Jan 13

Epistemological limitations

Many scientists will tell you that “generations” — like Gen X or Y — aren’t real, or don’t exist, or that there is not a spirit of the times, some zeitgeist around which certain events emerge that would not otherwise.

Don’t believe them. Though I am a devotee of science, it all too often falls into the common trap that its many naive systematizers who comprise its ranks do — that is, believing that if something cannot be measured, it cannot exist.

When in reality, we can measure only a small part of anything, so more phenomena exist that permit no measurement than those which a ruler can be held against.

That science is possible at all is a miracle of sorts. But don’t mistake science and math for anything but tools, wielded by fallible humans in a universe that is inscrutable even in principle much less in practice on several different scales and in any epistemological system one wishes to examine or adopt.

That kind of luxe just ain’t for us

Quote

Luxury used to define things that made life easier: clean water, central heating, fridges, cars, TVs, smartphones. Today luxury tends to make your life harder. Displaying and safeguarding a Rauschenberg, learning to play polo and maintaining an adequate stable of horses, or obtaining access to the Pope are arduous undertakings. That doesn’t matter; their very unattainability, the fact that these things are almost impossible for most people, is what matters.

-Rolf Dobelli

Jan 11

Beating the dead horse

About the FA movement and what it has become, mostly I’m just puzzled by it.

What do they get even if they are allowed to win the “debate” that calories don’t matter, that there is no such thing as too obese, that everything that nearly all doctors and all credible medical studies are telling them is wrong?

All they win is Type II diabetes, putrefying limbs and an early death.* Because strangely fat acceptance nutters keep dying early — but that has nothing to do with obesity, of course! (I don’t agree with laughing at anyone’s death, but nevertheless the facts are the facts.)

Congratu-fucking-lations. Great win, there, and great thing to base a movement on. You can have that victory and I’ll do the other thing where I don’t have a terrible life and then die early and in misery.

I hope to write about this at greater length elsewhere and in a less incendiary fashion, but the FA movement (which hardly exists anywhere else), the denial of global warming, the anti-vaccination movement — all of these are connected, linked by a peculiar strain of American thought that is amplified through neo-liberalism and is present on both sides of the political aisle more here than anywhere else in the West. And that is the belief that one’s personal opinions and precious feelings trump all facts, all other views, all statistics, and the very nature of reality itself.

The FA movement is just one very sick, very pernicious aspect of this greater course of thought.

*And even if mortality were no different, what about quality of life? Seems to always be ignored. I’d rather be dead than have a life that many obese people force themselves to lead.

Jan 09

Algo

At home today we hit Google from so many different VMs and machines running from so many different OSes that we triggered the captcha to verify that we’re human.

Well, I suspect that I am not given the evidence — but still this was not bot traffic.

I just use a lot of VMs whose user agent strings will differ, and was doing Google searches from most of them.

Google is not expecting a dozen different machines all with different UAs to hit it from a residential address in a short time, I guess….

Jan 08

Ideology in crisis

When ideologies confront confounding evidence, they tend to fare poorly.

Echidne’s take on the recent sexual assaults in Germany isn’t that deluded, but just look at the comments.

Liberalism in many places in the Western world is now or will soon be reaching a crisis point, and like conservatives when their Weltanschauung was confronted with reality liberals will also retreat ever more deeply into deranged and fantastical thinking and will not emerge for decades.

Women in the much of the Western — especially European — world are about to be sacrificed both to neo-liberal fantasies, to the idols of multiculturalism, to the eidolon of inclusivity, and as they are being sexually assaulted and raped in the streets will be told it has nothing at all to do with the desire to lower wages or with multiculturalism, depending on which ideological idiot is doing the dismissing.

I don’t hate refugees. I don’t care what color their skin is. I don’t care that they come from North Africa or China.

What I care about is that if they come with Enlightenment-hostile values and are unsuited to the society they wish to join. And that it is not that society’s duty to change to accommodate their medieval thinking — which is the standard liberal line, either stated outright or implicit in their thought.

As I’ve said before, letting young women-hating men into your country en masse will lead to nothing good.

If I were a woman in many Western European countries, especially the smaller ones, I’d be considering immigration. It will not be a friendly place to you in a decade or two.

Jan 08

What they want to hear

There have been several “weight loss is impossible” or similar articles in the New York Times lately. And yeah, I know the stats. Most people who “try” to lose weight don’t succeed. Of course, most people who try to lose weight do that like I try to fly to space by flapping my arms really hard, but there you go.

But that doesn’t excuse shoddy science and disgraceful reporting like this.

Never trust anyone trying to shill a book, or hawking a weight loss program. Notice this cat is trying to do both. His main concern is your wallet and relieving you of its weight. I don’t feel like wasting my life by linking to papers and studies and results, but suffice it to say that though calories in, calories out is not the only story in weight loss — the body is more complex than that — most of what Ludwig is saying is either refuted by science (the FA favorite misdefined “starvation mode” doesn’t really exist), used misleadingly, or the effect is so small that it doesn’t matter for most people.

There’s no easier sale than something someone is yearning to buy anyway. That’s what this guy is peddling. Always be wary of that, even if there is some valid science behind it (in this case, there is little to none).

Jan 07

Chockablock with blocks

I’ve blocked so many oversize headers, stupid non-ad banners and other items of the new “improved” web that I no longer know when a site is just broken because it’s only designed to work on mobile (despite the ~1 billion desktop web users around the world) or because of all the things I’ve blocked to avoid having my desktop experience resemble browsing on an underpowered phone.

If every web designer in the world disappeared tomorrow, it’d be a better place. As long as we could reverse all their garbage.

We have big, high-resolution screens again for what? So we can fit three — and sometimes no — words on a page?

I don’t want to go back to 1999. I just want all the morons causing this to go back there, and stay there, in some other alternate 1999 that has nothing to do with my timeline.

Jan 06

Major goal

My major achievement at work today was getting half-fired, which was a goal of mine.

So getting half-fired is a lot harder than getting fully fired, and in some ways harder than getting hired.

Here’s to being half-fired! (And I don’t mean working part time.)

Jan 06

More Windows 10 slamming

So I ran Windows 10 for a little while on my 5K iMac, not virtualized. Because I like torturing myself for your benefit, I guess.

Holy fucking god, what a piece of shit. I didn’t realize Parallels (virtualization software for Mac) was making it better than it otherwise would be, primarily by somehow implementing its own scaling algorithm (or something, I don’t really understand) for fonts and other items.

In other words, fonts and interface elements look a lot better when Parallels runs Windows 10 at the very same resolution rather than when it’s run natively. As I said, I don’t know why. But it’s glaring and means that I will never run Windows 10 natively on any personal machine with high-dpi monitors.

So of course that means I will never run it at all because I will never use a non-high-DPI monitor again at home. Regular monitors are for chumps.

What’s puzzling is that Windows 8 on the same hardware actually looks better at high-resolution. So on a newer OS the one thing they should have better support for actually works and looks worse. And not just a little bit worse, either. Like a whole world of worse, an apatosaurus of worse, a megalodon of worse, a Jupiter of worse.

You get the picture.

What is Microsoft’s end game here? Do they think destroying the desktop experience is going to help them? Why implement a new scaling algorithm that is incredibly inferior to what existed in Windows 8? I can’t imagine this would look better on a tablet, so what happened?

The new scaling algorithm makes everything look like the ass end of a rhinoceros at any resolution I tried. At first I was blaming Firefox which has also reduced their font rendering quality noticeably in the last few years in their quest to break absolutely everything, but it was not just Firefox this time.

I just don’t understand the goal here. Breaking scaling on the desktop doesn’t make me want to move to a tablet or phone, or even have anything to do with Microsoft on the desktop again for that matter.

This just seems pointless.

There is this tool which does fix most of the scaling issues, but then breaks things if you have mixed-DPI monitors.

Microsoft and Mozilla should join forces to form the most asinine, user-hostile company in existence. They’d rule that space like no one has ever ruled it before.

Jan 05

That takes talent

Something I noticed is that on Windows 10, the Metro “calc” app is slow to start.

The damn calculator app. Starts up slowly. Even on an SSD.

How can you make a calculator app slow to start? I used a calculator app on a MacIntosh in 1986 on hardware that was literally 1/10,000 as fast as what we have now — and it opened in less than a second.

But some wit over here said it best about what the calculator app is actually doing. Comment reproduced in full:

That’s because rather than loading calc.exe when you type calc it actually doing far more:
1) Adding “calc” to your database of invisibly tracked user information
2) sending that updated database to Microsoft
3) waiting for Bing to generate some useless internet search results for “calc”
4) looking through all its indexes for every file on your PC for the word “calc”
5) searching the Windows Store for premium matches it can sell you for “calc”
6) thrashing the storage subsystem whilst you wait for calculator to appear in the start menu because it hasn’t been rebooted in weeks, only hibernated and superfetch-readyboosted in a false attempt to speed up your boot times.
Eventually, it decides that it can’t monetise your four letters and begrudgingly shows you the shortcut that Windows Vista and 7 displayed so fast that you’d have needed a high-framerate camera to have spotted any delay.

The more I use Windows 10, the more I hate it. Letting the morons win in computing has produced nothing but harm.