Aug 25

Ortho

Fun vocabulary-related test here. Here’s my score with the word I didn’t know. I was 60% sure “marchese” was a word and I even had a good inkling of its definition, but you’re penalized for guessing that something is a word and then getting it wrong, so I didn’t risk it.

wordy

Also, my brain is kind of mushy tonight from studying other things so there’s that. (Nope, didn’t cheat at all, though it’d be easy if you wanted to. If I’d wanted to cheat, it wouldn’t have taken me 9.24 seconds to deliberate on that one!)

Aug 24

AutoD

What I did not like about this article is that it equates autodidacts with always being woefully uninformed or delusionally incorrect.

While I have no illusions that I am a physicist (and thus I have no great theories to put forth), I don’t think much of my understanding of physics, biology, chemistry or neuroscience is wayward. Incomplete, sure. But no more incomplete (and probably less so) than many scientist/engineer types who believe they are experts in everything but really only know their one tiny field.

I have read the same textbooks they all have. Many of the same papers. I’m not a researcher in any field*. I don’t have the money or time to be that independent of a university.

Yes, many autodidacts are a bit nutty in their ideation. But not all of us are that way. I’d be willing to bet that I know more about most fields than most scientists who do not actually work in those fields (meaning that yes, an expert in, say, anthropology probably knows a hell of a lot more about anthro than I do, but I bet I could run circles around them in geology, cognitive neuroscience, economics, systems design, etc).

All autodidacts aren’t poorly self-educated loons, is what I am trying to say.

*While this is not quite true, no one cares about my economic history research.

Aug 24

Kini

I do agree that a burkini is a symbol of the enslavement of women, but don’t agree that men with guns telling those women to remove clothes or to leave the beach is the answer.

With this issue, though, the left wishes to pretend that symbols don’t matter while telling us that symbols matter. Can’t have it both ways, though. The burkini is a symbol and an endorsement of the oppression of women. That it is worn by women doesn’t matter either way, really.

The left as noted wishes to tell us that the burkini symbolizes nothing in and of itself, and wishes to reduce it to an individual and context-free decision of a person disconnected from any political or religious affiliation.

Obviously, this is intellectually untenable but for most of the left the tolerance of intolerance is now more important than the promotion and encouragement of liberal values and priorities. (And this will be its doom, ultimately.)

While I can’t condone harassing women on the beach for what they wear, I also can’t disregard that Islam is an actual existential threat to the values of many Western European countries and to the women who already live there.

I know to the left those women don’t matter because they aren’t the right color and aren’t a member of an officially-approved oppressed class, but they matter to me.

Aug 22

Adulterated

This person is harmfully wrong.

YA is the only literature that’s taken any real risks over the past 10-15 years. I hate to say that, as I love sf, but (other than YA sf) even most sf is not taking any interesting risks or promulgating many new ideas. Yes, it is diversifying and that is great, but not expanding its scope in really any other senses.

However, YA is actually grappling with contemporary issues in novel ways and expanding not only the allowed palette of characters’ skins but also the ideas allowed to be discussed.

Even Rick Yancey’s The Fifth Wave though only a middling book in my opinion is better and more aware and responsive to its own times than many “adult” literary darlings that have won awards recently.

Books like Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Love is the Drug, and The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson are great books, better than any of the award-winning (and very, very boring) adult novels of the past few years that I’ve read.

Really, the only difference between most YA and fallaciously-labeled adult novels (for adults who seem to have no self-awareness, no historical knowledge, and little imagination) is that YA features younger protagonists.

If you’re not reading YA, you are missing out. And if you’re reading yet another novel of someone doing something blah blah blah Brooklyn midlife crisis blah blah divorce blah, you’re wasting your damn time.

Aug 22

ACA knowledge it

The ACA isn’t some progressive step to better health care, as delusional Democrats would like to believe.

Rather, it was a logjam put in place with the intention and the practical effect of ensuring that nothing would be altered for at least 20-30 years.

Democrats celebrate the legislation as if they were at the Oprah show when she hands out free cars, even though it’s a Band-Aid placed over a geyser of arterial blood while the patient is pronounced to be cured.

And the Democrats walk away whistling….

Aug 21

Old and testy

I see that Isaiah from the Old Testament knew about Wall Street, crony politicians like Clinton and their shared ethos a couple of thousand years before the advent of any of it.

Isaiah 10:1–6:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

Aug 21

Mil

I was in the military of course, so mistakes in military matters bother me more than they should. Like this sentence from Rick Yancey’s The Fifth Wave.

I sink into the chair, sitting on its edge, back straight, chin up. If it’s possible to be at attention while seated, I’m doing it.

It is possible and taught in the military. Admittedly, it’s not all that common, but every military recruit ever has done it and knows how to sit at attention.

Here’s how it looks.

Aug 21

Mathematical universe

Saying the universe is “made of math” as many of the quantitative bent are prone to do is as moronic as saying it is made of cheese or of apathy.

If you study and understand any of quantum mechanics to even a basic level, it seems more likely to me that the universe is made of bullshit and crazy with a dash of “aww, hell no” thrown in.

I do agree that the universe at some levels has a strange correspondence to useful mathematical abstractions, but that is just a consequence of being in a universe where life is possible because the rules are relatively fixed. (Yes, I went full anthro on you. Sue me.)

Aug 19

Gawking over

Those who are (like Casey Johnston) mourning the death of journalism with Gawker.com’s demise and the larger Gawker Media’s bankruptcy, remember that Gawker is the organization that published a video of a college girl possibly getting raped in a bathroom stall.

Not to mention all of the other horrible things they’ve done.

I too am wary of having billionaires suing sites out of existence. But if there is one fucking site and media organization that deserved to be nuked from orbit, it was that one.

Good riddance.

Aug 18

Fourth

What’s a movie that you really love that was pretty widely abhorred?

One of mine is The Fourth Kind with Milla Jovovich.

The objections seem to be that it’s in a documentary-ish style and that it goes full meta right at the beginning. However, I loved that at the commencement there’s a bit of narration where Milla herself tells us that’s she’s portraying another character — but then it claims to be a documentary recording “true” events as well.

It’s a huge wink at the audience and it rips up the barrier between cinema, documentary and life as it’s lived, just as Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell does so in a different but extremely related way.

What’s miraculous that after this the movie still works so well even with its narrative suspended in this framework of de-contextualized artificiality.

The movie is also a tragedy. People these days do not like tragedies. And like all great tragedies, it’s clear at the beginning that it will be one, too.

Also, it was marketed as some alien abduction snoozefest and it’s so much more than that. That was also a strike against it as people who saw it weren’t expecting what they got.

There’s just so much cleverness in this film — more than I can write about. And it is also truly creepy, as few films manage to be.

If I had to state the message of the film, it’d be that things we think that happen to us are just the same as things that actually do happen to us. Post hoc, it’s like an algorithm that can’t be reversed. There’s just no way to travel back to distinguish the difference.