally just “rules for if you have a horse.” This was an important set of rules to have in chivalry times. Horses were the Blackhawk Helicopters of the Middle Ages; if you had a horse, you could absolutely kill anybody who didn’t have a horse and nobody was going to say a god damn thing. The only thing stopping you was chivalry.”

New Yorkers have the smallest carbon footprints in the United States: less than 30 percent of the national average
If everyone in the sprawling suburban wastelands would move into compact housing in urban centers, just imagine how much land could be returned to nature to preserve wildlife, grow forests, etc.

UC Berkeley – where if you do your job too well and you make the old guard look bad, they fire you.

“Instead of trying to figure out what his child was learning, Herrmann did what so many parents do these days: He complained about something he doesn’t understand.
The problem with the method people like Herrmann learned is that it didn’t work when the math got harder.
Instead, Herrmann wasted everyone’s time by writing a useless check and putting it on Facebook.
Because, to people like him, ignorance is hilarious.”