YG

I have a good instinct about idiots. I always seem to despise them before the cool people start to hate them. Like Matt Yglesias. And Jonah Lehrer.

The first time I read a Jonah Lehrer piece I said, “This sounds like complete horseshit” and I vowed never to read anything by Lehrer again.

On my previous blog several years ago, I posted something about how I’d never read Yglesias again, and I haven’t.

Yglesias is the epitome of the Ivy League-educated idiot. College makes some people smarter and is necessary in some fields, mostly STEM ones. For most people it is worthless other than as a piece of paper to get a job. It could be different, but it’s not.

To quote Good Will Hunting, “You blew 150k on an education you could have gotten in $1.50 in late fees from the library.” Always been my philosophy. I read more textbooks in a year than most college students do their whole lives.

And now I’m rambling – this really should be two posts. But I am also lazy, so it won’t be.

Yglesias seems to have embodied the opposite of the GWH quote – education, as with Obama, seems to have made him dumber as it overlaid his mind with neo-liberal swill.

Glad there is a backlash now, though.

NZM

The economy – contrary to popular belief and even the belief of some economists – is absolutely not zero sum.

Many people want you to believe that as it is in their best interests that you do so. That would be mostly members of the 1%, large banks, etc. Certain parts of the economy are indeed zero sum, but these parts are very small and are shrinking more every day.

I don’t really feel like going into long explanations here, but this is the most common misconception I see out there about how a large economy works – that value creation always by necessity causes value destruction elsewhere.

However, if I write a computer program for which you pay me, both of us are objectively better off.

If a famer creates a better method for rotating crops for which people pay him to consult on for their own farms, he is better off and so is everyone else. No one loses anything – and this is true if the farmer never personally profits monetarily from the work.

If a researcher creates a clever algorithm to optimize encoding of digital information for which she receives the Fields Medal, again, everyone is better off.

That the economy is a zero sum game is actually completely the opposite of how economies work. An economy can’t work that way and function. Just can not. In an economy that is in fact a zero sum game, everyone would do only the bare minimum to obtain food and water and that’s about all.

I realize that as one my teachers once put it that I am jumping from mountaintop to mountaintop here and not exploring the valleys below, but smart people read this blog. I am sure you can handle it.

Won’t be going that way again

Not that we should expect every woman to do this, but damn, this is awesome.

The bus driver tried to kiss her, then when she spurned his advances he allegedly said he would rape her. She knocked a knife from his grasp, broke it in two, bit his hand, wrestled him to the ground and put him in a stranglehold between her thighs, before leaving the bus and reporting the attack.

Funny what a little military training can do for you.

Misogyny

What in the hell.

I JUST noticed something strange on Wikipedia. It appears that gradually, over time, editors have begun the process of moving women, one by one, alphabetically, from the “American Novelists” category to the “American Women Novelists” subcategory. So far, female authors whose last names begin with A or B have been most affected, although many others have, too.

I think if I were a woman writer, I’d still use a male pseudonym to attempt to avoid this sort of BS. Sad to say that – and to see the above – in 2013, but the evidence is what it is.

All of them

I’ve never seen anything like this before:

That’s pretty badass. I don’t even like the song, but how do you even begin to practice something like that?

Hair

When your hair looks like this while standing outside, you are about to die or be grievously injured.

Only people from non-lightning-prone states or areas could look so happy to be in such a situation.

When your hair is standing up like that, a lightning strike is mere seconds away.

I don’t recall the complete back story behind this photo, but I believe one of the brothers died a few minutes afterward.

Somnolent

Every time I have a lucid dream, I practice and attempt to perfect my telekinesis.image

At first, I could only move a small object – a coin or matchbook – in the palm of my hand.

Now, I can push a full-grown adult woman back thirty feet across a floor without knocking her down (control, people!).

It’s almost time to use it on the werewolves.

For anyone who has watched Inception and has practiced lucid dreaming, we lucid dreamers know that the real world has inertia. Most people can’t stroll into a lucid dream and start making things appear and disappear at will, or teleport, or radically alter the surroundings.

That takes practice, for most people.

incepSo in Inception when Ariadne steps into a lucid dream and does absolutely insane things with such haste, any lucid dreamer goes, “Holy shit, she’s a natural.”

For those who have never practiced lucid dreaming the scene probably has little impact at all, and certainly not the same depth of characterization.

I don’t know why the real world has inertia in dreams; it just does. My telekinesis in dreams is now a useful skill but when I battle my arch-nemesis clade of werewolves it cannot fail or I will quickly become lunch. I have some more practicing to do but soon I will be much less likely to get eaten by the wolves.

Why?

About the below, about all the time spent understanding QM, some people ask, “Why bother? What does that gain you?”

Well, ignoring even the simple joy of understanding something for its own sake, I know why the sun shines. Not just some vague guess – I know exactly why. I know why photons are emitted, and under what conditions, and how a star keeps from collapsing under its own mass.

I know why my hand doesn’t pass through the desk when I “touch” it, even though it’s mostly just empty space.

I understand why an element is an element, and why there are elements in the first place.

Knowing QM enough to reason in its counterintuitive way won’t help you make more money at work, or to repair your car, but when you look out at the universe or even at your own hand, you’ll understand more about the world than most people who have ever lived.

If that isn’t cool or worth doing, I don’t know what is. I know how the sun shines. How many people in recorded history can say that?

QM

I wish anyone – which is nearly everyone – who has no clue what Erwin Schrödinger was actually getting at when he devised the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment would just stop writing about it.

A good idea is that if you can’t explain what spin is in quantum mechanics, to never write another word about Schrödinger or his goddamn cat.

What ol’ Erwin was getting at is that the Copenhagen interpretation of QM is plainly ridiculous, as in the macro world there are no cats who are simultaneously alive and dead.

Nearly everyone writes this up all wrong, and most of those who manage to write it up correctly still have no clue what they are talking about.

I am no physicist or expert on QM, but I have spent many years trying to understand as much about it as a layman can. Even most books purporting to explain it get it wrong, including some written by actual physicists.

The problem is QM is so strange that you can’t think about it using anything in the macro world. It just doesn’t work. You have to give all that up. There is no analogue, no translation. Just think about it as it is, and you’ll be good.

That took me about a decade, though, so good luck.

Why I can never use a tablet for work

Here’s what I was doing yesterday for work.

I had a virtual machine open so I could use my company’s VPN software. In that virtual machine, I was remoted into my work admin box, which I was consulting frequently.

I was also remoted into two different machines that I was using to conduct file transfers.

At the same time, I was remoted into a server that I was transferring files to, to do clean-ups and to run some checks.

I was also remoted into another server that I was using to check some other related things.

In my main machine (outside of the virtual machine), I was using a spreadsheet I was consulting frequently on my secondary monitor while I was consulting my email and writing email on my main monitor, as well as having all the rest of the above visible (mostly) in the background so I could monitor it all.

Additionally, I had my laptop on my desk and booted up so I could do secondary things like use my IM client with a few teammates, and to consult some other documents.

So, let’s see, I was using seven different computers at once. And I had to do so – anything less would’ve slowed me down greatly. If I’d used two or three, the task would’ve taken 2-3 or even four times as long.

Most people can’t multi-task*? Good thing I am not most people, then.

This all took me about 10 hours. If I’d had to do this all on a tablet or on Windows 8, I’d still be working on it. And I’d still be working on it next week, too.

I realize not everyone does the things I do. I know this will sound arrogant (ask me if I care), but most people can’t. Their brains just don’t work like mine.

But enough can, and need to, that switching to a single-tasking tablet or phone OS is not an option.

And yep, I needed to see most or all of this stuff all at once, nearly all of the time. Really.

I literally could not even begin to do 1/10 of my job with a phone OS or on a tablet.

*Scientists who study multi-tasking insist on using an idiotic definition of multi-tasking, then “disprove” something that everyone knows is idiotic. Why do this, I have no idea. Probably something to do with funding that I don’t understand.