Aug 03

Board surfing

It’s amazing to me that people can be bored by things like computers, cars, roads/transportation systems and biology, when these things are literally the main determiners of their lives.

Most people are bored, and therefore boring. As the saying goes, the best way to be interesting is to be interested. This is true in many senses.

Aug 02

Self-pity

I am constitutionally incapable of many things that normal people experience such as self-pity, jealousy and depression, among others.

So for that reason I am often puzzled by the things that people do, actions that just seem so counter-productive and avoidable from my perspective.

I realized when I was in the army that most people could make themselves many times more attractive with these few things: losing weight, being more confident, and dressing nicely.

It won’t turn you into Tricia Helfer or George Clooney, but it will take you from The Dude to Mads Mikkelsen on most days. Or for a woman from that little girl who crawls out of the TV in The Ring to Amy Poehler.

People don’t want to hear those hard truths, though. People want to be told, You are perfect just like you are, you special, special snowflake.

No one today wants to be told – and there are whole industries and enclaves of society who stupidly promote avoiding this – that, yeah, you’d be better if you changed everything.

Goddamn, glad I didn’t get that message, or at least did not listen to it. I can’t think of how ghastly and dreadful my life would be if I’d taken that Tumblr SJW bullshit to heart.

Aug 02

Cloth

One of the things that most surprised me when I learned about it was just how fantastically difficult to produce and how expensive was most clothing before the industrial age.

That even well-off people might have hade only two – or at the most, three – outfits was a bit of a shock.

Most people have no idea that a decent outfit (including shoes) might have cost $5,000 in today’s dollars in 1700. It is just hard to imagine, I’ll grant. All for an ensemble that today might run $150 or less, if one finds a good sale.

That you can still find places that will sell you 5 t-shirts for $10 would absolutely amaze your ancestor from 1800. More than just about anything, I’d wager.

Aug 01

Uptalk

Even though intellectually I know there is nothing “wrong” with uptalk, subconscious disdain is harder to rid oneself of.

To me, anyone who engages in uptalk does and always will sound like a timorous four-year-old. I don’t think that is possible to change.

Jul 31

Cop out

Whenever I am watching cop shows or the like and someone says, “Does the perp have any priors?” or something similar, all I can think of is, “Oh, he/she was a Bayesian. Cool.”

Jul 31

Practice makes not much

I’ve always been deeply suspicious of the “10,000 hours/practice” idea of mastery, because in my experience even if I practice for 10 times as long in something in which I have no talent or ability, like operational math, I will still perform far worse than the naturally-talented who practice much less.

This seems to show that this intuition of mine is correct.

Some people have intrinsic gifts. Some people have intrinsic deficits. I know this is hard for liberals to accept – used to be hard for me to accept, even – but it seems to be the case.

When I realized that no matter how hard I studied, no matter what I did, that I’d never be very good at math, it was actually sort of freeing. It liberated me to concentrate on those things I was and am actually good at without wasting all sorts of time in areas that are essentially useless to me.

As an aside, people who are good at math think, Oh, anyone can learn it! Just takes studying. But this doesn’t appear to be the case. Certain brains are probably predisposed to be good at it, and others not so much.

Luckily or unluckily, I am strangely dichotomous. Math and writing/reading usually are fairly correlated, but not so with me; on standardized tests, I usually score in the bottom 10% or below on mathematical ability and in the top 1/10th of 1 percent (depending on how fine-grained the test is) in reading comprehension, analogy analysis and similar skills.

In other words, if you measure my IQ using more math-based assessments, I generally score in the 50-70 range (which is firmly in the mentally retarded category), and if you use a more verbal-based testing regimen, I break the test, scoring off the charts.

Yeah, but of course there is no such thing as natural talent. That wouldn’t be egalitarian.

Jul 31

Start

When your article starts off with an obvious sophism such as this, why should I even bother to read the rest?

With the disappearance of the desktop computer and the downfall of the desk phone….

The desktop computer is not disappearing. Not going anywhere. In 10 years, there will be nearly as many and used almost as commonly as they are now, at least in the business world.

Selfishly speaking, what I really like about the average person abandoning a real computer is that they will be at a huge disadvantage in the business world to me.

Any monkey can learn to use a tablet in five minutes. But they don’t really help you with productivity except in edge cases (looking at a Powerpoint before a meeting, for example). But being competent and well-versed with a general purpose computer – well, the fewer people who are capable of that, the better for me.

By 2025 or so, I suspect we will go back to the state of users in about 1998 or so – approximately 2-3% competent with any real productivity tool, and the rest incapable of touch typing or being able to use a real work machine.

Jul 31

World has changed

I remember even as recently as five or six years ago, I’d eagerly await software updates, glad of the new features and increased capabilities.

But gradually I’ve learned to dread software updates as these days all they do is to remove features, reduce capabilities and generally make my life worse.

Now a posteriori – that is, from so many observed instances in the wild – I generally try to do anything I can to minimize the amount of upgrades that occur since nothing good will come of it.

But why is modern software so user hostile?

There probably isn’t one reason only. There never is an human affairs. But as I’ve noted before, software can’t help but respond to and reproduce general trends in society. And society right now is much about removing control and self-determination from individuals – with NSA spying, decreased funding for social programs, increased credentialism, etc.

Mozilla’s now-cachetic Firefox is the example I use most, but there are many others.

If a software update happens to a regular user/consumer product these days, I can almost guarantee that it will get worse. (Interestingly, software for enterprise-class products which I also use extensively is still improving.)

I used to be firmly opposed to this, but perhaps there should be some sort of licensing that occurs – similar to a driver’s license test – before one can use a computer, tablet or smart phone.

Would this help? I don’t know. Probably not. But I don’t have any better ideas until someone creates a gene-inserting virus that raises IQ by 30 points.

Jul 30

Gaza

I know it’s for internal politics reasons – the same reason we invaded Iraq – but I can’t really understand what exactly Israel hopes to gain long-term with the Gaza slaughter.

Of course, long-term planning isn’t exactly humanity’s strong suit. As most corporations prove, even large organizations only think a quarter ahead or so.

Why should an entire country be any different?

Jul 29

Testing testing 1… 2… jackboot

I recently set up a test lab of Windows Server 2012 virtual machines for something I’m working on, and I called the group policy for the notional workers “Staff Oppression” to make it seem more like a real company.

Now to add the “Machine reboots unpredictably approximately every five minutes” script….