Aug 31

They matter

This is for those – especially the many engineeritis infectees – who persist in thinking that literature and the humanities don’t matter.

I found empirical support for the idea that the Harry Potter series influenced the political values and perspectives of the generation that came of age with these books. Reading the books correlated with greater levels of acceptance for out-groups, higher political tolerance, less predisposition to authoritarianism, greater support for equality, and greater opposition to the use of violence and torture. As Harry Potter  fans will have noted, these are major themes repeated throughout the series. These correlations remained significant even when applying more sophisticated statistical analyses – when controlling for, among other things, parental influence.

Other studies show similar things about other literature. This is not a fluke. It’s why I’ve long supported the idea that before anyone gets any STEM degree, they should be required to take two or three years of liberal arts/humanities courses only.

It might not make them love the humanities, and maybe it won’t even make them better people, but it can only help statistically speaking.

That is, assuming college were low-cost or free. In the current “fleece and extort everyone” model, this is untenable.

Aug 30


Depression isn’t new, but its prevalence certainly is.

I wonder why? There has to be some cause, some reason why it affects so many when historically that seems not to have been the case.

My guess is that the narrative of depression – that it is something that just is – is not correct. My hypothesis is that depression is caused by a proliferation of choices in the modern world.

No, my prescription isn’t to roll back modernity, and yes I do think depression is a real thing.

But like a lot of real things understanding the actual reasons for it occurring, even if those are uncomfortable, is necessary for treating it.

Aug 30

Don’t Iggy Me

I like Iggy Azalea I think because I identify with her.

Two feet in the red dirt, school skirt
Sugar cane, back lane
3 jobs took years to save
But I got a ticket on that plane
People got a lot to say
But don’t know shit bout where I was made
Or how many floors that I had to scrub
Just to make it past where I am from

Other than the fact that I wore very few school skirts, her story while not exactly like mine really resonates with me. They are mirrors.

I got on a plane for the US Army when I was just over 18 years old. I came from nowhere, from a white trash family. Everyone told me I would be a failure, even some of my “friends” and nearly all of my family. That I was crazy. That I didn’t have what it took to do what I wanted to do.

Fuck them, I think, as I make it through basic training.

It’s 1995. I’m standing in line at Fort Bragg, NC. But there are two lines. One is for the people who are going to be paratroopers. I’m in the line for non-paratroopers because that’s where I’ve been assigned.

I look at my line. I look at the other line. “The people in my line look like losers,” I say to myself.

I find a person in charge. “How do I get into the paratrooper line?”

“You want to be a paratrooper, soldier?” the sergeant asks.

“Honestly I don’t know but I don’t want to be in that loser line,” I say.

He laughs. “Then get in the other line, soldier, you’ve already got what it takes!” It was then that I notice the jump wings on his chest.

I get in the other line, and then I pass airborne school though I was dead fucking sick nearly the whole time.

Fuck them, I think as I get the silver wings pinned on my chest.

Yeah, Iggy, I know what you are talking about. I know it.

Aug 30


When I am forced to use a PC without dual monitors, I actually get pissed off. Like truly angry. It seems like an affront against all that’s good and right in the world.

Not having dual monitors is crippling. How people can work on a tiny postage-stamp-screen laptop is beyond me. At least I have the consolation that I’ll always be vastly more productive than they are, sort of like people who attempt to use tablets to work.

Dual monitors are the best thing I’ve ever done to increase my productivity when working, bar none.

Aug 30

The enemy

I write about this a lot, but this is really striking.

We’ve met the enemy, and it is us.

A whopping 68 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that.

What’s more: 43 percent feel the same way about 12-year-olds. They would like to criminalize all pre-teenagers playing outside on their own (and, I guess, arrest their no-good parents).

This is also a good quote.

I doubt there has ever been a human culture, anywhere, anytime, that underestimates children’s abilities more than we North Americans do today.

When I was either 7 or 8 years old, I got my first “real” bike. At that time, I was permitted to go anywhere within 2-3 miles of my home with no supervision at all. I would often be gone from 8AM in the morning until 8PM at night with my parents having no real idea where I’d gone.

When I was 10 or 11, I got even more freedom by getting permission to cross the main, busy road a few miles away and go wherever I liked.

This is just unimaginable today.

Aug 30

You know what

I understand where this person is coming from, but it also has huge problems.

I grew up a Southerner from the deep, deep South. In many places especially where there are large black populations – as there was and is where I sprouted – BEV and white Southern English overlap significantly.

In other words, when I’d travel outside of the South one or another of my northern relatives would tell me that, “You talk like a black person!”

No, I talk like a white Southerner, dumbass.

Whose culture was I appropriating when I was four? My own? How is that even possible?

(In Seattle, I also got accused of eating “black people food” because after the Southern exodus, things that ALL people eat in the South like catfish and collard greens – which I fucking love – became associated by clueless northern folks with black people.)

Aug 30


Twenty-Two Percent of the World’s Power Now Comes from Renewable Sources.

Much of that is hydro still, but that is changing rapidly.

I remember about a decade ago when many prominent and likely well-intentioned (not industry shills) scientists and other experts asserted that it was not possible to get world renewables past 10 percent of energy production. There were even a few well-reviewed books at the time proclaiming that “fact.”

It’s almost always correct to trust experts, but sometimes they can be spectacularly wrong. I am really interested in how to tell (and if it is possible to tell) when this inconsonance is likely to occur.

Not only is is useful for its own sake, but can lead to making loads of money.

Aug 29


True, true.

There’s no denying that black women’s sexuality is policed and derided in a way that white women’s is not. By white feminists, especially.

It’s also true that white feminists are falling all over themselves to criticize Iggy Azalea, while at the same time fawning over and praising Eminem.

Hypocrite much?

However, it’s always been true that oppression reproduces itself; it’s an apparently-innate human tendency to increase relative status by oppressing and diminishing others rather than attempting to eliminate oppression altogether. Feminism is not immune to this.

Aug 29


Adblock Plus, in addition to having sold out to the ad industry, is also now slow and very, very bloated.

When I was using it, my Firefox would routinely consume more than 7GB of memory. I have 32GB in my machine so the absolute amount of memory used wasn’t that big a deal, but it also caused the browser to crawl more slowly than me walking away from a milkshake store.

So next I removed AdBlock Plus and installed Bluehell Firewall. While that worked well, Bluehell has no options and no ability to whitelist anything. Good, but perhaps there was something better.

This might be it. So far, AdGuard has not resulted in any additional memory consumption, hasn’t slowed the browser down at all and has configurable options. I can whitelist things again!

I’ll wait a few more days to say for sure, but it seems pretty good so far.