Saturday, August 28, 2010

Golden Ages

When you walk into the ocean, if you go to just the right depth, the waves feel like they are going to knock to over, but don't. Each wave bends you back right to your tipping point and then subsides, giving you enough to time to stand straight in anticipation of the next one. This is what listening to Deven's band is like.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Am I the only person misses writing stuff for school?

7/16/10: If you are bored at work, or need ten bucks, then you should enter my essay contest. It was inspired by my enjoyment of Inception, but you don't have to have seen it or care for it. Although you should and should. Its more of just of a way to remind myself how smart my friends are and I hope people get into it enough where it can become a regular thing. The topic that I posted on facebook was:

Why are filmmakers so interested in dreams?/ what makes dreams such a rich subject for cinema?

But anything you write about dreams and movies and the intersection of the subject and the medium is obviously fine if its awesome. I'm not kidding about the ten bucks either, its in the budget and I will send a check to your house (mostly because I would probably already buy you a beer) if you win, which shouldn't be too hard since think about how few friends I have and how lazy they are. Ends next Thursday.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Thumbs Down:
a. Got a call at 6am telling me that someone broke into Helen St. to steal pipes. I didn't know that this actually happened in real life. I did not get back to sleep while thinking about how I am going to pay to fix this.
b. CK was having none of it. GCB has theories.
c. GCB also said alot of things like, "for a smart person, there are alot of things that you don't allow yourself to understand." He is probably right but still.
d. The deck I thought was awesome actually can't win a game now. Audible.

Thumbs Up:
a. Lots of kids on field trips to the Smithsonian museums think I am super cool. I don't get it either. Many many people came up to me just to compliment. It is weird that boys called the things I was wearing on my legs jeans every time and girls called them pants every time.
b. The national gallery finally got its act together and rehung the picture they own that I like.
c. I haven't gotten a parking ticket yet despite some "ambitious" placements.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why aren't there more sociopaths?

1/13/10: Feeling like you don't want children is very odd. Every single person who has contributed to my genetic variation successfully reproduced so where could it possibly have come from. If you look at a "family" tree of a childless person, its a terminus on a line that actually begins at the beginning of life. Its a sad way to think about how much time you get, but the "purpose" of life is just to pass on a combination of base pairs.

The question for me lately has been:
What if I was actually a slave to my genetic legacy? Instead of just a biological sex drive, what if my actual consciousness was pre-occupied with reproduction? How many viable progeny could I have if it were my singular pursuit in life and I didn't care to follow any cultural rules, like a sociopath? I have no idea about how to calculate or even guess at this. A dozen? A hundred? A thousand? Even if all the sociopath stealing, deception, and general fast-living catches up with a hypothetical progeny maximizing person, it would still be a very successful genetic strategy. So why aren't there more sociopaths? Or even just people with a more calculated reproductive strategy? One possible explanation is that this is all presupposed on a world that is unprepared for a sociopath and that the more of them that existed, the more society would invent safety measures to protect itself from them. For instance, in a traditional society in lots of places, its pretty dangerous business to sleep around. Sociopaths in those cultures have to rise all the way to the very top of the pyramid before they can have a giant harem or whatever.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I wonder if eventually I will even be bored in my dreams

1/29/10: Sometimes I have dreams, the themes of which (kind of), are me being super good at things and productive. Its odd to wake up as a very un-industrious person. Two good examples of such a dream:

1) I dreamt recently that I was in some kind of design class (some times I wish I went to art school, not because I want to be an artist, but just because from what people tell me it sounds like its the kind of place, like Deep Springs, where people expect something from you, and if you don't make anything out of yourself, people actually call you out on it) and we were given the project to create a font. This is the kind of thing I imagine people do in design school, btw. Anyway, I was really proud of the font I made. In my dream. It was based on the divine proportion (also called the golden ratio), which is an awesome thing that you should look up if you don't know about it. The Greeks were obsessed with it, and for good reason kinda. Almost everything in nature is based on it, from the way a tree branch grows, or the Fibonacci sequence involved in the shape of seashells and the composition sunflowers up to the cosmic level of the ratio of suns to galaxies. When I woke, I later searched for people who had come up with the same idea, and sure enough they had but was glad to find out that my font was way better, mostly because it actually more strictly followed the rule: "all intersections of lines must follow the divine proportion".

2. In my dream I worked for NASA, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory or some such place. My job was to graphically represent the trajectory of a missile based on data from different radar stations that recorded distance as the missile passed in and out of their range. My elegant solution was to introduce degrees of certainty based on the square of the distance between the missile and the radar stations involved. That way, the radar stations can check each other, but with preference to the data from the station closest to the missile. It was actually a very beautiful dream, in which the equation came to life and it involved lots of flying around through landscapes with lines shooting every which way, and X,Y,Z, and T numbers rising and falling out of view.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Facebook groups I would make up if they weren't so dumb

1. I always get the drunkest when I am hosting a party.
2. I like sports enough to make girls mad, but not enough to make boys happy.
3. Never wanted that until I saw you with it.
4. Will call your sex positive, and raise you a fuck positive
5. Girls are allowed to be madder about double standards than boys

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Do I believe in the "Singularity"?

1/7/2010: On any measure, human progress is non-linear. Productivity, prosperity, consumption, and most importantly (according to people who are obsessed with the future) computing power are on exponential courses upward. The singularity is just an idea with a cult following that comes out of this reality. It postulates that at some point in the near future technology will be advancing so quickly that it will spawn a new kind of intelligence will arise that we currently do not even have the conceptual tools to think about. Maybe something like a supercomputer that can do so many calculations in an instant that it can be reading the entire internet simultaneously. And with the rise of things like twitter perhaps also be in touch with every human in real time as well (a big part of the idea is that different technologies will all converge on each other) not to mention things like gps installed in every thing ever touched by a person. There is no reason that a tracking device can't be made to be as small as to be measured in atoms, and at that point you could put one on everything. A computer that fast and with that much data would have predictive ability. Or maybe its simpler than that. Maybe someone invents a model that can predict molecular randomness by incorporating new data in real time. You could build into the model an ever increasing "closed system" and be very close to actually proving cosmic determinism and having access to "God's" plan for how every atom is going to be bouncing off every other.

Before I talk about whether this is going to happen or not, some other guesses at how it might come to be:
- Its not implausible that we learn how to manipulate matter to the point where we can just make things like how they make food in Star Trek. The history of mankind (and all life) is the history of scarcity. What happens when all of a sudden everything becomes free? Also, is this an economist's dream or nightmare?

- Wal-mart. Not joking. They have already proved that specialization is not necessary for optimization, especially if economies of scale apply. They have transcended retail by being the best at things they have no business being the best at: transportation, banking, energy efficiency, information systems, etc. What if some future company becomes the best at everything to the point where we all work for it and all of sudden everyone's self-interest becomes aligned?

-Transaction costs go to zero. {[First, if you haven't yet, read/watch this article about credit cards and how currently perverse incentives are causing the opposite of price competition. ]} The internet has already started with this, but there is a big difference between paying micro-cents and actual zero. Actual zero means that the market with a capital M is perfectly efficient. All resources are being maximized.

This speculative nonsense has a couple of things going for it:
- After the singularity, or perhaps even the cause of it, people are going to have computers integrated into their nervous systems. That's pretty fucking graphix. (also, if you are late to the party, graphix is the new lazers.
- Even if it doesn't ever happen, its pretty fun to think about and a reason to pay attention and a reason to try to piece things together. There is so much going on right now in medicine, energy, and especially information technology and how everything interacts is pretty unknown.
- Unlike other things, there doesn't seem to be anything that is cyclical about the trajectory of technological advance. After human beings realized that writing shit down was awesome and figured out how to do it, good ideas rarely got lost and forgotten and we have only really moved forward.

On the other hand:
-People, for whatever reason, have the tendency to categorize as a difference in kind rather than a difference in degree. (See: Humans/Language, Humans/Soul, Christianity/Islam, etc) History just shows us going up a graph. Its a steep slope, sure, by why would anyone come to the conclusion we are going to do anything besides stay on the track we have been on?
-If this was a real thing, then aliens would be here already. Its kind of like the proof that time travel doesn't exist. If it did, then time travelers from the future would have been here. If the singularity was a phenomena, it would have been replicated on a planet somewhere in our infinite universe and would have probably just colonized everything under its all-knowing power.
- Is it even something we should be excited about? For instance, if I knew for a fact that this was my last year pre-singularity, I would want to make as many bad decisions as possible while i still could.

Part Two: Predictions (because they are fun)
Sue got really mad at Ira Glass because he promised real predictions and then wimped out. Here are some good ones:

-In our lifetime:
1. Power will become basically free through the process of fusion. Once we get a handle on how to do the simplest kinds, we are going to learn how to use bigger and bigger atomic "fuel" to make the process work. 5 percent chance that cold fusion ever happens.
2. India and Pakistan will engage in atomic warfare over water, specially the damming of the Indus river. Water will be the currency of the next century, like oil was the currency of the past one.
3. Magnets will see a resurgence in importance, specifically electro-magnets. For all of our advances, humans still primarily manipulate our environs using the crappiest of the forces: gravity or mechanical means usually. Gravity a weak force you say? Think about it like this: a magnet the size of a pinhead can hold a paper clip when the entire planet is pulling on it in the other direction.
4. A person born in our lifetime will live to be 500 years old.
5. "Rights", as currently understood, will be given to non-humans, and actually understood, enforced, and celebrated as our rights are. My guess is only the most intelligent species at first, but soon after, most creatures we are currently using as protein factories.
6. Sleep will be "solved" and become obsolete. If any of us live long enough, we will have to tell little ones about the good old days and what sleeping every day was like.

In the next few years:
1. Not only gay marriage, but comprehensive change in the treatment of non-traditional members of the sex and gender spectrum including trans-genders. This includes a shift in how doctors treat babies born "in the middle", which will of course lead to more people growing up with a complicated gender identity and therefore more acceptance, understanding, tolerance, etc. but that will take a generation obviously.
2. Google will do something really really evil and become a bad guy. On the other hand, the good guys will win about the internet on issues such as: net neutrality, the copyfight, access in the third world and oppressed places, china specifically.
3. Tobacco will become illegal somewhere (somewhere real too). Not just smoking it. It will be illegal to grow, possess, sell, everything. GMOs too.
4. At least five different regions of the world will learn the lesson of the EU and incorporate in a similar way. This is one is half cheating, because some Arab states are already doing this, but southeast Asia, south America, northern Africa, and poor soviet block countries could also benefit from "joining a union" including currency consolidation.
5. Someone in my family will die or get married. I will be judged for not giving a shit either way.