Jul 09

Detract

I need a Firefox extension that redacts all mentions on any webpage I’m viewing of these things:

  • Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter
  • Anything by Amanda Marcotte
  • Anything by George Will
  • Anything Kevin Drum writes on economics

The list will grow, I’m sure.

Jul 09

Systems thinking

Suspect even most very smart people — even the majority in the life sciences — do not understand how tightly intercoupled ecosystems and human life are on earth.

They imagine that humans are at some stage of transcendence of global ecosystems, when in reality due to our numbers we are more closely tied than ever. There is no way climate change is not going to be so close to apocalypse that quibbling over the differences will be just that — quibbling. But it’ll be the kind of semi-apocalypse that humans are bad at dealing with. That is, a long-term one.

Just an estimate, but I think about 99.5% of people have no idea how ecological systems and processes function and how fragile they can be, and how resilient at the same time in the wrong direction. Heck, probably 99.5% of people have no idea there are even such things as ecological systems and webs.

But what should make you worry all the more is that I suspect less than 20% of people who should know, don’t. Those being scientists in related fields.

I’d not be surprised that if in the future the surviving human historians when accounting for the decline of our civilization point to extreme specialization and weird math obsession rather than directly to climate change as the cause of the demise.

We’ve been told it’s not important that there are people who attempt to understand entire systems in toto as I always try to do. I think this is just a variant of neoliberalism attempting to banish real systems thinkers from understanding it and any other important system.

Because if you can understand it, you can change it. Or fight those who have already harmed it for their own profit.

Jul 08

The sociology, it fails me

Why do people put “art” on their walls that say things like “Live Laugh Love” and other such saccharine crap?

Try as I might I just can’t understand it.

What’s the message? Is it hopeful? Signaling? Who is the audience and what message are they supposed to receive? Do you need to remind yourself of that, really?

I have so many questions. The semiotics is beyond me.

Jul 06

Indicted or not

Yep.

Hillary Clinton may not be indicted on criminal charges over her handling of classified email, but the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, all but indicted her judgment and competence on Tuesday — two vital pillars of her presidential candidacy — and in the kind of terms that would be politically devastating in a normal election year.

Any “regular” person knows they would’ve gone to jail for a good long time having done the same ill-advised and illegal things Clinton did (yes, mishandling classified materials is illegal even if you “didn’t mean to”).

And yes, I’d say the same thing if Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein or Donald Trump had done the same idiotic thing.

This almost assures Trump’s victory. Might’ve been better for her if she’d been indicted, because now Trump will (rightly) have a field day and every regular person will know definitively that she got special treatment that they never would’ve gotten, re-enforcing her “better than the rules” reputation.

Trump must be cackling with glee right now.

Any other year, this would’ve knocked any candidate out of the race. And her supporters can’t see why it’s even a bit of a problem.

What a year.

Jul 06

Speared

Why do older people have such trouble detecting phishing emails?

There’s a guy at work, pretty sharp, who is in his early 60s. Not cognitively impaired in any way. Has worked in IT for many years.

He got some phishing email that said something about, “Some questions on your expense report hotel booking” with of course a link to click on something.

I know because he read that part out loud. And literally before I could say “Don’t click on that!” (which I got the first words out) he clicked on it.

I ran over and pulled out his network cable. Machine completely infected, but no damage done because I jerked the cable within two seconds.

I literally heard the first few words and knew it was a phishing email. How could he not tell definitively?

The company I work for has been a target of various spear phishing attacks because we hold a lot of highly-sensitive corporate data. Suspect some of the spear phishing is corporate espionage attempts.

But the questions remains: why are older people generally so susceptible to such attacks?

Jul 06

Sein failed

Seinfeld was one of the most popular shows ever because it perfectly captured the vacuity and dreadful emptiness of American life.

It was better than any sociological study or ethnography, because it was an amplification from stochastic signals of the anomie and casual cruelty that did and still does dominate modern America.

There is nothing people like more than watching themselves, and at last Seinfeld gave them the perfect pinhole looking in on their own lives. Instead of inspiring revulsion and rejection of this abyss of desolation, people liked what they saw.

It’s no mistake a country like that will probably elect Trump president.

Jul 06

Sharp

Sharpest ever view of the Andromeda Galaxy.

Arguing that none of those stars have planets with life — even intelligent life (whatever that means) — is dreadfully stupid.

Look how many there are. What makes us special?

If there is anything science has demonstrated is that we have no privileged place in the universe. We are not the chosen ones. This is why many people hate science, by the way. It robbed them of their illusions.

I have no idea if we’ll ever communicate with another form of life not from this planet*. But is it out there? Of course it is.

*Though I do suspect we’ll create our successors, given time. No, I am not talking about the fucking moronic Singularity.

Jul 05

Meta-faffing

As we increasingly rely on models and simulations, we’ll have to by necessity redefine what “simulation” means, and thus we will have also to re-evaluate and recontextualize the meaning, nature and scope of reality.

Simulation might not be real. But when simulacra alter reality and the collective societal nous recursively, simulation and reality are then conjoined and unitary — whether or not the simulation conforms to some now-invisible “true” reality.

Jul 04

Flor

Why America Is So Obsessed with Florida.

As a native Floridian, I can tell you that Florida really is just as bizarre as the stories coming out of the state portray it as being. In fact, more so. Because a lot of crazy stuff happens in which the police are never involved so they never make the news.

To quote a former friend of mine (who was a bit too Florida for me): “Most places, a pair of identical twin girls asking to drink your blood while you take pictures of them having sex would be unusual. In Florida, it’s just Tuesday.*”

*Yes, this really happened. I knew those girls personally and yes they were, uh, “friendly.” And thought they were vampires.

Jul 04

Hook in Her Head

Sorry for the bad audio and potato video, but what a great song. And the guitar playing. Damn. What a hell of a duo Tanya and Kristin were. Any justice in the world, and they’d be as well-known as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (because they are just as good).