The police – thoughts

September 5th, 2020

So, I’ve had a number of interactions with the police. More, I would say, than the average person, by a fair amount.

On the positive side of the ledger, my next door neighbor growing up was a police officer – as far as I know, he never fired his weapon at anyone and he retired from the force with honors – despite policing Washington, DC, one of the rougher cities out there at the time. It’s difficult for me to imagine him a white supremacist, or him enacting or condoning violence. Without knowing exactly how I know this, I have this belief that he was a good cop.

Another example I would cite is the car artist Speedycop – I’ve never met him in person but we have a lot of friends in common and we have conversed. Whenever I think of him, I think of the scene in Pirates Of The Carribean where James Norrington says “This is a beautiful sword. I would expect the man who made it to show the same care and devotion in every aspect of his life”. It may not be rational, but the beautiful and carefully executed artwork of Speedycop makes me suspect he is a good cop, and my interactions with him reinforce that belief.

On the other side of that equation, I’ve had police lie in reports about me, I’ve had police utterly convinced I was high even as I explained to them that I was experiencing a transient manic episode – I at one point begged them to take my blood in the hopes that analyzing it would reveal what was going wrong hormonally that I was experiencing semi-blackout mania. They tested for drugs, but no extra blood was taken for research purposes. I will say on the positive side of that that one police officer was clearly planning on beating me and another cop relocated me to his cruiser in order to separate me from that individual.

I’ve never been beaten by the cops, but once they came to my door in long beach, accused me of being a squatter, and *threatend* to beat me. They’ve aimed guns at me numerous times. If I were black, I’d already be dead.

Anyway, the point is, I don’t want to live in a world completely without police, but I think a world in which the police were better trained and less well armed would certainly be a better one. They shouldn’t be *able* to tear gas nonviolent protesters for weeks on end, because they *shouldn’t have that much tear gas*. Clearly they’ve been getting too many tax dollars. They shouldn’t have quasi-miliary equipment, and they should have a *lot* of training in de-esclation.

One valid point that the police have made is that you don’t i.e. blame all doctors for one bad doctor, or all plumbers for one bad plumber. On the other paw, the police are different. Plumbers don’t generally kill people with no consequences, for example.

I really don’t know what the right answers are. But something badly needs to change.

Anger

September 3rd, 2020

So, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with anger lately – partially over Trump and his destruction of the post office, which has always been one of my favorite American institutions, and partially over the number of people who totally half-ass things I seem to run into lately.

For example, I recently ordered a replacement 200 amp breaker on Amazon for the one that has a stripped lug, and I got sent a 125 amp breaker. I asked for a prepaid return label, and the shipper wants to refund my money *after* they see the breaker. I sent them a photo of it, we’ll see if that helps any..

I’m also angry over conservatives in general and how they value money over life – watching this COVID situation has really underlined for me how conservatives think that people should die so their bank accounts can get fatter. (Of course, Trump retweeting that the only good democrat is a dead democrat also underlined for me that if Trump could get away with it, he’d shoot me and take all my money, and apparently his followers embrace this idea as well)

It does kind of make me wonder if where we’re heading is Trump announcing “Go kill all the democrats. If you are a rural american, take your gun into the cities and shoot everyone you can, especially people who aren’t white.”

I’m sure it would earn him a lot of points with some voters. Of course, the police already do this to a certain extent – and Trump did tell them to please be more violent when busting people.

Anyway, it’s difficult not to be angry about the current policial system – as far as I can tell, evil has triumphed. I can’t fathom the Christians who think Trump is the second coming – I mean, how many lies do we think Jesus told? They do say the devil is the father of lies, which suggests to me if Trump has any spiritual connections in the Christian framework, it’s with the devil.

Milestones

September 3rd, 2020

So, today marked the confluence of several milestones – first of all, the hour meter that I installed on July 27th hit 100 hours – there’s rumors that to truly master something takes 10,000 hours and my best guess is that I’m at about 8500 for playing keys – of course, this is counting both practice on keys and guitar..

Another milestone is that I measure 10-hour increments of guitar practice by needing to recharge the wireless sender, this is my third ten-hour increment since I started using wireless guitar kit in may.

I think there was a third one, too, but I’m not currently thinking of it. I continue to work regularly at things, though.

In defense of God being a neural network

September 1st, 2020

So, I have been assured by someone on facebook that God is not a neural network, that God is “pure spirit, eternal and changeless”. That may be literally true, but it requires one to ignore certain parts of the Bible.

Which is fine with me – I mean, I place the probability at “very high” that the bible is a work of fiction anyway.. but it isn’t fine with the Bible.

I just recently ran across another example of the bible talking about God making a mistake. Of course, this one is more than a little creepy because the mistake was creating humanity.. (yes, this religion is *really* good for people’s mental health.. you were one of God’s mistakes)

The verse in question is Genesis 6:6 and thereabouts, and in it, God declares he regrets having ever made man.

Now, one amusing explanation for the predicament we all find ourselves in is that God is actually a junior deity – he *thought* he was in charge of everything until he started acting in tremendously immoral ways, and then he got told he wasn’t allowed to do that, and that’s why we never hear from the guy any more. But I digress.

Anyway, to “regret” something sounds like having made a error – having missed the mark – yes, that’s God there, confessing to sin. Oops, guess that pretty much blows the “spirit, eternal and unchanging” possibility out of the water.

But then, God’s declaration that man is awful does work rather well if you’re a preacher and you want a good excuse for being paid to “save people’s souls”. It works out rather less well if you’re a rational being who does not in fact think any of his crimes rise to the level of eternal torment or deletion. (Of course, there have been times when I’ve wanted to be deleted.. now doesn’t really seem to be one of them)

Working out

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

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.

Work

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

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?

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?

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.