By | December 15, 2018

That’s 100% correct. Though the next recession or financial crisis won’t be a conspiracy in the narrow sense, you better believe that disaster will be used to loot and pillage as much as the banksters and Wall Streeters can cart away. Retirement accounts, 401(k)s, et al. are the next big targets.


By | December 15, 2018

When you think about the unlikelihood of existence, each person is equivalent to plucking a rational number out of the vast uncomputable febrile swamp of uncountably infinite irrationals.

It’s impossible, definitionally. Yet here we are. Here we all are.

Each human alive can create something that has never existed, think a thought that no one has ever thought, see something that no one has ever seen before.

The miracle is that so many scientists and Quiggins of the world can’t see the miracle, and deign to tell the ones of us who aren’t strictly bound by their pseudo-rationality that no miracle even exists.


By | December 15, 2018

Pondering it, I believe the reason I keep visiting places like Crooked Timber that have a panoply of the pseudo-educated is that it gives me something to push against — I can better find the flaws and also bright points of my own ratiocination by exposing myself to those who are supposed to be examples of intellectual rigor and probity but who are in reality oafs.

Quiggin knows so little; nothing of science, of anthropology, of sociology, of psychology, of epistemology, of history, of philosophy or human drives — in all of these he’s worse than someone utterly uneducated as he’s been mis-educated. He’s far worse off than someone who is utterly ignorant but willing to learn.

I could literally write a book about all the stupidity and ignorant assumptions embedded in the post to which I previously linked — all the willful misunderstandings, the obdurately and stupefyingly ignorant assumptions and the sophistry, but I have so much better things to do with my time than deal with his pusillanimous pap.

Lack Of

By | December 15, 2018

Posts like this are fundamentally moronic (but about what I’d expect of Crooked Timber), not because I disagree with Quiggin in the short term but because the long term is very long indeed and “never” is even longer.

More than 500 years out we have no idea of what will occur. The greatest prognosticator does not. Algorithms do not. And Quiggin — who does not rise even to the level of a frowzy fortune-teller — surely does not.

There is progress and there are plateaus, and one can be on a plateau for a very long time indeed before a new, viable climb appears. For instance, humans used stone tools only for somewhere between 500,000 and a million years — that’s from 100 to 200 times as long as the entirety of recorded human history.

There is nothing magical needed to undertake interstellar travel; merely many advances. How likely are those advances? I don’t know. There is not enough data to have any valid statistical basis for saying, despite Quiggin’s claims. If it doesn’t violate the laws of physics, I wouldn’t count out someone doing it in the long stretch of time, though.

This is why I hate Crooked Timber, and the people who think that way. Their imaginations are so tiny and their intellectual prowess so bounded. Someone told them they were bright, they got “educated,” but they don’t really know a fucking thing.

In the long vast sweep of time, many things will occur that people like Quiggin are certain will not. I don’t know what those are. No one does. But Quiggin’s certitude is that of a be-furred fool hooting that the copper ore is useless, and to throw it out, because it has no possible value since we already have all these nice rocks just laying about.

I think it most likely that in 5-50,000 years, if we manage to survive, we’ll find ways to significantly alter our bodies and to increase our lifespans, and with some advances in energy production, interstellar travel becomes a lot more feasible. Again, none of this is magic. It’s just things — like making a steel cooking pot in 10,000 BC — that we don’t yet know how to do.

Crooker Timber is terrible. I have a hard time understanding why I keep going back there but I can’t seem to stop. Such a bunch of tottering intellectual nitwits.

Merci Me

By | December 15, 2018

This is how so much false etymology gets started.

I don’t have time to write out the whole damn history of one word this morning, but “merci” and its usage was influenced by Christianity around the 12th Century or so after originally coming into Old French by way of Latin, where its cognates “mercēd-” etc. originally meant something like “wages” and “price” and other commerce-related ideas.

Due to some Christian doctrine arguments, the word eventually came to mean something like “blessing” or “reward” (in a more metaphorical sense) and this is when it also became used as an expression meaning “thanks” in general French usage. In other words, the “merci” you were offering your benefactor as thanks was the reward or blessing (the payment) for the good deed done for you. It had no direct sense of being at someone’s mercy.

Please be aware that I am simplifying and eliding a whole lot of history here, but I hate false etymology and there is so very much of it.

Also No

By | December 14, 2018

No. Quantum probability has actual, real indeterminacy built in. And since the world is structured at its base on quantum phenomena, this would strongly imply that the cosmos itself also possesses this innate indeterminacy — unless you posit that QM is wrong (unlikely) or that somehow quantum mechanics has no impact at all on macro events ever (seems a bit fishy to me).

When I say that quantum mechanics has real indeterminacy built in, this isn’t quibbling or guesswork. It’s just a fact of how the universe works. There is no way in principle to predict, say, when a uranium atom will emit a photon due to radioactive decay. Even knowing every single fact up to that point about the entire universe, that photon’s emission would be by nature unpredictable in the very strongest sense of that word. There is nothing we could learn to tell us when it would occur, or even why. Again, this is not about not having enough information. There is no information that could allow us to learn this in advance.

So I’d disagree with this, and here’s why. I am convinced quantum mechanics is correct. To believe as Alex does, you’d have to assume that QM never has any effect on the macro world of any kind, which just seems a bit absurd since the entire universe is built on its actions. Note that it doesn’t take QM effects occurring on every interaction to invalidate these sorts of ideas — that they occur at all makes this view of probability suspect because it then becomes unreliable in general. Also I should be clear that doesn’t mean I think probability and statistics has then become unusable, but that I am negating the idea that probability is (only) a model of personal ignorance.


By | December 14, 2018

Me too. Normals, scolds, puritans, and non-geeks invaded and now it’s much worse.

It’s totally selfish, but in my ideal world the internet would’ve semi-fizzled and it would’ve had only about 300 million users worldwide, mostly science/geek and related type people, with some journalists and such thrown in. Meanwhile, the masses would’ve continued to ignore it.

Broken by Design

By | December 14, 2018

Even Kubernetes devotees admit it’s not secure:

I love tech that comes broken out of the box. Nothing more fun.

My Crackpot Physics Theory

By | December 14, 2018

My crackpot physics theory is that there is no such thing as dark matter and that the effects we see of this nonexistent dark matter are caused by adjacent parallel universes intruding into ours via gravity and the fact that is not a true force like the other three.

Well, dammit, as I was writing this post I was doing some research on gravitons and real physicists have already proposed this idea! How am I supposed to have a crackpot physics theory if real physicists are un-cracking me?!?

Back to the crackpot drawing board, I guess.