Sep 16

Long Time Gone

This is pretty close to a discussion a friend and I had over 20 years ago, when the DMCA was being debated.

We both posted on some popular (at the time) boards and newsgroups with our concerns, but we were told essentially that what we were worried about “could never happen.”

Every bit of it has happened, and worse. It’s no fun seeing a future that sucks.

Sep 16

The Authoritarian Left

I advocate this exact opposite of this advice for men and women.

One of the best things I ever did was dating women significantly older than me. It helped me learn and grow more than just about anything else I did at that time.

What’s with this narrative of female fragility that’s taking over? Women can’t be trusted to make their own decisions now? And I don’t understand why anyone who dates a younger person is automatically labeled as predatory? That’s just not the way relationships work. Is everyone really a weak fragile flower when they are 21? I somehow doubt that. I certainly was not.

I think this is more about policing assortative mating, etc., than anything else. (In other words, this has absolutely nothing to do with protection from harm, but rather eliminating more interesting, more resourced competition from the dating pool.)

Let people date who they want to date, as long as they are not minors. Must we really find yet another way to shame and control people?

Thank you, authoritarian left.

Sep 16

Juliet Couplet

It takes everything I can do not to speak in rhyming couplets to people. My brain just thinks that way and it’s also how I remember things.

So, if I do that to you, I am only somewhat sorry.

Sep 16

Paths

This isn’t about #metoo or anything specific, but I am really not down with the left’s idea that one bad choice or saying the wrong word makes a person irredeemable forevermore.

That’s another sign of creeping authoritarianism, just as is the left’s increased and unrestrained cheering for the use of the carceral system, said system which probably should not exist at all.

Nearly every ideology is the same these days, and that’s not just to do with neoliberalism. I need to think about this a lot more.

Sep 16

Tese

I know everyone will hate me for this and say how it just can’t be, but sorry, you’re wrong.

The wisdom is that it’s nearly always impossible to be right about something contra an expert opinion. However, as already discussed, many experts aren’t really. This isn’t about them, though.

Most fields these day are too broad even for experts in those fields to know everything occurring, and to be well-versed in all the partitions and particularities of their area of study. Hence, it is quite easy if you’ve studied something intensively (if you have enough background to grasp the fundamentals) to know far more than the experts.

I know this is possible because I’ve done it myself often enough. For instance, I pay close attention to expert advice in economics and the stock market mostly so I can do the opposite.

When it was much harder (pre-internet), I also saw my grandfather spend months studying medical books, doctor’s reports, etc., so that he could learn how badly my great-grandmother’s physicians had fouled up her medications and diagnoses. And then I watched him fix it all. She went from essentially being clouded in a drug haze and bedridden to alert and active in the space of a week. It was amazing to see. And even though she was in her mid-80s, she lived many years after that. I don’t think she would’ve without my grandfather defying the doctors, the so-called experts.

Experts are just as human as anyone else. They only know so much, and often it’s surprisingly little. I always keep that in mind whenever I consult an expert for an opinion, especially if I already know a great deal about a subject.

Sep 16

Navy Red

My maternal grandfather was in the Navy. One night, he was walking across the carrier deck and as happened sometimes in the age of prop planes he got spattered with some oil — or so he thought. Since he was going off shift he just went to the head and wiped it off and then hit his rack.

The next morning, he found out someone had accidentally walked into the prop of a plane about to be launched and been killed. The “oil” that had dappled his face was blood thrown off the prop from a few hundred feet away.

The military is often a violent business even when you’re not fighting a war.

Sep 15

Tech Civ

Mostly agreed. Technology as we use it and as it is built now is mostly harmful. It doesn’t have to be, and I am very much for tech progress, but what we’ve done now is emphatically not progress.

Just because you’re accustomed to being tracked, surveilled, monitored doesn’t make it right. It just makes you sanitized and pitiful, a believer in heinous propaganda and someone who does not and cannot control their own mind. We live in a technological panopticon where dissent is becoming impossible.

Though I don’t think it’s as great a show as others do, Stranger Things is interesting to me precisely because it was probably the time of the intersection of the greatest technical capability combined with the most freedom. You had cable, BBSes, walkie-talkies, etc., but it was difficult to impossible to do any real monitoring, especially en masse.

Oh, sure, it was possible but it took real effort. Someone had to be after you specifically.

Contrast that to today where your every move is tracked, stored in hidden databases for eternity, and could be used against you at any time, even 50 years hence.

We should burn it all down. I don’t think any meaningful reform is possible.

Sep 14

Ripon

I was thinking about another problem with experts. Though it’s still worth it to trust them over your own intuition, in all too many fields (including medicine), at least 10% even if not intending to defraud you outright (that is another separate 10-20%) are just ridiculously wrong and might as well have bought their degree at some diploma mill for all the good it did them.

I don’t really understand why or how this happens, but it seems invariably true no matter the field.

Generally, I trust experts. But it always pays to get a second or third opinion as you never know when you’ll get an “expert.”

Sep 14

Groans

I think my favorite groan-inducing comment I’ve ever made was back in the 1990s. Me and a few friends were sitting around, and one friend asked me if I wanted to see the movie Passenger 57.

I said, “I can’t. I don’t think I’ll be able to follow the plot because I haven’t seen Passenger 1 through 56.”

The groans were long. Legend has it they are still going to this day.

Sep 14

Robot Lady

As much as I liked Ex Machina and Alicia Vikander’s performance in it, I’d never watched any real interviews with her or anything. Wow, her voice sounds different than it did in the film. Shows just how good her performance truly was.

This analysis at least understood the film, which most people do not, but he missed I think the best part of the manipulation the film does to its audience.

What I mean is that he obviously understands some to most of the first layer of manipulation, but misses the meta-manipulation that the work commits. The meta-manipulation is that if you go in with the perspective that the film is about a “sexy robot lady” you will accidentally see a completely separate movie that is nothing like the real one, but would be like the film that would’ve been made if Nathan or someone similar had made it himself. Thus, because you have been so colonized by the perspective you think you are rejecting, you see a film that was never made and does not exist. I believe that Garland was aware of this while making the film and is a deliberate part of the work.

However, back to the video analysis. He understands a crucial point that the others miss when he says of Ava that, “At first, she wanted to be his friend, but very quickly she realized he was only interested in her sexually. In addition, Caleb’s compassion stops with Ava.” Indeed. That was the same conversation when she asks about the morality of switching her off — murdering her — and he hems and haws like a seamstress making a left turn.

Another brilliant meta-manipulation that the film commits is that if Caleb’s weak bromides and homilies sound brilliant or learned to you, then you are just as impuissant intellectually as Caleb. This was also very deliberate.

I like Ex Machina for so many reasons, not the least of which is it’s a perfect IQ test on several levels: if you see Caleb as the protagonist, you are an idiot and amoral. If you think the movie is about how sexy a sexy, sexy robot lady is, you are an idiot, and probably an idiot who thinks she is a feminist but really is not. And if you think that Caleb’s “witty” declamations have any intellectual content other than some shit he read in a book and parroted like a fucking macaw, you are also mentally deficient.

Such a brilliant film.