Jun 30

Baroque interview process

I work for a German company for my main job. During an interview I overheard someone request of the the interviewee: “Name one German Baroque period composer.”

Seriously. That really happened.

I hope the candidate had a Handel on it, but since it was a phone interview I couldn’t hear what the candidate said Bach. Probably didn’t, but I just can’t be Schürmann.

Jun 30


Damn, The Leftovers Season 2 is just so good.

The way it deftly plays with meta-story, surrealism, narrative expectation, expected completions and intertextuality — so well-done all without detracting from a very tight story.

I can’t even cite anything specific as it’s so inter-layered and contextual. The way it dodges about with both subverting and fulfilling your expectations — and then slyly making fun of both — is just glorious.

Jun 30

Adapt grand mal

I’d argue — and certainly many of our classical forebears would argue — that nearly all humans now are effectively mentally ill.

This is not to trivialize mental illness at all. I’m quite serious.

Existing in a capitalist system without dropping out, without becoming deranged and despondent, is a sign of that illness. Sitting at a desk all day and performing the same few tasks is not natural, even with the broad definition of “natural” humanity encompasses. Having an autarch (the boss) determine when you can eat, when you can piss, when you can see your family — also not anything humans have been or should be accustomed to.

I sometimes say that humans are maladapted to our civilization.

But there’s more verity to observation that our society is maladapted to us.

And the signs of our mental illness, our sickness, is the fact that we silently endure such perdition.

Jun 29

Going nowhere

How you know sexism isn’t even close to disappearing: when someone mentions that he enjoys the show Orange is the New Black, and another guy spends (seriously) two full days mocking him for liking a show featuring women.

Then the other guy retorted that he only watched the show because his wife wanted to, in a not-really-helping attempt to defend himself for the sin of liking something to do with women.

Cripes. Men are so weak.

Jun 29

Carrie’d away

If you’re not watching Carrie Coon in Season 2 of The Leftovers, you’re missing out.

I almost gave up on the show as Season 1 varied from meh to atrocious. But someone got a brain upgrade or a budget upgrade or Rod Serling came back from the dead, as absolutely everything is better. Far better. The acting, the cinematography, the music. Hell, even the credits.

And Carrie Coon is always great, but in this she’s just wonderful. Fierce and wounded and clever and afraid, she’s the vital heart of the show and reason enough to watch it without all the other reasons.

Jun 29


Brexit is a complex issue. Like most real-world issues. Pretending there were no valid reasons to vote “Leave” is what the supposedly-smart people are doing now.

I usually agree with John Scalzi in most arenas, but this piece is egregiously condescending and terrible and is in the genre of examining supposedly foreordained consequences without understanding reasons or causes.

Stating that the experts said things would go poorly after a Brexit is a bit disingenuous when it’s those very same experts who will be given the task of punishing the British people for voting “Leave.” Of course it will go poorly! They are the ones making that happen. Pretending that is the only possible turn of events is delusional. No, like most things that occur that are portrayed as the natural way of things, this is a choice. Always a choice.

So many false dichotomies, ridiculous framings, disordered thinking and cult of expertise worship lately — and I largely trust experts! But consider this: it was experts who got us into the Great Recession, and still haven’t really corrected any of the systemic problems that caused it (while telling us that they’re not really problems). It was experts who built nuclear weapons and dropped some of them on Japan.

It’s experts who are likely to wipe out all human life on this planet.

Kind of puts a different spin on “expertise” when you look at all the externalities inherent in that sort of expertise worship.

What will happen to the UK — bad or good — is a choice. Saying that it will mostly be negative because the experts who said so are going to be the ones doling out punishment — well ok, then. Thanks. You’ve revealed your spectacular insight, for sure.

I want to — but don’t have the will or the time — to write a longer piece on the aforementioned framing and false dichotomies as well as cover Big Data, cognitive shortcuts and modeling/statistics. That’d be a book though and I have no interest in doing so now.

And about the Stross piece Scalzi linked, finance leaving the UK might actually be a good thing as high finance drives up housing prices, loots the real economy, and crowds out actual useful investment as well as tends to promote elimination of social programs. (I know personally more than a few people in and around London who will never be able to buy a house anywhere, despite having worked full-time for 20+ years.)

So much of US politics is as a friend of mine pointed all about old people scared of house prices falling. We’re seeing a variant of that here again.

Jun 28

Being evil

I wonder how much it is to Google’s (and similar companies’) benefit to “turn evil?”

I’m guessing this is more a sociological fact than a business fact. That most public companies do it proves nothing. Effectiveness is often not strongly tied to real world actions in a huge number of areas. Actual actions are more attuned to “what everyone knows” rather than what is true. Those who believe themselves more intelligent than most are more prone to these cognitive limitations, not less.

Issues like this is why I think that capitalism is most likely to destroy everything than to reform.

Jun 27

Pro Im

I am pro-immigration, by the way. It might not seem like it from what I write sometimes here, but I very much am.

What I am not is this version of pro-immigration, the naive flower child leftist sort that seems to have overtaken most of the liberal side these days: “We should let everyone in! Even if it’s allowing 20,000 fundamentalist Islamic young men into a small town of 5,000 people! And then there will be puppies and ponies and foofy clouds and everyone will sit around singing and eating cotton candy!”

No. I am very much against that sort of open borders dewy-eyed callow simple-mindedness.

Germany and Sweden (especially Sweden) have set their societies on a path of likely effective destruction by allowing unpoliced, uncritical immigration. At the least, in 30 years or so most women will be forced to stay home most of the time there. It’ll probably be far worse than that, though.

The left likes to shout racism if you merely suggest that, hey, letting one million people in might be a bad idea, even though they mostly don’t share your values, don’t believe in women’s freedom of movement or of consent, and who think that society should be ruled by religious clerics and not democratically-elected politicians.

The simple fact is that not all people are the same. Some will find it harder to integrate than others. Those from fundamentalist Islamic societies will find it the most difficult of all and are most likely to cause issues in your own (secular, progressive) institutions.

This is all ignoring for the moment that most immigration is driven to lower working class salaries and to provoke domestic crises for political gain (the neolib reasons).

Pointing this stuff out isn’t racism. It’s fucking common sense.

Move the entire population of Scandinavia to the US. No problem. It’d be relatively minor.

Move the entire population of Saudi Araba to the US? Ceteris paribus — ignoring the actual racism that would occur (not the left fantasy type of racism) — the US would not survive it. And this is just as true if the population of Saudi Arabia were just as white as that of most of Scandinavia.

Why is that controversial? Nothing at all to do with race. Turns out different humans believe different things. Some of those beliefs are pretty damn incompatible.

One of the reasons I can’t line up with the left is that their fantasy world is nearly as broad and as expansive as the right’s own Narnia.