Archive for the ‘The Big Picture’ Category

What’s going on

Wednesday, June 7th, 2023

MY best guess, at the moment, about what’s “going on” i.e. why are we here and why is stuff so broken, is as follows.

I believe that infinity and eternity would get awfully boring without a infinite number of entertaining and interesting things to do. One of those things I imagine is building new worlds. I think we are in a world in which the bodies we are wearing were designed using a evolutionary algorithm, as are the minds we are using to do our thinking. I think whatever we are, we can move between neural networks (and possibly other types of information processing systems) and bodies. We decided to build a world.

The world we’re currently working on is probably a very early alpha. It has serious playability problems, serious bugs, etc. But.. in the eternal perspective, that’s part of the joy. We’re the dev team. We’re trying to build memetics and bodies that are great to experience so the players can come in. Things have Gone Wrong, as they so often do when you’re developing software that people experience as reality, and we’re trying to sort it out.

All the world’s religions are a work in process. They’re supposed to enable specific ways of thinking and seeing the world. They’re all buggy, because this is a early beta or possibly they were also created using evolutionary algorithms.

We’re gonna do better in a future revision.

That’s my best guess.


Monday, June 5th, 2023

I post this, because people seem to keep forgetting. We don’t put companies together to make money. We put companies together to meet the needs of the employees and customers. They do make money – I think I’ve mentioned that money as implemented is a fundamentally broken idea and should be scrapped – but if they ever become *all* about making money, they die shortly thereafter, although they can do horrible amounts of damage first.

One thing I’ve noticed in life

Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

So, this one is a little alarming insofar as I am going to have to think very carefully if I ever find myself accusing anyone of anything – and I definitely have been known to accuse the odd work college of not caring at all about doing their job right, Dunning-Kruger, etc.

It seems likely that most of the time when people accuse someone else of something, they themselves are guilty of it. This may well fit into we are able to see our own faults best in other people. I mean, I’d noticed this in republicans, but lately I’m starting to notice that it’s more than just that.

Google is officially evil, pt 2

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

So, once upon a time Google had in their corporate charter “Don’t be evil”. They removed it. Unsurprisingly, evil ensued.

One clear indication that they have become evil is that they are laying people off. They’re profitable – they have plenty of money – but they’re happily throwing employees under the bus so they can have more money. This is evil behavior.

I do not actually believe it’s possible to be a publicly traded company in America and not be evil, because of minority shareholder lawsuits. As long as shareholders can sue and win for companies not taking the most profitable path no matter how much damage it does, publicly traded companies will repeatedly behave in evil ways.

In general I think companies need some sharp reminders from us as workers and consumers that they *do not exist to make money*. Making money is a side effect – companies exist to *do things* – and as a side effect take care of their employees. We need to make sure the bosses accept that taking care of the employees is more important than the board of directors buying another yacht.

Am I being too hard on Elon Musk?

Thursday, December 1st, 2022

So, over the years my opinion of Elon has varied a number of times. Obviously we’ve got a lot of things in common, and there was definitely a week or so where I would have considered myself a muskrat and defended him. But increasingly I’ve been disappointed – both by the sense that he’s not as bright as I thought he was and by the sense that he’s a horrible human being and not someone who should be put in charge of decision making.

So, reasons I’m hard on Elon lately:

1) The hyperloop. It was never going to work. Anyone who’s worked with hard vacuum themselves would have already intuitively known why it wasn’t going to work. It underlines that Elon’s never actually gotten his hands dirty building stuff in the real world – I’m not even sure if he’s done any coding.

2) Taking the radar out of the tesla. If Elon were a little brighter, he’d recognize that while humans can navigate and operate vehicles without extra senses, we have a 100b neuron neocortex supervising our 8b or so visual cortex to make sure that common sense gets applied to the output. People have already died because the Tesla can’t tell grey semi from grey sky. Elon is willing to have people die to save a few bucks – and doesn’t seem to recognize that SDR will get cheaper and cheaper as it’s widely mass produced because it’s literally made out of sand – but every single human cannot possibly have a price tag placed on them and what their loss would cost us.

3) Having more children than he can possibly provide good entrainment signals for, despite the fact that he himself was abused. Clearly not interested in breaking the cycle of abuse.

4) Believing we need *more* humans, when we’re not clear on where we’re going to get the water and food and whatnot for the ones we have, and we’re not clear how to make earth not a dystopia for the ones we have

5) Increasingly I’ve come to suspect Elon is really good at selling how brilliant Elon is, but less good at actually making stuff work. He’s clearly abusive to the people he works with, and he’s also clearly *not* prioritizing a good outcome for humanity over stroking his own ego. He doesn’t care about ruining people’s lives, and is willing to hurt them – and fire them – for no particular good reason. He also fails to give good positive feedback for successes. Elon is a bad leader.

6) He doesn’t care about anyone but Elon. he didn’t have any kind of worldwide vote before filling the sky with his ISP, for example, and he’s not concerned about the impact on radio telescopes. He also hasn’t asked himself the question about whether it’s really a good thing for humanity for us to be reachable everywhere

7) He seems to surround himself with yes-men. This means he doesn’t get people telling him, for example, the hyperloop is not a good idea.

8) He overpromises and underdelivers. (He has that in common with Nicolai Tesla). I can point out everything from the vegas tunnel to the cybertruck.

9) He doesn’t do a good job of triaging, and he takes on more than he can do a good job at. Hm, me too.

On the other paw. No one is perfect. He’s done more to promote electric vehicle transition than anyone else I can name, and I think he deserves credit for that. TSLA made a car, but Elon contributed to making it sexy, and making it sell. If he doesn’t always knock it out of the park, well, at least he’s still swinging. And, I hope he doesn’t stop. There might be people that I would wish weren’t with us any more, but Elon is definitely not one of them. I wish he would grow – but I’m glad he’s here and hope he stays.

My final verdict is yes, I am too hard on Elon Musk. I should leave Facebook threads about him alone and stick to achieving my own goals. There’s nothing to be gained by tearing him down and there’s far, far worse people in the world if I want to criticize.

I am really glad I am not Elon. I would imagine he probably is really glad he is not me. I prefer to steer the ship from the rear of the pack – like Buckminster Fuller, I am a trim tab, a very small thing which makes enormous waves a long way away. He prefers to steer the ship from the front. But, one man’s heaven is another man’s hell, and it was ever thus.

Denatured alcohol – a clear case of money is more important than people

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

So, I was watching Call The Midwife the other day and they had someone who was dying from being a broke alcoholic who was drinking methylated spirits – aka denatured alcohol. And I had a interesting realization – we do often see places where humanity chooses money over people’s lives – a recent example was Tesla removing the radar from self-driving EVs, increasing undoubtedly the number of people who will die so that Tesla can make slightly larger profits. And of course we get outraged in cases where this is done.. like the Ford Pinto.

But.. denatured alcohol is a clear case of us deciding killing people is acceptable if the alternative is threatening the government’s profit. There’s no reasonable reason for denaturing alcohol.. other than, it enables us to sell alcohol and know it will only be used for sterilization. The reason this matters is that there’s a huge tax on alcohol. We do the same thing with kerosene – we sell it for heating and aviation use untaxed and for road use taxed and we dye it and trust people to follow the rules based on the dye. We *could* do the same thing with ethanol, but we don’t – instead we risk killing people – *knowing* that people will die – and the government officials probably feel smugly satisfied about this solution.

Now, the government is well aware that broke addicts will buy denatured alcohol and be killed by it. It’s more important to them to not lose whatever tax dollars they would lose to people knowingly cheating by buying denatured alcohol than that those people live.

This isn’t surprising. The government has always acted as if there’s a fairly low price on human life. We accept our police murdering innocents, we accept the government executing innocents – in both cases possibly because there’s no alternative.. we accept the government not enforcing environmental safety regulations, we accept people destroying the water table with things like fracking – in general, the government puts a very low value on life. (We routinely commit mass murder so various corporations can make more profit). But denaturing alcohol demonstrates just how low – of course the government probably thinks it’s a feature, not a bug, that broke addicts are who gets killed off..

Conflicting Interests

Thursday, October 20th, 2022

So, I just learned that one of my best friends from high school has cancer – hopefully is beating it, but has been paralyzed. The awkward bit here is that she’s from the era before I pretty much eschewed all religion and is very religious. I’m already on record as saying from my point of view cancer is proof that we’re not the product of intelligent design as a intelligent designer would freeze mutations with something like a CRC-32 after the initial mitosis of the egg.

And, we haven’t talked in like ten years, so odds are she isn’t going to call me out of the blue. If she did, though, I would likely not mention that theory because the last thing I would want to do is take any energy away from her healing.

I hate that I’ve gotten old enough that friends are dying, getting cancer, etc. I know it’s a normal part of life – that indeed I myself will be dying in 30 or so years. After which persumably I’ll know the answer to whether there’s life after death – or I won’t. 😉

I wish there was something I could do for this particular one – I’ve sent messages of support to her and her partner (who is also a lifetime friend), but since I’m 3000 miles away it’s not like I can pop in to do baby-sitting for them. I guess if they need money I can send some of that. I hate the powerlessness as well.

There is the part of me that worries – and I think this underlines to what extent religion is a mental illness in me – that if I *had* believed this wouldn’t be happening.. possibly that I’m seeing a custom mix where my friend dies while she’s seeing a custom mix where everything is fine to punish me for not believing the right things. But on the other paw I also think that idea is absurd and not in any way compatible with anything other than evil being in charge of the universe.

Anyway, so, apparently if you’re fighting cancer, you get a pass on believing absurd things. I wish I could stop worrying about the situation.

Additional thought – I would ask the CEPT team at alt.callahans to do a CEPT, but the last time I did, the guy died. In addition, scientific research suggests remote prayer does nothing at all if the person doesn’t know, and makes things *worse* if they do. And, I don’t really believe in remote prayer doing anything useful anyway, other than making the person doing the praying feel better. (But then, see above bit about mental illness, I wonder, if I believed different things, would the results be different?)

Entropy and human systems

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022

So, I’ve been doing some more thinking (partially because of reading Einstien’s Fridge, which I’d recommend as a great read) about entropy and human systems. Specifically human systems tend to get progressively more corrupt as they age and/or grow larger until eventually they collapse and new systems are created out of their ashes. This is also true of individual human bodies.. our bodies run well for 30 years or so and then various forms of aging start to win – a form of corruption, if you will. And then, obviously, we die. Again with the reset.

Life in general seems like, while it’s not violating the laws of thermodynamics, it’s doing something funny on the stage of ordering information. Of course great writers and musicians and actors and whatnot are all ordering information in their own uniquely recognizable ways, and therefore resisting the tendency of the universe to slowly remove all ordered all information and move towards a totally random – and energy-equal – state.

It does make me wonder if it would be possible to create a religion that would do the *opposite* of growing steadily more corrupt, and what would have to be written into it to make it do that?

Interesting thought to mull over.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

Someone really needs to create a religion to be what Scientology *should* have been.

The assholes over at are well aware that we now have things like FMRIs but their idea of a major advance is to make their skin conductivity tester (e-meter) *digital*. Yah, that’s going to help a whole bunch. Seriously, can we get a religion that is

1) Based on only observable or derivable truths
2) Not written by old men wandering in the desert thousands of years ago
3) Designed to be positive to the lives and experiences of it’s users and everyone they come in contact with
4) Carefully designed so that it *never* ‘freezes’ like the bible has (i.e. gets modified in such a way as to become unmodifiable)
5) Is not inherently internally contradictory
6) Bonus points for being based on science
7) *Major* bonus points for accepting that some things are unknowable instead of pretending to know them because it was written by a bunch of lying old men who craved power
8) I’d like it if it promoted hedonism and encouraged solidarity and helping each other
9) I’d also like it a lot if it did not claim to be the one true way
10) Anti-war would be a big plus, especially if it laid out what war costs us, both in the sense of the destroyed resources and in the sense of the generational trauma that has to be healed
11) Bonus points if it smashes the patriarchy and builds a system of equality in its place
12) Bonus points if it smashes the idea children are property
13) Bonus points if it promotes the development of tasty synthetic meat and a transition to synthetic meat
14) It’d be nice if it promoted living within the means of the ecosystem we’re in, either by developing technologies that permit us to grow food more efficiently or by promoting a smaller population than we currently have
15) Would be *great* if it could include a long term search for a understanding of how to construct neurological software – how to literally edit the structure of our mind to do what we want it to do
16) Would also be awesome if it could include long term searches for cures to every known disease for every form of life that can be considered sentient

I’ll stop there for now. But Scientology.. you could have been so great, and you so aren’t. I mean, people have been writing religions for a loooong time. Clearly the bible is made up, clearly the book of mormon is made up, humans are storytellers. Can we get a better one, with baked into it perpetual improvement until it is freeing and empowering and encouraging of love and life?

(The list of things I find *not* freeing and empowering about Christianity, for example, is quite long)

Let’s say the quiet part out loud here

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

The current pope is almost certainly aware that Earth is above carrying capacity and that post peak oil it’s very likely a lot of people – many of them Catholics – are going to starve. He’s still egging on the fork bomb that is religious humanity by not encouraging birth control. Why? Market share.

That’s also what this abortion thing is really about. A bunch of scared old white dudes afraid that whiteness might lose market share. (God I Hope so. We are quite often a plague on the world)

It’s true that if you don’t care about misery – and obviously abrahamic religions like to *cause* misery whenever they can get away with it – probably gives the priests a feeling of power but certainly boosts their pocketbooks – pushing people to have Babies Ever After is a good way to boost your market share.

And, lately, we’ve observed another interesting problem – if the minority is willing enough to cheat – and majority is not willing to call them on it and do whatever it takes to undo their cheating – then the minority gets to have tyrannical power over the majority. I get the feeling this was predicted in the federalist papers.

I guess it’s not a surprise that religious folks are authoritarian. It is kind of a surprise how many people believe the blatant and easily proven false lies of the right. One of my favorites is about how we can’t switch to electric vehicles because the power grid can’t take it. Get this – a gas car uses more electricity (by the time the oil is pumped and refined) than a electric one. And if we count *total* watts – well, let’s just say moving oil around has a lot more line loss, so to speak, than moving electricity around.

But, the conservatives never stop the lying. They’ll claim that solar panels and wind turbines use more power to make than they generate – when the amount of power either generates in a week would turn it into incandescent gas several times over.