Aug 21

Spot the problem

Why would anyone use Spotify after this?

The only conclusion I can reach is that people want to be exploited and oppressed, else they’d do something different. It’s easier. It removes doubt. It’s predictable.

Turns out the boot stamping on a human face forever is comforting after it’s been there a while.

Aug 21

Lucky strike

I saw some slackjaw complaining about the phrase “hitting on” being a violent phrase.


“Hitting on” is an example of idiomatic drift, from the idea of a lucky “hit,” that is, finding or getting something by chance or luck. The drift in this case is from the happenstance and serendipity of locating a desired person to the actions associated therewith.

By the way, the original meaning of “hit” back in the mists of linguistic time was something like “to meet with.” It’s only later that it became associated with the act of physically striking someone or something.

I wish people would fucking read. Study history. Know something rather than nothing.

Aug 20

Just no

This contention is really really wrong.

If everything in the universe suddenly got 100 times larger — and I am assuming we are talking the macro scale here — many bad things would happen all at once. So, so many bad things.

Your blood would no longer flow. You’d die from that pretty quickly. Also, gravity would be absolutely crushing, also preventing blood flow. And, you know, literally crushing you. The atmosphere at sea level would also be so dense that breathing would be impossible, even ignoring gravity and all other factors. And you’d begin overheating — even if you survived all the other things — in very short order since volume increases faster than surface area, and 100x increase for an endotherm is huge.

The only thing that might — might — survive for a little while are some fish. And then the sun would go supernova and then black hole shortly (assuming the 100x larger earth were moved out to the correct distance for a 100x larger sun) and it’d all end, anyway.

When you know nothing about anything, everything seems possible.

Aug 20

Seeing things

For years, various Native American cultures were denigrated and mocked for using mind-altering substances and experiences like peyote and sweat lodges.

However, the same people doling out the derision would then pay rather high prices to watch films and read books which inarguably do the very same thing: produce shared hallucinations that are culturally and individually significant.

Just another version of what I do seems normal, what someone else does is bizarre and wrong.

But have you really thought about how odd movies are, especially as a communal event?

Sitting in a room with a dozen or a hundred other people watching flickering light and reacting often as if you’re sharing the experiences of the characters on the screen (particularly if the movie is good)?

Considered from a cultural distance — say from the perspective a culture that had never invented films — that seems really just quite strange.

Aug 19

I get steamed

Intellectually, I recognize that Steampunk for the most part has no more of a ridiculous premise than most other sf and certainly not more so than fantasy, and yet I can’t stand steampunk novels.

It does not make sense, like most preferences, and yet I’ve never been able to do more than tolerate any steampunk tale.

Something about the typical forced whimsy and my general distaste for historical revisionism I think.

Aug 18

Ranging on

History made: Army Ranger School to graduate its first female students ever.


I know, I know, it’s déclassé to support even peripherally the military-industrial killing machine.

But I lived that life for five years — a large chunk of my adult life. I’m no longer that person, but that person helped make me.

I tried to get into Ranger school after becoming a paratrooper, but it was a no-go. I didn’t have the right MOS so they would not let me in no matter how I pleaded.

Still ended up road-marching a buncha Rangers into the dust more than a few times.

Such is life.

But good job. That is a hard, hard school and anyone graduating from it is impressive.

Aug 17

Truth and its enemies

The denial of biological imperatives and genetic causes in and of human nature by both sides of the political aisle precludes much understanding of why humans are the way they are.

Extreme biological determinism is obviously ridiculous. But there is a reason humans don’t roost in trees compulsively, and why they tend to find certain other types of humans attractive — and, guess what, it has very little to do with acculturation.

That people have and might get the wrong idea about certain areas is not reason enough to avoid entire fields, in my view.

If the human species is to survive we will likely have to modify ourselves in significant ways.

Understanding exactly what to modify and why will be of extreme importance. Might as well get started on that, as scary as it might seem.

Aug 16

Ann-a Kata

What do you do when Ann Coulter is 95% correct?

“[Feminism is] totally a class thing. Feminism is about upper-middle class women who went to Smith or Wellesley and are supported by their husbands… they [don’t care] about people who work at Walmart,” Coulter says.

That’s a valid critique. There is no lie there, at least about mainstream, Amanda  Marcotte-style feminism, which is almost all visible feminism.

Aug 16

Gödel, Escher, Bullshit

I rant about this frequently. I can’t seem to help it.

Every time I see science books mentioned, I see praise for Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. Why? I just can’t understand it.

The book is littered with second-rate ideas told in third-rate prose. And it’s like a billion pages and it could’ve been 200 or less. But Barbara from Goodreads said it best.

This book told me something about intelligence – the smartest thing to do is to avoid this book’s overly lengthy babblings of a self-important graduate student who is way too impressed with himself. It took this guy over 700 pages to illustrate by analogy his not-particularly novel theory….

Good on you, Barbara. You summed up Hofstadter’s picayune claptrap very well.

If you like, I can recommend a lot better books than GEB that don’t condescend to the reader, are based in more solid science, and aren’t so goddamn annoying.

Only read GEB if you have a whole lot of time to waste or it’s the only book within 500 miles.

Otherwise, tear the pages out and do something useful with them. They can make good kindling or can line a bird cage, or even soak up minor spills.