Trump and COVID

October 1st, 2020

I’m trying to figure out how I feel about thew news that Trump has COVID.

While I’ll be the first to admit that him dying of the disease that he helped spread would be a very poetic end, I also suspect I’d find it deeply unsatisfying. This is partially because I have two entirely contradictory thoughts about it – one of which I wish I didn’t have, because it speaks to me having a flaw that seems to be common to humans, and the other which I think most people would agree is reasonable.

The first thought is a desire to see him punished for the massive harm he’s done to our world and the people in it. While it’s true Trump hasn’t hurt as many people as Dubya, he has hurt millions and millions of people and made the world a less safe and less desirable to live in place. I generally don’t think we should punish people, although we should set them up for situations that invite rehabilitation, but there is a part of me that wants Trump to get repeatedly beaten by the very cops he told to be more violent when arresting people, and wants him to hear the slam of the jail cell and feel the steel bracelets and know that ultimately he did not get away with it. I don’t really like what this thought says about me – I know that anger is a reasonable response to being hurt and Trump has hurt us all, but I also don’t think it does any good for anyone to hurt back simply because we’ve been hurt.

The second thought is a desire for redemption for Trump. I want some sort of Hollywood-style character arc where he learns and grows, and if he dies now that becomes impossible – whereas if he lives through COVID but faces some of the fears that I would imagine are associated with having it and realizes some of what he’s done to the world maybe he can be a tiny smidge less self centered and less horrible in the future. I think this is something we should all want for each other.

Anyway, for the second reason I am going to wish him a full recovery but hopefully enough of a symptomatic experience to learn some things.

Evidence against Christianity

October 1st, 2020

So, of the things that I ponder, ‘what if I’m wrong?’ about, probably the biggest one is religion. However, I was pondering various things that are strong arguments against Christianity – well, in particular, the idea of God.

One very strong argument against a moral intelligent designer is cancer. Cancer would easily be preventable by having our DNA switch between a mode where mutations were possible, for evolutionary purposes, during initial mitosis, and a mode where a CRC is applied to it rather than the simple checksum that currently exists, for runtime purposes. Cancer would be basically impossible.

Now, one can imagine arguments for the experience of earth – a few that have occured to me include that we need something to compare utopia with in order to enjoy it and we sometimes want a challenge, and also the classic ‘this is a configuration screwup’ possibility. It also has occured to me – and I think it’s actually probably pretty likely – that we exist as a side effect of some other process and we’re not actually supposed to exist at all, therefore any system administrators that might exist in the universe have no idea we’re here.

Anyway, it’s also possible we have a incompetent God. But what we clearly *do not* have is a ethical, omnipotent, omnicient God who loves us.

Another good indicator of this is the plethora of religions, many of which encourage awful behavior. Even Christianity apparently failed to stop a number of atrocities of being done in its name, including:

1) The crusades
2) Criminalization of not believing in Christianity – in the middle ages, I would have been put to death for failure to believe. Of course, in the USA, we did something very similar in the 50s with McCarthy
3) Repeated repression of anyone who behaves in “un-christian” ways, including criminalization of things which should not be illegal just because Christians don’t like them

But, beyond this, all these “There can be only one” religions increase the risk of wars – and they’re not likely to all be true. And it would be pretty horrific if they were. Since all the “there can only be one” religions have different tenants, they can’t all be true (well, barring certain multiple reality possibilities).

It is a interesting question, though – God might just believe in freedom of the press. And not care how many people get hurt. but that makes the claim of being omniscient, omnipotent, and loving us again seem unlikely.

Part of the political picture

October 1st, 2020

So, from where I sit, the left is currently concerned about the right because the right is making decisions that may well lead to the extinction of the human race – no, global warming isn’t going to kill us, but the attitude the right has towards our ecosystem very likely will sooner or later – you can only knock so many steps out of the food chain before something crashes, and beyond that our increasing population and attempt at a increasing economic level of production is going to sooner or later break our ecosystem and leave us dead.

From the right’s perspective, the left is taking away too much money from them. Looking at the actual numbers and more importantly resources consumed, it’s largely the military that’s bankrupting us all, but from the right’s perspective as I understand it it’s largely social security – we should be paying in but not taking money out. (Yes, the right’s media spins it as if we’re spending more money on social services than anything else by pointing to medicare, medicaid, and social security.. something we all pay for, so they’re basically counting money we banked in order to use later as money we paid as taxes. Dishonesty, as I think I’ve mentioned before, is a hallmark of the right. The thing is, it wasn’t always. At one point they were just of the point of view that small government led to the most freedom and the best user experience. And then, things happened.

Anyway, my point is, the left has our continued survival as a primary concern where the right has money. (Well, to be fair, they also sell the idea that we should be deeply afraid of immigrants – something that statistics do not bear out, as immigrants statistically are far more law abiding than citizens. In general, statistics are not the strong suit of the right)

Anyway, is it any wonder that the right must increasingly lie and cheat to even keep people attached to their point of view? Or that those of us on the left increasingly think that adherence to the right with the right in it’s current state – defending white supremacy, destroying key functions of our government like the post office, blatantly flip-flopping on rules like “we shouldn’t appoint judges right before a election” .. “unless the election might cost us seats” in other words displaying no honor at all – causes those of us on the left to at this point think people on the right are, well, basically, not very good people?

I realize that on the right, they *must be* brainwashed. They don’t see that their party is no longer the party of small government, but rather now is the party of blatant evil. And I know they are sold the idea that we are the evil ones – often by actually taking things the right is doing and attributing them to the left. However, given the cost of failure and the inability to reach them, it is more and more difficult to maintain friendship with the people on the right knowing that they support the abuse of immigrants, they support the robbing of the US coffers to help billionaires, they support prioritizing corporations over people, they support prioritizing economic growth over the continued survival of the human race.. I think my point here is clear. Their economic policy doesn’t even make any sense – they demonize socialism while ignoring the fact that automation is making it increasingly difficult to even think about giving everyone a job – and we at the moment have many, many makework jobs in a pathetic attempt to try and duct-tape our old views about economic theory into continuing to function beyond their usefulness. Some form of collectivism is the only sane way forward.

Part of what’s impressive here is how far people will go to defend the brand they’re loyal to. The alternate possibility is that my connection with reality has severed and I’m experiencing local generation of reality with an extremist point of view and a epicly broken political situation. (In which case I’m not sure if we’re looking at me having died and now being in hell or if we’re looking at a extreme configuration screw-up)

..

October 1st, 2020

One thing that I do worry about, post the previous post, is what absolutely wrong beliefs *my* mind is defending. No real way to know, either.

Variations on a theme : protecting incorrect core beliefs in a NNN

September 30th, 2020

So, I’ve been reading Thinking Fast And Slow, which talks about several things that I’ve already thought about considerably, but from the perspective of considerably more research than I’ve done about them. One of the things it’s underlined for me is the idea that our brains have both configuration that is still flexible and configuration that has been compiled – well, actually hardwired, via interconnections between neurons – so that it can run at sub-second speeds. As a musician I am trying very hard to make the connection between the music I imagine and what my fingers do be built this way – at the moment, it is for my right hand but not for my left.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been thinking about is the right wing’s continued defense of Trump even though he’s obviously a abomination. One of my friends, out of ways to defend Trump directly, has a never-ending series of ad-hominem attacks for Biden. This is the same friend who was once talking about how we shouldn’t have government healthcare because it could involve the government paying for a citizen’s mistake even though he’s only alive because the government assisted him after he did something fairly boneheaded.

So I’ve been thinking about that, and about how we parrot the statements of our peers and the talking heads on the television without thinking about them, and part of what I’m contemplating is that we may do such things as part of the process that defends our core beliefs even when we know they’re wrong.

See, it takes a certain amount of neurochemical resources to rebalance our neural networks – one of the things that ends up happening is that subnets that become a large nexus point between interconnects are still relevant even if they represent a belief that’s been disproved, because other firing patterns still pass through them. Now, of course, as with things like a closed-head injury, there are systems in place to arrange for alternate wiring, however that process must be pace-limited by the fact that it’s actually consuming resources – making wiring connections between neurons in a human brain is *not* free – *firing* is not even free, it involves uptake of chemicals that must later be released and so there’s a limited amount of it that can happen for any given amount of time.

As a result, I would imagine we have evolved defense mechanisms that will protect core beliefs that large amounts of neural circuitry are routing through *even when we ourselves know they are wrong*. I wonder if that’s part of what’s going on with my friend, since the alternative involves him having a deep lack of self-awareness.

I also wonder – one of the things in general that’s difficult to absorb and understand about the right is how they can over and over see their cherished points of view being obviously proved false (the laffer curve, for example) and then go back ot them. ANd I wonder how much of that is the above phenomenon, and what sorts of checks and balances one needs to have in place to correct for the fact that humans will cling to beliefs that are provably wrong.

One part of what’s going on with this election is that people on the right are accusing nearly all news channels of being ‘fake news’ – so they are living in a alternate reality where Trump isn’t a evil bastard who steals from vendors and from the american people, is in massive debt, has routinely acted abysmally towards woman, is probably a white supremacist, and lies constantly. Instead, everything the media says is “leftist lies”. Now part of what’s alarming to me is this demonstrates they have no memory, because we can point to things like Trump’s handling of COVID as demonstrating that he’s making statements that provably turn out not to be true in ways we can all remember. What’s also alarming is even after Trump completely flubs COVID due to treating it kind of like the right treats global warming, the right will continue to go on about the “global warming hoax” – even though other science-y things demonstrated the scientists were right, they won’t recognize the pattern and start to listen to science. These people are not in touch with reality and they don’t know it and (possibly because of the above) there is no way to put them in touch with reality. I am not sure what the solution is going forward but I am starting to think freedom of the press should be slightly abridged such that things like Fox and Friends must actively say at the beginning of each show “This is entertainment only. We are going to lie to you. None of what we are saying is true.” or some such.

Point Of View

September 28th, 2020

So, as I currently see it, Earth is deteriorating and humans are likely to be extinct inside a century, with the question of whether they take most other forms of life with them a open one. I see corruption and stupidity as winning over and over, especially in government, I see the way governments treat citizens as between awful (USA) and horrific (China), I see the general direction as steadily more dystopic.

One open question though is, is this actually the state of the world, or is this the state of my input filters that define my experience of the world? I’m definitely open to the idea that I may be creating hell out of heaven – I know that my mind has some configuration issues (understatement) and also that it has more than enough capacity to do such a thing. One thing that gets interesting for me in political discussions is that I have yet to meet a conservative smart enough to understand that what they’re experiencing may not actually be reality. (The number of people who can cope with this idea that I know is fairly small)

It is one possible explanation for the massive split between republicans and democrats – it’s not that we’re living two different types of lives, it’s that we’re living in two different, but congruent realities. This is clearly true, with the open question being whether those two different realities are out there in the universe or inside our own heads. One thing I’d say in general is that republicans tend to be less moral than democrats, while they tend to point at their morality more. This may be a pragmatic requirement of the reality they inhabit – or this may not be true of the individuals themselves and just true of the experience I have of them once it’s gone past my input filters.

Of course, another explanation is just that humans are programmable and there’s a lot of blatantly lying propaganda out there to try to push people towards voting for the right because the right is the setup that lets Betsy Devos leave almost every child behind so we can have another generation of Donald Trumps – not to mention the right is the setup that lets the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

 

 

Monopolies

September 28th, 2020

So, back in the day, the US used to  discourage monopolies and anti-consumer behavior. Lately we’ve come to cheer them on (for example Microsoft is now allowed to treat the situation as if it is their computer and you are just borrowing it with their operating systems that make it nearly impossible for a nontechnical person to turn off automatic updates)

One place that this is especially visible to me is in our political system. A honest anti-monopoly government would break up the democrats and republicans as each having a monopoly.

 

We need a new religion

September 28th, 2020

So, one of the things I’ve talked about a number of times is that we need a new neurological operating system, a new way of seeing the world. I’ve talked about how possessions and experiences could be created out of connections between neurons instead of physical objects, vastly reducing our load on the planet. We certainly could experience lucid dreaming to reality levels of realism, and thusly at least have some portion of time in which we all lived like kings. And one would hope that we could build neurological structures that were such that we did not behave horribly.

 

Simply put, my experience with a lot of religious people is that they can not practice what they preach. This demonstrates that our current religions are a failure insofar as changing people’s behaviors – they enable people to make lofty pronouncements – and they bend people’s minds such that they feel they should be allowed to make laws and rules controlling the behavior of others – but they don’t stop people from being awful.

 

This is probably because the religious structures live in the “storyteller” part of our minds, not the “decision tree” part of our minds. Most compiled decision trees are made out of actions, not out of words.

 

I do not, as of yet, know how we’re going to create this new religion.  I suspect what we need is a singularity – which in this case (and yes I know there are many uses for the word) I use to mean a neural network smarter than human. A artificially created God, because there does not appear to be any natural God I would trust available to us.

 

It’s also possible we will achieve said singularity naturally by developing the technology that enables us to network human minds together to make something larger than a single mind.

 

One thing I do keep in mind is pastors of the current religions exist to continue keeping the donation buckets full, not to lead us to spiritual enlightenment – just as politicians exist to continue getting money and power, not to lead us to political utopia. This may illustrate that when money gets involved subconscious motives change. I think almost all of the religious people I know who I felt were true to their faith were not paid to be religious – even though one of them was a pastor I believe he was a volunteer.

“Why should we listen to entertainers?”

September 27th, 2020

From time to time people speak bitterly of the political messages embedded in music from bands like U2 and the Beatles, and ask why they have to foray into politics instead of just sticking to the music. This is often coupled with asking why we should be listening to the political views of entertainers.

 

I have a number of thoughts on this, which I will attempt to enumerate a few of.

  1. I’m not sure that we should be. But certainly as someone who writes music I feel I should be free to write music about my opinions about political matters
  2. If we should be, the reasons are as follows:

I am someone who has done a lot of things, and I consider myself to be – based on feedback from my friends and apparent comparison with my peers – at the top 2% of intelligence for humanity and the top 10% of drive to do things. My income is in the top 2% for my country (but not the top 1%, which would require two orders of magnitude more income – see elsewhere for discussions about this). I am a fairly capable dude.

Therefore perhaps you will believe me when I tell you that learning to play a instrument at virtuoso level – not something I have yet achieved, but something I expect to achieve in the next couple of years – is the hardest thing I have ever attempted. That’s one reason – they have proven, by dint of their capacity to perform, that they have discipline and dedication.

Another reason is that of course they are a member of the human family and either everybody counts or nobody does.

But to go beyond that, let’s ask the logical questions – why should we listen to the political views of newscasters, who are hired to have great hair and sound sincere even when they’re lying? Why should we listen to the political views of *politicians*, who for the most part only got to be politicians by winning a popularity contest and for the most part are politicians because it’s easier than working for a living. (I make exceptions for people like Brian Leeper, who became a politician to fix a specific problem and did indeed fix it – you find people like this all the time in local politics but a lot less in national politics – a future essay of mine may be about the evil that is  Big Politics, which is possibly worse than Big Pharma, Big Health, and Big Oil put together – it certainly enables them to do things like killing millions of innocents in order to secure access to oil, or routinely charging tens of thousands of times the cost of production for life-saving technologies that should not even be patentable)

I guess I will listen at least somewhat to the political messages of everyone from The Who to Pink Floyd to U2 because I feel like those people had to work pretty hard to get the skills to do what they do and in the process of acquiring discipline they may also have become somewhat less of nitwits than the average man on the street. I also think they tend to be very well travelled as a side effect of their career choice, and I think travel also opens the mind.

Talking Heads

September 27th, 2020

So, one of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot is how susceptible we are to viewpoint hijacking by talking heads.

It’s built into our hardware to decode and interpret facial expressions – which are the same in every human all around the world – and because of reasons talked about elsewhere when discussing Milgrim, most prevalently that individual subnets have no way to know whether a data source is internal or external – when those talking heads project a attitude of trustworthy authority, as many a talking head on the fake-news-as-entertainment shows loves to do (i.e. Fox and Friends), we subconsciously absorb their content with applying anything like enough criticism.

I think this partially explains how the right wing politicians in America manage to thrive despite repeatedly acting against the best interests of humanity in general and the electorate in particular.

I do not, as a rule, get my news from video sources, because I noticed how I started finding myself agreeing with whatever video source I tuned into, and also how many supposed “news” sources are in fact either heavily spinning the truth to project their own viewpoint or in some cases outright lying. Interestingly enough, it’s far more often the right that I catch doing this than the left (although certainly I can cite examples for both).

Anyway, this does partially explain how so many people who ought to know better are supporting the blatant acts of evil that are the behavior of the republican party since Nixon. It does, however, get extra disturbing when they start parroting the talking points of same when said talking points *obviously* apply to them. The people who are only alive because of medicare talking about the evils of single-payer or universal health care, for example. “The government shouldn’t have to pay for people who make mistakes” says the person who is only alive because the government does, for example. In general I find this attitude awful – “We shouldn’t share. We should be selfish and therefore *all* lead worse lives because we’re all connected. I’ve got mine, screw you. Or, I didn’t get mine, screw you.”

I do wonder to what extent the trumpanzees are going to be screaming “fake news” this morning as they discover Dear Leader is horribly in debt (and that doesn’t even include the off-the-books money he owes to the russian mob) and if he was re-elected would be the first sitting president to be foreclosed upon. A friend of mine used to talk about what a brilliant businessperson Trump was, and all I could do was be impressed at the brainwashing. (Brilliant business people generally don’t rack up quite as many court cases and bankruptcies as Trump – not to mention that if Trump had simply placed the money from his father in a standard mutual fund he would be far richer than he is now. He is a *impressively* bad businessman.)

I was encouraged to see that Swexit failed. My hope is that the pendulum of stupidity, having swung a absurd degree towards the awful, is again swinging back.