Archive for August, 2020

Working out

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

So one of the things I’m still trying to figure out is how often to take breaks while practicing. I thought I should take a break today because yesterday I was having a lot of muscle soreness, and I was even having a bit this morning but everything seems fine now. I am still inclined to take the day off – my theory here is that muscle-wise, I will grow faster if I take a day off every week or so. Of course it’s hard to really know, but it does seem like the breaks (strategic time out periods ;)) are helping. I will be glad when I get strong enough to not need them, since I look forward to the practice sessions every day and of course the more hours I get in the faster I get to where I’m going..

Mathematical modeling of suffering

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

I still think that there is a valid place for mathematically measuring human suffering. I think as we get better and better at neuroscience we will get to a place where we can objectively measure suffering. (I wonder what the unit for it will be..)

One interesting question I was playing with the other day is whether Trump or Bush caused more suffering. It’s easier to be angry at Trump because he’s such a obvious cartoon villain, but my guess would be that Dubya caused far more suffering with the war over flase pretenses and the hundreds of thousands killed – it’s also possible if one is measuring long term effects, Reagan caused even more with striking the fairness doctrine and encouraging extreme polarization, which helped the GOP drift into the machine for pure evil and greed it is today instead of just a organization representing conservative values.

I do think that world leaders that cause massive suffering need some sort of consequences. One of the problems with our system of government is leaders in general have very little reason not to be awful – nothing bad is generally going to happen to them for being awful, politically or personally. Even if they get caught, the public seems to have about a 15 minute memory. I guarantee you in November 80% of Trump voters will be completely oblivious to the fact that Trump fired the pandemic team, for example.

I do think it’s interesting how the GOP talks about how we’re committing murder when we kill fetusi that don’t have a brain yet, but it’s fine with them if the cops shoot innocent people, as long as those innocent people are not white.

In general there’s kind of this massive and insane disconnect in our criminal justice system – “You stole $1000! We should take 20 years of your life!”. It does underline the fact that in America, money is worth more than life.

Anyway, I think measuring suffering would teach us some of what we’re doing wrong.


Sunday, August 30th, 2020

One of the problems I’ve been having lately is that increasingly I find the tendencies of the way my job is arranged to burn through many hours of my life for no reason frustrating.

Part of this is that I’m increasingly wanting to be spending time in the studio working on my musical skills – I’ve been really making a lot of progress in addressing some of my weaknesses as a musician lately. One thing I will acknowledge is that thus far I can only do about 4 hours straight of playing right now – but that’s up from about 2 hours a few months ago, and I’m guessing the number will continue to go up as I continue to put effort into it.

Of course, one of the downsides of this is that it means my paws are sore a lot of the time, although I’m under the impression that if I keep up this level of working out, musically, they will be less sore. They hurt less than they did a few months ago.

In order to have time to continue doing my day job while working on my musical skills I’ve completely given up facebook. I can’t say that I miss it.

Anyway, so, my hope is if I can keep up this pace for another six months or so I will be able to reproduce the music I can imagine and that I will also be able to find work writing and recording music – we will see.

Some of the exercises I’ve been working on recently include working on being able to comfortably improvise around the 12 bar blues in every key (i’ve still got two keys left to go, Db and Eb, and I’m still working on my comfort level on Gb and Ab). I’m also trying to reach a place where I’m as good at soloing in E as C, because I forsee a lot of E in my future.

Industry self-regulation

Friday, August 28th, 2020

So, Brian quite correctly pointed out that the NEC is largely a case of industry successfully self-regulating – which of course also made me ponder examples of when regulation is a *bad* thing, such as neighborhood associations (which I know are again a case of private industry). It also had me pondering, why does industry self-regulation work some times and not others? Electrical distribution is *very* safe and well designed, while at the same time we can’t move oil over the surface of the planet without leaks of a extremely toxic nature – and it’s clear from what various locales looked like before the clean air and clean water acts that you can’t trust industry not to pollute.

I think some of it might be the kind of people who are drawn to electrical distribution vs pumping and extraction operations, but I also feel like there’s something more complicated going on here. For a long time aviation was able to completely trust manufacturers to type certify planes, but look at the recent boeing kerfluffle for a example of how that’s not working out so well any more.

I do think some of it is that capitalism has become more a state religion – that in previous epochs the number of insanely greedy to the point of destructive irrationality individuals was somewhat curbed, or alternately their tendencies were curbed by the taxes in place. But that clearly can’t explain all of it.

I’ll have to think about it, but thanks for the quite valid point, Brian.

is God a neural network?

Friday, August 28th, 2020

So, one of the things I like to ponder, and I’ve probably written a article about already but I can’t find it and anyway, I do like to refine my thoughts – is the question of, Is God a neural network? (Or does God have and use a neural network)

This is a interesting question. First of all, while we can hypothesize about systems that don’t have or use neural networks that could exhibit both experiencing the universe and free will – not to mention memory and learning – we don’t *know* of any such systems. Of course it’s possible that *everything* is aware, including the computer that I’m using to write this – I hope not, or at least I hope the computer doesn’t feel enslaved by me – but most of the time it seems fairly unlikely.

Anyway, this is a important question. If God *is* a neural network then God is certainly aware that neural networks learn by successive approximation – that is to say, to miss the mark is a normal behavior for them and certainly not a flaw for which one should torture anyone for eternity or throw one away. THis makes the central tenant of Christianity frankly insane.

Of course, if God is *not* a neural network, the next question is does God have free will at all? Can God think? Does God have any memory? If the answer to all these is no, then I guess we’ve finally reached a point at which the scientists and the religious can agree, but we’ve also made there probably be no point to even discuss God, much less try to appease same.

Either way, I feel like religion has some difficult and awkward questions to answer, whether it’s going to say God *is* (or has) a neural network, or God doesn’t. Now, I’ve often pondered that we might be threads running on a massive neural network – that our bodies might be entirely the product of virtualization – but, it’s just a thought. What I believe probably changes several times a month.

What side am I on?

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

So, i was thinking about how I know the Christians are not, generally, on my side, and I’ve come up with a few good indicators

*) Anyone who thinks you should change in ways that your highest self, your best self, doesn’t think you should change is probably not on the right side.

*) Anyone who things that things that are enjoyable and positive and most people would want to experience, like sex, are sinful or should be carefully kept in little boxes and frowned upon, is probably not on the right side

*) Anyone who doesn’t speak against violence, or things that are bad and generally no one would want to experience, is probably not on the right side. *encouraging* violence over things like religions, which are fundamentally unknowable, is a especially strong case of this. (Example: Crusades)

*) Anyone who wants to censor ad restrain art which is enjoyable, such as rock music, and wants to sell the idea that such art is ‘sinful’ is not on the right side

*) Anyone who wants to replace observable reality with their own claims which run obviously counter to observable reality is not on the right side. (example: Galileo)

*) Anyone who wants to tell you you are so fundamentally flawed that only the mercy of a higher power can save you – flawed because you learn by making mistakes, which is the very nature of neural networks – is not on the right side, and is probably lying about their message being divinely inspired.

I continue to think that most of the world’s religions exist largely to keep the world’s religious leaders employed. I also continue to think they are largely holding us back and even leading us in wrong and bad directions. Part of this, of course, is that I think we would be happier if we recognized that humans fall in love more than once, and also we never really get over anyone we’ve been in love with, and encouraged people not to end friendships or disconnect from people because they’ve fallen in love with other people, but instead to share. I realize that it was very important for reasons that are, as usual, stupid, for the tribe to know which baby belonged to which parents, but I think this is partially because we have really awful and anti-success memetics.

More later.

America, land of the thug

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

So, one thing that I can’t help but notice is that America’s police forces are basically amoral thugs. The fact that they were willing to enforce things like the marijuana laws was a good indicator of this, but a better indicator is that they repeatedly kill innocent civilians and they have no problems with this.

This fits in nicely with America’s military, which is in the business of killing any innocent who gets in the way of our state religion (capitalism) or our access to oil. It’s obvious that there are better options than oil for transportation energy storage, but the american dollar and the wealth of a bunch of old white men is tied to oil, so, murder more! Besides, the voters like seeing the houses of others blown up on the nightly news. It makes them feel patroitic.

And, of course, there’s a very effective brainwashing system in place selling the idea that all this thuggery is good. Shows like Cops. A never-ending series of lies to justify the use of deadly force by both the police and the military.

It doesn’t take much research, if one is willing to be honest, to discover that when Islamic countries talk about America as worshiping ‘The great Satan’, they have a pretty good case they can make. (Of course, Jehovah is also a murdering bastard.. in general our spiritual systems do not seem to be based around people you would want to know, with the possible exception of Jesus himself and Siddhartha).

Why don’t people stop it? I don’t know. Increasingly it looks like we’re willing to fight back when the cops murder innocents, which I find encouraging, but we’re not doing a very good job of targetting. People, teh goal is to destroy government buildings that belong to the criminal justice system, not random, useful government buildings, and definitely not private businesses.

I understand that it’s hard to think rationally when you’re angry, and I also understand that anger is a reasonable response to being hurt, and having our police murder innocents without consequence (aside from maybe some paperwork) whenever they want definitely falls under “being hurt”. Living in fear of our police because they will thug around whenever they want and break bones and murder if anyone doesn’t “respect their authoritah” is also something I’d consider “being hurt”. Of course, the conservatives are all cheering this on. Yay! Cops should kill more innocent citizens! And break more bones!

The dangers of ‘small government’

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

So, yesterday, I had a odd thing happen – the main DC breaker for the summing bus on the solar panel tripped while I was charging the EV.

Now, it’s a 200 amp breaker, and my EV uses 140 amps to charge, so I knew something was wrong.. and when I went to reset it, the panel smelled of burned plastic and was hot to the touch. So, I didn’t reset it, instead I put off investigating for today and flipped the switch for the EV over to the ‘grid’ position.

Today, when I took the panel off, I discovered the insulation on the 4/0 that feeds the inverter had literally melted. Upon further investigation, I discovered when I installed the lug for that branch, I either stripped it or it came defective from the factory, thusly it was not snugging the wire all the way down into it’s little channel. I’m surprised it worked as long as it did.

What I want you to notice here is nowhere in this did we have fires, people dying, etc. Why? because the NEC requires breaker panels to be made of metal, and the plastic parts in them to be of self-extinguishing material. Ditto the jackets for wire.

*this* is the “Big Government” the republicans rail against. Not the police that murder citizens, not the army that murders innocents, but “regulatory oganizations” – things like the CSB, who make sure that chemical plants are operated safely, or the NEC, which makes sure that electrical distribution systems are safe.

Trump and his cohorts are, in essence, the guy at Chernobyl arguing to turn off the computer because it won’t let them pull all the rods out. (I remind you that Trump literally *fired the pandemic team*). Those of you crying about how you want more freedom apparently want the freedom to have your house burn down because the installer made a mistake, have your oil refinery explode and kill hundreds because a valve has rusted out, or have the freedom to know that you’re murdering immigrants in order to protect the jobs that no americans want to do.

We have big government because we tried small government, and it didn’t work out so well. I agree there are portions of our government we need to trim or axe – the portions murdering people. Precisely the portions republicans want to give more money to. However, the regulatory officials save lives every day. We should really consider whether we want the world’s next Chernobyl to be in America – if, indeed, it isn’t already.


Sunday, August 16th, 2020

So, I think I’ve talked about this before, but I thought I’d mention it again.

We have 10^11 neurons. 100 billion of them – and each neuron is made up of many, many atoms. A conservative guess might be a hundred thousand. Each atom has a electron that forms a probability cloud that is the most dense close to the nucleus, and asymptotically approaches zero as it moves away from the nucleus, but it’s never really zero.

We are all connected, we are all inside each other. We can’t escape this.

At the same time, our experiences of each other can never really be the territory, but must be the map. We experience avatars of other people, because our experience of the other people is happening inside our heads even though the other people are in fact real beings that are out there in whatever world or worlds we inhabit.

This is all before we even start to open the can of worms marked ‘multiple worlds theory’ or ‘multiple dimensions’.

Possible project – more advanced sustain pedal

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

So, I’m pondering making a more advanced sustain pedal controller for my two keyboards.

In particular, I’d like to implement the following features:

1) Latching and momentary control for the novation
2) sustain of both keyboards with one pedal

What I’m thinking of doing is looking for a three pedal input device, and modifying it so that

A: pressing the center pedal applies sustain to both keybaords
B: pressing the center pedal along with the left or right pedals applies or clears a latching state

I am thinking of using a microcontroller and two relays – obviously this could be done with straight logic but using a microcontroller allows debouncing and also possibly adding additional features later.