First music post of 2020 : The River

February 3rd, 2020

Here we have my favorite Springsteen song – The River, covered by me. 😉

The River

The challenges of conditional virginity

January 30th, 2020

So, those of you who have talked to me about my ideas for a neural operating system to enable humans to experience much greater freedom with the same resources know that one of the things that I’ve talked about is ‘conditional virginity’, or perhaps ‘programmable virginity’ – the ability to forget something you’ve learned so you can experience it for the first time again, but only temporarily so you can compare the two experiences. Now, while human experiential memory is well suited for this kind of stunt, the way we learn decision trees (and muscle memory) *really* is not – both because these things involve more than one system in the brain and also because of the way they are stored – for obvious reasons they are indexed against need, not against when and how they were learned. So you can never *really* achieve beginner mind again once you’ve learned about something because even if you were to lose the memory of the first experience you would not lose the decision trees you built the first time you had the experience. And maybe this is just as well – I’ve been reading about a form of degenerative disease similar to alzheimers except involving the decision trees instead of the memory, and it sounds terrifying. I imaghine you would experience it almost as if someone else were driving the bus instead of you.. which does underline the fact that the part of us that is making the decisions and the part of us that is having the experience are two different things, and I’m still not at all sure if the part of us that is making the decisions doesn’t occasionally slide in a totally false experience on the part of us that is “on the ride”. It seems like this would have a distinct evolutionary advantage.

Simulation, Virtualization, On the iron?

January 24th, 2020

So, I had a long series of conversations with someone on my recent Africa adventure about whether or not we are living in a simulation. Most of you already know that I have noticed that both evolution and intelligent design would discover virtualization fairly early on as a way to do a lot more with the same resources. Virtualization opens a lot of doors vs. running ‘on the iron’ – we already know that we have some virtualization features, such as dreaming and imagining possibilities, but I think it likely that we probably go a good deal further than that.

One of the thoughts i had never been struck by before which struck me on this particular version of enumerating the age-old discussion was that humans do not really have instincts to speak of – so one appropriate use of virtualization is to build the neural structures necessary to survive before we meet the real world. It’s quite possible that we’re still in our mother’s womb, living through recordings of various situations so we can build the neurological structures and be ready to deal with the real world, which may be far stranger and wilder than anything we’ve experienced thus far. When you think about it, if evolution hasn’t already found this, it’s a bit of surprise, because surely the child that experiences training simulations in-womb is going to have a *far* higher survival score than the child who does not.

Anyway, one can think of a number of scenarios in which simulation or virtualization would be a winning strategy – if we’re the product of intelligent design we’re almost certainly inside a virtualization envelope, because it protects the designer from us. One amusing possibility that’s occurred to me is that we may be the result of someone trying to develop a really accurate video game that simulates life forms – so accurate that those life forms turn out to experience the world as real. It would be, it seems to me, a easy mistake to make.

The psychology of stated truth

January 24th, 2020

So, I recently went on a African safari – a lot more about this later, including pictures and the like – most of the trip was amazing, but it did have a few disturbing moments. Today I’m going to talk about the one in which someone asserted a number of untruths as facts.

The whole thing started because I was talking about the opiod epidemic and mentioned marijuana in a list of “relatively harmless” drugs. Someone at the table I was at – and this person will remain nameless, but I’m fairly sure they have a significant mental illness – asserted that MJ had killed many, many people.

It came out that his sister was killed by a drunk driver who also had MJ in his system. And, I agreed with a couple of his points, which I’ll get to later – but he kept asserting increasingly obviously fictional, increasingly disturbing statistics.

Now, I’m generally disposed to believe things people present as facts, with the obvious exception of certain political figures who I know lie constantly and without limit. It wasn’t until he stated something directly opposed to personal experience and also widely reported group experience that I realized that he was, in fact, insane. Or else trolling me, but I prefer to believe insanity.

I do feel for him that he lost someone he loved. I do feel confident that he totally misidentified the root cause – the root cause is humans driving cars – we really shouldn’t drive cars, we’re not good a it – and the secondary contributing cause would be the alcohol. MJ earns tertiary status.

I finally told him to drop it – which is rather out of character for me, but once I had done some internet searches and confirmed that the things he was saying were not true, I found it *very* disturbing to listen to him talking about the subject because I knew he was injecting false information into my mind. I suspect he’s got a cohort of anti-MJ friends who egg him on and tell him things that *he* believes are true, although it’s possible that he makes all this stuff up himself. I also am fairly sure he didn’t *know* the things he was telling me weren’t true – but he certainly wasn’t ready to listen to a dissenting opinion. He was not in general willing to let anyone get a word in edgewise.

I’m sure I have been that person in terms of talking too much. I hope I haven’t been the one presenting utter fiction as fact.

Part of what I found interesting is how, as I listened to him, his point of view which was opposite of mine seemed more reasonable and plausible until he made statements which were clearly and obviously false, at which point I found listening to him frustrating and alarming. I do hope he finds whatever help he needs – I seem to know a lot of people that start to throw the baby out with the bathwater after losing a sister. (I am not sure if I’ve written about why I am absolutely against Marsy’s law for all, but that would be another example of someone pushing for a excessive solution because their sister died)

Anyway, I kept running web searches to verify that the “facts” he was telling me weren’t. One of the thoughts I of course had is it’s possible I am the insane one, and my mind was swapping out the text the web sites were returning with the text that I expected to see. But there’s no way to tell if that’s the case. It’s possible he and I live in two different universes and in his all the things he said are true. Again, no good way to know.

Another thing I noticed is he has the typical disease of certain lawmakers and other individuals of thinking that addicts are worthless and should be jailed for life or killed at the first convenient moment. I of course understand both that many addicts are also our most creative people, and that history owes much to people who were flawed in that particular way. But, see elsewhere, the people who tend to end up in power are the worst of us – because the best of us generally don’t want power over anyone but themselves. And probably thus will it ever be. I can only hope my insane table-mate doesn’t end up with any political power, because I have no doubt that he would make the world a worse place.

OK, to bring this back home to the original topic.. one of the weaknesses of the way humans are put together, as we know from the Milgram effect, is we tend to trust authority more than we should. Authority apparently can be something as simple as speaking in a authoritarian tone of voice. This is alarming because it means I might have many “facts” stored which aren’t, simply because they were spoken in a authoritarian tone. He *really* had to say something obviously not true (he stated that MJ has no medicinal value and that the idea that it is one of the best anti-nausea substances we know of was completely false – of course part of his defense of that statement was that it was listed as something to use only when all else had failed – which I’m not surprised, big pharma doesn’t make much of a profit on MJ. I note that TMS for PTSD sufferers is also listed as something to use only when all else has failed, whereas I would use it as one of the first things I would attempt. Big Pharma owns the medical industry and has no ethics at all. but we all already know that, and I digress..)

One other interesting thing to take away – if he had let it go after our first discussion, I would have researched it much more heavily than I am now likely to. I am pretty thoroughly convinced that adding MJ to the list of legal drugs has gained us far more (in terms of bright, creative, helpful people we are no longer putting in jail) than it has cost us (traffic fatalities might go up by a few)

I will mention there are a few points he made that I agree with – 1) You shouldn’t drive when stoned. It does increase your RT. 2) You DEFINITELY should not even THINK about driving when stoned and drunk. I don’t know exactly what that would do, but nothing good. 3) We are breeding more and more potent weed, and we should think about whether that’s really such a hot idea.

As you all know, I don’t partake myself so I don’t really have a horse in this race, other than a number of my friends do and I don’t think any of them belong in jail. I actually think the people *putting* them in jail are the people who belong in jail.

More movie-soundtrack music

December 25th, 2019

Heavy Christmas

Greensleeves

December 21st, 2019

For those of you in a holiday mood..

Greensleeves

Major Mellow G

December 1st, 2019

I’ve been playing a lot with the blues in my repeated attempts to get my left hand a little more into the game. As a side effect, I ended up writing this piece, hope you all enjoy it:

Major Mellow G

Broken Oar

November 17th, 2019

So, I’ve got several things in the pipeline, but here’s a cover that should take at least a few of my friends *waaay* back:

Sheer Covers Emmet Swimming – Broken Oar

To the Tune of “The Phony King Of England”

October 13th, 2019

Oh, the world will sing of a american King a thousand years from now
And not because he made america great or lofted some great wall
While bonny good sir Bernie leads the great crusade he’s on,
We’ll all have to slave away for good for nothing Don.
Incredible as he is inept, whenever the history books are kept
they’ll call him the con man of new england.
A pox on the con man of new england..

He sits alone on a giant throne pretendin’ he’s the king
A little tyke who’s rather like russia’s puppet on a string
And he throws an angry tweet storm if he cannot have his way…

And then he calls fake news while he’s suckin’ his thumb
You see, he doesn’t want to play

Too late to be known as Trump the First
He’s sure to be known as Trump the worst
A pox on that con man from New England!
Lay that country on me, babe!

While he taxes us to pieces to pay for his golf game
Bernie and Warren keep reminding us that the man’s insane
Ah! But while there is a merry man in Bernie’s wily pack
We’ll find a way to make him pay
And steal the election back
A minute before he knows we’re there…
We’ll find proof he cheated everwyhere

The breezy and uneasy con man of New England
The snivellin’, grovellin’
Measly, weasely
Blabberin’, jabberin’
Gibberin’, jabberin’
Blunderin’, plunderin’
Wheelin’, dealin’
Don The Con, that phony thief of New England
Yeah!

Guest music post: Bunnerabb – Lips Like Sugar

October 10th, 2019

So, from time to time we like to post things that feature musicians who are friends of mine or work with me or both. This track is by Bunnerabb, who more often appears credited in the recording and mixdown portion of things. I quite like it, though.

Lips Like Sugar