Sep 07

Bon mourant

About the below, that the food industry is most likely a secret hidden funding source doesn’t make the FA/BP/FC movement incorrect.

This is a fallacy and failure of critical thinking and of discernment.

The FA/BP/FC movement should be evaluated on its merits or lack thereof (and there are indeed some merits, especially before the movement was hijacked by its most extreme elements).

While it is important and interesting to know why a largely-harmful movement achieved cultural ascendance, who funds them doesn’t make them wrong or right — corporations like the psychopaths that they are will throw money at anything that advantages them, regardless of its truth value.

Sep 07

Oppression

Fat people claiming oppression is an insult to people who are actually oppressed.

Firm evidence is yet hard to find, but I think the best chance is that the Fat Acceptance/body positivity/fat celebration movement is mostly funded by food industry groups.

Why would they not do this? That’d have great return on investment. If I were Monsanto or General Mills or Nestlé I’d be shoveling money (discreetly) at these groups as fast as I could.

Some indirect evidence is that you never see any of these people or groups question current food industry practices, ask why obesity suddenly begin increasing in the 1980s and then skyrocketed in the early 1990s (even though processed foods had been widely available and cheap since the early 1950s), or make any effort into funding investigation into possible environmental exposure links to obesity.

Of course not. It all reeks of food lobby money. The ROI on that would be very high, so if they are not doing it I’d be extremely shocked.

Sep 07

For insects

I’m constantly surprised by the narrowness of people’s conceptions of the world and the relations therein.

For instance there’s loads of people convinced that humanity can never go extinct and furthermore, that the natural environment has little relation to human flourishing.

Where do they think the oxygen they breathe comes from? Magic? Are they not aware of the complex relationships of ocean salinity, temperature and nutrient/pollution levels to phytoplankton, which produce ~70% of the oxygen we breathe?

One of the real and extreme dangers of global warming is of course that we disrupt the oxygen cycle and that is game over for humanity. We are done. Goose, fully cooked.

But it’s not just about that. Just a minor example. I run into this constantly. Most people are specialists knowing one minuscule area and grasp almost nothing about any other area, or even worse have in their heads only some combination of urban myths, long-debunked “science” from the 1900s, and what they’d prefer to believe.

It’s just a bit shocking how little most people are even aware of the complexity of other areas of study, or that the things they take for granted don’t just get created and sustained by hot air and hocus-pocus.

I know that it’s basically impossible for most people to read and to study as much as I do. But still…it seems like more is possible?

Sep 05

Tactical launch capability

The Onion wrote this as a joke, but it’s closer to reality than they probably know (since no one who works there has probably every been in the military).

When I was in the army we’d get magazines in the office advertising items like tactical missile packages, self-propelled artillery and anti-aircraft radar and weapons. Nearly anything in the modern arsenal at one point or another I saw advertising for.

It’s not that units (usually) purchase such items themselves — but the decision-makers in line units do influence people who can and do make purchases, both directly and indirectly. So the arms manufacturers logically advertise to those influencers. And of course it’s not like you can walk down to the corner missile store and buy these items, but like all things in a capitalist society they get purchased — and that means advertising.

The first time I saw an ad for a cruise missile in a magazine I was looking at, it kind of blew my mind a little. But then like most things I just got used to seeing ads for automatic grenade launchers and howitzers next to whatever article I happened to be reading.

Sep 04

Realism

Reading “realistic” novels about regular people — about their marriages, lives, quotidian travails — is extremely boring because most people are extremely boring.

I think that’s the main problem I have with “serious” literature: it’s written by, for, and about people I’d never want to talk to for a single second in real life.

Sep 04

Handoff

City-run ISP makes 10Gbps available to all residents and businesses.

In Salisbury, NC, of all places.

Fibrant’s site is unavailable — probably crashed due to the Ars link — but doing a 10Gbs fiber handoff is quite an expensive proposition for the average home.

First, you’ll need a switch like this if you want more than one machine to be able to use it at full speed.

That’s $1,300, and one of the cheapest 10gbs examples you can buy that supports SFPs.

Then you’ll need the SFP, which is around $270 for a generic.

Then you will need a 10Gbs NIC in one of your machines, which is around $240.

That’s if you want the possibility of full 10Gbs speed to all of your network (which you’ll never see from the internet in real world use yet, by the way).

If you want 10gbs on just one machine, you’d only need this or something like it.

So, yeah, not cheap! But still very cool.

Sep 04

On college

I’m not against college — in fact, I think anyone who can afford it should absolutely go.

If you want any sort of a decent life, rampant credentialism now demands it. Heck, I’d recommend getting a master’s if you can swing it.

However, do it as cheaply as you can — start off at a community college and transfer. Anything to lower the price, as the risk premium is very high.

These days, I see master’s degrees required for jobs that a bright fifth-grader could do, so for most people (outside of IT and a few other rare fields) if you don’t go to college you’re going to be stuck in a low-paying job all your life, guaranteed.

You might still get stuck there — even back in the 1990s I knew a very sharp dude in his 40s with a chemistry degree working at Subway — but it decreases the chances.

Just don’t try to learn anything. Concentrate on graduating. Focusing on actually learning is not something to optimize in current society.

Sep 03

Crypto-no

Here’s one thing I think that’s likely to happen in the next 10-15 years that will reconfigure the world, but that almost no one talks about: a quantum computer capable of easily cracking all past encryption schemes will be built, and it’ll be fairly cheap.

That’ll change things a bit, yep.

Sep 02

Clothing designed for no one

This is so extremely true.

Despite the fact that men 5’8″ and below are about 35% of the male population, there are basically no clothes made for men that size.

I’m 5’8″ and I’ve literally gone to eight clothing stores in a day and emerged with not a single casual shirt that fit. Not a single fucking one.

So that means for some reason the fashion industry ignores about 35% of the male market.

I thought with the sophisticated forecasting and acquisition software that this would’ve changed. But my guess is it went like this in MBA central: “No one is buying medium and small! So we don’t need to stock those!” (Despite the fact that they never really had any to baseline against.)

I wear the same shirt all the time because I can’t find any others that really fit well.

I always laugh when the FA idiots complain about not being able to find clothes that fit.*

Well, join the fucking club — that happens to damn near everyone as the fashion industry makes clothes for people who are about 5% of the population.

*These days it is much, much easier to find 3XL and 4XL+ and above than it is to find any mediums or smalls.

Sep 02

Brilliant

Sometimes you find the perfect paragraph in the most unexpected of places. Kevin Drum summarizes very succinctly why AI isn’t this magically impossible thing.

This, by the way, is why I’m so generally bullish on artificial intelligence. It’s not because I have such a high opinion of computers, but because I have such a low opinion of humans. We really are just overclocked chimpanzees who have convinced ourselves that our weird jumble of largely Pavlovian behaviors—punctuated by regrettably rare dollops of intelligence—is deeply ineffable and therefore resistant to true understanding. Why do we believe this? Primarily for the amusingly oxymoronic reason that we aren’t smart enough to understand our own brains. The silicon crowd should be able to do better before long.

“Largely Pavlovian behaviors” sums it up pretty well. We are complex, but not as complex as we think we are. And a lot of human behavior is easily predictable, despite what you’ve read.

The main problem (in my view as a non-expert, ahem) is that AI research has been math-proof focused rather than evolutionarily focused.  No one will write an AI. But it might write itself.

Math-proof focused is narrow and hopeless and will never lead to AI. Other paths will.