Archive for October, 2014


Sunday, October 26th, 2014

About once a week, I get told I’m among the smartest persons $WHOEVER has met.

I really hope not.

I want to be right in the middle. I would like to think there are a whole lot of people smarter than me and a whole lot of people dumber than me. I think there probably was a time when I would take pride in being in the top 1%, but that’s before I discovered that there are many problems that individuals can’t solve that teams can. Now that I’m aware of the power of teamwork, I would really like to think there’s a whole lot of people smarter than me working on some of the more obvious problems in my viewpoint.

The one part of religions that I wish would go away

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

So, I think you all know I’ve had a long and complex struggle with the religion of my childhood. I’ve come to accept that for many people it is a good thing, and that there are some amazing people (Martin Luther King Jr. comes to mind) who have had it loaded and gone on to do great things for us all. I am getting closer and closer to a place of no longer being angry at it.

However, it contains a fatal flaw. Actually, a *bunch* of religions contain this flaw, and it’s from where I sit kind of a dangerous one that we really need to get rid of.

The idea is this. “I am the only true religion. All other religions are false. All the adherents to those religions will go to $DYSTOPIA while the adherents to me will continue to $UTOPIA”.

The problems with this are legion.

1) It excuses going to any lengths to attempt to “convert” adherents to other religions. Holy wars become acceptable. So does enforcing your questionable moral code on people who have other moral codes
2) It denies reality. I’ve known people of many religions and found them all to be beautiful, amazing, and worthy of love. Surely no higher power would expect someone to guess amongst the multitude of religions currently out there and punish them for guessing wrong. Beyond that, the variety of life and people and places and whatnot on Earth sure suggests that if someone is running the show, *that someone LIKES variety*.
3) It leads to some very questionable thinking. Looking at the wikipedia entry for adherents to religions, I find that while there is a majority religion, there’s no religion that has more adherents than the sum of all the other religions. So, you’re arguing that God is such a bad systems designer that he built a system where the majority of the users are going to $DYSTOPIA. Really? You can’t really blame the users on this one, much as some of you might like to try.

I guess my plea to the religious is – don’t believe yours is the only way. Think better of God than that. Think better of *yourself* than that. I feel a lot like saying your religion is the only way and $A_SUPERUSER will participate in punishing those who didn’t see the world the way you did is in some ways a lot like shoving the blacks – or the gays, or whatever $MINORITY or $DIFFERENT_PEOPLE you might happen to dislike – to the back of the bus.

Beyond that, I take great comfort from the many times when friends of mine from a wide variety of religions and walks of life have freely acknowledged that we have more in common than we have different, and that theirs probably ISN’T the only way. It’s a happy thing to hear.

Also remember that monolithic systems often fail where systems with variety in them succeed.

Happy to be here, hoping to help the ball club.

Then again, what if we’re everywhere?

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

While we tend to think of ourselves as being located ‘within’ the bodies we are wearing, it’s not at all clear to me that this is the case. These bodies could be rather similar to views in a database – a particular way at looking at the dataset rushing towards us. And, also, I keep coming back to the interesting idea about the electron probability cloud. As near as we can currently tell, a electron forms a probability cloud around the nucleus of a atom. While the odds are enormously high that it will be within a few diameters of that nucleus, it would appear that the odds never do fall to zero that it will be any distance short of infinity away. So maybe we’re all everywhere. 😉

another interesting thought

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

This is a thought that struck me the other day. I know that the scientists among my readers will scoff, and I don’t blame you, but it’s a interesting idea to let rattle around your head for a few minutes nonetheless.

It’s generally assumed that the vast majority of stars have no life surrounding them. When we look up at the sky, we don’t usually think about the possibility that every single light shines down on civilization. However, the current rules of the universe as we understand them make it very difficult for us to be aware of whether there is or is not life surrounding most of those other stars. Given how recently we acquired radio capacity, and also the extreme difficulty of getting a radio signal any appriciable distance, it’s possible that *every single star* has life on it.

Since I think we’re hypervised anyway (i.e. I think that our experiences happen within a ‘virtual universe’ container in order to save resources and also enable a much more flexible set of experiences for us) I’m not sure if it’s a meaningful discussion, but nonetheless, it’s a interesting thought to think about..

What if every star has life?

I would think that the religious would be especially in favor of this idea. If there is a God, clearly said being has a real *thing* for diversity (I’d gesture you to the variety of life on earth, and the variety of types of stars, and types of people, and types of religions, and so on, and so forth). Why would they think that life was only created *here*? Why not *everywhere*?

If we are hypervised, and our scientists are discovering about the rules of the hypervisor rather than the ‘bare metal rules’ of the universe so to speak, then it would seem clear that a number of aspects of this universe are designed to keep us away from other stars, at least for now. Maybe we’re working out how to go about first contact.

Of course, in my view, first contact has already happened. Dogs and cats and elephants and all the variety of mammals around us do think, and make decisions, and communicate. A dog has as much bandwidth to his nose as you have to your eyes! Surely the world must be very different to them, and they are pretty alien. And yet so wonderful 😉

More on intelligent design

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

The russians kept humans in space stations for over a year. They suffered no ill effects.

This speaks strongly towards the human body being a broad-purpose design. If it was truly shaped by nothing but evolution, it would not be likely to be shaped for either free fall or some of the very high accelerations that are experienced both in spaceflight and at six flags, and it would very likely stop working correctly.

Of course, when I look at our bodies, I see signs of design of the exact same type I do every day. I see DNA manifesting as running code, and I still think it likely that we are also hypervised so even the proteins are a type of running code. To me, it’s silly to have a system that *is* intelligent, and argue against intelligent design. Whatever symbols you want to attach to the idea of God, whoever you want to posit as the designer, I think the intellectually honest must acknowledge the most likely explanation for the bodies we wear is that a intelligent designer fabricated them. I think anyone will acknowledge that it’s *possible* that you could get to them by randomly throwing dice, over and over. But It does not, to me, seem *likely*. As soon as you build a brain big enough to write code, evolution seems like it would quickly take the back seat.

In short, I think the evolutionists are denying large chunks of data in order to hold onto their pet theory. That doesn’t mean I don’t think evolutionary algorithms haven’t been used in the design of our bodies. But they are far from the whole picture, in my opinion.

One thing that frustrates me is how it sometimes seems like people only concede two possibilities.. a remote/external to us/out there somewhere God, or evolution. It seems to me my hypothesis is by far the most reasonable.. that the intelligent designers are *us*. Why does no one even discuss this possibility?


Sunday, October 19th, 2014

We were in the studio this weekend.. we got most of 1% and some of Click recorded. I laid down a badass B3 part on 1%, I’ve been discovering a little more about the art of setting the two manuals to different collections of harmonics and then playing parts suitable for the collection of harmonics that have been set. I continue to love the B3 sound.. it seems like it compliments everything. 1% is a interesting track in that it’s recorded with a accoustic piano and a real live B3 – the first track I have laid down on tape in a very long time that didn’t involve any synthesized instruments at all.


Sunday, October 19th, 2014

My opinion of AWS keeps dropping. Now, perhaps I should be thinking in terms of being grateful that this resource is available to me instead of being annoyed that it isn’t working the way I’d expect, but I currently have a instance stuck in ‘stopping’ state – and I can’t open a support incident on this because the ‘Instance is not known to be impaired’. Well, no really? If you knew it was stuck, you’d have probably also already fixed it.

I’m guessing there’s somewhere I can go to request a fix.. but still, grr. Way to not be helpful, AWS..

Christianity.. subtle?

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

So, I’ve had a set of thoughts that make me wonder if Christianity is really a failure after all. The thing is, although there are some core tenants of the religion that I fundamentally disagree with, I might never have even thoughts about them, much less come to the conclusion that I disagreed with them, if I hadn’t been exposed to them in some form. And the religion does do a really good job of presenting what’s wrong with certain ideas. As a friend of mine points out, the best way to deconvert someone from Christianity is just to get them to read the whole bible. Some parts of it are just obviously wrong – but even that wrongness is a education of sorts. Learning what you don’t believe in probably does have some value.

It’s interesting to me that so many of the underlying assumptions of Christianity fit in with my own beliefs – some of them I have even been able to test to my satisfaction. And yet the core idea – that Jesus died for your sins, and without that you would suffer for all eternity – makes no sense.

On the other hand, that it makes no sense is a education in and of itself. It gets one thinking about what moral behavior for a higher power looks like, whether a lower power can recognize moral behavior in a higher power, and ultimately things like whether dogs have souls and whether humans are inside a hypervisor. At least for me, even though I will be the first to admit that at this point there’s a lot that I don’t know and a lot of what I feel about Christianity is based on my emotional reactions to certain writings. However, I’ve learned that my emotional reactions (generally anger) can in fact be successfully underpinned with logic. So, for example, I can make a logical argument about why you shouldn’t be killing gay people, and why that’s not something that a higher power would encourage you to do. (Unless you’re using the phrase ‘higher power’ to mean ‘lower power’)

I can also make a interesting bit of ‘stupid is as stupid does’ arguments about the subject – if your so-called higher power exhibits signs of being a awful entity, they aren’t a higher power. Just because they might have happened to figure out how to control your experience of reality does not necessarily mean they can control everyone’s, and one should authenticate ‘higher powers’ very, very carefully. As we’ve learned, black hats happen, and black hats would certainly exploit those who would take a burning bush as a sign of divinity.

So, my ponderable question, how do I know if a given signal is coming from a higher power? I’ve developed a few guidelines:

1) If it looks like hate, it probably is. Meaning, if it says my friend is sinful for the way he chooses to love, if it says I am flawed to my core and someone had to die because I’m so awful, if it says I don’t deserve to live, if it says it will make me suffer for all eternity.. it’s not a higher power.

2) If it looks like fear, it probably is. Anyone ever notice how much religions in general rely on fear?

3) If it is at odds with testable reality, it’s probably not a higher power. Religion and science have had a long war with each other, and if we are hypervised then you could make a case that all bets are off but if we are hypervised, I have to assume it’s still true that observable reality is what the administrators of the hypervisor intended us to see. So if scientists describe a reproducable experiment that demonstrates things that are at odds with what religion is saying, for me, it’s a easy call. Religion is wrong. It has a long history of being wrong, and of behaving badly when it turns out it is wrong, so this isn’t a huge surprise for me. As far as I can tell, religions were not authored by enlightened beings, but rather by a bunch of people who had found themselves with no backstory in a situation and wrote out their best guesses, largely illuminated by fear.

Intellectual property

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

So, I think I’ve talked before about, despite the fact that I am in the business of producing intellectual property for people, I think intellectual property is a bad idea.

Now, as so often happens when one lives in a place like Earth, I have elected to make a deal with the devil. I don’t share all my source code with everyone, and I respect the conventions our society has about intellectual property – for the most part – instead of running warez boards. But, I think intellectual property is a bad idea. I think it hurts us all.

The first point I want to make is that it ignores certain basic truths. Infinity really belongs to all of us. If someone were to claim a patent on the number ‘1’, they’d be laughed out of court. But somehow we have gotten the idea that certain very large numbers (digital files describing music) are special, insofar as the person who finds them first on Earth owns them. Now, were this person a 3-year-old, they would be told to share, but in the adult world we generally don’t think that way, so we’re okay with whoever discovered this particular large number, whatever it might be, being allowed to camp out on it and claim it as their own.

This has some bad side effects. The first example I’ll give is maglock. Given the number of laptops that end up in landfills after their PCBs are shattered by side forces on the barrel connector of the power supply, Apple should have *instantly* granted MagLock to the entire world, for free. Camping out on that patent *hurts everyone*. It hurts the planet, it hurts the users, it makes the human race less wealthy. (See earlier discussions about money vs. value).

Even more stupid is camping out on USER INTERFACE METAPHORS! This is saying “I think my ability to cash in as much as possible on this idea is more important than having a unified set of user interface metaphors that everyone can draw from”. Not to mention, EVERY SINGLE TIME it ends up being prior art.

Things get worse, however, when people start to camp out on large numbers that REPRESENT DNA. Look, you’re standing on the shoulders of giants when you edit DNA, and you should acknowledge that DNA should implicitly be considered open source. You *certainly* are in no position to patent or copyright it and claim ownership. Where would you be if everyone throughout time had had that attitude? Answer, you *WOULDN’T BE*. So, Monsanto, please grow up. Edit DNA all you want.. but *trust your customers*. If you’re making good stuff, they’ll keep buying from you. And accept that other companies *SHOULD* take your good work and improve it further. Open source is a truly honest way to live – living in a world where you camp out on information and call it intellectual property ignores the basic fact that we are all influenced by each other and by our shared history. There’s a part of me in what you’re coding, and a part of you in what I’m coding.

I would point out that I have purchased numerous versions of software that I like, voluntarily shelling out to people like MOTU and Propellerheads and Microsoft and Adobe. Not because I couldn’t have pirated it – I easily could have – or because I think piracy is morally wrong, because I actually think that piracy is morally right, as I will explain in a few minutes – but to encourage those companies to continue their good work. Because I like what they’re doing and I want them to keep doing it, and I fully understand that until we get rid of money (a major and important goal, but not one I feel assured I will live to see) they need money to continue their pursuit of software goodness.

Now, about piracy. In a previous article I talked about how it’s in the best interests of the future for us to copy mp3s far and wide.. if we make enough copies of the brilliant musical library that we as a race have assembled, maybe one will survive. And you have to admit, you would *love* to hear the music of a alien race, or one from the dawn of history. It’s in general in our best interests for our best ideas to get copied widely. This *is* value. If you make a copy of some code or DNA and music I have written, I have lost nothing and you have gained something, so the net worth of the human race has increased. (However, if you make a copy of, say, a really bad set of ideas that will cripple you if you embrace them, the opposite is true.)

The root of this problem is, of course, money. We all have to have it if we want to continue eating and sleeping indoors, and especially for people like me, generating intellectual property for someone else is a handy way to continue getting it. However, as automation gets better and better, it is going to be harder and harder to even try and find jobs for everyone, and we’re more and more going to have to consider just giving people resources without making them slave away every day (quite possibly at makework, or at a job that doesn’t need to exist because a different attitude would let us, for example, make cars that ran for a hundred years between major overhauls, or houses that would stand for five hundred) – basically, saying we should *expand* the “entitlement” programs.

I am all for this. If we can give people something they want without making them suffer for it, let’s! But then, I don’t want to die and go to heaven – I’d rather just.. wake up there one day. And I’d *really* rather not make people who don’t want to work spend their lives doing things that don’t make them happy just for the sake of a ideal – which I think many conservatives hold.. that people should have to suffer.

To tie in the Christianity rant I’ve been on for the past few weeks, I really feel like some of this can be ascribed to us feeling like we are flawed. It’s a key message in Christianity.. you’re sinful. You’re bad. Things that feel good to you are bad. God hates you, and only by killing his own son could he manage to make himself forgive you. Everyone at this point knows that I hate that message, that I think it is a lie and that also Christianity as implemented in the US distorts the reality about God, who is I think a lot better than the Christians believe *e is, but because what we believe filters what we experience, they can’t see that. And I, of course, can’t see the God who would want you to sacrifice and hurt and suffer and be afraid. Our beliefs form resonant filters in our minds, and also resonant relationships with the reality we experience.

So, the Christians I think even if they *could build the garden again* – which automation certainly makes a possibility – *would not* because *they think they don’t deserve it*. This is so clear.. you have to live a whole life full of suffering and fear and pain and then *die* and *then* you deserve to have a good life. I am not such a fan of this idea, or of some of the results of it – people thinking they should judge other people, and punish other people. Because I am a fan of diversity I would not want to take away their freedom to believe the things they do but I wish I didn’t always have to be exposed to the results.

Another cop-related post

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

So, after looking at traffic on facebook, especially Clint’s, I want to reiterate my take on this.

Whether you’re a cop or a civilian, if you shoot a innocent, you should lose your right to carry. Period. Even if you’re a hunter who makes a stupid mistake. You’ve proven that you can not responsibly handle a weapon like a gun. No excuses, no “thin blue line”, just – no more carrying guns for you. You can argue that a cop shouldn’t go to jail because their jobs require them to make very difficult split second decisions and they had no intent to murder. Fine – but that cop should still never carry a gun again, because they proved they don’t have what it takes.