Jul 03

Other Times

I linked to this on my other blog, but wanted to say a bit about this portion.

Up until my teenage years, ordering something meant it arrived in six or eight weeks — now Amazon can get some packages there on the same goddamned day — the first time it happened, I thought it was a prank. I remember when you couldn’t get every kind of fresh produce year-round — they couldn’t just import that stuff from warmer climates like we do now, which is why I didn’t see a mango or avocado until I was in my 20s.

I’m old enough to remember all of this. Even though I grew up in Florida (North Florida), I didn’t see a mango until my late teens. An avocado was something I saw once or twice, but was not common, and was not something I ate until I was in my late 20s.

Cherries were rare and expensive and exotic.

And as the author mentions, ordering anything from a catalog meant a bare minimum of six weeks of waiting — often far longer. When I saw that Amazon was delivering items in two days routinely (much less same day), I thought it was an impossible, doomed to failure marketing stunt that just could not be true.

Now, though, I use this service all the time. I buy more big-ticket and even everyday items from Amazon than I do from local stores because the selection is so superior and the service is just better.

The world has changed so much since I was a kid, and people tell me it has not.

Jul 02

The Lesson

Both Mexico and America are finding out the hard way that you can’t just throw millions of people in the trash because it “benefits everyone” (?) and then not expect blowback and consequences.

The UK, too, for that matter. There will be more.

Jul 01

Info Access

The most relevant sentence I’ve read all week:

Google makes its money selling advertising – it has no incentive to provide unfettered access of information to everyone.

Google search is just about useless to me these days except for the most basic search queries. It can’t find anything old, for the most part, it downranks anything not HTTPS, and it censors anything from a variety of countries (including the US).

Search should be a public service, not some company’s private fiefdom.

Jun 29


I have good recall of nine presidential elections now, and while there was some of this during the 2000 election, it mostly dissipated within a few months.

Even if there isn’t massive Republican cheating in 2020 (which there probably will be), unless there is a major recession it’ll be Trump winning that one, too — all thanks to the Democrats (really Republicans in all but name) and Centrists (more conservative Republicans who call themselves Democrats).

Hell, they might even nominate Hillary again.

Jun 29


Humans of even the fairly recent past were not really that similar to people now.

Probability theory was in its infancy in Bayes’s day. Strange as it may seem, before the seventeenth century nobody could calculate even such simple chances as that of a normal coin landing five heads in a row. It wasn’t that the information wouldn’t have been useful. There was plenty of gambling before modernity. But somehow no one could get their head around probabilities. As Ian Hacking put in his groundbreaking The Emergence of Probability (1975), someone in ancient Rome “with only the most modest knowledge of probability mathematics could have won himself the whole of Gaul in a week”.

Julian Jaynes is almost certainly wrong in the details of his “bicameral mind” theorizing, but he’s not wrong in the general idea that the human psyche and cognitive tools (and perhaps consciousness itself) have changed extremely radically from ancient times until now — perhaps several times.

I’m a mathematical moron, and probability makes intuitive sense to me and calculating it is fairly easy. That before 1600 or so no one could really do that is pretty astounding, but also expected in a way. Their minds and their culture just did not work that way, so that sort of probability calculation would have been prima facie senseless to them and to the ancients.

Jun 29


Went to a place for lunch down the road where no English is really spoken. I knew this in advance, and I was able to pull back enough high school Spanish to order lunch.

I’m not used to it as a white dude being the one out of place, with people looking at me suspiciously. I’m sure 3/4 of the people eating there are in the country illegally so I understand their trepidation. I was literally the only white person in the whole store.

Once I ordered in (not that good) Spanish, though, most people relaxed.

The food was great, by the way, and fast. The sandwich shop I ordered from yesterday took nearly 30 minutes to make a single sandwich with no other customers in the store. The Mexican grocery store took less than five minutes.

Jun 29


After the language police have purged our argot of all that is offensive or even potentially so, thus removing all evocative phrases and any connotative content, and we are still prejudiced and still, well, human, what then?

Jun 29

Tessa Violet (meekakitty)

What a fun song and video. She’s too young to even remember it firsthand of course, but it reminds me of the 80s and very early 90s when people had much more open and approachable personalities. She might be making a reference to that directly because her clothes and hair are an homage to 80s fashion.

At the very tail end of this period, in 1993, I went to a Belly concert. Great concert, but the organizers let too many people in. It was a very dangerous mess, and particularly perilous for women who were shorter and generally not as physically strong. After a few minutes of people falling down and getting half-trampled, and several girls passing out, a woman standing near me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hi, I know we don’t know each other, but can I put my arms around your neck? I heard you talking to your friend and you seem nice enough. And I don’t want to get knocked down.”

“Absolutely, this place is crazy” I said. So she hooked her arms around my neck, her hands clasped, and pressed her body against mine so we wouldn’t get separated (the pressure of the crowd in this concert was absurdly strong — I had marks on my stomach for days where I’d been shoved against the stage so hard). We spent most of the concert like that and after the concert she gave me her number (email addresses weren’t a thing then for most people), and like an idiot that I was, I never called her.

Can you imagine anything like that happening today? I can’t. People are so insular now that a woman in these times (or a man) would let themselves be trampled before that would occur.

Everything felt just so different then, and not because I was young. People’s approach to the world was wholly opposite to now, more broad-minded, less suspicious and more available for experience.

Tina, sorry I never called you, but the concert was better (if sweatier) because we got to chat and squee over our adoration of Belly and Tanya Donelly. Even though the circumstances of our meeting weren’t the best, it was a better experience in spite of it all.

Here’s a song Belly played during that concert that absolutely blew our brains out of our heads. Fuck, what a performance that was.