Jan 31

Another thing on the 8 hate train

What really pisses me even more about the wildly-fanatical Windows 8 supporters is when they claim that the distaste is just because, “You don’t want to learn new UIs.”

Right, as they talk to someone who used to use Solaris from the command line to get my daily work done. And someone who has used somewhere more than 20 different OSes and 30+ different UI paradigms so far in my life.

And the thing is, Solaris was easier to use than Windows 8. Its UI was more consistent (as long as you didn’t stray too far into CDE!) than Windows 8 by far. By very far.

So fuck them all, crack-smoking assclowns.

Jan 31

Starting again

The problem with the start menu going away isn’t that it was a great UI in the first place. No, it wasn’t even all that good.

The problem with it going away is that it got thrown away, and then replaced with something even worse.

To make one of those unavoidable car analogies, it was like replacing a 1986 Chrysler LeBaron with a 1978 Chevy Pinto. Yes, both are crappy, but the Pinto is so much crappier than the Chrysler is why people complained, not because the Start Menu was the end-all and be-all of good UI design.

Jan 31

A decade ago

Something else I just thought of.

About a decade ago, I had a friend who was pretty active in academia. He also had a popular blog that covered some scientific topics related to his areas of interest..

I told him to be careful about the blog as that could hurt him academically, since any contact with us horrible laypeople was frowned upon in his world.

He scoffed at me and told me that I was being ridiculous, and that surely no one cared.

Well, all of a few weeks later his advisor called him in and told my friend that he had concerns that his blog indicated he wasn’t serious about his research work, and that if he wanted to pursue anything worthwhile in academia the blog should be shuttered and not worked on anymore.

Well, my friend being nearly as stubborn as I am didn’t shut down the blog (at least not right then) and chose not to continue in academia, though I am quite sure he was smarter than about 99% of the people in his department. (Considering that he passed a high-level quantum mechanics course with flying colors while being drunk and high nearly all the time, pretty sure I am right about that.)

Jan 31

All too human

All human enterprises eventually become status competitions if allowed to go on long enough.

I’ve seen this occur personally as ideas I’d had on old blogs years ago (mostly related to economics) were lampooned and roundly denigrated, and are now becoming or are already accepted in the mainstream.

If I’d worked at Harvard, the same ideas would’ve been much easier to promulgate.

I’m not bitter. I don’t even really care as I’ve never had the slightest interest as an adult in being an academic.

But when credentials matter more than ideas and results, the entire enterprise is in danger.

Jan 31


Writing below how about anyone who went online was once considered a complete anti-social undesirable loser made me think about other huge social changes in my lifetime.

Another really large one – at least in the US –  is how the profession of teaching has gone in only a few years from one that was once revered and considered honorable (yet underpaid) to one that is considered by a larger and larger percentage of the population to consist of only avaricious leeches who deserve to live in poverty.

This is a massive and underappreciated shift of popular consciousness, and one that I believe presages the devaluing of all paid labor.

Jan 30

Time to complain about Facebook again

I was booking a reservation at a small mom-and-pop type hotel and the booker said something like, “If you like our place after your stay, you can like it on Facebook!”

And I said, “I don’t have a Facebook account. Not my kind of thing.”

From the reaction I got, you’d think I’d said, “I just killed and ate a few children and boy, was it fun! I hope to do it again real soon.”

In my lifetime I remember how anything anyone did online was considered weird and undesirable, to now where not giving your entire life away to a sociopath is considered socially unacceptable. When I first started using BBSes in the mid-80s, it was a niche activity that only complete and utter loser nerds did.

Now Facebook – which is essentially a shitty, privacy-free BBS – is nearly de rigeur for integration into polite society.

Well, you know what? I’m only faking being part of polite society, so fuck all that.

Jan 30


The reason why professional philosophers deride the problem, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” as a pseudo-problem isn’t because it is actually a pseudo-problem or irrelevant, rather it is scorned as a valid line of inquiry precisely because it is completely flummoxing and essentially destroys – as quantum mechanics does now to science in many ways – their entire enterprise.

Note that I am not saying that philosophy is worthless or that this fact renders it futile. Quite the opposite.

But I am saying that foundational questions that introduce (metaphorical) infinities into any field in general are often dismissed or derided. It is the nature of humanity to do such things.

As William James said, “Philosophy stares, but brings no reasoned solution, for from nothing to being there is no logical bridge.”

Philosophy might never be able to answer this question. Science almost certainly won’t be able to, either. Deciding something is outside of one’s domain and then denigrating those as childish who undertake to at least wish for an answer is far easier than saying, “Yes, philosophy in this respect is likely forever to be broken, but that’s ok as it is at least useful for many other things.”

Jan 29


Alabama Shakes – Always Alright

She has a great guitar style, too. Can we get her (Brittany Howard), Samantha Fish, Danielle Haim, Rachael Price and Bridget Kearney all in the same band? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Jan 29


People in the South do not have the first clue how to drive in the snow.

Or in Seattle, either. But in the South it’s even worse because in most places it only snows once a decade or even less frequently. (Or basically never for where we live now.)

I grew up in Lake City, Florida. It snowed there in 1989 for the first time in several decades. My grandfather and I walked the mile from our house to the local grocery store. On the way, we saw a half-dozen or more car accidents. The snow was only 2-3 inches at that point.

Strangely, some people actually seemed to be driving faster than normal. Nervousness? Floridians also seem to do that in rain, too, so I have no idea. Here it seems to be, “If in doubt, speed up!” Especially if it is an SUV.*

Back in 1989 I remember watching people wildly oversteer and thinking – correctly – that even though I didn’t have my license yet I could’ve done better than they did. Since then I’ve driven in show quite a few times and never had any problems, even on crappy tires. I don’t enjoy it, but it’s not that hard.

It was chaos in Lake City, though. Just craziness. People would accelerate to normal speeds then brake at normal-weather distances and then slide madly into one another, never seeming to understand that snow is about a thousand times as slippery as even rain-slicked roads.

Later on after the bad drivers were all weeded out, my grandfather drove us the 30 miles to our cabin on the river with no problem at all.

*I was driving in New York State one time in the snow and an SUV passed me doing 20-30mph above the speed limit, barely keeping traction and almost running me off the road. Of course they had the attitude typical of many SUV drivers that, “I’m in an SUV, so I am immune to the laws of physics!” As they passed, I thought, I’m going to be seeing them on the side of the road soon. Sure enough about two miles later, there it was, flipped on the edge of the road. All the occupants appeared to be ok so I crawled by slowly and being a bigger asshole then than I am now, I honked and flipped them the bird as I passed.